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Frequently Asked Questions

General

  1. Privacy and Security
    • Q. Is my personal and financial information secure
      • A. We have adopted the following practices to ensure your privacy and financial security:
        1. SSL technology to protect your personal information;
        2. An encrypted database for all saved SmartPlanner data;
        3. Payment information for subscriptions are held separately and securely by our payments processor
    • Q. Do you share my personal information with any other firm or agency.
      • A. Absolutely not. Your privacy is extremely important to us. Please read our privacy policy.
  2. Subscriptions
    • Q. What is the difference between the DIY and PRO versions?
      • A. Both versions calculate results and prepare a final report in exactly the same manner. The DIY version allows a user to make and save a plan for them self and spouse only, while the PRO version is designed for an industry professional to make and save plans for multiple clients, and white label the final report with their own logos and company name.
    • Q. Why do you ask for my and my spouse’s birthdate for a DIY subscription?
      • A. For DIY subscriptions, the SmartPlanner uses the birthdate you entered on the subscription to make the calculations necessary for the final projections. Ensure your birthdate is correctly entered as there is no provision to edit or correct it later.
    • Q. In the terms of agreement you state that there are no refunds. What if I find out that your service does not meet my needs?
      • A. Whereas most of our website tools and calculators can be used free of charge, personalized use of the SmartPlanner requires a subscription. To assist you in determining if the SmartPlanner meets your needs, we have provided a free demonstration version for you to try out and a sample print out report for you to examine. We encourage you to use this demonstration version to ensure that it meets your needs before subscribing to our service. If the demonstration version does not seem to meet your needs you should not subscribe to our SmartPlanner service. Regardless, you are always welcome to use our free tools.
  3. Publishing Articles
    • I have an idea that I would like to share with others, but I am not a professional journalist nor do I work in the financial services industry. Can I submit an article for publication?
      • Absolutely. We welcome all submissions. The best approach would be to give us an outline of your proposed article so that we can determine if it is appropriate to our site. If so, any article submitted would be subject to editing prior to publishing.
    • Will you pay me for providing an article for publication?
      • At this time we cannot provide any remuneration for articles that you submit.

SmartPlanner

1. Understanding input data

• Q. I don’t understand what to do with the table on “Liquidation and Acquisition of Assets”

• Q. My home is a significant part of my net worth. Where do I enter that data into the SmartPlanner?

• Currently the SmartPlanner only tracks financial assets, although subsequent versions will likely include such things as real estate. While you will have to track the value of your home separately, the current version of the SmartPlanner permits you to include the value of any expected sale or purchase. Alternatively using the “other annuities function” you could also include the proceeds of, for example, a reverse mortgage. We encourage you to give us feedback on other items that you would like included in future releases of the SmartPlanner.

• Q: I am thinking of buying a different home or condo at some point during my retirement. How do I account for that with the SmartPlanner?

• On input page 7 you can input the difference between the price you at which you sell your home and the price at which you buy the condo or house. If the new purchase is less than what you receive for your home indicate that difference as cash received; the SmartPlanner will add that amount to your investments. If the new purchase is more than what you receive for your home indicate that difference as cash spent; the SmartPlanner will deduct that amount from your investments.

• Q: I might consider a reverse mortgage at some point during my retirement. How do I account for that with the SmartPlanner?

• On input page 12 you can treat your reverse mortgage as an annuity. You can indicate at which age you wish to begin drawing the payments and the amount you expect to withdraw each month.

• Q. What is the difference between Consumer Price Index and Cost of Living. And is inflation a factor in the calculations?

• Without going too deep into economic theory, inflation is a term commonly misused to describe a rise in prices. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) as calculated by Statistics Canada is one of the two measurements of “Inflation” that the SmartPlanner uses. The other is the Cost of Living experienced by individuals in their real life experiences. The reason that they may be different is the methodology used by Statistics Canada may not accurately reflect the purchasing patterns of a particular individual. As the old joke goes, there is no inflation if you don’t count the prices of the stuff increasing in price.

•Q. What are Bridge Benefits?

• Bridge benefits are registered pension plan payments designed to fill a gap in income from the time you retire until a time when other pensions, such as CPP, are drawn. For example, suppose an individual retires at age 55 but wants to take CPP benefits at age 65. There is a 10 year period when there is no income. The bridge benefit will allow the individual to draw the bridge benefit of their pension for this 10 years, after which the regular benefits of the pension plan will start. At this same time, the CPP benefits will start. Drawing a bridge benefit will reduce the amount of the regular payment but instead of having no pension payments for 10 years and large registered pension payments and CPP starting at the same time, the total pension income stream will be somewhat smoothed.

•Q. What do you mean by expressing the indexing as a percentage of CPI?

• An unindexed payment will have level payments made throughout the entire time of the payment stream, while indexed payments will rise each year depending on the increase in CPI. For example, the Old Age Security pension is fully (100%) indexed to the CPI. Therefore if the CPI increases 2% annually, payments will increase 2% each year. However some payments and pensions are only partially indexed. For example, if a pension is indexed 50% to the CPI, the payment will be 50% of 2%, or a 1% increase annually.

•Q. I currently have a large mortgage that significantly affects my net worth. Where do I enter this data?

• The SmartPlanner does not currently track such items as this although it is on the radar for future releases. The assumption that is used with respect to mortgages or other similar debt is that throughout the lifetime of the user, this debt will be reduced to zero through regular loan payments. It is therefore important for users to account for these debt payments as part of their annual budgets.

•Q. I expect to retire 5 years before my spouse. What retirement date should be input into the SmartPlanner?

• The date to be used is the one when savings will begin to be withdrawn to meet your annual expenses. During this transition period, the spouse can continue to contribute to savings while at the same time saving will be withdrawn as required to meet household expenses.

• Q. Why are the non registered savings contributions lumped together with the TFSA contributions? I want to put everything into the TFSA only.

• By legislation, there are limits to TFSA contributions. By default, the SmartPlanner automatically maximizes TFSA contributions and savings in excess of these limits will go to non registered savings.

2. Understanding Output Results

• Q. Where do the tax rebates come from?

• If an RRSP contribution is made, income taxes payable are reduced. The SmartPlanner illustrates this reduction as an RRSP rebate.

• Q. On the income and expense chart, why do the income columns sometimes exceed the expense line, sometimes fall short of them and sometimes track them exactly?

• Prior to retirement any gap between the total income/expense line and the income columns illustrates a budget deficit. I.E. your projected income is not meeting your projected expenses. In this case a review of household expenses should be undertaken in order to address this shortfall. Note that prior to retirement the SmartPlanner will not automatically make withdrawals from savings to fund expenses. If the income rises above the expense line, extra money is available for savings or expenses. During retirement, available savings are withdrawn in order to top up any shortfall from pensions, part time work in order to meet the household budget. If these pensions and part time employment exceed expected expenses, the income bar will rise above the total expenses line. For the most part, during retirement, the income bars should match the expense line unless savings become depleted at some point. If savings become depleted, a gap will appear between the income columns and the expense bar. .