Debt & Frugality

As Didi says in the novel (Findependence Day), “There’s no point climbing the Tower of Wealth when you’re still mired in the basement of debt.” If you owe credit-card debt still charging an usurous 20% per annum, forget about building wealth: focus on eliminating that debt. And once done, focus on paying off your mortgage. As Theo says in the novel, “The foundation of financial independence is a paid-for house.”

Burn Your Mortgage: The simple, powerful path to Financial Freedom

By Sean Cooper

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Five years ago I read Jonathan Chevreau’s financial novel, Findependence Day, and it changed my life forever.

One of the central themes of the book is that the foundation of Financial Independence is a paid-for home. I wasn’t a fan of six figures of mortgage debt hanging over my head for the next 30 years, so I aimed to pay off my mortgage as quickly as possible.

A little over a year ago I reached my goal of “Findependence” when I burned my mortgage – literally. I paid off my home in Toronto in just three years by age 30. Thanks to a stroke of luck and good timing, the story went viral, making headlines around the world from the U.K. to Australia. I received hundreds of email from people congratulating me and wanting to follow in my footsteps.

This inspired to me write my new book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for CanadiansWith home prices skyrocketing in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, many feel like  the dream of homeownership is out of reach. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. I may have paid off my mortgage in three years, but that doesn’t mean you have to. There are simple yet effective lifestyle changes that anyone — from new buyers to experienced homeowners — can make to pay down their mortgage sooner.

Some people argue it doesn’t make sense to pay down your mortgage early with interest rates near record lows. I see it differently. Instead of using low interest rates as an excuse to pile on more debt, use them as an opportunity to pay down the single biggest debt of your lifetime: your mortgage.

Here’s an excerpt from my book that looks at why you’re most likely better off paying down your mortgage instead of investing. [Editor’s Note: the official launch of the book is today.]

Why pay down your Mortgage when you can come out ahead Investing?

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When you should NOT invest in an RRSP

Eva Wong, Borrowell

By Eva Wong, co-founder, Borrowell

As the March 1 deadline looms for contributions  to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) this year, many Canadians will be thinking about how much they should contribute to their retirement savings.

Perhaps surprisingly, for many, that number should be zero.

That’s because 30 to 40% of Canadians carry a balance on their credit cards, where many of them are paying 19.9% interest and even more.

To pay 19.9% interest on money that is borrowed, and invest money in an RRSP where it would only earn a return of 6 or 7%, doesn’t make sense.

Let’s say someone had $5,000 to either pay down their credit card or invest in their RRSP, and they chose to put that money into an RRSP. They would pay $995 in credit card interest and earn only $300 in return on their investment, assuming a 6% return

There may be situations where if they had the discipline to use their tax refund to pay off some of the balance on their credit card, it could work out evenly — but that assumes a high enough income to get a significant tax refund and the discipline to use the tax refund to pay off debt.

Paying down debt is a guaranteed return

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The Big Dip in Financial Freedom

There is something very wrong with the work world today. It is far too common to find employees who are tired, over-worked, stressed out, and living in fear of an uncertain future.

As a result, people are eating too much, watching too much television, and complaining too much, often self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol or taking prescription medication to cope with their stress.

How can it be that in North America, with two of the most prosperous societies in the world, people are taking more medications for anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders than ever before?

Blame it on the big dip.

The graph above represents a typical person’s (mine) working lifecycle. I call it the “big dip” as it’s only fair to recognize Seth’s influence on the development of the concept.

You will note two axises, the vertical one representing personal freedom and the horizontal one representing time spent in years. The graph isn’t to scale but it does get the point of the story across. Be warned, it might scare you: it gave me the jitters when I first drew it so you might want to sit down for this one.

Entry point A is when you leave school and start working, maybe in a “corp.,” like I did. It’s a happy time. Life is fun and exciting and you do not have any significant worries. You are finally making some real money for the first time. One could reasonably say a person at this point is financially independent. They carry no personal debt, their parents still provide them with a roof over their head and food on the table. Life is as simple as it could be. Work-Eat-Have Fun-Repeat.

Everyone’s goal at this point is similar. Work hard, get promoted and make more money. This was the path to success as taught to them by their parents and teachers and every kid wants to look successful in the eyes of their parents, right? Continue Reading…

Millennials don’t get the Latte Factor

Financial author David Bach introduced the Latte Factor as a metaphor for all the small indulgences we regularly treat ourselves to that add up over time. It wasn’t meant to single out Starbucks as the main culprit for our financial woes, but somehow millennials feel the need to stand up for their beloved coffeehouse and defend their right to buy an obnoxious drink whenever they damn well please.

Helaine Olen (not a millennial) made people feel good about buying lattes again when, in her best selling book, Pound Foolish, she explained how the Latte Factor is a lie and buying coffee every day is not why you’re in debt. No, instead it’s the big things: housing, transportation, health care (in the U.S.) that are more difficult to cut back on.

Related: The worst financial advice ever given to millennials

More recently, this author whined about how millennials were being judged on their spending choices, criticizing a survey that revealed millennials spend more on coffee than on saving for retirement:

“Millennials are continually being accused of wasting money on supposedly frivolous things. In October, an Australian man named Bernard Salt wrote that he had had enough of seeing young people ordering “smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more. Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house,” wrote Salt. 

According to my calculation, if millennials were to abstain from their avocado toast three times a week, they’d save around $3,432 per year. Which isn’t all that much, in reality.”

Oh really? And in what reality is $3,432 not that much money? According to the author, life is unfair and millennials should just give up on the idea of owning a home, or saving for retirement, so just let them have their damn latte and $22 toast.

My take on the Latte Factor Continue Reading…

Steps for saving Money in 2017

By Barney Whistance

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

With a new year come new resolutions and new hopes. You hope to have a better life by maintaining good health, having emotional stability and making yourself stronger financially. All these tasks are achievable, provided that you have proper guidance and will power.

To end up with a lot of savings at the end of the year is no easy feat. Anyone faced with loans, taxes, and insurance payments would want to save some money at the end of the year. There are a few steps that can be taken to maximize your savings and lead you to a better retirement plan than now.

Car Insurance

If you have purchased a new car, it is worth having insurance against theft and accidents. But if your car has been in your possession for more than a 7-year period, it is better that you let go of that insurance. As the price of your car has already declined precipitously, it is no use insuring something that costs so much less. Your insurance will only add to the unwanted expenses since you could have most parts of it repaired for a lot less.


Food is the basic necessity of every human. Studies have found that people in America spend at least an average of $151 on food in a week. Eating at home is far more economical and healthier than eating out. To contain your food budget, allot yourself a fixed amount for every week and see if you can manage within the budget. If you are still left with enough money, indulge yourself in eating out. Moreover, to save on your grocery purchases, you can buy in bulk from a supermarket, which can save you money. Be sure to buy only those items that you use excessively and have a long shelf life. Plan your shopping on the days the store is known to give discounts.

Energy Bills

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