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$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
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Glenn Cooke, 47

Occupation

Insurance broker

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The portfolio

Primarily invested in an index fund that tracks Canadian stocks.

The investor

Glenn Cooke is a life insurance broker who doesn't follow the traditional "at your kitchen table" sales technique. Instead, he has set up LifeInsuranceCanada.com and is pioneering an educational approach that includes online calculators, informative articles and instant quotes from dozens of insurers.

He recently contacted top financial bloggers in Canada to write chapters for a personal finance book. The result was The Beginner's Guide to Saving & Investing for Canadians, available at savingandinvestingbook.ca.

Buy the market, ignore the noise

"I am a passive investor," Mr. Cooke remarks. "I invest primarily in index funds … and because I'm confident that index funds will perform over the long term, I am able to ignore market volatility entirely."

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Why he avoids foreign stocks

"I also prefer to invest strictly in Canada rather than in international index funds. The additional risk that comes with investing internationally can be reduced but that adds complexity that I prefer to avoid.

"By sticking to Canadian investments, I know that if I have $1 saved for retirement, that it's actually going to be $1 when I spend it [unadjusted for inflation]. It won't suddenly be worth 68 cents because of some shift between Canadian and U.S. currency [rates]."

Best move

It was discovering equity index funds.

Worst move

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His conservative nature led him to buy a segregated mutual fund because of the guarantees, such as principal protection. But when he "sat down and ran the numbers," he realized he was giving up some of his returns "in exchange for a guarantee that was unlikely ever to pay off."

Advice

The highest probability of earning the best rate of return is to simply put your savings into an equity index fund and hold for the long run, ignoring "shock headlines" and short-term fluctuations. "Ignoring all that is tough to do, but it is the most important thing we can do."

Add in bonds, real estate and cash to smooth out the ups and downs. Then rebalance the mix over time to stay in line with your risk tolerance.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Want to share your strategies?

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E-mail mccolumn@yahoo.com

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