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carrick on money

Learning to manage your money and investments is hard enough as it is. Now imagine having to figure it all out in a foreign country.

You’re trying to decide where to open your first bank account, while at the same time looking for a place to live and, quite possibly, job hunting. It’s a lot to take in, especially when everything is new and unfamiliar.

Hi, my name is Erica Alini, I’m a personal finance reporter at the Globe and I, too, was once new to this country. That’s why I wrote the Newcomers’ Guide to Finances in Canada, a free, five-week newsletter course on personal finance and investing for people who’ve recently moved here from abroad – as well as those who are contemplating making the leap.

The Newcomers’ Guide begins with the basics of getting to know Canada’s banking system and understanding credit scores. It moves on to navigating the rental market and saving for a house down payment, debt and borrowing, taxes and government benefits, and investing.

There are sections on financial products specifically geared to immigrants, such as newcomer bank accounts and career loans. And there’s plenty of straight talk about what’s great, not-so-great, or just downright bad about managing your money in this country. An important take-away from the first newsletter, for example: loyalty to your bank doesn’t pay.

Last year Canada welcomed over one million people. Yet, there is precious little personal finance content aimed specifically at recent immigrants. So if you know someone who’s still trying to find their way around – be it an international student, a refugee or an established professional – please consider forwarding them a link to the Newcomers’ Guide.

It’s the road map to making good financial decisions in this country that I wish I’d had when I first arrived.

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Erica’s personal finance reading list

An alternative to the 4 per cent rule

Andrew Hallam, best known for his smash hit book Millionaire Teacher, on the merits of a flexible retirement withdrawal plan.

The new rental market middlemen

An eye-opening look at a new breed of property management companies using non-standard rental agreements that seem aimed at circumventing protections for tenants.

Where Canadian home prices still make sense

Manitoba and Saskatchewan dominate the ranking, which is no surprise. What I didn’t expect to see on the list is Moncton, N.B. House prices in the city may still be affordable, but I hear rents have been rising fast.

A ‘truck mortgage’

That’s how a Canadian on Reddit described his $37,000 balance on a seven-year auto loan at 8.99 per cent interest. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming advice from others on the thread was to use his considerable cash savings to pay off that debt tout suite.

When did you start taking CPP?

The Globe is interested in talking to Canadians about when they started taking their CPP/QPP benefits. Was it the right decision? Should you have waited longer? Or started sooner? Share your thoughts with The Globe by taking our CPP/QPP survey.

Tools, explainers, guides and charts

A Statistics Canada report titled “A tale of two renters” digs into rental affordability data for existing and new tenants. “In Toronto, the median monthly shelter cost for a two-bedroom dwelling was $2,180 for recent renter households compared with $1,460 for existing renter households,” the study reads.

On social media

An expectant mom decides to have a “nesting party” instead of a baby shower. Friends came over to share a to-do list of cleaning, folding and tidying up chores and left behind frozen meals for those first few days postpartum. If I could go back in time, I would absolutely swap my baby shower for a nesting feast.

On youtube

Haley Sachs, known to the internet at Mrs. Down Jones, dispenses some sound advice about money-management basics for freelancers.


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