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The idea of decluttering has been around for a couple of years now, but it's picking up some fresh momentum. On Vogue's list of seven non-fiction books to change your life this year, three are related to the idea of freeing yourself from the impulse to accumulate things that don't add meaning to your life.

One of the books is called The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store. It was written by Cait Flanders, a personal finance blogger who has appeared a few times in this newsletter over the years. Ms. Flanders paid off $30,000 in consumer debt a while back but found her new freedom to buy stuff wasn't making her happy. She then decided to try going a year without shopping for anything but groceries, toiletries and gas for her car. "At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt."

Other books on the list related to decluttering are The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson, and, A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto.

My take on decluttering is that there's definitely something to it. My wife and I had a basement full of books that I thought I couldn't part with. Now, we have a much smaller collection of books that really have meaning for us. I just needed time to wrap my head around the idea that less is more, even when you have a big basement.

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Rob's personal finance reading list…

Hiring a housekeeper saved her sanity
A blogger writes about the value she gets from spending $120 every two weeks on someone to clean her house. Very persuasive.

What's ahead for mortgage rates
A mortgage broker with a strong grasp of economics offers his predictions for five-year fixed rate mortgages and variable-rate mortgages in 2018.

How millionaires make their own luck
Smart suggestions for working smarter that can help improve your career prospects, if not make you a millionaire. I like this idea: "Focus on results, not working a lot."

How to shave your household costs
Bulk buy your disposable razors online rather than getting them at the drugstore or supermarket.

Today's featured financial tool
If you're feeling the need to invest in real estate, give this new guide a read. It's produced by the people at, which is part of the Ontario Securities Commission. The guide looks at real estate investment trusts, syndicated mortgages and more. There's a useful rundown of the risks associated with each option; they're a must-read if you're convinced that real estate will deliver for you in a way that other investments cannot.

Ask Rob
The question:
"Can you explain what I need to know as a DIY investor around what protection the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. (CDIC) offer me?"

The answer: CIPF protects account assets at member firms against insolvency (ie.., your broker going bankrupt). There's $1-million in coverage for "general accounts," such as a cash or margin account or a TFSA, plus $1-million for registered retirement accounts such as RRSPs and RRIFs, plus $1-million for RESPs. For CDIC, the coverage limit at member banks and trusts is $100,000 in combined principal and interest per eligible deposit (including savings, GICs). For a typical person, an account in a single name, a joint account and a registered account would each be separately insured for $100,000.

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.

What I've been writing about
– The year so far in interest rates: Savers 1, Borrowers 0

– Tired of flashy investments? Try the two-minute portfolio (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

– The overlooked way to find an investment adviser you can trust (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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