Want to eat healthier? The HealthLine blog says the much-maligned avocado is “incredibly nutritious.” Avocados can help lower cholesterol, help your heart, and promote eye, skin and bone health, another health blog says.

Avocados are also the one of the most powerful memes in personal finance today. They’ve taken over from lattes as the definitive symbol of frivolous money wasting. It’s actually avocado toast that gets the bum rap. It’s a popular brunch dish with millennials and can be a touch pricey. A judgmental newspaper columnist pronounced that money spent on avocado toast would be better used to save for a down payment on a house, and the comments went viral. Avocados are now the most notorious of all fruits.

In a conversation I had recently with behavioural economic Dan Ariely, I asked him what he thought of the criticism that millennials spend too much money on themselves. He said we need to think about both the spending behaviour of millennials and the economic predicament they’re in. He singled out expensive housing because it’s forcing young adults to buy homes later in life, and reducing the chance that some will ever be able to buy.

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Boomers had financial discipline forced on them because they bought homes sooner in life. Millennials have more financial freedom to buy small luxuries like avocado toast because they’re not tied down by houses they can’t afford to buy. “From time to time, we should deny ourselves luxuries and save,” Mr. Ariely said. “However, I am sympathetic to the millennials.”

So, lighten up on avocados, everyone. Here’s some help on how to pick the best avocado every time, and here some avocado recipes (none involving toast).

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Save on these kids clothing items, so you can splurge on others

A sensible guide for parents loaded down with back-to-school costs on how much to spend on clothing for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school-age kids. Great point: Second-hand babywear tends to be in great condition because babies outgrow their clothes quickly.

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CDIC expands its coverage

Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. is broadening its coverage to include long-term GICs, foreign-currency accounts and two additional types of registered accounts. CDIC coverage remains at $100,000 in combined principal and interest in eligible accounts.

Money tips for job-hoppers

A list of five financial considerations if you’re moving from job to job. Worth reading especially if you’re part of the “gig economy,” which is the euphemism for the growing prevalence of temporary or contract work.

When a woman makes more than her husband

Some guys have a problem with this, according to U.S. research. Guys, it’s household income that matters.

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Today’s financial tool

The Ontario Securities Commission’s GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca website includes a collection of articles on retirement planning.

Ask Rob

Q: “My husband and I are both employed by a provincial police force, and with that comes two pensions and benefits for life. We are considering commuting my husband’s pension, which will allow us to retire at the same time, and have a large nest-egg in the bank. I would maintain the pension and benefits for security. This would also preclude me from losing 50 per cent of his pension upon his death, if he passes before me. Can you provide any advice – pros and/or cons?”

A: My No. 1 piece of advice is to buy a consultation with a financial planner who can model the various outcomes possible if your husband does or does not commute his pension (that means exchanging the pension payments over time for a lump sum of money). You make a good case for commuting the pensions, but I have a few thoughts:

  • The pension offers payments for life: Are you and your husband confident you can invest his commuted pension effectively so that it meets your income needs through stock market ups and downs over the years?
  • Your husband’s health is a factor: The pension offers income security if he expects a long life – the risk of depleting your savings is minimized.
  • Would your own benefits coverage in retirement cover your husband’s costs fully, or just in part: Health-related costs can be significant as people age.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

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What I’ve been writing about

  • The best banks for millennials who are in school or recently graduated
  • The long, dark night for GIC investors and savers has finally come to an end
  • Is overprotective parenting hurting your child’s RESP? (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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