Bad Financial Planners Can Help

I am a mediocre planner (I view my Father as the greatest planner), however, knowing that I am not that good at planning gives me a peculiar talent, in that, I can spot (easily) flaws in other folks plans. I think of myself as a “risk editor” for plans.

Financial Planning

Plan and Then Revise

Let me explain, if a good planner looks at your plan, they will overlay their own fastidiousness onto your plan, and will assume you have “dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s”, which is a dangerous assumption for many plans. Most plans I have seen do not get down to most of the gritty details needed to make it an actual plan (e.g. Dates on which you will make deposits, pay bills, what you will do with found money), and that is where most of them fail.

For someone like me, who has failed at planning so many things in my life (not just financial things), I easily see these flaws in other folks’ plans, because I overlay my own shortcomings and just start asking questions about things (in a financial context):

  • Did you think about what would happen if you lost your job?
  • What if you or your wife had a catastrophic illness next week? How would your plan work?
  • Paying off your credit cards is here, but are you going to keep using those credit cards? You don’t seem to mention that in your plan.
  • What if interest rates suddenly jumped to 6% in 6 months? Can your plan withstand that kind of stress?
  • Are you being overly optimistic with your plans? Few of us plan realizing our own shortcomings.

Most folks really hate when I do this, because they answer me the same way my daughters did when I asked questions like, “Did you pack your runners?”, when going to an out-of-town basketball tourney. The answer is “YES, I DID!” (Read that with a snarky sarcastic tone), and then we get to the tourney, and the shoes (in fact) are still at home.

I am not telling you to find a bad financial planner and use their plan, what I am saying is create a financial plan, and then have someone you trust (or a real financial planner) review it to see if there are risks or details that you have overlooked. Different sets of eyes sometimes can see new things.

Once you have a plan, treat it as a living document, review, revise, and update

Image courtesy of Goldy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Financial Rules of 3 For 2016

The BCM LifeLong Financial Rules of 3

Please note that 2016 is divisible by 3 (multiply 672 by 3 and there you have it), so this rule is apropos to this year as well.

  • Rule 3-1: Only carry 3 debit/credit cards with you at one time. The ultimate version of this rule would be to only have 3 debit/credit cards total, in your life.
  • Rule 3-2: Ensure you have all 3 savings vehicles set up: a TFSA, an RRSP and a Savings/Trading account. These 3 are the cornerstone for setting up a successful savings plan.
  • Rule 3-3: For the first 3 months of 2016, pay for day-to-day spending with cash only. Take out a set amount on your pay-day, and use that for discretionary spending only. Can you live on cash alone for 3 months? Yes, it is easy to cheat on this one, but, you are only cheating yourself.


Some simple other rules of 3 you can follow in life

  • If you go to a conference, or workshop find 3 things that you thought were good, and try to do it. Even if all you do is find 3 good points, you have succeeded.
  • Plan your financial year in 3 month stints, and see what you did right and wrong at the end of each.
  • At the end of the day before you go to sleep, think of 3 things you did that day that you are proud of, that way you go to sleep on an “up”. I have practiced the opposite of this rule, and let me tell you it really screws up my sleep thinking of 3 things I screwed up during the day.

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Dear Market Gurus: How do I get 7% growth?

Ending my week’s vacation of  lazily rehashing rummaging through the archives, here is a post from 2007, that has some interesting beginnings for me, the self-loathing about my investing record started early in my blogging career.

Investment Strategy it’s Important

If you are expecting an answer to the Question in the Title (i.e. how do you get a 7% yearly growth) you are asking the wrong guy that question, I am not a financial investment guru, and any money I have made over the years has mostly been by accident, not by some grandiose investment strategy. When I was a younger man, I fooled myself into believing I knew what I was doing, but at the end of it, I didn’t (remember my comments about my tech investments here).

I would say that right now my investment strategy is to use index funds and slow growth bonds mostly, just because I am old enough now that I don’t think I can afford another massive hit like I did in 2000. Should you do this? Have you not been reading, I am saying, GO and find out what YOU should do, I am simply telling you what has worked for me.

Remember a few important points:

  • The more the risk, the more the potential gains, but I am here to tell you that RISK sometimes is a bad thing too (remember Slim Pickens riding that h-bomb).
  • If you are younger you can afford to take risks, because you have time on your side to recover, if you are older, you shouldn’t be risking money you can’t afford to lose.
  • If you use Index Funds and/or Mutual Funds, research them well, and try to buy ones with low management fees, and no entry or exit fees. Don’t buy Mutual Funds solely on the say so of a co-worker or friend, research them, at your library or on-line.
  • If you are going to buy stocks, be careful, because no matter what stock you buy, you are at Risk. I have shares in Financial Institutions because they are making so darn much money, but if the housing BOOM turns into a BUST, these stocks are going to take a hit.

You have time if you are young, create an investment strategy but don’t fool yourself into procrastinating, remember:

If it weren’t for the last-minute, I wouldn’t get anything done. ~Author Unknown

Is not the credo to live by in your financial planning and investing lives.

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What is in it for me?

One of the nice things about having written over 2000 posts and being on the job for over 8 years now, is the fact that you have a massive back-log of stuff that my current readers may not have read, so here I give you a post that didn’t really get much notice back 7 years ago, note the style of writing.

Dear Reader,

So as you can tell I am a mercenary blogger and will do many things to make an extra buck or two (witness the ads plastered all over this BLOG if you are unsure of this), so let’s ask ourselves how we can put a few extra bucks in our pockets (and review a few of my initial rants), What’s in it for us?

  1. Stop paying those ridiculously high banking charges (remember?)
  2. Use some coupons when you shop (hey a couple of extra bucks is nothing to sneeze at)
  3. Get a Credit Card that pays you to use it. PC Financial has a nice one (if you like shopping at Loblaws that is), and gives you cash. AMEX and Costco have one that pays cash as well. For heaven’s sake don’t pay to get money back or points (like that CIBC Aeroplan Gold, only if you are a traveling salesman would that work).
  4. Join Petropoints or whatever other “I give you points for shopping here” program you can find (as long as it is free). I also am a member of the CAA, so I get money back for buying gas at PetroCanada
  5. Stop buying those bloody “Lattes” will ya? What’s wrong with the free coffee at work!

OK, so that is the rant for the day, put your money in your pockets!

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Celebrate the Slow Thinkers

Many of my friends think of me as a fast thinker, in that many times I have very snappy answers to their quips or stories, but it took me a while to figure out that while I do have a quick mind, my initial ideas and response to most problems that I am confronted with is wrong!

That is correct I am a quick wrong thinker, but I am a much better slower thinker, if you give me enough time, I will eventually figure out the correct answer to a problem.

I used to think not getting the correct response right away was a sign of a weaker mind, but now I realize that some problems need time to view all the possible different angles, before they are acted upon. There are a few remarkably quick and smart minds out there, but there aren’t that many out there (trust me, I have met many folks who think they are quick thinkers, but they are usually as wrong as I am).

Countless times I have made “snap” decisions which at the time seemed great ideas, but in the end they were wrong (or effectively wrong) when I look back on them. There is no shame to ask for time to think about things, and if someone pressures you to make a snap decision follow the advice of a noted child psychologist, who says that when  your child confronts you with a snap decision simply answer:

If you need an  answer now, the answer is NO, if you want to wait a while, we’ll see what I decide.

This is the mature way to deal with any decision (now I am not saying get into over-think gridlock, however, under thinking a problem is just as bad).

The next time you think that someone is somehow inferior because they take longer to make decisions, ask yourself if they end up making good decisions or not, that is really the real barometer. As my wife points out to me many times, if, instead of listening or looking at a problem, you are attempting to formulate a quick “solution” you are in danger of choosing the wrong “solution” or worse the right “solution” for the wrong PROBLEM.

The Great Wall of China Did not Get Built Overnight, it took a while, just like a good decision!

This is a great picture my brother took when he visited China. Sometimes good things just take a while, so be patient, and don’t rush things too much, you might not like how the rushed version turns out.

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