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What I Wish I Had Known About Money When I Was Younger

By Shamez Kassam, CFA®, MBA

Becoming wise is a journey, and there’s a lot to learn along the way. Think of someone wise—who comes to mind? Maybe a parent that supported you well, a mentor living the life you dream of, a neighbour travelling in their retirement? Whoever it is, it’s important to understand where their success came from.

More often than not, success comes from taking the time to learn and being consistent with the discipline required to achieve a goal. The same certainly goes for reaching our financial goals. When we’re young, it’s easy to think that wealth only comes from climbing the corporate ladder, receiving an inheritance, or making great stock picks. But in reality, there’s more to it than that. Here are 3 principles I wish I had understood a bit earlier in life—principles that play a significant role in pursuing financial success.

Save by Paying Yourself First

Saving is key to reaching financial goals, whether it’s paying cash for a new vehicle or building that nest egg for your future retirement. By paying yourself first, you can put your savings on autopilot, instead of only putting away what is left after covering your expenses and entertainment.

To pay yourself first, take part of every paycheck and put it directly toward savings—before you pay bills, head to the grocery store, or grab a cup of coffee with a friend. Consider making the transaction automatic so you’ll quickly learn to live on less than you make while simultaneously building your savings.

It’s important to choose a realistic amount, but at the same time, it’s okay to learn to live a bit under your means. Life is all about balance; it’s important to enjoy life, but the earlier you start saving, the faster you’ll hit your goals.

Put Your Money to Work

By investing, many will see their steady savings deposits turn into true wealth. Saving alone is a great practice, but it’s hard work as you’re often trading time for money. By investing, you create opportunities for your money to grow through compound interest.

When you put money into an investment account, you allow your money the opportunity to realize gains. And when you realize a gain, that gain then turns around and combines with your initial investment to earn more gains in the future. Downturns do happen, but with a long-term mindset, the odds are favourable for coming out ahead.

Gains on top of gains or interest on top of interest—however you phrase it, the compounding effect is powerful when given time. Time is the key word in that sentence: the sooner you start, the greater the result, without clocking extra hours at the office!

A recent Business Insider article reports data from Goldman Sachs showing that 10-year stock market returns have averaged 9.2% over the past 140 years. The article goes on to show that the S&P 500’s return over the most recent 10-year period, 2010-2020, came out to an average return of 13.6%. (1) It’s hard to argue for keeping your money in a regular savings account when you compare the interest rates to these historical rates of return.

Commit to Having a Plan—Even if It Needs to Change

Last but not least, I wish I had understood how important having a plan was when it comes to money. Saving only whatever money is left at the end of the day, making large impulsive purchases, hoping you’ll have enough for that down payment—these are all surefire ways to come up short.

Without a plan, you can’t measure your success. Take a few moments to consider what your true goals are. Maybe it’s to pay off your mortgage, invest in a business, or contribute to a child’s college fund—or maybe a combination of various financial feats. Mapping out your goals is often the only way to understand what it will take to reach them.

And did you know real data is showing that Canadians who work with a financial advisor often gain 1.5 times more in assets when compared to those managing their money alone? And those numbers were over a short 4- to 6-year time frame. The number goes up to 3 times more after 15 years of working with an advisor. If you started today, imagine how much further ahead you could be in just 5 years!

Start Today!

My hope in sharing my life lessons is that it will spur others on to implement these and similar principles sooner rather than later. If you need help getting a plan in place or strategizing how to grow your wealth further, call 403-571-8960 or email

About Northfront Financial

Northfront Financial, based in Calgary, Alberta is a boutique full-service financial planning firm serving professionals and business owners. We pride ourselves on being a different kind of investment firm. This stems from our humble roots, entrepreneurial spirit, and a culture of integrity and professionalism. Our goal is to offer the best investment products, services, advice, and ideas the financial industry has to offer from our experienced team, which includes individuals with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Investment Manager (CIM), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designations. To learn more about Northfront Financial and how we can help you, visit our website and schedule a complimentary appointment.



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