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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87 Comments

  1. igra on January 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    My goal this year is to spend less on food and to save for a vacation.

  2. Linad on January 24, 2014 at 1:05 am

    I’d like to understand the math behind making financial decisions more. Right now it seems like gobbledygook to me.

    Thank you for this interesting give-away.

  3. RW on January 24, 2014 at 6:01 am

    I would like to improve on paying down our debt this year, more specifically the student debt. Last year, it was paying off the car loan, this year the student loan!

    Thanks for entering me in the giveaway and keep up the great work!

  4. Kat on January 24, 2014 at 6:02 am

    I really want to get over my fear of the stockmarket and start investing in it rather than gics and high interest savings accounts.

  5. Ben on January 24, 2014 at 6:26 am

    I would like to improve/increase the amount of time I spend on my self-directed RESP for my kids.

  6. Heather on January 24, 2014 at 6:29 am

    I feel like a deer in the headlights. My RRSPs are in Mutual Funds and I know they should be in EFTs because that is the recommendation Preet and Bruce give. I just don’t know how to get there, so I’m devouring books that can help me understand and take the next step. Thanks for the chance to win book(s) by two writers I thoroughly enjoy.

    • John on January 25, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      We are clueless in this area as well. Our savings is in GIC’s, Mutual funds and high interest savings.

  7. Heather on January 24, 2014 at 6:31 am

    This year my financial goal is to improve my asset allocation across all my portfolios.

  8. Eric Kassian on January 24, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Improve this year? Increase my investment return without increasing risk. That’s it!

  9. Judi on January 24, 2014 at 6:32 am

    I have been the sole household earner for 3 years now and cannot seem to get ahead of the cumulative $60,000 owing on credit since my salary is taken up with household bills and minimum payments. Help!

  10. Liz on January 24, 2014 at 6:39 am

    My goal this year is to teach our 14 year old how to file a tax return based on her summer job last year so that we can set her up for accumlating RRSP room and assist her to understand fiancnial planning and how to file a simple return. As well I will reveiw our retirmenet savings and budget to ensure we are still on track to continue with not working.

  11. CanadianDaniel on January 24, 2014 at 7:10 am

    How to ensure sustainable income and savings for someone in their late 50s. Many give us the short-shrift which is ironic given our knowledge, experience and skills.

  12. Ken on January 24, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Sounds like both would be good reading. Wish I could get my children to read a book or two on financial planning. They really should have a course in school about money management.

  13. Herb Frazer on January 24, 2014 at 7:33 am

    I would like to learn when to sell winning funds

  14. Underground Woman on January 24, 2014 at 7:39 am

    This year I want to review my whole portfolio and look for ways to reduce the cost. I set it up about four years ago, as a couch potato portfolio using ETFs, and since then there have been some improvements (hello Vanguard) to the Canadian ETF offerings. I’m sure I can squeeze a bit more cost out of the overall portfolio while maintaining the same asset allocation.

  15. Jennifer on January 24, 2014 at 7:43 am

    This is the year I’m going to be debt-free! With the extra available funds I’ll have come April, I’d like to learn everything I can about DIY investing.

  16. Charmaine on January 24, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Love both Preet and Bruce. They are both very inspiring. I will be completely debt free in 1 year thanks to a disciplined approach to spending, saving and investing. It can be done and it’s not about how much you make, but how much you keep!

  17. Jane B on January 24, 2014 at 8:04 am

    How to have a balance in my diy rrsp investments.

  18. CarLee on January 24, 2014 at 8:21 am

    This year my goal is to track our household spending and make an overall budget. At the beginning of the year I downloaded one of the templates recommended here, and am committed to keeping it up!

  19. Jill on January 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I need to stop just reading about how best to handle my finances and start acting on the advice. DIY jitters I imagine. That said, I would welcome another book from one of your featured authors.

    • Rnr on January 24, 2014 at 8:38 am

      I need to solidify my goals and action steps.

  20. David T. on January 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Several tasks this year as I approach the retirement era. First, eliminate high-interest debt; also, add “cash wedge” to my RRSP as I plan on converting to a RRIF in less than two years ( age 60-61).

  21. Len on January 24, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I’m going do my best to control my spending, lower debt, and hopefully put more towards my RRSP’s. Wish me luck, with hard work it should be manageable .

  22. Lisa on January 24, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I would like to start talking about money more with my two young kids. I’d also like to take the leap from having our family’s investments mostly in mutual funds selected by our “advisor” to DIY.

  23. Alexandra F on January 24, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Hi, I really need to update my portfolio by reducing costs (replacing mutual funds with ETFs which I have a hard time understanding) and to start learning about generating an income in about 5 years time.

  24. ljh on January 24, 2014 at 9:03 am

    This year I would like to learn how to rebalance my portfolio.

  25. Tamara on January 24, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I would like to annihilate my debt, and I would like to employ a money coach to hold me accountable for all my spending and money goals!!!

  26. Ashley on January 24, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I want to (finally) open a TFSA, but first I need the advice to figure out where the money is coming from to fund it!

  27. Joy on January 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I want to find a way to make extra money to help pay off the mortgage faster!

  28. AnnieA on January 24, 2014 at 9:51 am

    How to balance saving for both RRSP and TFSA.

  29. Steve Boyko on January 24, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I want to work toward retiring at a reasonable age and having enough to enjoy my retirement.

  30. Ben on January 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I would like to stop worrying so much about money in my retirement.

    • Gary on January 25, 2014 at 10:44 am

      ME TOO!!!

  31. Pauline on January 24, 2014 at 10:10 am

    My goal is to increase my knowledge around non registered investments in my retirement planning. Approaching that time and need to figure out how to invest smart when rrsp tfsa etc are at max.

  32. Koala on January 24, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I’d like to increase my income.

  33. Leanne B on January 24, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I’d like to focus on eating at home more and spending less dining out. Also to figure out the right balance between RRSP/TFSA contributions since I belong to a DB pension plan.

  34. Greg H on January 24, 2014 at 11:31 am

    More portfolio diversification – too heavily invested in Canada

  35. David Butler on January 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I have a financial plan in place to downsize to a smaller and less expensive condo however I am overwhelmed at the amount of furniture and such that I would have to sell and that tends to immobilize me in my plans. I have lived in this condo for 20 years and am attached to it so this part of the plan although in place makes me slow up in the process. I would like to try and save a bit more out of my monthly spending money in order to add to my TFSA.

  36. Stephane on January 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Our will. We’ve been meaning to make one out for a couple of years but never get around to actually making one. This is the year we do!

  37. Paula Akerley on January 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I have room in my RRSP and have not contributed for 4 years. I am waivering between putting money into a RRSP or TFSA accout.

  38. Judy on January 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    This year my focus is on paying a $60K line of credit.

  39. Cindy on January 24, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Since my husbands passing I feel overwhelmed by the financial choices I must continue to make. He has been gone over 3 years, but I constantly question my investments and would love some insight into the financial investment world. I believe either of these books would be very beneficial.

    On a side note, thank you for all of your great information.

  40. Irene on January 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    This year, I would like to re – establish my emergency fund.

  41. CathyG on January 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Would appreciate opportunity to win a book, love reading finance books. Completly self taught I’m 50, raised two kids alone, no support and own my own home and am debt free, save over 60% of my income, still think there is room for improvement. Would like to retire at 60.

    • John on January 25, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      I think you are doing it right. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself while you are on this journey.

  42. Marilyn on January 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    As my financial goal this year, I’d like to have a will and powers of attorney set in place. Our family size has increased by one new member.

  43. Chris on January 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    This year I would like to finally get all of my assets in one easy to manage location and buy some ETFs or index funds. Currently I have some money at Sun Life from my former employer that is in some less than optimal funds because I am no longer part of the group plan where the cheaper MERs are available.

  44. Lindsay on January 24, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I’d really like to change my kids RESP out of the mutual fund it’s in, but not sure to what yet. Thanks for the giveaway!

  45. June on January 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I would like to build and maintain a home maintenance fund for future roof replacement, upgraded windows etc. Since I’m planning to stay in my home for at least 10 years after retirement (4 years away), I want to have the savings in place for the things I can anticipate prior to my retirement. In addition I’ll be saving for any renovations (bathroom upgrade) needed and will have that done before I retire. Both of these funds are in addition to my emergency fund.

    • CarLee on January 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Good for you June! I think it’s those type of things that, if not planned for, can really get people off track. We have 10 years before retirement, and 2 kids to get through university, but I too have just started such funds in order to plan for the inevitable home maintenance and renovation costs.

  46. Hazel on January 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I read the interesting article and wanted to put my comments and enter in the draw.

  47. Nancy on January 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Goal 2014: Max out TFSA. Preet’s book would be much appreciated.

  48. Audrey on January 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Every extra penny is going in to my mortgage. I would love to pay it off in 2-3 years and then I will have ZERO debt!! Woo Hoo!

  49. Kitstownie on January 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I’ve just retired with no company pension and would like to know more about investing for a sustainable income. Better late than never!

    Please enter me in your book draw.

  50. Be'en on January 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I really want to STOP over-thinking my money! 🙂

  51. ERIN D on January 25, 2014 at 1:56 am

    I am in the process of downsizing from a 2600 square foot townhouse to a 1444 square foot condo. Getting rid of lots of clutter and hopefully gaining a significant amount of home equity and a simplier lifestyle 🙂

  52. Herman on January 25, 2014 at 6:29 am

    I plan to spend less on entertainment and dining out since I have a 2nd baby on the way!

  53. Jennifer on January 25, 2014 at 6:58 am

    This year we’re trying to better balance RRSP vs non-registered savings for retirement. We’ve been heavy on the RRSP investing, which is good, but only recently realized how beneficial non registered savings can be in retirement. Now we have to figure out how best to balance our retirement savings going forward.

  54. Money Saving on January 25, 2014 at 7:24 am

    I think that’s great advice to not making saving and investing too complicated when it doesn’t really need to be.

    This year, I’d like to improve my finances by downsizing our house. I figure we’ll save about $7,000 a year if we can move down to a 1,800 – 2,000 sqft home.

  55. Verna on January 25, 2014 at 8:13 am

    My goal is to have my vacation to Europe paid for before my flight takes off. It’s going to be hard to do this while still paying off the renovation loan I have before the interest-free grace period is over.

  56. Ed Poletto on January 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Working and planning diligently has activated my inner money man. The great advice that you are sharing has sparked my sleepy financial giant to act today rather than tomorrow.

  57. Chris on January 25, 2014 at 9:47 am

    How to determine what is too much risk? Investment income is my main source but with a 2year GIC @1.75 it’s not enough to support my lifestyle. Do Reits, mortgage income funds, dividend stocks and the like pose more of a threat than running out of money? Already retired with no intention of going back to work.

  58. Sven on January 25, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Just one area!? 🙂

    How about a few… learning to spend less on groceries and eating out. How to rebalance a portfolio and how to build an RESP.

  59. Charlene on January 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    My husband and I are in our 40’s with no savings to speak of and he is the only (self employed) income earner in our house. Our 3 children are young (two are in school, I stay home with the youngest) and we have put money aside into RESP’s for their future. What I would like help with is where to start? We will never get “caught up”, it is far too late for that, however, it would be great to focus on gaining some sense of savings for us.

  60. BNgarden on January 25, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Most focused this year on paying down the mortgage (to less than 1/2 current balance) but next year’s all about investment rebalancing and whether to reduce the ETF numbers. Total portfolio fees ~ .38% but perhaps I can get down to < .20%. Would love to stop over-thinking money (although I enjoy running scenarios!). Thanks for all your blog posts!

  61. Taking_control on January 25, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Max out of TFSA, max on RESP, make mortgage prepayments biweekly, rebalance current self directed accounts.

  62. John on January 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    We have no debts and our house is mortgage free. We both work, but will be retiring this year. We have always lived on my pay cheque and saved my wife’s pay cheques, even in tough times. We plan to do renovations on our home before we downsize. That will be done before we retire. We have two goals; one is to set up a budget which allow us to travel and the other is to put our TFSA to better use. It is in mutual funds and we would like to have better returns.

  63. KC on January 26, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Even though I’m young and it’s the perfect time to focus on my retirement savings due to compounding interest, I’m focusing on paying off my high-interest non-deductible debt. However, at the same time, I’m also putting away some savings in my TFSAs to keep the habit going as well as a sort of emergency funds set up.

    In the meantime, I have set up a “play money” investing set up for my research and planning so that in a year when my debt is fully paid off, I can then immediately set aside my former debt payments into my investments that will be all ready to go without guessing where to start as I will have done my due diligence for the past year and pretend money.

    For once in my life with a new steady job, I can finally implement my financial plan to be financially independent with my only debt to be mortgage when I finally buy a house in about 5 years. 🙂

  64. Debby on January 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I would like to understand how ETFs work, and what time commitment is needed from the investor to monitor and maintain this type of investing.

  65. Creativeme on January 26, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I must learn how to build confidence in my financial decisions. I think about it too much and doubt my choices constantly. Otherwise, really figuring out what we’ll need for our pensionless retirement would be a good idea!

  66. Mike on January 26, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Time to get back to tracking in detail rather than just letting things go on auto pilot.

  67. Chris on January 26, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I would like to both get out of non-mortgage debt this year, and set up a more automated approach to investing/saving.

    Thanks for the great information!

  68. Kyle on January 26, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I would like to improve on and change my sponteneous spending. I buy alot of things I dont end up needing. This year I will also be paying off my auto loan 🙂

  69. George on January 27, 2014 at 8:24 am

    My line of credit keeps getting used up but my house keeps increasing. Hope the housing market doesn’t crash.
    Keep up providing us excellent financial information.

  70. Jim on January 27, 2014 at 11:42 am

    My son prefers the “oblivious” approach. Should I win, Bruce’s book will go to him.

  71. Steve B. on January 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Up until now I’ve been focused on growing my savings plans.
    With retirement around the corner, this year, I’ll be looking at the most tax efficient ways to start withdrawing those funds.

  72. Fabo on January 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    My goal this year is to transfer out my RRSP and invest myself. Already doing this for my kids RESP. Need to max out on TFSA as well which I haven;t been investing in.

    • John on January 28, 2014 at 8:26 am

      This is a very wise decision. Unfortunately for us, we weren’t smart enough to do that. Our TFSA is maxed out. Every Canadian would be wise to work on the TFSA before RRSP. Just my opinion.

      • Gary on January 28, 2014 at 8:33 am

        Well put John. I wish we had TFSA’s before we retired. Its a great product!

  73. Catherine on January 28, 2014 at 5:41 am

    We’re a young couple who are about to start investing. What I’d like to improve our financial planning and investing strategy. The goal is to find out how much we’ll need in retirement and how to plan for it.

  74. Catherine on January 28, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Oh I forgot, I guess we’d benefit most from Preet’s book!

  75. Lyne on January 28, 2014 at 6:59 am

    I’d like to get more consistent with savings… I’ve been dealing with a lot of unplanned expenses recently and savings have taken a backseat.

  76. May on January 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    get a consolidated view of all my investments including RRSP, TFSA, insurance etc.

  77. John on January 29, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I would like to become more of a DIY investor this year and be less reliant on my financial adviser.

  78. Diana on January 30, 2014 at 12:30 am

    My goal is to cut in spending and save more.

  79. Brian on January 30, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Would like to contribute more in my savings.

  80. LA on January 30, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I’m moving into Index Investing this year, which is pretty scary for a non-investor. But that’s my goal for the year.

    Both books sound like a really interesting read. 🙂

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