Monthly Archives: July 2015

Where do I get my financial education

Having lunch at the park
Having lunch at the park

To make sound financial decisions, not only do you need the basic knowledge, but you also need to keep informed about the latest financial trends. After a while, you will notice many common ideas and when something new comes up, you will be able to assimilate it with ease.

In my life, I have read many financial and self motivation books. This constant reading keeps me informed and motivated to continue searching steady returns and a better quality of life.

Here are some of the resources which I use to keep my general knowledge up to date.

Every morning, as soon as I wake up, I take a quick look at the headlines via Yahoo Finance and Google news.

Then around 10:00 am, I take a break and I read about 10 to 20 pages of a personal finance book. To see a list of the books which I have been reading during the past few years, take a look at my “Book Review” page.

During the day, while doing other activities such as walking, driving or just doing the dishes, I listen to podcast.

Here is a list of my favorite podcasts:

Planet Money: This is where everyday economics collides with the weird. I learned Economics through textbooks, where real life decisions are supposed to be rational and can be calculated, but real life is not rational. Real life is full of surprises. Planet Money highlights those economic surprises in a fun way..

Stacking Benjamins. This show is funny and informative. The two co-hosts have animated conversations about personal finance. I love the guests and the humor. By far, one of the best educational podcasts out there.

Radical Personal Finance: This show is created by Joshua J. Sheats. I love Joshua’s energy, enthusiasm and eagerness to share his knowledge. Every day he takes a financial topic and deconstructs it for us. Also, his interviews are fantastic. Even more valuable than the actionable information is the motivational inspiration. Joshua is a great speaker and motivator, and after each show I feel like I can accomplish any goal I set for myself. The only drawback is that from time to time Joshua drifts into religion and bible talk, which is not a subject that interests me.

Paul Marriman: He’s a retired financial adviser who talks about mutual funds, index funds, ETFs, etc. His ideas have shaped the way I think about investing. He has helped me make the transition from an active trader to a buy and hold investor and I have learned a lot about asset allocation.

I don’t read many blogs but my favorite blog is:

Budgets are sexy by J. Money. I have been following J. Money for a few years. I admire his dedication to personal finance. His blogs motivate his followers to save more, earn more and enjoy life more. One of his segments which has inspired me the most is his “Net worth updates” and “The ultimate list of blogger net worth” where I am currently ranked as #97.

What are your favorite sources of education/ information. Share it with us.

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Enjoy summer without spending too much money

danceSummer is finally here. You have been waiting for this moment for such a long time and now you want to splurge, have fun and spend with abandon. But don’t forget your goal to be financially independent one day and to continue accumulating funds for your retirement. So what do you do? You are not going to stay inside your apartment like an animal in a cage.

Here are some suggestions of how to have fun without spending much money.

      1. Organize a picnic in the park. Better yet, make it a regular thing… how about meeting with your friends every Saturday at the park. If only four of your friends get together, bring something to eat or/and drink, you can have lots of fun almost for free. Many of your friends and acquaintances are just waiting for someone else to take initiative, let that person be you.
      2. Go to a free festival. I live in Montreal, a city full of festivals. Why not invite a friend or family member to go with you and enjoy some free music. I have gone several times this summer and I’ve spent nothing.
      3. Go fruit picking. There are many urban farms as well as out of the city farms where you can just pick the fruits you want to buy.
      4. Take a walk in nature and enjoy the landscape.Every Wednesday, I go up the Mont Royal mountain with a friend. We speak in French about personal, political, and social issues. This is one of my favorite times of the week and it costs nothing. You might live close to a park, a mountain, the beach… Take advantage of it.
      5. Dance in the park. In Montreal there are many parks where you can dance for free. The city provides the dance space, and usually a local dance school provides the animation and some on-the-spot free dance classes. You will learn how to dance and make new friends.
      6. Go to a Toastmasters meeting. Toastmasters International is a public speaking club. I have been a member for almost two years. Most meetings are fun to watch. Visitors can come to any of the meetings for free. Contact the closest toastmaster club in your neighborhood and inform them that you will pass by.

These are off the cuff ideas. If you have some additional ideas to contribute, write to me and I will include them in the blog with your name and website.

Have a happy summer.

What would I do if I won the lottery

GroupFirst, let me state my position. I am totally against the lottery. I think that the lottery is a tax on the poor. The people who cannot afford to play the lottery are the people who spend the most.

It is said that in the U.S. people spend about $540 per year on lottery tickets. Just keep in mind that this is the average. The truth is that most lottery tickets are purchased by lower income families. This means that the government, who is supposed to help the poor and disadvantaged, is in fact hurting the most disadvantaged segment of the population.

In the U.S. and Canada, the government has a 100% monopoly on the lottery. If anyone is going to take money from the poor, it might as well be the government.

I advise all my clients never to play the lottery, but for the sake of a mental exercise, what would I do if I won the lottery. Let say that I won 20 million dollars . What would I do?

Here is my list.

  1. I would pay all my debts.
  2. I would buy a few toys: a fancy car and a luxury apartment.
  3. I would buy an irrevocable pension. That way, if I do stupid things and I waste all the money, I will still have a pension to sustain me for the rest of my life. (Many people who win the lottery end up in bankruptcy.)
  4. I would travel at least once every year.
  5. I would buy an irrevocable pension for my daughter, mother, other family members and close friends.
  6. I would educate myself on the most effective ways to donate money. I would like to save the most lives for every dollar. For example, I have read that just by providing clean water I could save many lives in African and India. This would be a cost effective way  of saving lives.

I asked the same question to some of my friends and they gave me similar responses. They would:

  1. Pay all their debts.
  2. Buy some toys or vacations
  3. Take care of their families
  4. Make sure that they will continue being financial independent, and
  5. Give away the rest.

Few of us have the competence to handle huge windfalls like the lottery. As mentioned before, many people have ended up bankrupt after winning the lottery. Read this article. On the other hand, there are expert millionaires who have given all their fortune to charity. People like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have saved many lives with their and their legacy lives on.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Write me a message and I will include it in this blog with your photo and website.

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Book Review: Building Wealth by Russ Whitney

russUsually I buy my books at the second hand store, but this one was given to me by a fellow Toastmasters member, writer and illustrator Elaheh Bos. I got an inspiring gift from an inspiring person.

Mr. Whitney tells us the amazing story of how he went from an employee in a slaughterhouse to a self-made millionaire through real estate. He bought a house and divided it into several rooms and rented the rooms individually on a weekly basis. By renting rooms by week he was able to more money for his house. He did the same deal with another house and then he started buying apartment units and then apartment buildings. By age 27 he had become a millionaire.

After becoming a millionaire through real estate, Mr. Whitney started many other business ventures and wrote a few books about becoming a millionaire or about building a wealth mindset. Unfortunately, he has since gotten into the business of doing real estate seminars and his reputation has been badly tarnished. People allege that he is a scammer, that he sells expensive real estate seminars and offers little value in return.

I loved the book!When you read it, you feel like anything is possible. You feel as if you could close the book and start buying properties. Mr. Whitney describes how he started his real estate career with little money and built it up to a huge success. He inspires us to start building wealth by following his steps.

There are several elements that I like about the book.

  1. It is a great fountain of inspiration;
  2. It is full of techniques and wisdom on how to buy, sell and rent properties;
  3. It shows you how to get started with little or no money.

Perhaps my only critique is in the organization of the book. The book starts with a motivational section telling us how to develop the right mindset to become a millionaire. Then it explains step by step how to get started. Finally it goes all over the place with many other money making ideas which don’t follow a clear sequence.

Overall, the book is a great investment. It is recommended reading for anyone who wants to build wealth, anyone who wants to stop dreaming and start doing. I believe that I will be well compensated for the time I put into reading this book.

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