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Mind on your money 

Local experts weigh in on ways to make the most of your money this year.


Laurie Stephenson
Certified financial planner, Starboard Wealth Management

Pay down debt. One of the big concerns for Canadians is how much debt people are carrying and it's one of the things you can really control. The first step, I would take stock of your entire financial situation, and what you're carrying for debt, and consider what your monthly payments would look like if interest rates were to go up a few points. There are a huge number of online calculators where you can look at how long you're carrying it for and how much interest you pay in the long run—it's really sobering. I tell almost everyone we're counseling to have a plan to get rid out your debt, whether it's a two-year or a five-year plan. Sometimes it can be overwhelming but most of us are going to carry debt through our careers and having a plan for it is important.

Syd Collymore
Division director, Investors Group Financial Services

Debt consolidation can increase your ability to invest. Debt consolidation simply means paying off a number of higher interest rate loans or other high-cost debt by taking out a single loan at a lower interest rate for a consolidated overall lower monthly payment. It can be an effective way to regain control of your finances, manage your monthly cash flows, free up money and reduce stress. Additionally, any repayment plan that can allow you to move from servicing your debt balances to eliminating them is positive.

Mike Moores
VP group savings, insurance & investments, Belmont Health and Wealth

Use a budget and try your best to stick to it. Use cash to pay for things instead of credit. There are so many people that abuse credit, and if it's the credit that got you into trouble, you don't want to lean on it. What we do with a lot of clients is say, just start each pay with your budget and then kind of work from a cash position. When you have to go to their wallet to pull out cash, people spend really differently. It works well for treating yourself, like I have so much entertainment money and when it's gone, it's gone.

David Jones
Senior financial advisor, Assante Wealth Management

Start saving and investing as early as you can. Some of the most successful retired people I know are in fantastic shape and enjoying retirement because they started young, made a plan and stuck to it! The power of modest compound returns and regular savings is easily overlooked by too many people in favour of striving for the higher risk/high return scenario we can be confronted with when you start saving too late in life.  Even $100 a month with an average rate of return of a modest five percent will grow to more than $60,000 in 25 years."

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