Two prominent Canadian personal finance experts have released new books this year that focus on how to simplify and improve your finances.

Preet Banerjee’s Stop Over-Thinking Your Money, and Bruce Sellery’s The Moolala Guide To Rockin’ Your RRSP, offer smart and straightforward advice on how to manage your money, with each author breaking down their subject matter into 5 simple steps.

Stop Over-Thinking Your Money!

Preet Banerjee can be found everywhere these days.  He blogs at Where Does All My Money Go, writes a column for the Globe and Mail, and is the money expert for the W Network, the host of Million Dollar Neighborhood on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and is a panelist on CBC’s The National with Peter Mansbridge.  Preet also hosts the Mostly Money, Mostly Canadian podcast.

In this book, Preet explains how to cut through the noise and focus on the information that truly matters to your finances.  He breaks this down into five simple rules that anyone can follow to confidently take control of their finances.  What are the rules for personal finance success?

  1. Disaster-proof your life – why you should protect yourself with disability insurance, life insurance, a will and power of attorney, and an emergency fund
  2. Spend less than you earn – figure out your old budget, figure out a new budget, track your spending more diligently, save the savings, and plan for non-monthly expenses
  3. Aggressively pay down high-interest debt – transfer high-interest balances to low-interest balances, then develop a plan of attack for paying down your debt
  4. Read the fine print – the smaller the print, the more likely it is to contain something that might give you second thoughts about signing
  5. Delay consumption – tackling the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses phenomenon, lifestyle inflation, and the monthly payment trap

That’s part-one of the book.  In part-two, Preet gets into investing basics:

  • On DIY investing he says, “I’m a big fan of DIY investing, but I’m also a fan of advice and financial planning.”
  • On active vs. passive investing he says, “Most people are better off in a low-cost, passively managed portfolio.”
  • On the role of financial advisors he says, “In the future, I can see financial advisors and money coaches working in tandem as they can perform very different functions – both of which can be integral to your long-term financial success.”

Related: A New Fee-Only Financial Planning Service

The book concludes with a chapter on insurance, which isn’t exactly going out with a bang, but at least Preet made it interesting.  Overall, Preet has written a high quality book filled with plenty of action steps for readers to take away to help them manage and improve their finances.

The Moolala Guide To Rockin’ Your RRSP

Easily the most entertaining speaker at the Canadian Personal Finance Conference in Toronto last fall, Bruce Sellery has written a fun and inspiring guide to help Canadians get a handle on their retirement savings.

In the book he says getting a handle on your retirement savings is a function of three things: knowledge, skills, and habits.  You need some basic knowledge about personal finance, taxes, and investing; you need a few skills to be able to do the right things; and you need to develop a habit of doing those things consistently over time.

The Moolala method is a five-step process:

Step 1: Lay the Foundation – this includes the basics of the RRSP and an overview of how to develop a simple plan, but it also includes gaining knowledge about your own wants and needs when it comes to your own retirement.

Step 2: Determine how much you need – the math isn’t hard to do – and yet most people don’t know how big their nest egg will need to be.  Why?  Because it is scary.  It feels easier to remain oblivious than to address the reality of how much you’ll need to save to retire.

Step 3: Develop the plan – aim to come up with the simplest plan possible – no binders or fancy software or massive to-do lists, just a few key actions that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Step 4: Take action – this step focuses on giving you the skills to move that plan from your notebook into your real life, including a few super simple actions to give you momentum.

Step 5: Stay engaged – this step looks at the most important habits to foster and how you can “set it and forget it”, so you can continue to save while spending very little time working on your retirement savings and lots of time on the things you love about your life.

This quote sums up for me what makes Bruce’s personal finance style so fun and engaging without the irresponsible “YOLO” cry of today’s youth:

“I am not a fan of frugality – life is too short to count every penny.  But I am a big believer in sustainable spending – setting up your life so you can make a few big, conscious choices about your money and then don’t have to think about it every five minutes.”

The best part of the book is that Bruce lists a ton of questions from people in various ages and stages of their lives, and just as he does in the “Ask MoneySense” feature in MoneySense magazine, Bruce answers with smart, witty, and sound advice.

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