E-bikes can prove costly when it comes to insurance claims

Although both motorists and cyclists don't seem to crazy about them, electronic bicycles (e-bikes) are flying off the shelves these days. They're cheap to buy, cheap to run and don't leave much of a carbon footprint. They are, however, subject to provincial traffic laws; that is, they can ride in traffic with motor vehicles, like scooters, and their operators mustn’t drive recklessly or under the influence of alcohol. Here's a good summary of the existing rules. More importantly, they also don't need a license or insurance, according to a recent Ontario Court of Justice ruling. But taking that latter option at face value might be shortsighted, warns My Insurance Shopper. Like any motorized vehicle, there is a liability risk attached with owning this type of vehicle. If you're an owner of this type of motorized vehicle you need to know that you may have no liability coverage if you get into an accident, and you could find yourself without coverage if you cause property damage or worse, injure another person. Normal car insurance contains liability coverage but homeowners policies are structured a bit differently and generally exclude motorized vehicles except for lawn mowers, other gardening equipment, snow blowers, wheelchairs and motorized golf carts on the golf premises. But a good number of policies exclude e-bikes as well. No insurance required doesn't mean you're not at risk. It’s important to educate yourself on your policy and exercise caution when purchasing and using these types of vehicles, MIS warns. Do you drive an e-bike? Do you worry about what might happen in an

RRSP season is nothing to sneeze at

Enough about flu season – it’s time to stop sniffling and start seriously thinking about RRSP season. The deadline date for making contributions to the Registered Retirement Savings Plan for the 2012 taxation year is just around the corner on March 1. An RRSP is a plan that helps you save for retirement while offering you some other great tax benefits. For instance, deductible RRSP contributions can reduce the amount you owe on your income tax or even give you a bigger refund (depending on your income). And, as long as the funds remain in the plan they are exempt from tax as it grows. You don’t have to make one annual lump sum to contribute to an RRSP either. RRSPs can be made easier to carry through monthly payments that suit your budget needs. However, if you are considering making a lump sum contribution before the March 1 deadline but don’t have the on-hand cash, another option is to talk to your financial advisor about an RRSP loan. There is a maximum amount you can contribute to an RRSP based on your income and how much you previously contributed. You can contribute 18 per cent of your previous year’s income, up to a maximum of $23,820 in 2013. But keep in mind, if you didn’t contribute the maximum in previous years your deduction limit will be higher. Also, if you contribute to a workplace pension plan your deduction limit will be lower.You can set up a RRSP through your financial institution such as a bank, credit union, trust company or insurance company. You may also want to consider setting up a spousal or common-law partner RRSP. The bonus to this plan is that if the higher-income spouse or common-law partner contributes to the RRSP for the lower- income spouse/common-law partner then the contributor gets the short-term benefit of the tax deduction while the spouse or common-law partner receives the income and reports it on his or her income tax return. While we’re on the topic of income tax, the deadline for personal income tax is April 30, 2013 while those who are self-employed have until June 15 unless there is a balance owed and then the deadline is April 30, 2013. As with everything in life, make sure you do your research and find out more about Registered Retirement Savings Plans and the benefits. Click on the Canada Revenue Agency link for some helpful information on RRSPs. Will you be considering contributing to an RRSP this

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

It’s tough being single

It’s tough being single … at least when it comes to money. Most financial plans tend to centre on milestones that have a lot more to do with couples than singles: Get married. Merge your financial lives. Buy a house. Have a child. Buy some insurance. Start saving for college — it’s a pretty traditional pattern. Expect that today people are marrying much later or just aren't marrying at all — to say nothing of all those relationships, same-sex or otherwise, that fall somewhere in between. Just as with married couples though, the older singles get, the more assets they accumulate. And they’ve got an even greater need than a couple to put a plan in place that will protect what they've got, including that earning power. After all, there's no spouse who'll automatically inherit property or who can make up for some of your lost earnings if you get fired or become sick. The asset singles most need to protect, however, is probably their earning ability. One way to do that is with a disability plan, income-replacement insurance that provides a tax-free income in the event you can’t work because of injury or illness. It’s a perk that many employers don’t offer, or at least not at the level that higher-income earners might find useful, and it's one worth exploring. Consider it one of your New Year’s