This letter is not meant to be sappy or embarrassing, and hopefully doesn’t come across as too morbid. I got this idea from an article I read about writing a letter to your spouse regarding money matters in case something were to happen to you. As with many couples, one person (in this case me) takes care of most of the household finances. My hope is that this letter can help alleviate some of the stress on my wife if she was left alone (with our 3 kids) should something happen to me.
Since this is a public post, I have left out specific details that I would include in my real letter (ie. account #’s, contact names, current net worth statement, etc.)
Dear Kathy, I love you. You are super smart (and know it) and your witty sense of humor keeps me on my toes. You are a fantastic mother - our kids don’t know how lucky they are. Although exhausting at times, I’m glad we are always on the same page as parents, focusing on raising them to be strong, independent, and compassionate.
We have been blessed with flexible careers, allowing us to spend plenty of quality time together (including date lunches every Wednesday and Friday!). I am enjoying each moment, and I plan on continuing this journey together. We are however, feeble humans, and a long life together may not be in God’s plan for us. Thankfully, with supportive family and a great network of people that care about us, I am confident you will be cared for emotionally even if something should happen to me.
I’m not great with love notes, but I have and will show my love for you and the kids by ensuring the family is taken care of. Part of that is making sure our finances are in order.
Remember that time you wrote painfully detailed instructions on making pasta in the Instant Pot, even though I probably could have figured it out myself….. eventually? Your caring forethought definitely made the task much easier. Nothing in this letter should be a surprise, since we’ve always been open with our money talk, but I am writing this to help you manage the finances during a difficult time. Hopefully it will make your task much easier too.
How do we pay for stuff?
Our main joint bank account is with Tangerine but we also have an account at RBC, which I use mainly for my business. Since we are both self-employed, I like to keep enough in our Savings account to cover at least 6 months of expenses.
Aside from our self-employment income, our other sources of income come from Solar Panels and the Canada Child Benefit.
At this time, our income exceeds our household expenses but that would change if something were to happen to me. By my calculation, between our investments and my life insurance (see below), you will have enough to cover this lifestyle expense shortage. In other words, you would not have to return to a salaried 9am to 5pm job, and can keep your spending the same.
With this financial independence, you can focus your energy on raising the kids. Feel free to pick up part time work or hobbies if you want - the key is that you will have the flexibility to choose.
Most of our expenses are paid out of our Capital One Mastercard and our Scotiabank Momentum Visa Card (which we clear each month). Some expenses such as our utility bills and property tax arrive in the mail and are manually paid out of our Tangerine account. Our house and car insurance are with TD Insurance.
What do we own?
We have our RRSPs, TFSAs, and your Spousal RRSP at BMO Investorline invested in a portfolio of Index ETFs in a growth portfolio. I don’t expect you to take over from my do-it-yourself investing strategy - you may want to pick an easier passive investing solution. Our RRSPs and TFSAs are maxed out to date and you are the beneficiary for my RRSPs and successor holder to my TFSA.
Also note that I have a small 401K plan from my previous U.S. employer. It’s so small that I don’t really factor it into anything but just know that it’s there.
We have our joint non-registered investments at Wealthsimple in their SRI (Socially Responsible Funds). Each year, I sell part of this investment to max out our TFSAs at BMO Investorline.
Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
We have RESPs for our children at Heritage. Not my favorite investment as group RESP plans are high fee which we purchased back before really understanding the affect of fees over time. Since it’s a Group RESP, the penalties to move these investments are substantial so the plan is to continue to maximize our children’s RESPs with monthly pre-authorized contributions ($208.33 monthly per child).
We do not have any debts but do have a Home Equity Line of Credit available with RBC which is secured by our house. Only pull in case of emergency!
Our Life Insurance policies are with Ivari (located with our Wills). My policy is for $500,000, while yours is for $250,000. Our premiums are paid by the investments we own within these policies.
If you are unable to locate our Wills, a copy is kept on file at the law firm. There is nothing too complex about my Will. You are the beneficiary, and I have structured most of our assets so they will flow outside of my Estate to limit the amount of probate tax paid. Nerd alert.
Financial Planning - Advice
I was going to write all about how you should invest the insurance money, ways to optimize your income most efficiently to reduce taxes etc… ….but I don’t really want to burden you with any obligation to follow my (probably) outdated advice, nor do I want to manage our finances “from the grave”.
Last year, we hired our own advice-only financial planner. During our financial planning process with her, she became familiar with our family finances, so contact her for help! She can be contacted here.
Usernames and Passwords
Aren’t you lucky! I have a unique password for every single account……surprise! (Not a surprise.)
I’ve shared with you my usernames along with passwords hints. You will need to use these hints to decode my passwords (based on our previously discussed system). This info will be used to tie up loose ends and to help close the accounts.
It’ll be like that escape room we never bothered trying out.
My hope is…
……that you will never have to use this letter and that we grow old and wrinkly, that we get to watch our kids grow up and have their own kids and that we can share in all these beautiful moments together.
In your letter to me, please include those Instant Pot instructions again.