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You newsletter readers are the best. I asked you to vote recently on your favourite new name for the boring old emergency fund, and 4,000 of you responded. So when I tell you that the Plan B Fund is the winner, you’ll know there’s support behind it.

Face Punch Fund was another contender; Globe and Mail personal finance editor Roma Luciw ranked it No. 1. So did Globe audience editor Jessie Willms, who takes the polls you see in this newsletter from time to time and converts them into helpful charts and graphs.

Face Punch Fund is memorable. But as a journalist, I imagine including that phrase in a column and then having to explain it every time. “When life punches you in the face, this is the fund you use to help with the expenses.”

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The most popular choice with readers was Peace of Mind Fund. That’s a modest click higher on the charisma meter, but we can do better. Reserve Fund and Rainy Day Fund were next – same deal for both. Next was Face Punch and then Plan B.

Plan B is punchy and pretty clear in its meaning. Plus, as a reader pointed out, it works in both English and French.

My second favourite choice was Pivot Fund, but it was way down the list of reader favourites. I love it that a bunch of people chose the Contingency Day Fund. That was actually a typo – it should have been just Contingency Fund.

Thanks to your help, I now have a better tool for highlighting the No. 1 financial lesson of the pandemic. No, it’s not that house prices always go up, or that stocks do. It’s that having some safely stowed cash is your best protection against job losses, sudden illness and other calamities.

I hope we’re finished with nasty financial surprises in the pandemic, but I’m not sure we are. Top up your Plan B Fund, just in case.


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Rob’s personal finance reading list

Best credit cards for …

January seems to be a big month for credit-card rankings. Here’s one on the best cards for students. Lots of no-fee cards here that offer rewards such as cashback or travel points.

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Now for lists of best cards in 15 different categories, including the best for grocery points, the best for avoiding foreign-exchange fees, the best low-interest card and more.

And, finally, the best travel-rewards cards.

Revenge of the small investor

A really good take on one of the most interesting investing stories of the year to date. Day traders have banded together via an online forum to push up the price of a stock that hedge funds had bet against. Small investors versus big finance. Here’s a column arguing how Trumpism explains this story.

Hot housing is bad for the economy

A business columnist says our addiction to housing is “simply embarrassing.” It’s holding our economy back by keeping money from flowing into more dynamic investment opportunities in areas such as tech and clean energy. Persuasive.


Ask Rob

Q: I’m a long-time renter looking to buy. But even with being in the upper middle class my partner and I can’t even think about buying without saving the down payment. Is there any practical way around that? We can make the mortgage payments but get stuck on the down payment. Any potential options that are practical?

A: Keep saving. Even a minimum 5 per cent down payment is worthwhile because you have some equity. Here’s some info on buying a home with a borrowed down payment.

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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.


Paycheque profile callout: Looking for young readers

Are you under 40? Has COVID changed your life? The Globe is looking for real people to participate in our paycheque profile feature - a judgement-free look at how regular Canadians are spending their monthly salary. Like this Brampton woman, 25, who earns $56,000 and dreams of saving a down payment, even as she works to pay off $37,000 in student debt. Or this Gatineau man, 28, who says the pandemic has changed his lifestyle: “The pandemic gave me the right excuse to not go out.” If you are a millennial open to sharing your story in a paycheque profile, send us an e-mail.


Today’s financial tool

A concise little primer on getting started as an investor from the InvestRight website, run by the B.C. Securities Commission.


The money-free zone

As an introduction to a 60s/70s band called Black Merda; check out the song Cynthy Ruth. Black Merda’s psychedelic rock-funk sound ages incredibly well. This will put a smile on your face.


ICYMI

What I’ve been writing about

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

Subscribe to Stress Test on Apple podcasts or Spotify. For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

Even more coverage from Rob Carrick:

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.

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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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