Saturday, December 31, 2016

How to set New Year's Resolutions that will stick for 2017

As a new, New Year's Eve tradition, why not consider celebrating with a blank sheet of paper and a few targeted questions to help you make 2017 your most prosperous year ever?

If you're like me, goal setting can seem like a daunting task.  You know it's essential to identify what you're aiming for if you're actually going to hit your target.  But what if that mark is a little fuzzy or, by setting an path too rigid, you feel that you may miss the larger picture?

Struggle no more.  Here are two incredibly powerful yet elegant exercises that provide very different frameworks for setting your life goals and New Year's resolutions - and ones that will actually stick!

#1:  The three most important life questions: 
  • From the book, The Code of The Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani.
  • You need to watch the 13 minute video to get the full explanation, but you’ll have the three life changing answers at the end as he guides you through the exercise – have a full, blank sheet of paper and pen ready – the exercise itself is super quick, fun and insightful.You can try this on your own, with a spouse, business partner and your employees if you have them (will reveal their core motivators).
  • Here’s the link -  You’ll need to be registered as a user, so do that first – create a free account – and then paste the link.

#2:  Tony Robbins – New Year, New You Motivation
-          A summation of his tips:
o   Change is automatic, progress is not.
o   You need to raise your standards – it’s your daily rituals that create lasting change.
o   But your goals need to be compelling – can’t just be, “I want to lose 10 pounds”.  Needs to be, “I want to get back to my fighting weight – and here’s why…”
o   If you do “this” it will cost you xyz.  If you don’t do “this”, it will cost you xyz.
o   Question – how are you identifying yourself?  Once you lock in with an identity, your brain finds a way to keep you there.  What’s your story?
o   Are you willing to expand your identity of yourself?
o   Once you raise your standards, you have to back them up with daily rituals.
o   Failure is not a giant event.  It’s where you missed all the little things.  Or, with success, where you did all those little things.
o   POWER QUOTE:  There are two pains in life – the pain of discipline and the pain of regret.
§  Discipline weights ounces.  Regret weights tonnes.
o   QUESTION:  What area in your life right now, do you really want to improve?
§  STEP #1:  Be specific.  Write down what your life is like in that area as specifically as possible. Write the truth of where you are right now.  What are your beliefs?  How is it really?
§  STEP #2: What are the rituals that have put you there?  Be really honest.  Whatever results you’re getting – even if you don’t like the results – there’s some ritual that’s keeping you there and in that place.  There’s a bunch of little things you’re doing.
§  STEP #3: What do you want?  What’s you’re compelling vision?  Be specific.
§  STEP #4: What are the rituals that will get you there? What would you need to do differently each day to get what you want?  What would you need to do each day and at what time?  Willpower doesn’t last, rituals do.  Just do two or three new things.

Here’s to your prosperous 2017!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Financial Literacy Month with 630 CHED's Ryan Jespersen

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining host extraordinaire, Ryan Jespersen, for the entire 11:00 am hour on Edmonton's 630 CHED radio.  One of the listeners texted in that we were "cheap and boring".  Perhaps that was in reference to me because I can assure you that Ryan isn't cheap and doesn't have a boring bone in his well suited body.  Nonetheless, if we're talking about financial literacy, I don't find those comments to be insults in the spirit of intelligent frugality.

Personal finance isn't meant to be sexy.  It's meant to be the foundation we can firmly stand on.  That is what builds and maintains financial confidence and allows us to make the decisions and take actions that can be tough - like saying no to wants, setting a budget, finding a qualified financial planner to help guide us or bravely reaching out to a non-profit credit counselor when it all seems like too much.

Here are the links I mentioned on Ryan's show and the full audio as well.  Make this financial literacy month your opportunity to take even the smallest action towards your financial future.  Drop me a line and let me know what step, whether big or small, you'll take this month -

Resources from November 7th:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

5 surprising things that can affect your credit score with CJAD Radio's, Andrew Carter

November 1st kicks off Financial Literacy month and Financial Planning week is just around the corner starting November 20th.  I joined Andrew Carter from CJAD radio this morning to share some surprising things that affect your credit score.

-          Why is your score important?

o   Because you pretty much NEED credit today.  I’m all for using cash at times – you should – but if you’re living in our society today, you have to build a good or great score and maintain it.  For better or worse, it changes every month based on your good or bad credit habits

-          What makes up your score?

o   It’s only a snap shot of your credit history – your loans, lines of credit, credit cards … and just recently, your mortgage.  Many people were shocked that their mortgage didn’t used to be reported on their credit report.  So if you were paying that on time but a little late with your credit cards, you could have a less than stellar score.

-          So what are the 5 surprising things affecting your score?

o   The first is paying on time every time.  This means at least your minimum payment.  For younger folks, they’ll write me saying some months they double up – like this month on paying their minimum so they don’t have to worry about it say in December during the holidays.  You have to pay at least your minimum payment on a credit card every month, no matter what.

o   Second, if your credit card isn’t with your regular bank, you need to give at least three business days to make that minimum payment.  For example, if you bank with RBC and have an RBC Visa, when your payment is due, you can just flip the payment amount over online the same day.  But if you bank with RBC and have a CIBC Visa and bank online, you’ll have to give at least 3 business days for the payment to go through.

-          What’s another no no…

o   Third one is using too much of your available credit … so if you have a $5,000 credit limit on your card, you never want to be over 50% - and ideally, under 25%.

o   The fourth surprising one is having too many credit cards or lines of credit open.  Because your credit report doesn’t reflect your net worth or income, too much credit, even if you have zero balances on them, can reduce your score.

o   Lastly, applying for too many things in a short time period.  For example, your adult child moves out, applies for a credit card, a new cell phone and boom, by the third application for a laptop lease, they get declined.  It’s a red flag that someone is in trouble if they’re applying for too much credit in a short period of time.  So space out applications when possible.

Your credit score can cost or save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over your life time from the rate you can negotiate on your mortgage to your finance payment on your next car loan or lease and so much more.  See a pro like a Certified Financial Planner for help and find more info at  If you’re in financial trouble, reach out to a non-profit credit counselor.

Friday, August 26, 2016

My interview with billionaire, Michael Lee-Chin for CPA Canada Magazine

In my interview with Michael Lee-Chin for the August issue of CPA Magazine, he told me, "I own a helicopter and a yacht.  250 years ago, I would have been owned.".

Read the full article here:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Still procrastinating on your taxes? Last minute advice for filing on time

I spoke with CBC radio across the country this morning about the fact that Canadians are notoriously late with filing their tax returns.  If you find yourself in the same boat, you still have time to avoid a costly penalty.  According to a recent Turbo Tax Survey for Intuit Canada, most of us haven't filed our taxes yet.  Their top tax-filing trends survey revealed that only 37.7% of those in Ontario had already filed, 18.4% in Alberta and B.C. trailed at 17.3% (as of April 25th, 2016).

There's an app for that

If you're looking for a cheap and fast way to file your tax return (and get your refund if you have one coming), the Globe and Mail's personal finance columnist, Rob Carrick and BNN News spells it out here.

Overlooked deductions and tax credits

If you're going it alone, make sure you brush up on the 70 plus tax deductions and credits available to Canadians.  Robyn Thompson from Fundlibrary has a solid list for you to check here.

Why are we so last minute?

Jacob Hirsh, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto was quoted in this Toronto Star article saying, "Why wouldn't you put them off?  Unless you're expecting a big refund, there is no real positive incentive to do your taxes early. Normally, the things that motivate us the most are the things we're excited about: we perceive an opportunity for value."  Hirsh teaches organizational behaviour and human resource management.

A little peer pressure may help motivate you as the Canadian Revenue Agency states that 90% of Canadians actually file on time.  So even though we procrastinate, most of us are prudent enough to not be late, even if we file in the final hour.

What can you do to minimize the stress for next year?

Taxes are one of the largest expenses you'll face in your lifetime.  As the old saying goes, pay your fair share of tax, but not a penny more.  Consider utilizing the experience and guidance of a Certified Financial Planner.  A CFP can crunch the numbers and figure out how you may be able to pay less tax now and in the future.  To find a planner in your area, visit

You still have time to file

Because the April 30th deadline falls on a Saturday, you now have until Monday, May 2nd at midnight to get your return in on time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Beat the vactation blues - budget travel ideas from the Marilyn Denis show

To watch the video from my Marilyn Denis segment, click here.

Beat the Vacation Budget Blues

Kelley Keehn shares spending strategies to keep your vacation budget under control.

Budget Travel Tips

1. Make it an experience.

Get your kids a journal and have them record the journey, research in advance what they want to do, historical highlights, etc. With enough advanced planning, you and your family can savour your trip for months! If you have a teenager, consider splurging and paying for their BFF to come along.  That way they’ll be entertained and less likely to be bored and miserable.

2. Try a sort-of staycation.

Staycations have been recommended heavily since the 2008 recession and recently with our low dollar. However, people tell me that they rarely stick to “being a tourist” in their city and instead waste their week off with grouchy kids, spouses and end up catching up on chores and errands. What about a “sort-of” staycation? With AirBnB, you can still get away, just don’t go far. If you live in Vancouver, head to Victoria. Calgary – go to Canmore. Toronto – well…anywhere in Ontario could work. You’ll save on lodging and air travel and can likely use your own car.  Plus, you don’t have to eat out every meal if you book a place that encourages cooking.

Also consider asking the grandparents to take the kids on a vacation. This is a growing trend. That way, you and your spouse really can achieve success on your stay-cation.

3. Hit the grocery store as soon as you land.

Even if you have to spring for a taxi, you’ll save by loading up on bottled water, snacks, forgotten toiletries – all very expensive if bought at the hotel gift shop.

4. Maximize research and deals.

Can your kids get caught up on a week’s work of schoolwork early and duck out for maximum savings on off-peak times? Use flight alerts (try, Google Flights and Expedia or TripAdvisor for packages) to help save on airfare. Sign up for weekly deals like Travelzoo to take advantage of flash sales. Don't forget rewards programs – every dollar counts.

5. Use your age, student and membership discounts, and negotiate!

Always ask what the place accepts – sometimes that’s enough to get a deal. This also might be a great time to dust off all your points. I find sometimes they go further with hotels than flights. Upgrading to a club floor with your points might buy you breakfast at a great hotel for free for the entire family during your whole trip.

Always ask and negotiate – everything! If you can’t get a better hotel rate, can you get a free upgrade, ½ price on a second room, kids eat free offers, etc.  And keep asking every time. Sometimes a different person will say yes!

6. Insurance – always read the fine print.  

Check your credit card or call your bank to find out what type of coverage you have with your card – does it cover the car insurance when you’re renting, medical insurance, flight/trip cancellation? It all depends on your card, so don’t guess. Also, check your home/auto policy to see what’s covered that maybe you can say no to. And even if you’re staying within the country, you may wish to get provincial coverage for extras.

7. Book package deals and tours,

A cool tour/educational vacation is  It’s a non-profit that provides educational experiences with tour guides. They have some very reasonable experience packages in Canada.

8. Set a souvenir budget.

Set a budget in advance, as this forgotten cost can add another 10-20% to your trip. Get your kids to start a new hobby such as stamp, coin or postcard collecting. For adults, take time to take really cool pictures on vacation and blow them up and frame them when you get home as opposed to spending money on trinkets.

9. Research cash vs. credit.

In Canada, I’d highly recommend paying with your credit card as you have the extra layer of protection from your credit card company if something goes wrong or you don’t get something you were promised. But for foreign countries and depending on the exchange rate and fees associated with your credit card, even in the United States, it might make sense to pay in cash. Do you research before you head out!

10. Alternative between free and expensive fun.  

You should have a balance during any day of paid excursions/sightseeing and what can come at little or no cost.