The Eden Project FUNdraiser Update

Hello friends,

I would like to personally thank everyone who has donated to the Eden Project fundraiser so far.  We have a long way to go to meet our goal of raising $25,000 so that we can launch Eden Cafe this fall, but I am so grateful for your encouraging responses and support!

My fundraising team and I want to recognize your generosity by giving back to you in some small ways and we’ve developed a fun rewards program.

For your donation of:

  1. $500+ you get homemade cookies or cheesecake delivered to your home or work (guaranteed delicious)
  2. $1000+ you get a video challenge of your choosing (that’s lighthearted and harmless)
  3. $2500+ you get your car(s) washed, or a home cleaning (your choice of one)

Donate to the Eden Project


Watch our latest rewards on video:

Blind fold logo drawing? Why, yes, yes, we did!

Angelina’s Dutch Corner is a family run restaurant and hidden gem serving up fantastic breakfast and lunch fare to New Westminster. They were voted Reader’s Choice Best Breakfast, Best Brunch 3 years in a row and Best Sunday Brunch 4 years in a row by the New Westminster Record.

Located at The Quay on the Fraser River, Angelina’s is the perfect place to enjoy a wonderful breakfast, delicious coffee or lunch on their seasonal patio.

And last, but not least, here’s our “Pac Man cupcake” challenge. If you’d going to do this at home, don’t forget to chew!

Don’t forget, every donation over $20 will get you a registered charity income tax receipt.



Eden Project group

The Eden Project

Personal Message from Taayla Mark:

Hi friends,

I am part of an endeavour that is close to my heart and I would love to share it with you.

Here in Vancouver, our Downtown Eastside bears the poorest postal code in all of Canada.

I lived in the area when I was young, and I remember walking by the suffering each day and pretending that it did not exist. Sadly, when I became an adult, I was still doing that, looking away uncomfortably, as I drive by. 

I did not want to care because the problem seemed too big and so hopeless for me to take on. What can I do about it, personally? Then I learned about the Eden Project and the good work that’s being done to relieve suffering, and I got involved. Now I believe wholeheartedly that something can be done. 

Please let me introduce you to the Eden Project. I encourage you to take 3 minutes to watch this short video to learn exactly how we are helping those in the most dire situations: 

Coastal Church – Eden DTES from Coastal Church on Vimeo.

Right now, we have nine members of the Coastal Church​ who have moved themselves – some with families –  into the Downtown Eastside as a commitment to this community. We believe getting up close and personal, and caring for our neighbours is an incredible way to affect change from the inside out.

To build and maintain connections in the community, Coastal Church will start by opening the Eden Cafe.

The plans for this cafe include running it as a “social enterprise”. For those of you unfamiliar with this relatively new business model, it means the profits made at the cafe will go back into the community via education and training for unemployed and underskilled people at risk, providing them a compassionate and supportive environment filled with meaningful work and nourishing food. Specifically, we will be targeting those people who are getting out of prison or coming through treatment programs. The Cafe will provide the Eden Project a safe space to host meetings such as one on one, group gatherings, and even our Alpha course








I am part of a small team that is raising funds to help launch the Eden Café by this fall, and I need your support!  I ask you to consider being part of this initiative. If the answer is YES, please click on the button below and support this good cause:  

Donate to the Eden Project

Visit our facebook page to stay up-to-date about our initiative.

I believe the Eden Project and the Eden Café will make a significant impact for the better to the residents of our Downtown Eastside. Please, be a part of the effort to make our city a better place! You will also receive a charitable tax receipt for your donation. We cannot do this good work without your kindness and generosity.


With gratitude,






Introducing Manulife Vitality life insurance - Engrace Financial

How Life Insurance Can Take Your Wellness to a Healthier Level

What if life insurance could inspire you to live your best life? We often think of making healthy choices as something that only benefits us in mind and body, but that can even translate into financial benefits these days. Consider this: choosing to be active and making healthy food choices can help you lower your “vitality age.” Not only will you feel better — and younger! — but this also puts you in an entirely new bracket when it comes to insurance policies.

I offer Manulife Vitality as a life insurance policy option for its overall wellness benefits. The personalized program is designed to help you make the most of your life — while you’re still living it. It quantifies your “vitality age” through a few simple questions that address your overall health, and then gives you an action plan on how to improve it. This includes daily tips and suggestions, as well as a free wearable activity tracking device and mobile app so you know how you’re building healthy habits. That’s encouragement and support that’s easy and fun to use, right in your pocket.

The Manulife Vitality program works with you to increase your “vitality status” which translates into discounts on next year’s premiums, among other benefits. Manulife Vitality helps you Live Healthy, Earn Rewards, and Save Money. For the first time, your life insurance could reward you for living well!

That’s something we can all appreciate in the modern age of too much screen time, crazed schedules, and other pressures. Health matters, and needs to be a focus instead of a byproduct of lifestyle. If the Manulife Vitality program sounds like it could be the incentive you need to live healthier — sometimes, we all work better with a goal tracker! — then please contact me or your financial advisor to discuss your life insurance options and if this product is appropriate to help you with your lifestyle and financial planning goals.

Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and tell me about your financial or investment questions! If you live in British Columbia, and have a question about this topic or on other financial matters, you can connect directly with me via email.

***This content was prepared by Taayla Mark, a Financial Advisor with Engrace Financial Solutions Inc. This information has been obtained from sources we believe are reliable but is not guaranteed and may be incomplete. Please note the information contained herein is not tailored to any one individual and is general in nature. For specific recommendations, please consult directly with Taayla Mark.***

Leaving Your Legacy - Street Smarts with Taayla

Leaving Your Legacy

How Do You Leave a Financial Legacy for Your Family?

A legacy often seems to imply something grand, like a charitable foundation or our name on an important public building. But for most of us, our legacy will be small, intimate, and priceless to those we love.

When I think of a legacy, I think of the intangible things that my parents left me. It’s the small, personal things, like how I sound like my mom when I say “hello”; how my brother looks more like my dad with every passing day; and how my sisters have my mom’s calm demeanour.

Life insurance as a legacy: protecting your family in the event of untimely death.

My parents taught me the value of hard work with the way they lived and the decisions they made. They moved to a new country for better opportunities and though they didn’t know about insurance when they first arrived in Canada, they were concerned about their family should something happen to either of them.  A financial advisor gave them life insurance options to address that need to provide for my siblings and I in the event of their death.

My parents’ reason for holding a life insurance policy was to help their loved ones and protect us not only from the loss of their income, but the loss of lifestyle and financial security in the event of their untimely passing. This is the primary reason why anyone would hold an insurance policy or other investment with a death benefit: You have the privilege to create a layer of protection for those you love.

Their forethought and future planning made a difference in our lives that carries on to this day. The proceeds of their insurance policy were important to building our futures, and we remember the sacrifices they made to make that possible. That is one part of their legacy to us.

Life insurance options tailored to your needs?

Think of the essential people in your life; the people that you love the most. With Mother’s Day approaching this Sunday, our families and children are forefront in our minds! Protecting them and their future can be as simple as a life insurance policy or as complex as a family trust. There are different options to implement your financial legacy, no matter what your economic means are.

If you live in British Columbia and have a question about this or other financial matters, you can always connect directly with me via email. Otherwise, feel free to leave your investment questions in the comments below!

This content was prepared by Taayla Mark, a Certified Financial Planner with Engrace Financial Solutions Inc. This information has been obtained from sources we believe are reliable, but is not guaranteed and may be incomplete.

Please note the information contained herein is not tailored to any one individual and is general in nature. For specific recommendations, please consult directly with Taayla Mark.

Segregated funds: Invest money with more safety

We talked about mutual funds in our last video.

This time, let’s learn about segregated funds, which are like mutual funds except the principal investment is guaranteed. This is a lesser known product to it’s more popular cousin, the mutual fund. In the latest Street Smarts with Taayla video, we talk about segregated funds, their key differences to mutual funds, and why you could choose one type of investment over the other.

An investment with protection

Segregated funds contain many of the same elements of a mutual fund; stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. They’re held as a single investment fund and managed by a portfolio manager at a professional investment company.

As the holder of a segregated fund contract, you are able to take advantage of a diverse portfolio of investment options that you would be unlikely to get on your own.

Segregated funds are an insurance product

For some segregated funds, a mutual fund is the underlying investment. The use of the fund is given to an insurance company and converted to a “seg fund.” Depending on the contract and the fund, the guaranteed return of principal upon maturity is normally 75% and could go up to 100%.

As an example, if you invested $100,000 into a segregated fund and at the end of the maturity period the market value is $50,000, the guarantee means you can collect $75,000 or $100,000. If the market value is $120,000, you would receive $120,000.

Guaranteed death benefit

This fund also has a death benefit of paying out the principal investment to the designated beneficiary without penalty if the investor dies before the contract lock-in period expires.

If the balance of the account is higher than than principal investment, the beneficiary would receive that amount. Again, the benefit payout depends on the contracted guarantee return; sometimes this is 75% but 100% is most common.

Segregated funds also skip the probate process and won’t incur any fees related to the settling of an estate.

Many funds also allow for a “reset option”. If in time your initial investment has increased, you may have the option to realize those gains by locking the new value as your principal investment. We recommend caution in using this option, as resetting the investment amount may also mean resetting the contract to a new 10 to 15-year term. The contract period is important only if you’re waiting to collect the 75% or 100% guaranteed principal.

Creditor protection

Another bonus with segregated funds is creditor protection. Depending on the circumstances of how the contract was purchased, investment in a segregated fund could be excluded from bankruptcy filings. The beneficiary of the fund has to be a spouse or your child to qualify for creditor protection. Also, the Canada Revenue Agency can seek to overturn this protection under limited circumstances.

The primary downside to segregated funds as an investment is the higher management fees because of the guaranteed investment.

Contact me or your registered advisor for a comparison of fees and risk to help you decide if a segregated fund is the best fit for your investment goals. Leave a comment below and tell me about your financial or investment questions. If you live in British Columbia, and have a question about this topic or on other financial matters, you can connect directly with me via email.


This content was prepared by Taayla Mark, a Financial Advisor with Engrace Financial Solutions Inc. This information has been obtained from sources we believe are reliable but is not guaranteed and may be incomplete.

Please note the information contained herein is not tailored to any one individual and is general in nature. For specific recommendation please consult directly with Taayla Mark.

Street Smarts with Taayla - How to invest your money

Getting Started with Investing

If you’re new to investing, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s learn about financial matters that relate to our day-to-day lives, and prepare for the bright future ahead. In the latest Street Smarts with Taayla video, we’ll get you started with a few investment basics.

Conservative and risky investments

When you are looking for investments to grow your money, there are many options to consider. On one hand, you could choose a safe, conservative investment approach with GICs, Guaranteed Interest Certificates. Or, you could choose a strategy that’s more risky, with potential for a bigger payoff: investing in securities, or the buying and selling of individual stocks.

While GICs are guaranteed to protect your investment, the payoff is usually limited. Plus, if your savings aren’t keeping up with inflation, you’re actually losing money because you’re losing that spending power!

However, individual stocks represent company ownership, and the whims of that stock can dramatically jump or fall in value within a short period. You’re at the mercy of a volatile market, and chances are, by the time you hear news about your investment, it will be too late to act effectively.

Not sure which to choose? Maybe you’re like Goldilocks, and the best fit for you is somewhere in between these two options: mutual funds.

Mutual fund investments

In terms of risk, a mutual fund is a middle ground between investments in GICs and investments in stocks. They’re an assembly of stocks, bonds, and other instruments gathered under one umbrella to be managed by a portfolio manager within a professional investment company.

You, as the unit holder, share the buying power of the fund, while also receiving diversification in ways that you would normally be unable to get alone.

Mutual funds are a great option for those who want to adjust the risk, and payoff, of their investment as they go. Since there are no protections like with GICs, you can still lose money, but the risk is mitigated through the fund’s diversity.

With this investment, you rely on the experience and insight of the portfolio manager to buy and sell within the fund. Ideally, you should know who this person is, and understand their background, style, and history in the industry. While it’s your responsibility to research the mutual funds, it can be intimidating to analyze the 20,000-plus different funds available in Canada.

Where to go for help with your investments

You might receive advice from your neighbour or uncle, or overhear your coworker bragging about his successful investments, but it’s wise to find someone who will look out for you with their knowledge and expertise: a financial advisor.

To find a financial advisor, you can start with your bank. While financial advisors are easily accessible, those inside a bank are usually limited in the funds they can offer. But if you plan to invest more than $250,000, you may get access to the upper echelon of bank advisors who can provide better service with more options.

An alternative solution would be to find a financial advisor who is also a broker. These advisors are independent, and have access to the majority of mutual funds on the market. They tend to focus on fund companies they work with or are most knowledgeable of. Due to their wealth of knowledge, these brokers will be able to explain in depth the credentials of the mutual funds they are recommending and why they are the best fit for you.

Finding the right support takes time and patience. It’s OK to meet with multiple professionals; in fact, it’s encouraged! You should weigh your options and see which styles and personalities of the advisor best fit your needs. Prepare a list of questions to ask each of them, and compare their answers. Make sure they clearly explain how their fees are set up and how their practice is structured.

Look for someone that listens to you, respects your wishes, and explains things in a way that makes sense for you. Clear communication is essential to your success.

With proper guidance and clear communication, getting started in your investment journey is much easier than you might believe.

Thank you for following along as we break down the steps for getting started with investing. Get in touch with me in the comments section or directly through email. I would love to be a resource for you and be a part of your financial advising team.

Please make sure to like and share my video, and subscribe to my channel if you have yet to do so. That way, I can get new exciting topics to you each month!

CANADIAN TAX: Basics to Paying Less with Jan Mark, CPA

Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing is for certain except for death and taxes.”

In a previous video, we talked about being financially prepared in the event of a death, but in my latest Street Smarts with Taayla episode, we’ll talk some Canadian tax basics.

Taxes are a subject that none of us want to talk about, but with these tips, we can get through it together.

How does Canada’s graduated income tax system work?

In Canada, we have a graduated income tax system, which means that the more money you earn, the more taxes you pay.

Income taxes consist of two parts: the federal tax, which is the same for everyone, and the provincial tax, which depends on where you live.

To determine the taxes you would be paying on your income at different levels and brackets, you can use the marginal tax rate.

At the lowest income level or bracket, you pay $0 in taxes because your income is below what’s called the “personal amount.”

Think of a high school student working a part-time job and making less than $11,000 per year.

For 2018, in British Columbia, a combined marginal tax rate for federal and provincial taxes is just above 20 percent. That means, for every dollar this high school student earns above the personal amount, they have to pay 20 cents to the Canada Revenue Agency in tax. That tax rate is applied until their income climbs up to the next income bracket, where a new tax rate for their new bracket is then applied.

The highest combined federal and provincial tax rate in British Columbia is currently 49.8 percent for those in an income bracket of over $200,000 per year.

However, there are a few different methods we can use to offset the taxes we pay as our income grows.

For my latest video, I interview Jan Mark, a reputable CPA with Mark & Tsang Chartered Professional Accountants, to hear her tax preparation tips. Read Jan’s advice below, and watch the video for the full interview.

What are some common tax preparation mistakes that you see?

One of the most common mistakes is in regards to foreign asset reporting. Most people are just confused about what that means, and when to report it. Basically, if your foreign asset is costing you more than $100,000, you will have to report it. Foreign assets that you own outside of Canada, such as a bank account or vacation property, will have to be reported.

What is the difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit?

A tax deduction is a reduction against taxable income. The amount of savings that you receive will depend on your personal marginal tax rate. For example, a $1,000 deduction with a 30 percent margin, will give you $300 in tax savings.

A tax credit, on the other hand, is a dollar-for-dollar reduction against the tax liability you owe. For example, if you receive a $1,000 tax credit, you will get the $1,000 directly against the tax that you owe.

Is there a “superhero” tax credit?

Yes! Charitable donations in Canada give you a pretty good tax credit. For any donations you make to charitable organizations, for the first $200, the credit you get will be for the lowest marginal rate. Anything after that will be for the highest marginal rate; for 2018, that’s close to 50 percent. For example, if you make $1,000 in donations, the amount you will receive in tax credits will be around $400.

What is the typical tax deduction available for employees?

For employees, the tax deduction is quite limited. The most typical deduction is for an RRSP or the Registered Retirement Savings Program.

Due to the restrictions in having an RRSP, what would be an optimal income level for one to start at?

It depends on the individual’s tax situation and on the retirement tax rate at the retirement age. It also depends on the individual’s discipline to save or not. RRSP is a program put in place by the government to defer your current income and pay tax into the future. In my opinion, any time you have the opportunity to defer tax, you should.

You can learn more about RRSP in our last video!

How else can we take advantage of tax deductions?

The tax deduction for employees is limited. But if you’re self-employed, a lot more deductions are available to offset against the business income. For example, any rent or upgrades to your business space or home office, wages paid to your employees, office supplies, transportation costs, or even meal you took your clients to, are all deductible against your business income.

A big thanks to Jan from Mark & Tsang Chartered Professional Accountants for joining us in my latest video to provide insight on how to prepare our taxes effectively. If you have further questions for Jan, you can set up a consultation with her at and she’ll work to find the best solution for you.

Don’t be discouraged by our tax system. In future videos, we will continue to expand on how we can best manage (and minimize!) our taxes so you can keep more of what you make.

Thank you for reading along in my latest post. I hope these tax tips are helpful for you as you file your taxes this year, and if you have questions regarding your finances for the future, I’d love to help!

Please like and share my videos, it lets me know when I’m doing things right! If you have not subscribed to my channel, please do so now and I will bring more segments and topics to you each month.


Is RRSP right for YOU?

Are you thinking about your retirement and wondering if an RRSP is right for you? In the latest Street Smarts with Taayla video, we’ll dig deeper into this question and find a solution that works for you.

What is an RRSP?

If you’re unfamiliar with or new to RRSPs, you’re not alone! An RRSP, or Registered Retirement Savings Plan, is one of the most commonly misunderstood types of investment accounts.

My clients will ask me if an RRSP is right for them, and as much as I’d like to give a simple “yes” or “no,” I usually tell them it depends — because it does!

How to know if an RRSP is right for you

Before I can know if an RRSP is the right choice for you, I need to know five key things about you: your age, income, first home, education, and emergency funds.

When to take advantage of RRSP savings

An RRSP can be an excellent tax savings and a great way to save for retirement. However, if you’re under the age of 30, chances are you’re not at an income state where you can best take advantage of the RRSP savings.


Because when you make less money, you’re also paying little to no income taxes. If you wait until your earning increases before you contribute to your RRSP, then the potential to save on your taxes could be higher than they are now.

While I don’t usually recommended having an RRSP for incomes under $50,000, if you do decide to contribute to one, you don’t have to claim the plan on your taxes for the current year — you can carry it forward indefinitely.

For example, if your income is $20,000 today, and you believe your income will continue to increase over time, then start saving in your RRSP today. Just make sure to wait until you are at a higher marginal tax rate before you apply your RRSP against your income, whether that’s next year or somewhere down the road.

How to use an RRSP to reach your goals

In my previous video on RRSPs, I talk about how you could use your RRSP toward the down-payment of your first home, or toward the cost of a full-time education. While RRSPs are an investment account for your retirement, there are many benefits to utilizing your RRSP sooner rather than later.

If you’re looking to buy your first home, or want to pursue higher education, then go back and watch how RRSP can help you achieve these goals.

When to prioritize an RRSP

The last thing to consider when deciding if an RRSP is right for you, is the status of your emergency fund. If you have little to no emergency fund, then establishing a solid fund should be your first priority!

Fill your emergency fund before your RRSP, because an RRSP cannot protect you quite like an emergency fund can. While you can withdraw money from your RRSP, there are tax consequences for doing so.

I recommend to my clients to keep an emergency fund worth at least three months of their salary — ideally six months.

Let’s think about this scenario: you have accumulated $30,000 in your RRSP and now you have an emergency where you need cash quickly. You decide to take out the $30,000, but what you don’t realize is that when you do that, 30 percent is being withheld. Now you only have $21,000 you can use!

You would then have to include the $30,000 withdrawal from your RRSP in your income taxes for the year. So if your standard income for the year was, say, $50,000, and you added the $30,000 to that, your income tax return would then be based off $80,000 — a much higher marginal tax rate.

RRSPs are meant to be withdrawn from strategically, and in emergency, you don’t have time to plan for that.

Thank you for reading along in my latest post. I hope this dive into RRSPs has been helpful in allowing you to decide whether or not an RRSP is right for you.

Ask me questions in the comments section below, and let me know what other savings vehicle you are using for your retirement. I’d love to learn more!

Please like and share my videos, it let’s me know when I’m doing things right! If you have not subscribed to my channel, please do so now so I can get more segments and topics to you each month.

A Mission Statement: Defining YOU

Our finances can define who we are, but in the latest two-part Street Smarts with Taayla video, we’ll show you how you can use a personal mission statement to determine for yourself who you want to be.

Right now, you’re at the beginning of a journey, a journey to who you want to become.

If your future self is the destination, think of a mission statement as the map to guide you there. A mission statement, much like a roadmap, helps you, and others, determine how you will achieve your goals and make it to where you want to go.

You’ve no doubt seen businesses and organizations use statements of purpose to communicate what it is that they do, and you’ve probably felt moved by some, and turned off by others. However, a well-written mission is more than just the clever marketing of a successful business, it’s the key to individual success as well.

Only you can define who you are, and by taking the time to carefully do so, you’ll come out ahead feeling ready to grow and succeed.

A personal mission statement is a critical step in achieving future success.

Mission statements help you understand who you are, where you’re going and why you’re going there. By imagining your path to personal growth before you begin your journey, you can create a plan that is clear and effective. This visualization will help you make critical assessments of where you are now and where you want to be, and ideally, provide the roadmap to do so.

Pick up a pen and ask yourself: What’s my story? Who am I as a child, parent, or friend? How do I want to be remembered? What will be my legacy?

While these questions for self-reflection may seem big or vague, oftentimes, we already know their answers. Write them down without doubt and judgment, however they flow through your mind.  The things we like to do, the people we like to spend time with — thoughts like these guide the mission statement-writing process.

As you continue planning the map of your vision, choose a couple trustworthy people in your life and ask them for an opportunity to provide you with honest feedback about yourself, your values, and your ambitions.

Find the recurring themes between their insights and yours, and use this to create a rough draft of your mission statement. Try to be concise in the message you want to convey, and write this future self in the present tense. It doesn’t have to be in a certain format for now; the focus of this exercise is to learn more about yourself so you can create the foundation for defining you.

Enjoy getting to know yourself, and celebrate your unique path.

I would love to learn more about you, so please feel free to use the comment section below to share with us your mission statement-writing experiences.

Thank you for reading along. Please like and share these videos, and subscribe to our channel: Engrace Financial Solutions — financial success made simple.

Life insurance for your business

Life Insurance for Your Business

If you’re not physically present to protect your business, who is? In the latest Street Smarts with Taayla video, I explain your options that allow you to protect your business by using life insurance.

Financial planners are always considering the possible risks to your business, and assessing how to best manage those risks with insurance. Here’s how life insurance can serve as a solution, in four ways.

“Key Man” Insurance

This is important in the case that your key person is not able to be there for your business, and their absence affects productivity and profit margins. This insurance covers the key man whether it’s you, the business owner, or your valuable employee or employees? Life insurance on this crucial person or persons will help cover the loss of revenue as well as the cost to re-train a replacement worker.

Securing Bank Credit

In many cases, banks require the principal of the company to be covered with life insurance to secure a loan. This is like key man insurance –but from the bank’s perspective.

Funding for A Buy-Sell Agreement

A buy-sell agreement, otherwise known as a buyout agreement, is a legal written document stating how its stakeholders are to conclude business in the event of death or a leave of absence. When death occurs to one of the partners or shareholders there is usually a typical need for immediate cash to fulfill the terms of the buy-sell agreement. This is when a life insurance policy comes into play.

Funding for Tax Liability

Death and taxes are unavoidable and usually go hand-in hand. In business, there are many ways that taxes can take a toll on more than you can imagine. It is recommended that you consult with a tax accountant to work out the numbers, and then place life insurance on the members of the business with their expected tax obligations. In setting up this contract, it is common to use the company as the owner and beneficiary of the policy, however it is not necessary.

There is so much more to learn and consider in the organization and protection of your establishment, and in this video we’ve only uncovered the tip of the iceberg. Keep an eye out for more videos to come! One of the best things about using life insurance to protect your business is that life insurance policies are usually paid out within two weeks after the claims requirements are met. That will also alleviate the need to liquidate assets in an already stressful situation.

I’d love to hear your feedback, or if you have a similar story, please share with us in the comments below! I will do my best to help support you through it. Please like and share this video, and subscribe to our channel: Engrace Financial Solutions, financial success made simple.