With the onset of colder weather, the birds are heading south… the snowbirds, that is. But this year, a much lower Canadian dollar could put a cramp in boomers’ warm-weather style; with the loonie packing 25 per cent less purchasing power, it’s important for migrating seniors to take a closer look at their winter finances.
Knowing how your travels will impact your longterm retirement plan is crucial, says Andrea Andersen, financial advisor at Edward Jones. “(It’s about) being proactive. If you are planning to spend time down in the U.S., it should be part of your retirement plan,” she says.
“For people who are facing a 75-cent dollar, can you afford to spend an extra 25 per cent or do you decide to cut your travel? You have to understand what effect it will have on your retirement.”
Here are 7 key areas seniors should take note of as they plan to head south this year.
1. You Can’t Leave Your Bills Behind
Andersen adds that for many seniors, staying current on regular bills can be a challenge when they’re south of the border. “Before you go, you always have to be worried about making sure you don’t put yourself in a financial position you didn’t intend to. If you don’t pay your bills on time, it can affect your credit score,” she warns. “Have a U.S. dollar bank accounts set up and enough funds to pay for bills down there.”
2. Don’t Be a Victim Cross-Border
Keeping a watchful eye on your bills is also important for fraud prevention.
“If you go away for four months and never check your account, that’s a long time to ignore what’s going on in your financial life,” says Andersen, adding that it’s important to closely review your transactions on your statement.
3. Ensure You Have Access To Your Cash
Andersen urges seniors to set up access to financial accounts before leaving the country, and to not rely solely on credit and debit cards.
“If there’s an emergency – a health or financial emergency – and you are out of the country, it’s very difficult to get access,” she says. “If you set up access before you leave, it’s much easier.”
4. Have Representation
What if, in a worst-case scenario, you were unable to call your own financial shots while in the U.S.? It’s important to take the necessary steps ahead of time to ensure your wishes are met. “You should consider a power of attorney, along with your will so someone can make decisions on your behalf if you were in an accident,” Andersen says. “It gives someone the legal right without going to the court to make decisions on your behalf.”
Also read: 4 Things You Should Know About Estate Protection>
5. Get Familiar With the Tax Rules
It’s important to know what the rules are going into different countries for tax purposes. “A lot of people think you can be down in the U.S. 183 days, but the formula is an average over three years,” says Andersen. “Touching base with a financial advisor and tax accountant can help you understand what potential danger you are putting yourself in.”
6. Get Market Management
The last thing you want is for your investments to take a nosedive while you’re soaking up in the sun in Florida. There are steps you can take to keep your investments in order while out of country.
“We are in a time of volatility in the markets. We have a time period where if your portfolio isn’t well positioned you could see big fluctuations. Sitting down and meeting with your financial advisor before you go away is very important,” advises Andersen.
7. Are You Covered?
Last but not least, ensure you have sufficient insurance coverage in case of a measure emergency – neglecting this area can cost you dearly.
“It’s important to understand your own insurance plans either through work or credit card and what they cover. If you have pre-existing conditions, ensure you check what your health care will cover. One slip or fall can affect your entire financial life,” warns Andersen.
Looking for travel and health insurance? Compare the best premiums here>