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I floated the idea in a column late last year that 2018 was as good as it gets for your finances in the near term. I hope I’m wrong. A year of strong stock market returns, better returns on savings and inflation-beating wage gains would be most welcome. In case we don’t see better times ahead, check out this Carrick on Money guide to bettering your finances in 2019.

To start, let’s set the scene for 2019 with the annual Maclean’s list of important charts to watch in the year ahead. There’s a lot here to suggest that the pace of economic growth could slow down. How might you prepare for a weaker economy? Two obvious steps are to build up your emergency fund and to pay down debts.

I really like these five ideas for actually following through on financial goals like saving more. The idea is to make yourself accountable by writing down your goal, sharing it with others, reviewing your progress often and more. Here’s a list of 75 money-saving tips, with more than a few practical nuggets. Also check out this list of 50 personal-finance habits everyone should follow.

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A personal-finance blogger argues that setting goals for personal development in the year ahead can also benefit your finances. For example, she suggests finding ways to expand your social life beyond going out to bars and restaurants.

Help in reaching your goals is available from personal-finance apps that usually work best on your smartphone or tablet. Here’s a list of the seven best apps of this type, all but one of them free. The app that will cost you is YNAB (You Need a Budget). I have heard good things from a financial planner about this app, which costs $83.99 a year.

Here’s a 2019 investing outlook for Globe subscribers, including five things to fear. And here’s a fun look back at some 2018 predictions and how they played out (don’t miss the bitcoin forecasts). I really like the way this blog post teaches investors how to convert market forecasts into practical advice for building a portfolio.

Finally, here’s a hard-nosed look at what to expect in investment returns looking forward and some good advice on coping when stock markets plunge.

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Today’s financial tool/app

Whatever your financial goals for 2019, a tax-free savings account can be a big help. Here’s a TFSA contribution room calculator that has been updated with the $6,000 limit for this year.

Ask Rob

Q: I am hoping you could suggest a computer program to keep track of my investments, bank accounts and expenses. I am currently using an old Microsoft Money program, which I’ve used with various updates since 1995. I love the old program but know there must be something out there that is better.

A: I invite readers to chime in here with suggestions. I see that there is a Canadian version of Quicken that will create a budget and track both debt and investments for $59.99 a year. A light version costs $39.99.

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 and clarity.

Featured Video

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CTV chief financial commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid talks about what’s ahead for financial markets in 2019.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

  • By not claiming CPP until 70, you could get 150 per cent of the income you would receive at 65
  • The first quarter of the year offers a rare tax opportunity
  • ETF sales set to outpace traditional mutual funds for first time in a decade (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

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