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Your financial journey

When taking a trip, people often seek the advice of a tour guide, particularly when visiting unchartered territory. On your journey through life, you will need to make many financial decisions. Sometimes, you will be dealing strictly with financial matters, such as opening a bank account. At other times, you will encounter life events that carry important financial considerations – you might get married, have a baby, buy a home, or lose a loved one.

Scroll down this page for a list of major events. For each event, we have provided a list of questions that you should ask yourself in order to prepare for the financial opportunities and challenges that the event presents.



  • What kind of bank account(s) should I have?
  • How do I set up a bank account?
  • Can I access my money if and when I need it?
  • How do I access my account(s)? (e.g., ATM, Internet, etc.)
  • What’s the difference between a savings plan and a chequing plan? Which is best for me?
  • Should I also have a debit or credit card? What are the charges?
  • What kind of credit card should I start with? Limit?


  • Do I need a budget and/or formal financial plan?
  • How much does it cost to go to/from work?
  • Do I need to buy new clothes, tools or other items for my job?
  • Will I receive a benefit plan, and, if so, will it affect my finances?
  • Does my employer offer a pension plan, Group RRSP or Group TFSA?
  • How much should I be saving from each paycheque?
  • Do I need an “emergency fund” and, if so, how much money should I have in it?
  • Are there any tax issues I should know about?


  • How much will it cost me to attend college or university?
  • How much will I need for tuition? Books? Living expenses?
  • Should I borrow money to attend, and, if so, who will lend me the money and how much can I borrow?
  • If I borrow money for post-secondary education, when do I have to start paying it back and at what interest rate?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of taking out a student loan?
  • Are there any tax issues I should know about?


  • How much can I afford?
  • Should I buy or lease?
  • What type of vehicle is best for me? Should it be new or used?
  • How do I budget for car payments, taxes, maintenance and insurance?
  • Are there any tax issues I should know about? What kind of insurance is best for me?


  • What is the financial difference between being married and living together?
  • How much can I actually afford to pay for my wedding?
  • What is a prenuptial agreement? Why might I need one?
  • How should we own our property, savings and investments as a couple?
  • What are the implications of changing my name?
  • How will being married affect our group insurance coverage?
  • Do we need to reconsider our individual insurance coverage?
  • What will our combined financial plan look like?
  • How will marriage affect our investment plans?
  • Is now the time to buy life insurance?


  • How do we balance paying down debt and saving while adjusting to our new responsibilities?
  • Should we buy a home?
  • How can I provide financial security for my dependants?
  • How can I continue to maximize my RRSP contributions?
  • Should I consider setting up a spousal RRSP to help with tax planning?
  • How important are wills and powers of attorney now that we have a child?
  • How do we save for our child’s education?
  • How will having a child affect our taxes?
  • How can we financially assist our parents if they need help now that we have dependants?
  • Should I get disability insurance?


  • Is it better for me to rent or to buy?
  • Should I seek legal advice?
  • Do I need a real estate agent? How do I find one?
  • Where should I start looking for a home?
  • How do I decide how much I can afford to spend?
  • How should I finance my new home?
  • What are the tax implications of home ownership?
  • How does home ownership affect my financial plan?
  • Should I get a short- or long-term mortgage?
  • Should I buy mortgage insurance or use my life insurance?


  • How can I financially support my family while unemployed?
  • Can I expect to receive financial compensation upon termination?
  • Am I eligible for employment insurance benefits, and, if so, how much will I get and for how long?
  • How will unemployment affect my creditworthiness?
  • Can I cash in my RRSP or other investments if I need income?
  • What are the financial implications of cashing an RRSP?
  • Are there any tax issues I should know about?
  • How can a financial advisor help me in the event that I lose my job?


  • Which legal structure best suits my business needs?
  • What is the best way to finance my business?
  • What should be included in a comprehensive budget?
  • How can I receive income from my company?
  • What sort of insurance coverage do I need?
  • What are the implications of hiring employees?
  • How will my company be taxed?
  • How will my company affect my retirement and estate plans?
  • How do I find and select a financial advisor to fit my needs and personality?


  • How do we sort out our assets?
  • What happens to the beneficiaries of my RRSPs and life insurance?
  • Do I need a new investment portfolio?
  • How will my cash flow be affected?
  • Will I need a new will?
  • What about the RESPs for the children’s education?
  • What are the implications if we have to sell our home and/or liquidate other assets?
  • How will my government benefits, such as OAS and CPP, be affected?
  • What will happen to my company pension?


  • What are the implications if my loved ones are unable to make their own decisions?
  • Who will control my loved ones’ finances?
  • What are the sources of funding available to ease the financial burden?
  • How will my estate plans change?
  • What services are available if my loved ones need in- or out-of-home assistance?
  • How can I evaluate the services and facilities available?
  • Is there tax relief available if my loved one is incapacitated?
  • Should I consider transferring assets to my family now?
  • How will my budget change?
  • Is now the time to think about long-term-care insurance for myself?


  • How do I transfer my loved one’s assets into my name? What documents will I need?
  • Will I need to create a new investment portfolio?
  • Do I need a new will?
  • How will my estate plans change?
  • Should I consider transferring assets to my children or others now?
  • How will my budget change?
  • What are the implications if I sell my home?
  • Will I need new or different insurance coverage?


  • What tax issues are related to inheritance?
  • How can I invest and protect my inheritance?
  • If a person dies without naming an executor, to whom do these responsibilities fall?
  • Is the executor compensated for his/her efforts?
  • Does divorce affect inheritance?


  • How will my investment requirements change when I retire?
  • What is the best way to structure my retirement income so I don’t lose old age benefits?
  • My spouse and I both have sources of income; which should we use first?
  • Does my provincial health plan cover me if I spend time outside Canada?
  • Should I update my will?
  • Should I consider a reverse mortgage?
  • How can I reduce my financial risks due to health problems?
  • What do I need to consider if I travel outside the country?
  • Should I pass assets to my family now or through my will?
  • When should I start planning for retirement?
  • How much money will I need for retirement?
  • What is the best way to plan for retirement?
  • Should I work with an advisor?
  • How do I find an advisor?


  • What are the government sources of financial support for those who are disabled?
  • Will my individual or group insurance cover me or a disabled dependant?
  • How can I sell assets to raise money?
  • What services do the provincial or municipal governments provide to the disabled?
  • How will a disability affect my tax situation?
  • How could I plan for the welfare of my disabled dependant after I’m gone?
  • How does a Registered Disability Savings Plan work?
  • How does my financial plan change if I become disabled?


  • How will my investment requirements change in retirement?
  • Should I update my will?
  • Should I pass assets to my family now or through my will?
  • Depending on my physical circumstances, how will my estate plans change?
  • Will I need new or different insurance coverage?
  • What is involved in being an executor?
  • What is included in my estate plan?

On your financial journey, will you need a guide or can you manage your investments on your own?