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    Your Money, Your World:
    10 tips for sprucing up your finances

    Looking to get financially fit in ’04? Real Assets CEO and President Deb Abbey offers 10 tips for folks hoping to firm up their bottom line. If such is your intent, be it resolved that you will:

    -  Establish a budget. “Track where your discretionary dollars are going and cut back where you are spending too much.” Reduce debts. “Pay down your most expensive debts, especially non-tax deductible debts. Consider consolidating and taking a lower interest loan to pay off debts.”

    -   Save 10 per cent. “Expenses tend to arise unexpectedly. Keep some money aside in a liquid savings vehicle.”

    -  Create a critical documents file. “If something happened to you, this file would list your accounts, assets, insurance policies – everything a family member might need to take care of your financial affairs.”

    -  Rev up your RRSP. “An RRSP gives you a tax deduction and years of tax-deferred compound growth. Regular monthly contributions make it easier to make your maximum contribution, or take an RRSP loan – the long-term benefit of ten outweighs the short - term interest cost.” Socially responsible institutions like Citizen’s Bank or your local credit union can make this easy.

    -  Don’t try to time the market. “It’s impossible to try to detect where the mar ket is going. Stick to your long-term plan.”

    -  Stop chasing tips. “Nothing is for sure. Be prepared to do your research, or look to a trusted, experienced advisor to guide you. Meet with your advisor on an annual basis to review your portfolio.”

    -  Diversify. “Every kind of asset – stocks, bonds, real estate – can have a downturn. Spread your money around to protect from heavy losses during downswings.”

    -  Harmonize your financial goals with your social concerns. “Do your investments reflect your social and environmental priorities? You don’t have to sacrifice financial returns to make ethical investments. In fact, companies with good corporate consciences tend to be better investments because globablization is making it riskier for companies to pass the buck on social and environmental costs. Switch to socially responsible mutual funds to leverage your money for positive social change.”

    -  Have a passion and a mission. “Get strategic: direct your donations of time or money to the issues that are most important to you. Determine what you’re able to give,and research which groups are working on long-term solutions. Be an agent of social change.

    Deb Abbey is the author of Global Profit and Global Justice: Using Your Money to Change the World”, published this month by New Society Publishers.See also www.realassets.ca 

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