What to know if COVID-19 pushes you to retire early

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the economy and job prospects, some may be retiring earlier than planned – whether forced or voluntary. In this week’s column,  BNN Bloomberg personal finance columnist Dale Jackson outlines a few things to think about if you are considering a retirement Plan B,  whether it's consulting a tax expert about the most efficient way to withdraw your savings or keeping your defined benefit pension plan with your employer even after you resign.

Debt and insolvency still carry a large stigma in Ontario

Many Canadians aren't just dealing with the health crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but a personal financial crisis as well.  A poll by licensed insolvency trustee firm Bromwich+Smith revealed that three-quarters of Ontarians (76 per cent) feel less judgmental to those who have struggled with money, debt, or insolvency. However the increase in job cuts haven't changed the stigma around debt. In the survey, Ontarians polled listed mental illness, poverty and debt or insolvency as the top factors that carried the largest stigma.

More Canadians could see salary freezes over the winter

Winter may prove difficult for many in the Canadian workforce as employers are projecting additional salary freezes ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Morneau Shepell said 13 per cent of the 889 organizations it monitors plan to freeze salaries in 2021, which is far more than last year's survey where just two per cent of firms planned to take that approach. The company highlighted that Alberta has been the hardest hit province this year in terms of salary gains, and is expected to lag other parts of the country in the following year.

Canadians optimistic about housing despite COVID-19 resurgence

Canadian households are increasingly optimistic about the state of the nation’s real estate markets despite a resurgence in many provinces of COVID-19 cases. A survey by Nanos Research for Bloomberg News found that 44 per cent of respondents expect the properties in their neighbourhood to increase in value over the next six months, which is the highest percentage since March 13. This optimism follows record home prices and sales nationwide in August on growing demand combined with low interest rates and tight inventory.

Canada Student Loans payments resume after six-month freeze

Repayment of Canadian students’ loans resumed on Oct. 1 after a six-month freeze that the federal government imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduates with an income below $25,000 are eligible for continued deferrals through the Repayment Assistance Plan. However, thousands of Canadians will need to start allocating a portion of their income to repay their student debt. Young Canadians have been one of the hardest hit age groups by the COVID-19-related lockdowns, with employment down 15.3 per cent from pre-pandemic levels for those aged 15 to 24, according to Statistics Canada.

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“The first thing [millennials] should be thinking about is their cash flow. Understand what it is what you’ve got coming in and what you’re spending it on.” -- Teresa Black Hughes, financial advisor and director, RGF Integrated Wealth Management