My name is Wendy Ma and I moved to Canada with my parents in 2010. At the time, I was still in Secondary School completing my education so I didn’t have to worry much about finances and investments. It was much later that I learned how important it is to have a financial plan!
This is my story.
I wasn’t always finance-savvy but learned about the processes and the financial ecosystem along the way. I was introduced to an investment product, Tax-Free Saving Accounts (TFSAs) during an accounting class — that was my first brush with finance!
I began to gain a deeper understanding of finance when I decided to use the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to pay for my college tuition. After I started my year-long internship, I learned how to better manage money and was able to pay off most of my student loans from those earnings. I graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science, electrical and computer engineering in 2017. Post-graduation, I took up a full-time job and with access to a more stable source of income, I started thinking about investments.
Since I wasn’t aware of my options, I decided to consult a financial advisor who explained the various investment products. There are a few things that you need to think about before you go to a financial advisor:
- Your life/financial goals
- Your willingness and ability to bear financial risk
Dividing my goals into short, medium, and long-term helped me plan better.
Long-term goals: I set up periodic automatic payments for money to be deposited into the respective investment accounts. Knowing the returns I would get on this investment after a few years is reassuring and helps keep my mind at ease!
Medium-term goals: Like many other newcomers in Canada, I always had a dream to purchase a house. During my financial planning, I listed it out as a mid-term goal. Earlier this year, with some of our savings and a little help from my parents, my husband and I were able to purchase a pre-construction condo. Since it’s pre-construction, we just had to make some initial down payments; the mortgage payments will begin once the construction is over. This also allows us some time to save.
Short-term goals: I feel proud to announce that I successfully achieved one of my short-term goals recently: I leased a car! Leasing a small car is inexpensive, so I was able to afford it with minimal savings and advance planning.
Here are three tips that helped me in my financial journey. I hope fellow newcomers find them helpful too.
- Define your goals: Know your goals and discuss them with a financial advisor; they are the best people to assist and guide you in realizing your dreams.
- Get your mortgage pre-approved: If you’re interested in purchasing a house, it’s better to get your mortgage approved before you start looking at places. In my case, even though our condo construction will be completed next year, my husband and I got our mortgage approved in advance — just to be safe.
- Evaluate your options for buying and leasing a car: Depending on where you decide to live, having a car might be a necessity. Therefore, you need to figure out your best options by talking to car dealers (whether to buy or lease) as well as financial advisors (for car loans).
Navigating your finances in a new country can seem confusing but with clarity on your goals and help from an expert or an advisor, you can be well-positioned for financial success!
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.