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Personal Finance 101

Shaun

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Shaun Sun

Financial Advisor & Associate Portfolio Manager

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I hope settling into a back-to-school “routine” has been going well for parents and students everywhere. I think back to my time in university and how, despite being four years into a UBC Bachelor of Commerce degree with a specialty in Finance. I felt like I still knew very little on how to practically manage my own personal finances. If you asked me at the time, I could tell you about the financial formulas needed to cal­culate a future stream of income, how to illustrate demand vs. supply for markets in achieving equilibrium, or the accounting entries needed to capitalize an expense. But these ideas meant nothing to me then because I still couldn’t tell the difference between an RRSP or a TFSA, how much I needed to save, or the most efficient way to save for my goals. So, here it is: three things I’d teach in Personal Finance 101.

Lesson 1: Financial Attitude & Behaviour

■ We are biologically wired to avoid pain. Oftentimes, good financial decisions

require us to ignore this desire. The ability to control your behaviour will be the single greatest factor in determining your future financial success.

■ Have self-control to delay your gratification. This means choosing not to buy or get something today with the

goal of waiting for a greater reward in the future.

■ Anytime you are asked to make a decision based on fear, STOP and think before you act. Don’t be influenced by FOMO – fear of missing out – or concerns that if you don’t buy this today, you will miss out on this great opportunity. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

■ Other people’s opinion of you should not be the only reason you choose to do something or not. You must live with the consequences of your decisions.

Lesson 2: Pay Yourself First

Set up your savings in an automated, monthly system to make this easy and “pay yourself first” before there is a chance for money to be spent on everything else.

Lesson 3: Rule of 72

■ In finance, the rule of 72 is a method for estimating an investment’s doubling time.

■ The rule number (e.g., 72) is divided by the interest percentage per period to obtain the approximate number of periods (usually years) required for doubling.

■ For example, how long does it take for your investment to double if it’s earning 6% per year? Answer: 72 ÷ 6% = ~12 years.


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