Monthly Archives: February 2016

Book Review: Money, Master the Game, By Tony Robbins

Book cover: Mony, Master the GameThe first time I heard about this book was during the pod-casting show Radical Personal Finance, I was so intrigued with the review that I decided to read it myself. Here are my impressions:

Tony Robbins wants to teach us about money

When someone as popular as Tony Robbins talks, his followers listen. Tony has a huge following and by talking about money he will inspire other people to think about their financial well being. If one person becomes interested in improving his financial life due to this book, then that is a big win.

Lessons I learned from: Money, Master the Game
  • Public Speaking
    Public Speaking at a Christmas party

    Try to minimize taxes by keeping your money in tax protected accounts.

  • Start investing early, take advantage of the compounding effect.
  • Make savings automatic, make it go directly from your employer to your savings account.
  • Avoid investments with high expense ratios. Most managers don’t beat the index. Stick to index funds or ETFs
  • Have a diversified portfolio.
  • Distrust Financial advisers. Most people in the financial industry are sales persons, they are not advisers. They are motivated by their self-interest, by commission or high service fees; they are not motivated by giving you the most for your money.

Nothing new

This information is not new nor revolutionary. This is merely a recycling of the same four or five ideas that I continue reading in other personal finance books. However, as a money coach, I am delighted that Tony Robbins is adding his voice to the chorus.

What I didn’t like about Money, Master the Game

I used to like, respect, and admire Tony Robbins until I read this book. This is not a book, this is a 600 pages brochure. Tony had a great time promoting himself, reminding us of his generosity, cheer-leading his accomplishment, name dropping anyone of fame who he has ever met, telling us how great he is, etc.

Every chapter ended with a promise that in the next chapter he was going to reveal the secret of wealth. There was so much huff and puff in the book that I had to struggle to get the few nuggets of information buried between the lines.

The actual useful information could have been written in about 100 pages. The other 500 pages were self promotion and promotion of his other business affiliates.

Misleading Information

Weaved among the useful information, there was some deceptive information that could be harmful for less experienced readers. For example: in the chapter titled “2,750% more income.” An investor with $500,000 is presented with the option of investing in CDs at 0.23%, in Bonds at 3.00% or in an annuity. He neglected to point out the rate of return of the annuity, but highlighted that the investor would get a big monthly check about 2,759% bigger than what he would have received from his CD’s investment. Well, what he neglected to tell the reader was that the annuity’s rate of return was only 1.15% and that the payments were high (compared with the other alternatives) because the investor was getting his own money back. And of course, that he has a business relationship with the annuity provider he was promoting. Shame on you Tony.


I do NOT recommend this book. Every piece of valuable information is weaved with a sales pitch to one of his many business relationships, this makes the book a sales brochure. There is too much fluff and minimal substance. Don’t buy this book and thank me later for all the hour of your life which I saved you. I am not even putting an affiliate link on this book.

Read my other book review of : Awaken the Gian Within by Tony Robbins

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How to make $1 million with a $30k salary

karimeAnyone can become a millionaire. No, you don’t have to be a super smart person. No, you don’t have to be a workaholic. No, you don’t need a super high salary. You don’t need any of that. All you need is a bit of self-discipline and a plan.

I will share a simple plan which could catapult a regular individual into the $1 Million territory.

Let’s create a fictional character. Jane is an average person who would like to retire without killing herself working or studying. Here is the plan I set up for her.


  • Starting salary: $30,000
  • Stock market return: 8%
  • Savings rate: 10% of salary
  • Salary increases: 2% per year.
  • Tax: The savings are pre-tax (Either RRSP in Canada or 401K in the US)
  • Investments: Index funds or ETFs

Starting salary. There are hundreds of careers with a starting salary of $30,000 or more. You could even be an Uber driver (my affiliate code is QZQ3P and you get $50 sign-in bonus) with the one skill of knowing how to drive and earn more than $30,000. You could be a secretary, an assistant of some kind. At the $30,000 salary level, there are thousands of opportunities.

Stock market Return of 8%. According to Investopedia, the average return of the S&P 500 from 1928 to 2014 is about 10%. I think that 8% is a reasonable expectation.

Savings rate of 10%. On $30,000 you put $3,000 into your registered savings account and you still get to keep $27,000. This is very doable. If you save 15% or 20% you can retire so much faster.

Salary Increase of 2%. Assuming that inflation is about 2% per year, your salary should continue rising with inflation. This increase is assuming that you do nothing to improve your skills and become more valuable. However, if you just get some extra training or extra responsibility, your salary has the potential to increase at a much faster rate.

The savings should be pre-taxed. In order to get the most for your money, the saving should go into your savings account before taxes. This is quite easy. If you are in Canada, all you have to do is to open an RRSP account. If you are in the US all you have to do is to open a 401K account. These accounts allow you to defer your taxes until retirement.

Invest in Index Funds or ETFs. The financial industry is full of mutual funds. About 85% of them do not beat the index, mostly due to their high expense ratio of 2.5% or more. The best way to get the most out of your money is to invest in Index Funds and ETFs (more on this in future articles).

Becoming a millionaire is within reach to the average individual. You don’t have to be from a wealthy family, you don’t have to be too smart, you don’t have to be a workaholic and you don’t have to have to go into high levels of savings. A simple plan of saving just 10% of your income and investing it in Index funds and ETFs. You can become a millionaire within 40 years.

Here are my calculations:

Year Ending balance
10 58,766
20 189,981
30 487,084
40 1,145,355

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Who is better off moving overseas

There are two kinds of people who are much better off moving overseas:

  1. High-income earners, and
  2. Retired individuals living on a  pension.
Why high-income earners are better off living overseas
Photo of 4 friends together
Networking event at my place.

Our society punishes high-income earners. Governments use taxes to incentivise the public to do certain things and to dissuade them from doing other things. For example, you can get tax credits for using public transportation, for making donations etc. In this instance, the government is compensating you for doing something it considers good for society. On the other hand, there are punitive taxes to discourage certain behaviors. There are high taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, gasoline and many other products or activities.

However, when it comes to income, the more you work, the more you earn, the more you are taxed. It is as if the government wants to discourage people from being productive members of society. If you don’t work, if you do the bare minimum to stay alive, then you can be rewarded by not paying taxes and sometimes by getting some government support.

For example, if you earn less than $12,000, you pay ZERO  dollars in taxes. On the other hand, if you are a high-income earner ( more than $138,586) and you live in the province of Quebec you will pay:

  • Federal tax 29%
  • Quebec tax 25.75%
  • This is already 54.75 % (more than half of one’s work)
  • Sales tax 15% (Already 69.75%)
  • Property taxes
  • School taxes
  • Gasoline taxes
  • Cigarette taxes
  • Gift taxes
  • Inheritance taxes
  • Alcohol taxes

In my mind, there is a psychological threshold at the 50% tax level. When you work and you give less than 50% of your income to the government, you could imagine that you are in a partnership with the government. But, when you are obliged (by the threat of imprisonment) to render more that 50% of your earnings, you might feel you’ve been placed into serfdom. This is no longer a partnership, this is tax slavery.

It is hard not to be resentful when you are aware of government excesses, wasteful management, and favoritism. Once the government gets your money it does stupid things with it, like giving $1 billion US to Bombardier, like fighting Uber, a progressive company which is helping individuals with their transportation needs, like harassing businesses who don’t adhere 100% to French language policies ( such as the restaurant who got fined for using the word “Pasta” on their menu), and the other millions of dollars that the government uses to subsidize hundreds of other industries . The government of Canada gives about 8 billion dollars in farm subsidies every year. This is disgusting.

In spite of the punishment for being productive, for creating businesses, for contributing to the economy, many high earners lower their head and continue producing for the benefit of all us.

However, some taxpayers feel that they had enough and they vote with their feet. Many Canadians are giving up their citizenship to move to a lower tax jurisdiction. They are tired of being tax slaves and are going to places with warmer weather such as Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, etc. If you are tired of being a tax slave, you could give up your citizenship and keep more of your hard-earned money while enjoying better weather.

Other high earners just give up. They go into early retirement and this a lost for every one, for the individual and for society. This is very sad.

Countries with little or no-income tax: Andorra, the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands, the Cook Islands, Hong Kong, the Isle of Man, Mauritius, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Panama, Switzerland, St. Kitts and Nevis, Qatar, and Kuwait.

Why pensioners are better off living overseas

This group of people has worked all their lives, they have contributed to a pension plan or to a retirement plan and now, after retirement, they have to make their money last for 20 or 30 years.

We are aware that the cost of living in many countries can vary enormously. The cost of living in Buenos Aires is only one-third of the cost of living in Vancouver. For example, if you have an inflation adjusted pension of $2,000. Where do you think you can get more for your money, in Toronto or in Costa Rica? $2,000 is hardly enough to pay the rent in Toronto, whereas with $2,000 you can be considered a rich person in Costa Rica.

Canada is a beautiful country. Some of its biggest advantages are the cultural diversity and the sense of peace and security you get when walking down the street. But let’s be honest; the cost of living is high and the tax system is crippling. Canada is a middle-class paradise, but if you are a poor pensioner or a high earner, you will be better off by relocating overseas.

Coaching services

I am a money coach, don’t hesitate to write me if you want to talk about money or anything else that is going on in your life.

My Job as a Money Coach

One year anniversary as a money coach
I money coach with all my friends. This is a phone of one of my freiends and  me.
I feel so Canadian in this picture

This is my one year anniversary as a money coach. I tell you, this is the job of my dreams. I am a money geek and nothing pleases me more than to talk about money. Since thinking about my own financial life is not enough, I am always searching for opportunities to think and talk about someone else’s financial life.

About me and money coaching

For those of you who don’t know me, I studied business at Concordia University. I worked as a financial adviser for one of Canada’s biggest financial companies, but I got frustrated because as a financial adviser, my real job was to sell financial products to the public. My job was never about providing the best possible financial advice. The financial products we were selling were bloated with all kind of management expenses, to the detriment of the client and to the benefit of our company. I knew that I could provide better service and advice to my clients, but my employer would not allow me because good financial advice provided no commissions. So I quit my job.  The inconsistency was too much for me to bear.

How I got started as a money coach

After neglecting my dream of becoming a financial adviser for almost 10 years, I decided to provide advice without selling any products. Clients would pay me for my time. My only concern was the benefit of my client. I don’t sell stocks, I don’t sell insurance, I don’t sell anything! only my time and my years of financial education.  So I made a few business cards, I passed them around and eventually my first client booked an appointment.

Where are my money coaching clients coming from?

Many of my clients have come from my beloved club McGill Toastmasters, from my dance classes, and from referrals. My clientele grows at the rate of one new client per month. At this point, I don’t have enough clients to be able to sustain myself, but I have enough clients to keep me engaged.

What happens in a money coaching session?


The first thing I like to figure out is where my client is in her financial life. Does she have debts, does she have assets, how much? We do this by creating a Net Worth Statement.

A Net Worth Statement is created by taking a piece of paper, drawing a vertical line in the middle. On the left side, we put the assets, everything that she owns: car, auto, savings, retirement account, etc. On the right side, we put the liabilities. This is everything which she owes: credit card debts, student loans, mortgage, etc.

Setting up money goals

Goals are unique for each client. Some want to get out of debt, some to save to buy a house and many want to make sure that they will have enough money for retirement.

How often do I see my clients?

Some clients need lots of help at the beginning. After the first meeting, we set goals to accomplish before the next meeting. I could see a client once per month during the first three months and then, once they are on track, we could see each other once every three months. With some clients, I have agreed to see them only once per year, to set up the new yearly objectives and to review how they have done in the past year. If I had it my way, I would see each client every 90 days.

How do we track progress?

Everything revolves around the Net Worth Statement. We take the first statement as our base year and we follow the progress month by month. Not every month will be an improvement, everyone has their ups and downs months, but in the long run, we should see an upward trajectory. To encourage my readers and clients to write their Net Worth Statements every month, I publish my own Net Worth Statement the first week of every month.

What are some common money goals?

Usually, my objective are:

  1. to eliminate credit card debt. Ideally, my clients would never have a running balance.
  2. To create a margin of safety (some people call it an emergency fund.)
  3. To start paying down other debts with high-interest rates (anything above 6%). These debts could be student loans, personal loans, a line of credit, etc.
  4. To start saving toward the client’s financial objective. For example, traveling, home purchase, children’s education, retirement, etc.
How much does it cost?

Right now my services cost $20/hour. My goal is to have one client per day, five days per week. Eventually, I will increase the price, but for now, I want as many people as possible to try my services.

How do we do organize a meeting?

My favorite way of communication is face to face. If you live in Montreal, you can simply come to my apartment. If you live outside Montreal, you can book a Skype of a phone meeting.

If anyone is interested in my coaching services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

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