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Financial advice and investing blogs have grown into the thousands in Canada since their beginnings about a decade ago. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Financial advice and investing blogs have grown into the thousands in Canada since their beginnings about a decade ago. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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A blog for every life stage Add to ...

Financial advice and investing blogs have grown into the thousands in Canada since their beginnings about a decade ago. The best ones keep in close touch with their readers, have a good idea of what people care most deeply about and do their research well.

CANADIAN CAPITALIST is a blog written by Ram Balakrishnan, an Ottawa software developer and father of three small children who focuses on investing. It was one of the early financial blogs, beginning in 2004. Mr. Balakrishnan does careful research before posting his ideas, which may explain why they are quoted by mainstream media commentators.

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LIFE STAGE
The asset-gathering stage.

Qualifications:
Mostly self-taught on financial topics.

Why should people trust your advice?
I've earned my readers' trust slowly over the years by acting ethically at all times. And such hard-earned trust can be lost very easily.

Best advice you ever gave?
Whenever markets stumble, I've always said that it's best to stay the course and do some rebalancing. And I've also stressed the importance of rebalancing when markets eventually recover, as they usually do. It's not rocket science but I stress the importance of staying disciplined.

What have you learned from blogging?
Everyone's finances are very specific to their circumstances and personality.

Excerpt from blog post on Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs):
The government brochure announcing the introduction of the TFSA calls it “the single most important personal savings vehicle since the introduction of the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)”. Unlike the usual hyperbole, the government is probably understating the importance that TFSAs are likely to play in the savings plans of all Canadians.

Recommended books:
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham is probably the best book on investing ever written. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle is a short guide that shows how anyone can improve their investment results. Pensionize Your Nest Egg by Moshe Milevsky and Alexandra Macqueen is an excellent guide for those who are in or nearing retirement.

RETIREHAPPYBLOG
Jim Yih spent decades in the financial services industry, which helps explain why his RetireHappyBlog was recognized by Globe and Mail readers last year as the top personal finance blog in Canada. Beginning in 1991 he trained insurance agents on investment products. From 1996 to 2007 he had a retirement planning client practice. He now calls himself a financial educator and runs his own business, Financial Education Think Box, specializing in financial education programs in the workplace.

LIFE STAGE
Retirement planning

Excerpt from blog post on not having a will:
Not having a will is more problematic than you think.  This “little” oversight can cost thousands of dollars in legal bills, bitter family disputes, as well as legal battles between siblings and/or their spouses. All of this would be avoided with the drafting of a proper will.

Why did you become a blogger?
You cannot be in the financial education business without blogging.

The best advice you ever gave?
Pay off your debts!

The worst advice you ever gave?
Buy Principle Protected Notes.

What have you learned from blogging?
It’s not different than writing articles for a paper.

Recommend financial advice book:
The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton – Chilton’s thoughts and opinions are bang on.

YOUNG AND THRIFTY was started in 2009 and offers advice in a chatty and youthful style. It identifies its authors as T.M. and J.B., “a couple of guys in our mid-twenties” who love learning and writing about personal finance. They also run a sister site, My University Money. They seek to inform young people about “investing, discount brokerages, mortgages, asset allocation and other cool stuff.”

LIFE STAGE
Young adults 18-35.

Qualifications
I get my knowledge through an extensive reading schedule that includes dozens of personal finance books, and over a hundred personal finance blogs that I visit on a routine basis. I also teach several business courses in high school, so I’ve got that whole textbook thing down pretty well at this point.

Excerpt on debt as a motivator
Being in debt puts people in a corner. For some, that weight crushes them and starts a downward spiral, but for others it is essential to bringing the most out of them. It is what can push them the hardest and the furthest. By strategically putting yourself in debt to buy an asset, or by one day realizing that to get ahead in life you MUST slay the consumer debt dragon, you are reaching into a great pool of motivation.

Why did you become a blogger?
I got my start simply from talking to my friends and realizing how little we all actually knew about personal finance. 

Recommended financial advice book:
The Wealthy Barber and its sequel The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton should be required reading for Canadian high school students, in my opinion. Chilton spices up a potentially terribly dry topic (personal finance) in a way that makes it palatable for the general population. It doesn’t get any better in terms of Canadian personal finance.  I also really like the offerings of the Globe and Mail’s own Rob Carrick. I just finished his newest book, How To Not Move Back In With Your Parents, and thought that it had some great common sense advice that isn’t so common these days. If you’ve mastered some of the personal finance basics I recommend the classic Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This book focuses on how to build wealth, use debt to your advantage, and the difference between buying assets and consumer spending.

The subtitle of the blog Balance Junkie is “For a better balance in money. . . and in life.” Kim Petch, the author, describes herself as a 40-something mother of three whose educational background was in English literature, education, and psychology, not finance. She sees finance as more art than science. She started the blog in 2009.

LIFE STAGE
Author writes from her own perspective as mother in early 40s.

Qualifications
I'm an avid reader of books and news on markets, finance and economics. I just write about what I've learned from reading and from my own experiences with money and life.

Excerpt from blog post on improving one’s life:
Any true change begins with a real determination to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Telling yourself you can’t is just another way of saying you won’t.

Best advice you ever gave?
If you feel uncomfortable with something in your life, you probably need a change. Keep trying until you find something that works for you. Doing nothing won't help.

Worst advice you ever gave?
I probably remained too cautious on stocks in 2010 - although that excessive caution has also helped us avoid the tremendous volatility of the past few years.

What have you learned from blogging?
There are some really wonderful people in the blogging community. 
Blogging is a great way for average folks to exchange ideas.
To say the Internet is a game-changer is a huge understatement: it will continue to revolutionize the way we do just about everything.

Recommended books:
My favourite book on this topic is still All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren, but I can also highly recommend my friend Andrew Hallam's Millionaire Teacher and just about anything by Gail Vaz-Oxlade, especially if you want a Canadian perspective.


 

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