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4 Things I Learned About Money When I Was Growing Up

By Yusuf Osman, MBA

Immigrating to Canada from Apartheid South Africa was a profoundly life-changing experience. Aside from the culture shock and adjusting to the freezing-cold weather, I saw my family struggle financially for the first time. Back in South Africa, my father had been a medical doctor and was compensated enough to give us a comfortable life. Seeing my parents struggle to make ends meet while my dad got certified to be able to practice medicine in Canada made me realize from a young age the importance of successful planning and investing.

As an investment advisor, I have gone through an extensive education and qualification process, but there are lessons about money that I learned from a young age. Here are the 4 things I learned about money growing up that I still preach today as an investment advisor.

1. Become Financially Literate

My mother was an extremely intelligent and well-read woman. Despite not having a formal education and leaving school in Grade 5, she was still more than capable of making informed decisions. Unfortunately, because of my father’s status as a medical doctor and the age gap between them, a lot of the financial decisions were deferred to him. As someone who respected their mother a great deal, it never sat right with me that my mother was not given a voice. Luckily, in today’s day and age, we are all given a bit more of a voice, with over half of women earning the same or more than their spouse. (1) With this newfound power, my goal is to make sure everyone’s voice is heard when it comes to their own financial well-being.

The first step to take control of your finances is to obtain a baseline knowledge of the financial system. Most of us live very busy lives trying to balance our careers, families, and our own health, which usually means putting learning about finance on the back burner. Grasping the fundamentals of financial literacy can help you make better decisions and keep you from being controlled by money. A basic understanding of different investment vehicles like stocks and bonds, interest rates, mortgages, and taxes will put you miles ahead of your peers and give you power over your money.

2. Keep Track of Your Money, Always Save First

Do you know what your monthly expenses are? Sure, you might be able to tell me how much your mortgage is or how much your Netflix subscription costs every month, but do you truly know what that all adds up to? If you’re like most people, you have no interest in keeping a detailed account of your expenses. As long as all your payments go through and your credit card is paid in full, you are more than happy just saving what is left of your paycheque.

While you are very fortunate and smart to save any money at all, you should be prioritizing your savings first and then spending what you have left over; not saving what you have left over. By saving your money first, you can enjoy greater financial confidence knowing you have cash set aside for emergencies and your retirement. You don’t want to live your life stressing about money, and if you keep track of your money and have your bases covered first, you will have the ability to take some risks and try new things.

3. Compound Interest: The 8th Wonder of the World

An Albert Einstein quote that you have likely already read in a book or seen circulating your Facebook feed is that “compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world, he who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.” While nobody knows for sure whether or not Einstein ever actually said that, the message still rings true.

Compound interest is the interest on a loan or deposit that is calculated based on the principal and the accumulated interest. This is different from simple interest where you only receive the interest on the principal. For example, if you buy a $1,000 five-year bond with a 5% yield (rate), you will be paid out $50 every year for five years for a total of $250.

However, if you buy $1,000 worth of stock with an expected return of 5% every year, you will make $50 the first year, $52.5 the next, $55.12 the year after, and so on. After five years you will have made $276. Because the interest is paid on accumulated interest as well as the principle, this creates a snowball effect and allows you to grow your wealth at a faster rate.

4. Invest Early

One important thing to note about compound interest is that it takes time to see results. In the previous example, the simple interest investment made $250 over five years while the compounding interest made $276. Although the $26 difference is virtually insignificant, if we extend the time frame to 25 years, simple interest will only make you $1,250 while compound interest will have made you $2,386, almost double! Over a long period of time, you give your investment more time to grow to really unleash the power of compound interest.

Investing early also allows you to take advantage of the tax-friendly accounts available to you. Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) or Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) have limits on how much you can contribute each year. To maximize how much you can save on taxes and maximize the amount of time your investments have to grow, you must start as early as you can.

That being said, if you feel like you are behind on your retirement goals and believe you may be too old to make the most out of investing, it’s never too late. It is always the right time to begin investing and taking control of your financial future. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. I created Life By Design Plans to ensure you have a strategy that is tailored to your goals and lifestyle. If you want to get started on your investment journey and implement all the lessons I mentioned today, contact me at (613) 230-5895 or​.

About Yusuf

Yusuf Osman is a Senior Investment Advisor at Argosy Securities Inc., an independent full-service financial advisory firm dedicated to helping clients create financial freedom, security, and peace of mind. With over 30 years of experience in the finance industry, Yusuf is committed to educating, engaging, and inspiring as many people as possible to take control of their finances. He spends his days developing a thorough understanding of his clients’ lives, concerns, and dreams to help them build a program that keeps pace with changes in both the markets and their lives. Yusuf graduated from the University of Ottawa with a bachelor’s degree in Science and earned an MBA in Finance from Queen’s University. To learn more about Yusuf and his Dynamic Wealth Program for Women, go to or connect with him on LinkedIn.



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