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I’m often asked to suggest a good introductory book on personal finance and investing for young adults. Here’s one I received recently from author Sandy Yong, who has taken a smart approach in her new book, The Money Master. The book is a mix of basic financial wisdom, personal experience and interviews with experts.

The content works well for today’s young adult investors and, for that reason, I asked Ms. Yong to do a Q&A with me by e-mail. Here are her thoughts on investing mistakes, the cost of living and the personal finance influencers she follows:

Q: You say in the first chapter of your book that people should forgive themselves for past financial mistakes. What’s a financial mistake you’ve forgiven yourself for?

A: I started out investing in a high-fee, high-risk (and non-diversified) mutual fund at one of the big banks in my early 20s. When I saw the fund tank, I panicked and sold my shares at a loss. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I was able to move forward to become a self-directed investor.

Q: A poll has shown that the rising cost of living is the top issue by far with voters in the current federal election campaign. What are your thoughts on why people are so worried about the affordability of their lives?

A: Unaffordable housing, rising daycare and food costs are hitting our wallets and stomachs – ouch! Plus, with banks shelling out dismal interest rates on our savings accounts, the value of our money is dwindling. With inflation and shrinkflation, it’s no wonder why many Canadians are losing sleep at night. Voters should review each of the parties’ plans and decide for themselves which will help tackle these issues.

Q: Let’s say you’re advising a young adult on how to get started as an investor – do you point them to exchange-traded funds, stocks, mutual funds, real estate, crypto ... something else?

A: If you’re keen on crypto, remember it’s volatile and speculative. Real estate requires more sweat equity and cash equity. Since it’s hard for individual investors to “beat the market,” newbies can do well with low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds that are diversified globally and across all industries.

Q: Your book has a chapter aimed at women specifically. What’s your top piece of advice for women about how their financial needs differ from men?

A: Studies show that women live longer but earn less than their spouses. This means women need to save and invest more money so they have a comfortable nest egg. Sadly, many women tend to pass on financial decisions to their male counterparts. Bottom line: Unite as a team when handling your household finances.

Q: Who are the personal finance influencers who you follow most closely?

A: I love supporting fellow female Canadian personal finance experts on Instagram including:

  • Melissa Leong @lisleong
  • Vanessa Bowen @mintworthyco
  • Jessica Moorhouse @jessicaimoorhouse

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