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Money-minded Manitobans

Winnipeggers pen a lot of personal-finance books: Here's a look at the two latest offerings

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Winnipeg is known for a few things -- many of them unflattering.

Wind, cold, snow, flatland, mosquitoes, etc.

These all pop into outsiders' minds when this city is the topic of conversation. Of course, the Jets now help soften the blow to our self-image.

But Winnipeg is also a hidden gem when it comes to personal-finance writers, producing a disproportionate amount of personal-finance books for its size. Among the most recently published are a couple of great books for those looking to get their feet wet in the sometimes frighteningly bewildering task of managing our money.

One is written by Free Press columnist David Christianson.

Entitled Managing the Bull: A No-Nonsense Approach to Personal Finance, it provides an industry insider's take on simple money management -- everything from investing for retirement to insurance to taxes.

The other offering is penned by personal-finance media mavens Laura McDonald and Susan Misner, the founders of Golden Girl Finance, a popular personal financial web portal primarily for women.

It's their second book in about a year. Last year, their bestseller It's Your Money, Honey: A Girl's Guide to Saving, Investing, and Building Wealth at Every Age and Life Stage took their fun and fearless slant on finance from the web to the bookshelf.

This time around, they're aiming for a larger audience with 10 Ways to Stay Broke... Forever.

Their second book is not only for women, says Misner, publisher of Golden Girl Finance.

It's for anyone looking to better manage their cash flow by avoiding common money traps that tend to sap our wealth and put us into debt.

Just the titles of both of these new books give readers a good idea of what to expect. They have a cheekily engaging tone -- a must for a potentially dull subject.

"This approach really resonates with people," says Misner, a former colleague of Christianson at Wellington West Capital. "It's very much in line with the way we run the website -- making finance entertaining, real, relevant and relatable for people."

The genesis of the latest Golden Girl Financial book was a "wildly popular" article they published on the site last fall that bore the same title: Ten Ways to Stay Broke... Forever: Why be rich when you can have this much fun?

"It had such a tremendous response -- millions of views were shared on social media, and we got letters from readers."

People loved it.

And so did their publisher of the previous book, Wiley Canada, which was looking to publish a book on cash-flow management.

That's primarily what their new book is about. It examines common cop-outs we all cling to at one time or another that lead us down the garden path to financial ruin. Among these falsehoods is the notion of living for today instead of tomorrow. This speaks to our love -- the bad kind -- of credit.

"It's highlighting some of those mistakes and instead getting people to focus on their cash flow and overall net worth, which hasn't been a big focus for the last two decades," Misner says.

Rather, much of the information available has been about investing -- asset accumulation. It's helpful as long as you've got the money to save.

Wiley Canada's vice-president of publishing, Jennifer Smith, says in Canada, perhaps because of a collective debt problem (we owe about $165 for every dollar we earn), there is fertile ground for personal-finance books.

"The personal debt load is pretty horrendous right now," she says. But at least we seem to know we're in trouble. Personal-finance books don't do all that well in other markets, but Canadians are "bucking the trend," Smith says.

"You need only look at our bestseller list on the non-fiction side to see the titles that are clearly resonating with Canadian consumers in the area of retirement planning, savings, debt management," she says. "Even though we've seen the landscape shift south of the border, we haven't seen that same erosion in Canada."

David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber and the sequel, The Wealthy Barber Returns, is a "superstar" in Canada, she says. His latest book has been a bestseller among all non-fiction books in the last year and so too has his Dragons' Den cohort Kevin O'Leary's new book The Cold, Hard Truth on Men, Women and Money.

According to BookNet Canada, which tracks sales, Canadians bought more than 91,000 personal-finance books in 2012. That may not sound tremendous, but it's the No. 1 topic among the business and economics books in Canada, says BookNet Canada's Samantha Francis.

Certainly, these books are helpful for those who invest a few dollars and the time to read them.

Both of the recent local contributions to the genre are easy reads. You could knock one off on a cold April afternoon.

While the Golden Girl Financial offering was put together quickly to satiate immediate market demand, Christianson's book was a few years in the making.

As a busy fee-based financial planner, Christianson says a book was a back-burner project.

Not to mention, he needed to find a refreshing angle.

Ironically, he found it in a figurative pile of nonsense.

Christianson says it's the same tack he has used with his high-net-worth clients for more than two decades.

"It's filtering out all the noise that isn't relevant and helping protect them from all the exaggerated claims and half-true information they get from the industry and, dare I say, financial journalists," he says.

"We narrow it down to the information that makes sense in that context."

And that's what good personal-finance books should do: filter out the crap, leaving only golden nuggets to fatten your bottom line.


Quick facts

Meet the Golden Girls...

No, we're not talking about Betty White and the reanimated cast of the popular sitcom. Golden Girl Finance is holding its official book launch for 10 Ways to Stay Broke... Forever this Monday at 7 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers at Grant Park Shopping Centre. Authors Laura McDonald and Susan Misner will be on hand to discuss the book, offer financial tips and sign books.

Besides the aforementioned literary contributions, here's a list of some other personal-finance books by locals.

Your Retirement Blueprint (Wiley, 2011), by Daryl Diamond, a Winnipeg certified financial planner who also wrote Buying Time: Trading Your Retirement Savings for Income and Lifestyle in Your Prime Retirement Years.

What's Your Isolation Factor? (2009), by Valerie Chatain-White, another Winnipeg certified financial planner, offering insight on developing a plan to suit your needs.

Master Your Retirement (2012 edition), by Doug Nelson, also a local financial planner. This book is one of dozens published by The Knowledge Bureau, a publisher of personal-finance books and a national post-secondary educational institute for financial management.

Risk Financial Markets and You (2011), by Alan Fustey, a local money manager who dishes up a compelling argument for how behaviour and our understanding of market risk make or break our investment portfolios.

Jacks on Tax (2012, The Knowledge Bureau), by Evelyn Jacks, president and founder of The Knowledge Bureau. It's one of dozens of books on finance she has penned in recent years including the latest edition of Essential Tax Facts.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 20, 2013 B12

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