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A lot of personal finance is based on denial. Saving, frugality, budgeting – they all come down to controlling your spending. Now, finally, comes some smart advice on spending.

The best-selling U.S. personal-finance writer Ramit Sethi has written a guide to smarter spending for people who have a good income and have built up some savings. His advice is to pick whatever type of spending gives you the most satisfaction and go with it. Examples of the spending priorities you could choose include travel, health and fitness, self-improvement and charitable giving.

Mr. Sethi says his own spending priority is convenience, including a personal trainer. For other people, convenience might mean pre-made meals or Uber.

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Even here, there’s a bit of denial. Mr. Sethi says you have to redirect spending from other areas to focus on your personal priority. Your reward for exerting this discipline over your spending is guilt-free enjoyment of whatever means most to you.

There’s immense social pressure to spend money these days, and some people react by trying to do it all. They spend on big trips, nice cars, fancy home décor and so on. Mr. Sethi’s advice strikes me as a way out of this spending trap. Pick what means most to you and dispense with the rest.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list …

Be careful what you wish for with mortgage rates

A mortgage broker offers his forecast that rates will be lower in 12 months than they are now, and explains why that’s not something to cheer about.

Explaining the (very complex) CPP survivor’s pension

Pension consultant Doug Runchey put together this rundown on how the CPP survivor’s benefit is calculated. He’s concerned that people who call Service Canada for information on their survivor’s benefit entitlement are in some cases getting incorrect information. The survivor’s benefit is a payment made monthly to the spouse or common-law partner of a deceased CPP contributor, subject to eligibility.

The problem with group RESPs

A couple decides to exit a group registered education savings plan set up to help their son pay for university or college. The cost: $11,400 in fees, a sum that almost offsets the investment returns the accounts earned over more than 12 years.

Bad restaurants get their comeuppance

Here are some scathing reviews of bad restaurants in U.S. and Canadian cities. Reading these will make you choosier when splurging at restaurants.

Today’s financial tool/app

Three online programs to help plan your finances in retirement.

Ask Rob

Q: I've heard that the actual retirement payout you receive from the CPP from all the years you've been turning your money over to them isn't all that great. Is there room to increase the amount of CPP payments, given the quite good performance of the CPP investment fund?

A: CPP payouts are calculated according to a formula that considers how much and how long you contributed to the plan over your working life. The CPP Investment Board’s job is to generate returns that support payment of benefits to retirees over the long term. Benefits are not adjusted according to the board’s investing gains. When considering the bang for your buck you get from the CPP, remember that you get payments as long as you live. There’s value in that level of certainty.

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.

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

  • Advice to frugal couple: Live a little
  • Five predictions for Canada’s mortgage market in 2019
  • Gordon Pape: This year, these are the only two market forecasts I’m willing to make (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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