Rather than downsize, retiring boomers hope to stay put

If you read the headlines, just about every urban boomer is leaving the suburbs behind and moving into condos or lofts in a trendy downtown area. Yet there's little evidence that most Canadians are actually that open to the idea of moving into a smaller residence as they grow older. A majority of Canadians aged 50 and over – 83 percent – said staying in their own homes and paying for home care is the most appealing option for them, according to Royal Bank research. Even then, while the majority of us want to ''age-in-place'', this doesn't necessarily mean that we expect to stay in the same house. Most people are attached less to a particular pile of bricks and mortar than to a local area – to a network of friends, services and familiar places. Among those who were already retired, a decision to move out of their home was most often due to a change in their health – 66 per cent – rather than to cash in on their home equity or get closer to restaurants. Remaining in familiar surroundings – in a home of their own, in their current neighbourhood and close to family and friends – is definitely how Canadian Boomers wish to live when future health changes occur,” says RBC head of retirement and aging strategies Amalia Costa. Then there's the emotional pain of scaling back. Many empty nesters find they lack the stomach or stamina to dismantle their lives. They'd rather hang on. They struggle with sorting through all those boxes in the basement or dread listening to adult children who want to keep the house where they grew up.And isn't always the financial bonanza they expect. With fewer square feet to heat, low and pay property taxes on, many downsizers assume they'll slash their monthly expenses. But unless you're willing to move to a part of the country with a lower cost of living, the savings may prove fairly modest.Do you plan on downsizing in the future or have you already made the move? How are things working out so

Should live kidney donors receive $10,000 for an organ donation?

If governments and hospitals want to attract more kidney donors, they might want to consider paying living donors $10,000, according a recent study released by the University of Calgary. This would raise the number of transplant surgeries by five per cent and it would help save an overall $340, since the patient would no longer be on dialysis while adding an extra 0.11 years to a patient's lifetime compared to our current donor system. If kidney donations were to go up by 10 per cent, patients would save $1,640 and add 0.21 years to their lifetime. And if rates improved to 20 per cent, we can always hope for the best, patients would save $4,030 and add 0.39 years to their lifetime. Time is money and in this case, patients could gain time and spend less money. There would be wins all around. Canada faces an unfortunate shortage in organ transplants. It leaves some patients on waiting lists for years as they undergo treatment and hope that they will be next in line for a donor organ, but it also contributes to a demand for black market organs overseas. Unfortunately, the number of donors hasn't changed over the last decade, which means it leaves many people out of luck. In 2011, there were 4,500 Canadians waiting for an organ to save their lives, while about 250 people died while waiting, according to the Canadian Health Institute for Health Information. There's a lot of debate surrounding the use of financial incentives to attract more donations. While we expect that they'd likely bring in more donations, the idea brings up many moral and ethical issues. Naysayers say this could exploit the poor since many people in poverty could see selling their organs as another income stream. Of course, that would only work if they were healthy and didn't run out or organs to sell. It's understandable that it can be tricky to encourage donors because it's not as simple as giving away money and walking away. If you were to donate an organ, there'd likely be a recovery period, which not everyone can afford, but also, how would the financial incentive apply to someone who died and donated their organs? Meanwhile, instead of financial incentives, another idea that's been floated around is an opt-out plan. This means that any Canadian resident could be automatically registered to donate their organs, unless they choose to opt-out of the program. Prince Edward Island considered this option and countries such as Greece, Spain and Luxembourg currently practice this idea. But that doesn't solve everything. The Economist attributes Spain's high deceased donor rates to the smooth organ donation process, along with the country's marketing of the importance of organ donations. Donating an organ isn't like donating blood and because of that there are many more issues to consider before someone goes ahead and makes that choice. But there's one thing we know for sure, Canada needs to improve its system, not only to save more lives but to relieve some of the burden on our healthcare

Managing finances before and through a divorce

Divorce is always devastating. But for some couples, parting with their other half is easy compared to dividing income and assets fairly. While some partners may have unrealistic expectations or simply aren't emotionally ready to settle up, others are dishonest and deliberately try to hide or deplete their assets. Either way, the financial negotiations of divorce will be the largest financial transaction most individuals will ever participate in, says Justin A. Reckers, a financial planner who works with couples that have or are contemplating a split. Most every divorcing person will prefer things, at least the financial side, to remain the same post-divorce as they were during their marriage. In reality, the pay cheque doesn't go as far when supporting two completely separate households, so everyone loses financially in divorce, he points out. If you think your relationship might be on shaky ground, here are a few things he suggests you think about long before you knock on his door. * Couples may have previously decided one of the parents should stay home to raise the kids at the expense of career development. The end results in divorce are child support, spousal support, and retraining to enter the workforce outside the home. * Couples often make a joint decision not to purchase long-term care insurance because they plan to care for each other in the event they need it. When they divorce, the caregiver is lost. * A couple may choose not to set aside funds for college education because they can afford to pay the expenses from cash flow when both are working. But with two separate households college becomes a low priority when even saving for retirement seems no longer possible. * Partners may choose not to save aggressively for retirement because one expects a large inheritance to take care of things. In most circumstances an inheritance received after a divorce will only benefit one of the parties. * A couple may decide to reinvest all of the profits from their small business back into growth instead of paying down a mortgage or saving for retirement. When it comes time for divorce, it is often not possible to turn that business into cash because a sale is not advisable. Sound familiar? Knowing what you know now would you do anything

Things are going to be different next year

Even the best of us make poor money choices and sabotage our financial future as a result. Sure, it’s not easy to change. But the important thing is to do something, starting right after the holidays. For example, are you putting off saving for retirement because the deadline seems so far away? Or are steering clear of addressing your unwieldy debt load because it's so intimidating? Don’t. Instead, ask yourself where you want to be in five years. Then try these simple steps... Make a written plan. You can't sidestep your financial responsibilities forever. Your odds of following through will increase dramatically if you set milestones. This way, you’ll hold yourself accountable for your choices. Set specific goals. Break each one into several objectives: short-term (less than 1 year), medium-term (1 to 3 years) and long-term (5 years or more). Talk often about these goals with a partner, friend, or family member. You might even consider recruiting someone with the same outlook and work at things together. Budget for savings. Pay yourself first. Just as you learned to budget money every month to pay bills and cover the essentials, you should also budget to save. The amount isn’t the issue at this stage -– focus on the process. Track your spending.Do you know where all your cash is going each month?  Are you honest with yourself or your partner? Prove it. Keep a spreadsheet of your spending for a few months and look for patterns. Try to figure out why you failed to pick up on unanticipated costs. Monitor the results. Make sure you keep an eye on results, periodically comparing them against those milestones. If you're not making satisfactory progress on a particular goal, reevaluate your approach and make changes as