Financial Skills for the Real World

Do you occasionally struggle to pay your bills on time? Feeling overwhelmed with debt? Or perhaps you have some money saved up and would like to know what your investment options are? Financial literacy is as important to the economist as it is to any student or young professional, regardless of academic background. 

This workshop series will cover personal finance topics as diverse as setting up a budget, dealing with debt, types of bank and investment accounts and their respective features, taxation basics, types of investment vehicles, types of insurance, and how to objectively evaluate the purchase of a home, among other related topics.

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Budgeting & Expense Planning

This workshop primarily focuses on how to create and maintain a reasonable budget given your income level. It covers the main pitfalls of improper budgeting and will show you ways to stay on track. Learn how to effectively monitor and cut costs, determine your spending patterns, and automate your savings. This workshop is brought to you by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to learn how small changes in your daily spending can lead to major savings.

Note: This workshop is also relevant for international students & newcomers to Canada, as it covers many of the basics about the different types of bank accounts available to you.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn how to create a budget, save money, and identify spending patterns.
  • Identify myths about building wealth and remaining wealthy.
  • Familiarize yourself with free online resources provided by the government of Canada and others that can be used to make better financial decisions.

Students attending the Budgeting & Expense Planning, Managing Your Debt, Credit Scores & Identity Theft, and Introduction to Investing sessions in full will receive an official FCAC workshop participation certificate.

Managing Your Debt

This workshop will cover the ins and outs of credit cards, various types of loans, and the benefits of debt consolidation. You will learn how to select the best credit card given their specific circumstances, various options open to you to repay your student loans, and how lines of credit work. Various types of debt such as standard loans, HELOCs, and payday loans will also be reviewed. Finally, we will go over various strategies to help you pay off your various debts.

Note: This workshop is also relevant for international students & newcomers to Canada, as it covers many of the basics about the different types of credit instruments available to you.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn about different types of debt (credit cards, standard loans, lines of credit, and payday loans).
  • Acquire strategies to pay off your debts more effectively (debt consolidation, snowball method, and debt avalanche method).

Students attending the Budgeting & Expense Planning, Managing Your Debt, Credit Scores & Identity Theft, and Introduction to Investing sessions in full will receive an official FCAC workshop participation certificate.

Credit Scores & Identity Theft

This workshop will review the importance of credit scores and ways to boost them. You will learn how to obtain free credit reports and how improving your credit score can potentially save you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Common online scams and ways to prevent identity theft will also be addressed.

Note: This workshop is also relevant for international students & newcomers to Canada, as it covers the basics of how credit scores function and how to boost them.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify important aspects of credit scores, learn how to boost them, and how to obtain a yearly free copy of your credit reports.
  • Learn valuable steps to protect yourself from identity theft and what to do in case you are a victim.

Students attending the Budgeting & Expense Planning, Managing Your Debt, Credit Scores & Identity Theft, and Introduction to Investing sessions in full will receive an official FCAC workshop participation certificate.

Introduction to Investing

Do TFSAs, RRSPs, GICs, and ETFs sound like a foreign language? Do you equate investing in the stock market to a game of chance? Join us for this insightful workshop brought to you by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and learn how better managing your finances today can lead to a more prosperous future.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop a basic understanding of various financial investment vehicles (stocks, bonds, GICs, ETFs, mutual funds, etc.) as well as their most common risks and benefits.
  • Identify key features of different types of accounts (TFSAs, RRSPs, and margin accounts).

Students attending the Budgeting & Expense Planning, Managing Your Debt, Credit Scores & Identity Theft, and Introduction to Investing sessions in full will receive an official FCAC workshop participation certificate.

Income Taxes

Would you like to better understand tax slips and learn how to file your income taxes? Then this workshop is for you. We will start with a brief overview of the Canadian tax system covering topics such as: types of different taxes, tax brackets, and how different income gets taxed. We will review key tax slips (see list below) and show you how to make sense of them through live examples. Finally, we will cover various tax credits and deductions available to you.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn about the different Canadian tax brackets, what counts as taxable income, and how different types of income get taxed.
  • Develop a basic understanding of the information contained on key tax slips (T4, T4A, RL-1, T5, RL-3, T2202A, RL-8, T5008, RL-19, RL-31, RC62, RL-24, and RL-30).
  • Learn about common tax deductions and credits available to you.

Investing & Taxation

Under what circumstances does an RRSP or a TFSA contribution make more sense? What are some of the most tax-efficient investments available? How is the RRSP tax refund calculated? This workshop briefly reviews the basics seen in Introduction to Investing while highlighting how the different tax brackets impact different investments and sources of income. We will also cover various investment vehicles in greater detail, how they get taxed, and the most tax-efficient way to distribute various investments in different types of accounts. Lastly, we will go over how to properly track and report dividend distributions from a margin account for tax purposes.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Know when to contribute to an RRSP vs. a TFSA.
  • Learn about some advanced features of various types of investments and how they get taxed.
  • Be able to track and report dividend distributions from a margin account for tax purposes.

Prospectus & Fund Facts

Do you want to buy a mutual fund or ETF but are unsure how to make sense of all of the documentation provided? Do you want to find out where to go to locate relevant audited financial statements or the full prospectus details of a fund? If you are interested in investing in the exempt market, what should you look out for? This advanced workshop will answer these questions and more. Lastly, we will briefly highlight key features and potential pitfalls of various "trendy" investment vehicles such as lithium stocks, marijuana stocks, and binary options.

Note: It is recommended to attend the Investing & Taxation workshop beforehand or have equivalent prior knowledge of the basics of stocks, mutual funds, and Canada's tax system.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn how to make sense of key information covered in mutual fund & ETF fact sheets.
  • Be able to locate relevant information found in common financial documents regarding portfolio performance, fund allocation, and fees charged.
  • Familiarize yourself with key features and potential pitfalls of some "trendy" investments.
  • Learn about the exempt market.

Introduction to Cryptocurrencies

The last few years have seen phenomenal gains for most cryptocurrencies but should you invest in them? What are some of the main things to watch out for when buying altcoins or tokens? How risky are these "investments" if they can even be labels as such? There are currently over 1,600 different cryptocurrencies/tokens and some are orders of magnitude riskier than others which are outright scams. How can you tell the difference? To find out the answers to these and many more related questions, make sure to register for this new workshop.
 
Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn about cryptocurrency basics: private vs. public keys, mining, tokens, forks, wallets, and much more.
  • Familiarize yourself with potential risks of various types of altcoins or tokens.
  • Learn about the features of various cryptocurrency scams.

Portfolio Balancing

Debating whether mutual funds, robo-traders, or ETFs are best for you? What is the optimal portfolio balance given your age and risk tolerance? Should you invest only in Canadian securities or be globally diversified, and if so, what should be your percentage allocation to each? Which questions should you ask a potential financial advisor and which services should you request in order to maximize your returns? Join us for this "hands-on" workshop to find the answers to these and many more.

Note: To get started, please fill out this short questionnaire about your risk tolerance to help determine your portfolio balance: http://ow.ly/10EAxX

Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn how to determine your risk tolerance and the theory behind selecting an appropriate portfolio balance.
  • Familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of mutual funds, robo-traders, and managing one's own ETF portfolio.
  • Learn a step-by-step process of using free online tools that can help determine when to rebalance investments.

Advisors and Financial Planning

We will go over the questions to ask and the steps to take when selecting a good financial advisor. We will review how to set up a financial plan (Investment Policy Statement, "Know your Client"). Finally, we will review common types of trusts and their associated features.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Know what key questions to ask when selecting a financial advisor.
  • Learn about the information contained in IPS and KYC forms and how they can be useful in determining your short and long-term investment strategies.
  • Develop a basic understanding of different types of trusts.

Children & Your Money

You have probably heard that raising a child from birth to adulthood can cost a few hundred thousand dollars. Given the rising cost of education, what are some places where you can cut back without depriving yourself or your children? What is the difference between individual, family, and group RESPs? Should you buy the latest gadgets in order to make sure your children are prepared for the 21st century, or limit their exposure to electronic devices early-on? How can you improve children's financial literacy early on and help them establish good money habits? This workshop will tackle these and other related topics based on some of the latest available data from development psychology, behavioural economics, and finance.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Know the difference between individual, family, and group RESPs.
  • How can you help improve your children's financial literacy early on?
  • Learn how to spend less on your children without depriving them of important developmental stimuli.

 

Insurance & Your Estate

Which type of insurance is most appropriate for you? If you are already insured, do you have sufficient coverage? Are you saving enough for your retirement? What are some of the key considerations when planning your estate? Why is it important to create a will? This workshop will address these and many other questions relating to insurance, tax-efficient ways to earn income during retirement, as well reviewing some of the key tools for planning your estate such as wills and trusts.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Know the basics of the main types of life insurance policies (term, whole-life, and universal).
  • Familiarize yourself with the main costs and benefits of each insurance sub-type.
  • Learn about the various types of wills and their features.
  • Briefly review how pensions work in Canada.

Housing I

Do you wonder whether it makes more financial sense to buy or rent? Wondering what the true costs of home ownership are? This workshop will show you how to calculate how much house you can afford and whether you may be over paying or getting a great deal. Various CMHC and other freely-available industry reports looking at key metrics will be highlighted so that you can make an informed decision on what will likely be the most expensive purchase of your life.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Know where to find and how to use reports and tools for analyzing the housing market.
  • Learn how to calculate the price-to-rent and price-to-income ratios.
  • Learn about the pros and cons of renting vs. buying.

Housing II

Under what circumstances do you have to pay HST and LTT when purchasing a home? Learn about various fees that realtors rarely mention, the difference between FRM, ARM, and VRM, as well as the various designations real estate agents have. Knowing where to find economic fundamentals data about the housing market might be great, but how do you actually use the tools covered during Housing I? If you want an answer to these and many more questions, make sure to attend this hands-on workshop.

 Learning Outcomes:

  • Learn how to use the free tools and websites covered during Housing I when purchasing a home via live examples.
  • Determining the costs and benefits of buying investment properties and when these can be more or less desirable than REITs.

Did you know that as a McGill student, your participation in many activities, such as training workshops and volunteering are tracked on your Co-Curricular Record (CCR)? Having your co-curricular activities listed in one document can help you revise your CV or cover letter, prepare for interviews, or explore career options. Learn how to access and leverage this important document through myInvolvement, and make your training count!

 

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