Being your own DIY financial planner might take some getting used to – so this dedicated page is here to help you navigate the DIY Projections Solution, support your work, understand your reports, and provide some interpretations to get the most out of the platform. The sections below will walk you through the platform and provide some key information to help you feel even more secure about your DIY plan. Read on!
DIY Projections Solution 101
To recap, using the DIY Projections Solution involves three (3) key sub-phases:
Discovery – includes entering all facts and information.
Foundation – includes a summary of facts and information.
Final Plan – includes detailed projections, and you can log your own actions as required.
Let’s go through the support available for each phase including how you can customize the software as you use it.
Phase 1. Discovery
Welcome to your Discovery inputs.
Any good financial planner will start with goal setting before anything else.
“If you don’t know what you want to achieve then how are you going to get there?”
Feel free to input any information you feel relevant to you.
Documenting your Goals & Values will help make them more real.
I’ve included some examples for you but these are not mandatory fields.
The next section you’ll need to complete is the Risk & Investor Profile section. This section is mandatory because it will link to future sections of the software – it will help inform rate of return assumptions within your plan as well as assumptions about volatility in investment returns. Help is in the software to guide you.
The next section you’ll need to complete is the Income section. This section is mandatory because it will also link to future sections of the software – driving taxation calculations and government benefit calculations. Help is in the software to guide you.
Moving on, you’ll need to complete your Expenses section. This section is also mandatory because it will also link to future sections of the software. Unlike other professional software, this solution includes inputs related to infrequent expenses – a common gap in many financial plans. This section will force you to estimate infrequent expenses like vehicle repairs, vehicle upgrades, and home repairs. After completing this section it might be necessary to go back to your expenses estimate and change your original values in Housing Expenses and Transportation Expenses.
Your math doesn’t need to be perfect. The idea is that you force yourself to think ahead.
Cash Flow is the next section. You find based on your inputs in the previous sections, specifically Income and Expenses, you’ll see a visual that outlines your Cash Flow. It might take some work on your part to reconcile your cash flow. Otherwise, you might get errors that could impact your projections and financial plan.
Here are some sample errors:
- Warning W327: Missing expenses is when the total of spending + savings + debt payments is less than net income. Until this difference is fixed, the platform will add this amount to personal spending in the future. Visit the help section for details.
- Warning W804: Missing gross income can happen in two ways. One way is when gross income minus deductions is less than net income. This means that either gross income is too low, deductions are too high, or net income is too low. The second way is when total expenses are greater than net income. Visit the help section for details.
On the left-side of the visual we have money coming in. Then in the middle is where we have deductions for things like income tax, CPP/EI, insurance, and pensions for example. Then we have the remaining net income, the amount that enters your bank account each month. Finally, on the right, we have spending.
A reminder we offer general software support but we do no perform any software calculations or changes for you. You’re the planner! 🙂
The next section you’ll need to complete is the Assets section.
To understand any retirement income planning and related tax sheltering opportunities, you need to complete all fields in the Assets section. For accuracy, you should know your RRSP and TFSA contribution room at the beginning of the year as well as any contributions you’ve made since the start of the year. This information can be found on your CRA notice of assessment and/or by logging into MyCRA. Again, another mandatory section.
Following Assets is the Debts section. We recognize some individuals carry debt into semi-retirement or retirement. If that’s you, ensure you complete all fields. If you have no debt, or minimal debt and do not wish to complicate your retirement projections/plan with debt, then simply leave this section blank. When you completed your Onboarding questions you would have been asked about your debt – so you might see this messages on the screen.
“Based on your Profile information there are no questions related to this section.”
If you think there should be questions here, for Debts, please review and update your Profile.
The next section will be automatically calculated for you: Net Worth.
Net Worth is a summary of your assets and debts. It includes all the information you shared in the Assets and Debts sections. This summary is important because it represents the starting point for your future projections. You want to make sure there are no accounts are missing and your values are accurate.
Insurance is the next section but we’ll be honest here, we provide provide any support here since we cannot and do not offer personalized advice. You are welcome however to pick our brains in the Membership Forum about any insurance topic! This Insurance section is not mandatory at all – you could skip it if you wanted to.
Tax & Benefits is the next key section – which is mandatory and critical for your future projections and planning. This section might take some time… Government benefits like CPP and OAS can provide a significant portion of retirement spending goals beyond your portfolio. So, take your time and enter all fields to ensure you get the best estimates – how much you could receive from CPP and OAS in the future.
In addition to government pensions, private pensions like defined contribution pensions plans (DCPP) or defined benefit pension plans (DBPP) also provide an important source of retirement income. If you have a DCPP or DBPP, you’ll want to enter that information to find out how these private pensions fit into your overall income plan in terms of taxes and draw down options in retirement.
Entering your RRSP and TFSA contribution room will help the software explore any tax planning options you may have within your plan, some which may not be readily apparent, so please enter accurate information to get the best software planning advice.
In this section, you’ll find Will and Power of Attorney fields. These fields are by no means mandatory and have no bearing on your final income plan – but a reminder they are important elements of any comprehensive financial plan.
Upload Documents is the final section of this phase but you do not need to use it. Remember, you’ll essentially the financial planner in using this software so it’s built to support financial planners that might be asking their clients for some supplemental information. You can ignore this section and save some time.
If you have more questions about the Discovery phase feel free to reach out to us in the Membership Forum. We can and do provide support there.
Phase 2. Foundation
Welcome to second phase: Foundation.
As the name suggests, this phase is about taking stock: ensuring you hvae a good base to make your financial projections and plans from. It will ask you to consider things like an emergency fund, expected rates of return but more importantly based on your inputs from previous sections, give you the confidence that your future cash flow needs will be met.
If at any time you see something significantly amiss in this section, please do not hestitate to go back and adjust any values or answers in your Discovery phase. The software builds on your information section-by-section-by-section. Input errors in one field can trigger unintended consequences down the line…
Emergency Fund is the first section in this Foundation phase. Please go through the prompts to uncover best practices related to establishing any emergency fund / cash position for your household. This is not a “must” for you, but something to consider. Financial planners encourage investors to keep/cover between 3 and 6 months of current expenses, but sometimes more, in cash.
“The most important part of every plan is planning on your plan not going according to plan.” – The Psychology of Money, by Morgan Housel.
The next Investment Plan section is very important. Long-term, reasonable returns will likely be essential for your retirement income planning.
** By default **, you should know the software has designed-in, hardcoded, rates of return aligned to the most current FP Canada Standards Council Projection Assumption Guidelines.
The rate of return is the standard long-term rate of return assumption from this Financial Planning Standards Council – and those assumptions change slightly from year-to-year. There is still an opportunity to adjust the rate of return assumption in the Final Plan phase, but we do not recommend making these changes unless in very specific circumstances since it’s more complex work. That said, you do have access to that section and the entire software – you’re the planner!
See the screenshot below to adjust your rates of return, go to: Final Plan > Projections > Advanced Options. From there you can adjust your rates of return and override the settings.
A reminder we offer general software support but we do no perform any software calculations or changes for you. You’re the planner! 🙂
In this Investment Plan section you may notice (and not agree with!) any geographical diversification:
In future software versions, we hope to make any diversification section more readily editable by you – we can’t even amend this (!) for you – but don’t be overly concerned with the defaults.
While interesting, the diversification defaults hardly apply to most DIY investors.
This diversification setting is in the software based on best practices. The diversification breakdown is automatic based on your equity allocation as part of the Foundation > Investment Plan section but the better news is – it’s only for information purposes from a risk management perspective. At the moment the user cannot override the diversification breakdown values. The diversification breakdown only applies to the Success Rate calculation in the Final Plan > Projections section. We’ll keep you posted when this improvement occurs!
The Future Cash Flow section and tabs will be things you can play with and review. You can toggle each legend item as you wish and details are provided in the ledger below on the same screen. There is also an Export feature on this page. Use it as much as you wish!
The CPP and OAS Estimates section is based on the information shared in the Discovery > Tax & Benefits section. Make sure to choose the age you’d like to start CPP and OAS benefits within your plan. After you choose your start age on this screen, the CPP and OAS income will automatically be included in your Future Cash Flow when you recalculate the Future Cash Flow section.
In the final section of Foundation, you’ll find the Tax & Benefits section – since income tax and government benefit clawbacks can be important considerations within any financial plan. The Tax & Benefits chart simply helps visualize these considerations. Please leverage the online help for any definitions and interpretations designed into the software.
Phase 3. Final Plan
Welcome to third and final phase in the software: Final Plan.
Also as the name suggests, this phase offers financial projections including your income plans for the future – from all key retirement sources.
You also get graphs of your spending and net worth, along with a projected success rate.
Maybe better still, while visuals are great, you have access to your own ledger in the same screen if you scroll down a bit.
You’ll see your balances by account as they trend down (or up) based on your inputs in your Discovery phase that could be related to:
- Non-registered accounts
The software will flag Warnings including any income vs. spending shortfalls.
You have the ability to export this information on demand, as much as you wish.
A reminder you can use the Advanced Options tab/button to provide even more ability to customize your financial plan and override previous inputs. Another reminder that while changes can be made in Advanced Options, it is a best practice to make the change in Discovery or Foundation to allow data to flow into the Final Plan.
The Summary section is designed to show the next 10 years – given any financial plan is subject to change in one year, let alone 5-years and definitely 10-years. Best practice is to re-evaluate any financial projections or plan at least annually but you have access to the software to adjust as you wish via our membership model.
The remaining Recommendations and Implementation and Tracking sections are placeholders for financial planners. You can ignore these sections for your DIY / personal use.
Want to share your information?
Feel free, totally up to you!
Using the Sharing feature near the bottom, left-hand navigation pane, you can create an anonymous version of your financial plan that you can share publicly / with others on personal finance forums, personal finance websites, etc.
To create your Cashflows & Portfolios Public Dashboard we first remove all personal information and then generate a one-time link that is not stored anywhere in your account. This one-time snapshot will be deleted based on the length of time you choose on that page.
There is never any obligation to share your plan.
DIY Projections Solution Support Summary
We hope this page provided some value-add support to your DIY Projections Solutions activities.
As clients / DIY investors continue to use the software, we’ll update this page with FAQs to ensure you’re getting the best value out of being your own financial planner. We’ll also keep this page current to ensure you’re notified of when new features are introduced and how they can applied.
If at any time you feel something is amiss in this platform, please do not hestitate to review the buit-in help.
If you cannot find what you are looking for, as always, contact us and we’ll try and return any answers to questions within a few business days.
We thank you for using the DIY Projections Solution and we trust you’ll get tons of value doing your own retirement income reports and planning.
Mark and Joe.