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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


As the year draws to a close it is natural to reflect on some of the financial wins you have had and some of the lessons learned. I believe slow and steady wins the race. I admit, it isn't as sexy as chatting at the holiday cocktail party about the cannabis stock you invested in that tripled or the next potential winner of 2017. I've always believed boring is beautiful in personal finance. It is never boring when you have a solid balance sheet.

Here are the five best five pieces of financial advice I've received over the years:

  1. Get the big purchases right: Don't spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not you are getting a Starbucks or have to buy your lunch on a given day. Do worry about buying the fancy car or the overpriced home in the tiny part of town. Material purchases will not make you happy for long - financial freedom will.
  2. Saving is strategically more important to wealth creation than investing: It comes down to being disciplined about not spending everything you have coming in. Pay yourself first and have the money come right out of your account bi-weekly. 
  3. Avoid credit card debt as much as possible: Carrying credit card debt is a great way to negatively impact your net worth. But credit itself is an important financial planning tool. Likely the biggest expense you will encounter will be interest costs on your mortgage, car loans, student loans, etc. Having a solid credit score can significantly lower our borrowing costs. So use credit cards wisely.
  4. We’re constantly told to save for retirement: And it’s true, we all want to retire comfortably. But saving shouldn’t just be thought of as a necessarily evil to ensure we can live comfortably after we stop working. Saving is necessary to build a solid financial foundation here and now. Remember: you can’t buy financial freedom. You can only save for it. 
  5. Always know where you stand financially: ... Like how much you pay in taxes, where you are spending your money and why you are spending money. You should always know your net worth and constructive conversations about finances should never be taboo. Bragging is distasteful; but sharing experiences, lessons and successes is invaluable.
And one last piece of advice for right now. When it comes to paying less in taxes there are a few key dates. December 23rd is the deadline for tax loss selling in both Canada and the U.S. This is the opportunity to sell some of the dogs in your portfolio and offset those losses against gains in your better performers resulting in less tax being paid to the government on  your investments outside of registered plans. And to the extent you can deduct, defer or divide income, the tax savings deadline is December 30th for RESP contributions, 2016 charitable contributions and 2016 TFSA contributions.