Let’s start by wishing you and your family a healthy and happy 2009 and thanking you for being the best clients planners can have!!

Bye Bye 2008, Thank heaven 2009 is a brand new year

Terry and I are pleased to come back from a relaxing holiday at the cottage and see a bit of reprieve in the markets since the lows of November.  While the treacherous 2008 is behind us, consensus continues to build that the first half of 2009 won’t be much better.

The recession that’s already taken hold of the U.S. economy will reach into Canada before a modest recovery begins in the second half of the new year, according to projections from both BMO Financial Group and Richardson Financial Partners.  Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist, BMO Nesbitt Burns, predicts the global economy as a whole will turn in its weakest year since the early 1980s, growing a mere 1%. But he expects stimulus packages in both Canada and the U.S. to jolt North America back into modest growth by the second half of ‘09.

Supporting the fiscal stimulus will be an extended period of extremely low interest rates. With little help from the BoC, the Canadian dollar will likely spend the first half of 2009 around 80 cents U.S., but could rebound to as high as 85 cents later in the year. Continued softness in the energy sector will keep the dollar on the low side, and Porter expects the price of oil to average US$45/barrel in 2009.

YOU FIRST is having a special information event on Ethical & Green Investing and Guaranteed investments funds

We don’t have events very often.  You will not want to miss this one on January 28th at 7pm the Terminal City Club.  An invitation for you and your guest will follow today.  By popular demand, our first speaker will be on Ethical & Green investing.  It will be followed by a talk on the new Guaranteed Investment & income funds. Finally, an inspirational talk on the non-financial aspects of retirement. Three fabulous speakers and a sumptuous dessert buffet!  Do I have your attention now? Mark your calendar today and RSVP with Victoria at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Top 5 New Year Financial Resolutions

1.  I will spend less than what I earn and not care if my friends spend more than me.

2.  I will pay off my bad debts and never go there again.

3.  I will maximize my RRSP, RESP and TFSA and reinvest the resulting tax savings.

4.  I will read the YOU FIRST blog and Terry’s weekly commentary to stay informed.

5.  I will review my goals and meet with Odette and Terry for my annual check-up!

How to save more money this year

Chatelaine magazine had a very good article on page 56 in the January issue on how to put some extra dough away. Here are a few of the tips which I have paraphrased here.  Sounds like I wrote it myself.

1.  Pay yourself first: start a systematic investment instead of waiting to have the funds to invest.  You won’t even miss the money.

2.  Leave the cards at home: It is a lot harder to part from cash than charging it on the card.

3.  Avoid ATMs and direct debits: take a weekly allowance for play money or other expenses to avoid overspending.

4.  Find the best deal for debts: A penny saved is a penny earned.  Simply call the credit card company and ask for a lower rate.

5.  Stay out of the aisles: Nutritious, fresh and also inexpensive foods are in the perimeter of your local super market.

6.  Check the fine print: Buying in bulk is not always cheaper.  Compare the unit price before buying.

7.  Start a sitting or work exchange: Barters are back!  Ask friends to exchange baby sitting time or help with a small job like painting or moving.  That will be a great time to also have a party!