I celebrated my 36th birthday on Friday (my 3-year-old asked if I was turning 76, but that’s beside the point). A birthday is a good time to reflect on the past year and I’ve realized how much my life has changed each and every year since we started this blog.

Boomer & Echo has been a great accountability buddy, helping me flesh out my financial goals and have a deeper understanding of what financial freedom really means. Last year, on my birthday, I shared 35 thoughts on turning 35. It remains one of my favourite posts to go back and read. While I hadn’t yet made the switch from individual stocks to ETFs, it’s pretty clear that the writing was on the wall as I looked to simplify my life.

This Week’s Recap:

A reminder that the biggest giveaway in Canadian personal finance blog history* will get underway on Monday. I promise you’ll be blown away by the number and quality of prizes up for grabs. Make sure to enter and share the contest with your friends and family.

On Monday I wrote about the power of asking and why you should negotiate everything.

On Wednesday Marie explained why guaranteed investment products, such as market-linked GICs and segregated funds, come with a hefty premium.

And on Friday we continued the Boomer & Echo Financial Makeover series with a look at a recent widow who’s finding it difficult to move on.

Over on Rewards Cards Canada I shared a promotion to sign up for the new Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard that included a $250 cash back rebate.

Weekend Reading:

One reason why we love using VRBO to rent a vacation home is because we have no desire to own one ourselves. Here’s why you probably shouldn’t ever want to own a cottage.

Want to see what an award winning financial plan looks like?

Some financial plans can be dozens, or even hundreds, of pages long. Here’s one that fits on an index card.

Here’s a reality check for your retirement spending, or why it’s critical to include inflation in your retirement income plan.

Mark Seed explores the lacking consensus around retirement withdrawal strategies (including a great discussion in the 50+ comments).

Michael James says that while your retirement spending plan is critical, the advisor who helped you prepare the plan might not be around to see whether it’s any good.

Dispelling some popular beliefs about active versus passive investing.

Can’t decide between an active and passive strategy? Norm Rothery presents the hybrid, or “hot potato” approach.

Low interest rates are promoting many savers to consider leverage, including this blogger who plans on borrowing $20,000 this year to invest.

Rob Carrick has some advice for investors who are choking on low interest rates.

Dan Bortolotti asks whether beating the market is harder than ever.

Afraid to spend? Here’s why you should stop saving so much and enjoy your money.

Len Penzo lists 10 characteristics of debt-free people.

Blogger Jeff Rose shares 9 lessons that he’ll teach his kids to ensure they’ll become millionaires (like he is).

The Financial Post’s Garry Marr explains what to do with your housing pot of gold.

Jason Heath offers some good advice on paying off a line of credit.

Most of us can admit to wasting time in front of the tv or computer. Carl Richards asks, what’s the price of your attention?

Dan Wesley shares 15 things that your grocery store isn’t telling you. No, those shopping carts aren’t exactly clean.

Sean Cooper has made some big changes in his life as he prepares for his mortgage-burning party.

Finally, Cineplex revised its SCENE rewards program and customers won’t be happy about the watered-down rewards and smaller drink sizes.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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