Financial Post

Friday, February 26, 2010

Relax, don't panic and just be happy

Andre Ramshaw, Financial Post

A roundup of the season's RRSP and investing reads:


With this year's RRSP season heralding more than the usual alarms and advice on financial planning, two Canadian authors offer a timely cry for clarity and clear thinking. In their book The Mindful Investor: How a Calm Mind Can Bring You Inner Peace and Financial Security, Maria Gonzalez and Graham Byron urge investors to take a deep breath and tune out the "noise of the world."

Drawing on a 2,500-year-old science of the mind called Vipassana, Gonzalez and Byron preach portfolio prudence through "mindfulness meditation" -- a woolly sounding wheeze designed to steer investors away from worldly distractions (and depressing business news) into a state of exalted equanimity. In other words --don't worry, be happy.

If all this sounds a bit airy-fairy, don't panic: "Mindfulness meditation is secular and requires no chanting or patchouli." But do keep your hands off that BlackBerry: multitasking is a "misguided" false prophet that "legitimizes our inability to concentrate."

As the authors point out: "The mind is a trickster, and it will do anything to keep you engaged with it and trapped in a fantasy world of past regrets and future fears."


In the current issue of Money-Sense, the magazine tackles the top 21 RRSP questions posed by its readers. The magazine also ponders this year's great debate: RRSP or TFSA? "If you're just starting your career and earning in the $30,000 range, you could start with TFSAs and when your income goes up, you could switch to RRSPs. Not only will you get larger tax breaks, but you'll have built up lots of extra RRSP contribution room from the years you were using a TFSA instead."


Meanwhile, the new-look Canadian Business peers into its own crystal ball to ask: Is the economic recovery for real? Output is increasing, the magazine notes in its Special Report: Outlook 2010, "but there's reason to worry the better times won't last." The general consensus for the markets, however, is that the worst is behind us, with significant rebounds historically reported following recessions.