By Friday, your postholiday buzz will be gone and so will a lot of your motivation to follow the New Year’s resolutions you made.
For your financial resolutions, let’s see if we can buck you up with some help from the financial planners, advisers, writers and financial industry people in my LinkedIn group. Just before the holidays, I asked them this question: “Based on your years of experience, what have you found to be the most empowering, difference-making advice to help people manage their finances better?”
Here’s a selection of the responses.
For people who feel stressed by negative financial news: “Stop worrying about short-term noise, have a long-term investment plan, keep it simple and spend the most valuable asset (your time) focused on family, friends and passions,” said Constantine Kostarakis, president and portfolio manager at Summus Investment Management.
For people who say they cannot save: “When a client suggests they do not have money to save or invest, [I tell them], you do have the money. It’s just busy doing something else. Let’s find it in your budget,” said Monica Warner, a wealth and retirement adviser at Cambrian Credit Union.
For people who say they cannot save, Part 2: “If you’re telling me that you don’t have the cash available to save and invest, I’ll ask you whether you’d pay your cellphone bill if it was unexpectedly $50 higher,” wrote Tom Yeo, a financial planner. “If the answer is ‘yes,’ you can afford to save. Your new bill is paying yourself. It gets easier the more you practise!”
For people who feel it’s hopeless to make improvements in their finances: Financial planner Natasha Knox of Pax Planning suggests you think back to the last time you achieved a goal – could be financial, but could be another goal – and ask yourself questions such as:
- What personal strengths did you rely on in order to achieve this goal?
- Did you rely on coaching/education/specialized expertise to help you get there?
- What habits did you form that allowed you to achieve it?
- Were there things you needed to stop doing, or situations that you needed to avoid in order to achieve it?
For people who are tempted to jump on the latest investing fad, such as crypto-currencies or cannabis stocks in past years: “A fool and his/her money are soon parted – this applies to each year’s speculation of choice: crypto, weed stocks, junior mining etc.,” said Adam Elliott, senior vice-president and national sales manager at IA Clarington Investments. “[We] know how it ends, just not when, and that the pressure to join the crowd will be highest at the point of maximum risk.”
For couples: “Involve your partner – always,” said Kurt Rosentreter, a financial planner and chartered accountant. “Two heads are better than one on joint goals.”
For parents of teenagers: Teach your teens to “pay yourself first” by putting some money aside from each paycheque, said Sara Hilliard, chief operating officer at Pascal Financial. “Start early with your first jobs. Make it a lifelong habit.”
For people who worry too much about parts of their investment portfolio that aren’t working: “Investing is a game of mistakes,” said Robert Duncan, senior vice-president at Forstrong Global Asset Management. “Those who make small mistakes will win longer term.”
For those who need motivation to start budgeting: “It’s not a matter of how much you make, it’s entirely about how much you spend,” said Alan Desnoyers, a senior vice-president at BMO Wealth Management. He suggests:
- Matching expenses with income on a biweekly and monthly basis
- Deciding what is necessary spending and what is discretionary
- Not letting what friends do influence you – they have their own priorities
And, finally, for those who cannot seem to control their spending: Try a smartphone app that tracks your spending, says Andrew Hallam, a personal finance speaker and author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School. “It takes a few seconds after every purchase,” Mr. Hallam said. “And after getting into the groove people say, ‘Wow, I had no idea I was wasting so much money. … Budgets don’t work as well as tracking does.”
Note: An example of a free app for documenting your spending is Spending Tracker, which is available for Android and Apple devices.
PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST
The Globe and Mail, January 6, 2020