What is success? What is best? How do you make the right decision? The intricacies of personal finance require deep dives into countless areas, from investment vehicles, through decision making and your own definitions of success. Jenny Anderson takes a swipe at the latter, with some thoughts on the personal side of your balance sheet. Dan Bortolotti, the Canadian Couch Potato, provides careful consideration of the new suite of all-in-one diversified ETF portfolios, and decries the bad press they’ve been receiving. Our friend Alexandra MacQueen, co-author of that classic read “Pensionize Your Nest Egg” and one of my fellow presenters at a recent Globe & Mail education session, discusses what pension decision really is “best” in light of your longevity.

If you have time for more than the Top Three, I recommend reading more of Alexandra’s work and her take on the CPP dropout provision. There’s a thoughtful piece from Scott Terrio on Canada’s credit scoring system – and how it’s not doing what you may have believed. Owen Winkelmon, a member of the Advice Only Planners forum, has some useful tax planning strategies for families, and our own Chris Enns is using the Marie Kondo method on your expenses. Last but not least, read Michael Batnik’s thoughts on uncomplicating your portfolio, Sara Taber’s realization of where all that unused produce is coming from, and Morgan Housel’s list of things that we definitely know about the next recession (hint: none of them are “when”).

The only metric of success that really matters is the one we ignore

From Jenny Anderson

“Community is an insurance policy against life’s cruelty.”

Your personal balance sheet includes way more than just your finances – who are the people you can rely on, and that can rely on you, when life goes sideways? Really, you just have to read this.

Read the full article here.

Vanguard, iShares or BMO? A side-by-side comparison of the new all-in-one diversified ETF portfolios

From Dan Bortolotti

Others dismiss these funds as cookie-cutter solutions, or argue that they’re only appropriate for very small accounts or unsophisticated investors. What nonsense. I’ve reviewed a lot of portfolios over the years, with six- and seven-figure balances, many of which were designed by people who manage money for a living. Almost none of them were more thoughtfully structured than what Vanguard, iShares and BMO have packed into a single ETF.

Read the full article here.

How to make the right pension decision when longevity is so variable

From Alexandra MacQueen

The “best” option is not the one that may pay out the most, but the option that reduces the most risk.

Read the full article here.

You can read this month’s entire list below, and browse through past lists here.

Why the 17% drop-out rule is key to your CPP entitlement | Alexandra Macqueen

How years of low or no income are (or are not) dropped out of your Canada Pension Plan benefit

Canada’s credit score obsession is leading people to make bad financial decisions | Scott Terrio 

The credit scoring system isn’t designed to do what you’d like it to.

Family Financial Planning: Tax Strategies For Families With Children | Owen Winkelmolen 

Planning strategies for parents to decrease taxes and increase benefits

How to Start Organizing Your Expenses … Just Like Marie Kondo | Chris Enns 

A lot of the things that stress us out about having a messy house are the same things that stress us out about our finances.

Un-Complicating Investing | Michael Batnik

If you can just find the right-ish mix of stocks and bonds, you can move onto more productive uses of time like trying to advance your career and spending time with friends and family.

Farms aren’t tossing perfectly good produce. You are. | Sara Taber 

The most important behavioral change consumers can make to address food waste isn’t to buy certain kinds of produce. It’s to actually eat what we bring home.

Recessions: It’s Been a While | Morgan Housel 

Three things we know for sure about the next recession (none of them are when).


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