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RRSPs: finance columnist points out common mistakes

01/16/2015 06:14 EST | Updated 03/18/2015 05:59 EDT
Three-quarters of employed Canadians are planning on making an RRSP contribution before the March 2 deadline, according to an H&R Block survey.

Here are a few mistakes to avoid from On the Coast finance columnist Mark Ting, an investment advisor with Holliswealth.

Choosing the wrong type of investment

You have to pick the right investment based on your time horizon.

Lots of people under the age of 60 have portfolios that will never meet their future income needs because they're too conservative. They're concerned about volatility and market risk but they're ignoring a much bigger risk — the risk of running out of money.

On the flip side, twenty year-olds shouldn't be going into a growth portfolio when they are planning to take advantage of the First Time Home Buyers plan. They should be in something quite conservative as their time horizon is not for retirement but for home ownership.

Lack of diversification

Statistically, Canadians are very overweight in Canadian stocks, bonds and mutual funds and it is hurting our returns. Canada is only three per cent of the world economy and can be very volatile.

The most common investments are "Canadian Balance" or "Canadian Asset Allocation" funds, which are limiting.  

In today's world, diversification is more important than ever. If you're comfortable with a medium-risk balance mandate, ask your advisor for one without a geographic limitation.

Waiting until the last minute to meet with a financial advisor

If you haven't already, book an appointment with your advisor now as you will get much better service than if you wait until the last minute. Close to the RRSP deadline, a busy advisor might simply take your contribution and add it to an existing fund.  

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