Wednesday, April 27, 2016

National Infertility Awareness Week: Tips for a ‘Fertile’ Future #ChurchandDwight

It took me a while to settle down into adult life. Graduate school can have that effect on you.  By the time I met my husband and we began to talk about starting a family, I was already 30, and he was 36. My step-son was just 5, and we really hoped we could add a little brother or sister for him before the age gap got too wide. We didn't start actively trying right away, but we stopped trying to prevent it, so we figured we'd let nature take its course, and I should get knocked up within a few months, right?

Not so much. Fertility decreases with age for both men and women, and we were already facing much different odds than we would have in our 20s. After a year of not conceiving naturally, we began a journey of another 3+  years of investigations and interventions. It was stressful, exhausting, and sometimes physically painful. When our IVF treatment failed I was devastated, and we decided to take a break. Both emotionally and physically exhausted, I couldn't take any more "trying."

Six months later we conceived the old fashioned way. No schedule, no medical help. Just me listening to my body and not stressing about it. It was a bit of a miracle - 35 and finally pregnant!

Starting a family and having children is something that most couples dream of, and often try to plan for. But the reality for many is that conceiving a child does not come as easily as they would have thought. In Canada, the incidence of fertility issues has risen in the past several decades, with one in six Canadian couples now experiencing fertility-related problems[1]. The result is that what is supposed to be an exciting and happy time, can become a significant source of stress and pressure for the couples that experience challenges along the way.

With National Infertility Awareness Week around the corner (May 12th – 20th), Dr. David Greenberg, Family Physician at St. Joseph Hospital, has some tips to help start the family planning process.

Don’t “try”!
For couples “trying” to conceive, every month can be filled with anxiety and worry. Heightened stress can actually cause more challenges. Therefore, it’s important to live in the moment and just enjoy your partner.

It’s not your fault
There are many reasons why conceiving a baby may be difficult, but it’s not anyone’s fault. Blaming yourself or your partner won’t fix anything and may lead to more problems, including tension in your relationship. 

Live healthy
Don’t wait until you find out you’re expecting to start making changes to your diet or exercise routine. Once you decide to start trying to conceive, start behaving like you’re already pregnant by eating right, taking prenatal vitamins, avoiding alcohol, stopping smoking and exercising sensibly. 

Know yourself
Improve your odds of conceiving by having sex on the days when conception is likeliest to happen. Every woman's body is unique, and, when trying to become pregnant, your individual cycle should be taken into consideration. The First Response™ Digital Ovulation Test detects and tracks your personal daily baseline levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) to detect your personal LH surge, unlike other ovulation tests that use a preset "average" level to determine an LH surge. 

Know when to see an expert
Most couples who are trying to conceive will become pregnant within a year. For others it can take longer. If it’s taking longer than you expected to conceive, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor about what you should be doing to improve your chances of conceiving.

For those who know someone trying to conceive, the most important thing is to be supportive and understanding. Please remember that every woman is different. It’s important to consult your doctor to find the best steps for you.


Disclosure: I am a member of the Church & Dwight Ambassador Program, and as such receive special perks, products, and other compensation for my participation. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Get Your Tax Refund Working for You with a TD Bank TFSA

This post was sponsored by TD but, as always, opinions are my own.
I am the first to admit that financial planning isn't one of my strong points, although I am pretty good with the basics. Like growing my savings with regular, automatic deductions so I don't miss the cash and don't have the opportunity to decide to skip a month. And I've been contributing what I can into an RRSP for a number of years now. To be honest, I don't often find myself with extra cash needing a safe and profitable home.  Not generally, but once a year at tax time we usually do end up with a little windfall, thanks to our refunds. So what do we do with that money to get the biggest financial impact?

An excellent option is to pop that money into a Tax-Free Savings Account, or TFSA, and you won't be subject to income tax on the earnings you bring in. Sounds good to me!

I opened my first TFSA last year, because I had a chunk of money needing a home after I left my old job and withdrew my pension. Most of my pension savings were able to go into an RRSP, but there was a remainder (over the government caps that I don't understand) that I received as taxable income. My banker recommended the TFSA as a great spot to put this remainder, both for the reasons above, and because I'd be able to easily access the money if I needed it for home repairs, medical expenses, a vacation, or whatever. That appealed to me, as I didn't want to tie up my money in other types of investments where I couldn't get at it in a pinch. At the moment, I'm mostly concerned with having a little emergency fund set aside for unforeseen expenses, and a straight up TFSA worked great for that.

Plus, if there's a way I can legitimately earn money (interest on savings) without paying taxes on it? Why would I pass that up? I'm earning more in the long run, because I get to keep all of the earnings. In a traditional savings account, or GIC, or other investment, part of the earnings would go back to the government in income tax. Heck no.

So, how do you set one up? Talk to your advisor. TD has specialists who will help you find the right TFSA solution to fit your situation and needs. Financial planning isn't one-size fits all, so it's important to go to the experts, who can show you options on the various types of TFSAs available. TD even has a 3-Year Security GIC Plus that can earn you up to 8.88%! If your goals are more long-term, that is a great potential return.

Short-term, long-term, high risk, low risk, or somewhere in between, they'll have a product that's right for you. You can find out more by visiting them at where they provide information on the various TFSAs available, FAQs, what a TFSA is, and how a TFSA is different from an RSP.

TFSA vs. RSP? Both have their place, and both have their benefits and restrictions. For me, aside from the contribution caps, and tax deductions on the RSP contributions, the biggest difference is the TFSA gives you options for easy and non-taxable access to your money if you need it, whereas the RSP is more restricted and meant to be left for the long-term—you will pay tax on any withdrawals to make up for the tax break you received when you contributed.

Now, go gather up your documents, receipts, T4s, and everything else, and get to work on your tax return. (Or get your accountant or a service on it, whatever works for you.) It's not a task I love, but it's necessary, and with some careful digging to make sure you're not missing any deductions, you will hopefully have a nice refund coming your way. And now you have a great option for what to do with it—make it earn even more in a TFSA!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tax Filing Made Easy with TurboTax Online {giveaway}

I’m finding it a little hard to believe, but it’s already almost the end of April. I admit I’m in a bit of denial, because the end of April means the tax filing deadline – and I haven’t even started mine yet!! I’m now frantically scouring my calendar to find a chunk of time next week I can commit to this. Wish me luck!

I’ve been doing my own taxes since I was a teen. Back then they were easy – just my income and the standard deductions. One T-4 and a tax form. Later, tuition deductions on a T-2202A also came into play. But as the years went by, my taxes became more complicated, with more grown-up deductions to consider. Now with my own business they are almost more than I can handle, and I’ve considered passing everything off to an accountant, to have a professional ensure I’m not missing any deductions to which I’m entitled. But for the time-being I am sticking to the DIY method, with the help of my online filing buddy – TurboTax!

What do I love about TurboTax? Well, it’s all online, so I’m not shuffling paper forms, and all the calculations are done for me automatically. Not sure whether I should claim our charitable contributions or apply them to my husband’s return? No problem! I can try both scenarios and TurboTax immediately updates our refund total. Perhaps even more importantly as my tax situation gets more complicated, Turbo Tax prompts me, provides links to Revenue Canada instructions and explanations, and answers so many questions about what I can and can’t claim. Once I’m done, TurboTax prepares our submissions and everything goes electronically for processing.

A Giveaway

Honestly, I’m sold on TurboTax online as it has helped me so much over the last several years. When I log in next week to start my 2015 taxes, relevant information from my 2014 return will already be there. They know me J Because I have had such a great experience with this tax software, I am happy to be able to share this experience with three of my readers. I have 3 TurboTax Premier codes available for giveaway!

Ready to win? Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59pm, April 27. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only.  Oh! You can start your return for free now at You can wait to pay until you are ready to file, so if you haven’t filed yet, start now, and if you win, just use your code then J

A Twitter Party

If you haven’t yet filed your taxes, or even if you have, you can join @TurboTaxCanada on Twitter, April 26, from 7-9pm EDT, to get the answers to all your last-minute income tax questions. There's no RSVP necessary for the party, just join in the conversation using the hashtag #TurboTaxParty, and you'll be eligible to win randomly awarded TurboTax Online codes during the first half hour. But there's a little something extra - if you do RSVP, by noon on April 25, you will be eligible for a drawing for some fun treats, like pizza or doughnuts, that will arrive at the winner's door just in time for the party. Sounds good, right? See all the details on the TurboTax blog.  Tweet you there!

Disclosure: TurboTax has provided these codes for giveaway and also a code for my own use. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.


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