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John DeGoey is vice-president and portfolio manager at BBSL. His focus is personal finance and ETFs.

Top Picks:

iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF (CRBN)

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This product was released earlier this month and, whether or not you want to save the world, you should certainly save your portfolio by minimizing exposure to stocks with a high carbon footprint. Extremely diversified with over 900 holdings.

iShares Global Agriculture Index ETF (COW.TO)

As with CRBN, this is a global product, so exposure to Canada's energy and materials intensive economy is modest. The basic thesis is one of increased population with reduced farmland.

Vanguard US Total Market Index ETF (VUN.TO)

This is a broadly diversified, cheap way to get exposure to the total U.S. market (there are significant holdings in small-cap stocks) – all on an unhedged basis.

Past Picks: Dec. 31, 2013

Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets Index ETF (VEE.TO)

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Then: $26.34; Now: $27.56: +4.63% Total return: +6.58%

Vanguard FTSE Developed ex North America Index ETF (VDU.TO)

Then: $27.86; Now: $28.10 +0.86% Total return: +3.15%

Vanguard US Total Market Index ETF (VUN.TO)

Then: $27.71; Now: $35.50 +20.90% Total return: +22.19%

Total return average: +10.64%

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Market Outlook:

It seems as though inflation is out of the picture for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, a consensus is developing that the global economy seems to be in a prolonged slow-growth mode – but if real returns are constant, that means total nominal returns are likely to be especially modest. As such, minimizing costs is critical to maximizing overall returns. For people using an adviser, they should be paying less than 1 per cent on seven-digit family accounts.

A few recommendations for viewers as ideas to be implemented in 2015 as New Year's Resolutions:

1. Keep track of your household net worth (total assets – total liabilities) annually – it should be growing.

2. Resolve to cut costs (for both products and services) in 2015; financial advice for a seven-digit portfolio should cost less than 1%, IMO.

3. Trade less because research has shown repeatedly that trading correlates negatively to performance.

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4. This one is for this week: Do all tax-loss selling and make all charitable contributions before Christmas.

5. Maximize all government plans if possible – RRSP room can be found on your Notice of Assessment; lifetime TFSA room is $31,000 with another $5,500 in room coming in January.

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