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life | SMART It's all about the cash flow Fred Petrie

My SMART Money column in the December SMART Biz set out the first key to financial success: you need to take RESPONSIBILITY; only you can define your goals. Te confidence to make your own decisions needs comes with understanding some fundamentals, to avoid being taken to the cleaners by a smooth- talking salesmen and by the plethora of fees hidden in financial products. With the New Year, we talk about the second key to financial independence: CASH FLOW.


he three secrets of business success were location, location and location. It might help a retail store or restau-

rant to be in a high traffic location, but the real secrets of success in business or in the financial management of your life is cash flow, cash flow, and cash flow. Te caveat is that net cash flow must be positive. Charles Dickens, my favourite economist, nailed the essence of financial planning: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual

expenditure nineteen pounds and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and six, result misery." Reaching financial independence is about

making money, without spending more than you bring in. Begin by making an income. So what do

you want to be when you grow up? Parents and grandparents asked this question: cow- boy, fireman, nurse, teacher? By your teens the choices might have become more sophis- ticated: Doctor, scientist, astronaut, lawyer, financial planner? Your mother might want you to be a doctor but you want to be a rock musician. Make your own choice but keep it real. Te odds of a (financially successful) rock musical career may be slim, so best get a trade as well – maybe medicine? You can still get weekend gigs to develop your musical calling as well, so long as you have

Crossword ACROSS

1. Prima donna 5. Skier's aid

9. Expressed disappointment 14. Pindar poems 15. Doozy

16. Stallone film with numerous sequels

17. Holds back

19. "It's ____ country" 20. Tivoli's Villa ___ 21. Yoga position

23. Middle-earth monster 25. Not from the outside 30. Not competently 33. Pt. of GPA (abbr.) 35. Tones between fa and la 36. Attend to loose laces 37. ____ cava 39. Parlor

42. Change the décor of 43. Mandy's "The Princess Bride" role

45. Jedi ally

47. Game official 48. Vacant building sign 52. Pine stickers 53. Patriotic Uncle 54. FBI operative 57. Dyes

61. Eng. lesson 65. Ottoman

67. "Sands ___ Jima" 68. Trendy sheepskin footwear 69. Fashion designer Marc 70. Before and _____ 71. Shoelace circle 72. Distort, in a way

DOWN 1. Stewart in Harvey, Elwood P. ____

2. "If ___ before..." 3. Old pros

4. Name behind "Punk'd" 5. Ms. Lopez, to fans

January 2016

6. Malarkey 7. ____ Nova (Canadian singer of 1981's "Fantasy")

8. Hayseed

9. More impudent 10. "Pow!" response 11. Text-scanning tech. 12. Scratch (out) 13. Make blonde, say 18. "___ to you, Mrs. Robinson" 22. Sea urchin, in sushi 24. Business execs who crunch numbers 26. Doozy 27. Voices 28. Trombone piece 29. Ken Follett's "___ the Needle" 30. Light

31. Miami's st. 32. Man and Capri, e.g. Answers on next page Smart Biz 13

33. French plane 34. Where the show must go on? 38. "There is ____!"

40. U.S. WWII propaganda agcy. 41. René's refusals 44. Division ____ (work related) 46. English odist of note 49. Entreat 50. Of service 51. Deals a heavy blow 55. Like an aborted space mission 56. Like some fast-food orders 58. Incision in an arrow 59. Strong puff 60. Not very busy 61. Cold War broadcaster (abbr.) 62. Not right

63. Op. ___ (bibliography abbr.) 64. Really impress 66. Recipe abbr.

a means such as medicine or plumbing to make a living while you do. For those graduating high school in the

spring, if you do not feel a drive toward a specific vocation, do not waste your time or your parents’ money – you may inherit it someday. Instead, make some money. Get a trade to make more money. Go to where the money is. Travel, see the world. You will grow up. You will know when you have when you realize your parents aren’t as dumb as you had thought. Now you have grown up and know yourself, at least better than at 18. You have a trade to make a living and you have a vocation that you enjoy. If you are extraordinarily lucky, it may be doing the same thing. But having a good trade that supports pursuit of your vocation is not a bad deal either. Te first cash flow is income, a pay cheque.

Once you have one, the second cash flow is expenditures. Whatever you end up doing, it is highly unlikely your cash flow will provide all of your wants – unless your name is Justin Bieber. To keep cash flow positive, you will need to set priorities, actually budget. Te lease payment on the big truck that is such a great year-end deal may not make this cut. But if you do not subject that allocation to

the test of your priorities, it may instead be your drive on the road to ruin. Keep needs and wants in their proper order: “You can’t always get what you want, But if you try sometimes well you might find, you get what you need” (Te Rolling Stones). Te first priority for your planned expen-

ditures is to pay yourself by taking a mini- mum of 10% of your net and socking it away long term where Einstein’s eighth wonder of the world, compound interest, can work its magic. Tis can be a difficult to do when so many short term wants are competing with this long term need. So trick yourself. Instead of “saving” 10%, tax yourself, be your own CRA. Since we do not have any choice about all the other taxes deducted from your cheque, add one more deduction for the government of You. Te second expenditure priority is debt.

Many say this should be the first priority but I think it is more important to establish the saving and investing habit as early as possible. And with today’s interest rates you do have some flexibility in your debt retirement choices. First understand the difference between bad debt and good debt. In a nutshell, good debt is expected to make a profit. Bad debt is blown out the window

for fleeting pleasures. Te big truck might compensate for feelings of inadequacy, but it is not going to make you money. Te worst debt is financing consumption pleasures on high interest credit cards. You would be better off going to a loan shark – at least they will incentivize you to repay the debt! So get rid of your bad debt, starting with the highest cost debt. Good debt is a student loan, wisely in-

vested for qualifications that will increase your earnings. It is reasonable to pay off good debt on a longer term schedule that matches the income returns it was invested for. Good debt can include leverage like a mortgage to buy a home to save rent, or to buy a rental property to make rent. After paying off bad debt, retire any good debt where the inter- est is not deductible. Ten you might use your great credit for new good debt where the interest is tax deductible to make more money; it may actually be possible to make your “mortgage” tax deductible. Only after paying (or taxing) yourself

first, then managing debt, can you turn to your third priority, food and shelter. Yes, the necessities of life come after saving and debt payment. Finally, you may have some mad money left over for entertainment and other pleasures. You do need some of this too – all work makes Jack a dull boy. So even if you have to live in a smaller house or drive an older car, keep some scarce resources for some fun. Just pay cash as you go. When you get that first real job, making

$4000 a month, you soon realize that after government and other deductions, you re- ally only make $3000. Add a deduction of $300 to pay yourself first, as well as at least as much, another $300 or so, on your debt retirement plan. You then realize you are really only making $2400 a month. Begin your budgeting from that point, not the $4000 gross you thought you were making. Manage your expectations and it will be

easier to manage your cash flow. More on this in February.

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