Financial Freedom

Adulting 101 is a big course. It’s lifelong and something we continue to learn about and grow from our experiences. Regardless of where you are on your career path, here are five tips to attaining financial freedom.

  1. Cash Flow is King

You need to prioritize your cash flow. There is no single good answer for everyone on what that looks like, but it is a combination of debt repayment, savings, and living within your means today.

When we focus on savings, we are really focussing on time – the time needed to compound the growth of your money for your future use.

Money is a renewable commodity, but time isn’t. The sooner you figure out that you don’t want to actively work forever, the sooner you can start to put your money to work for you. Time is your friend when it comes to compounding. The sooner the better!

Opportunity cost is key here. You are always trading something. Is that daily latte worth having if it means you’ll have to work until you’re 65 or older? That money will better serve you in the future if you start putting it to work now.

  1. Organizing your Debt

Paying yourself first is key. Paying debt is critical to your long-term success. The general rule of thumb is that debt repayment should account for no more than 30% of your cashflow.

Student loans, mortgages, and car payments are all included. So, if you are well surpassing this 30%, it’s likely time to revisit your strategy. Are you too aggressive at debt repayment at the expense of growing assets? Are you in a house that is way above what your income can support?

And don’t get me started on credit card and other consumer debt. If you can’t afford to pay cash for it now, you certainly can’t afford it when the bill comes with its 20% interest rate!

  1. Insurance: Needs and What to Avoid

Remember, you are the goose that lays the golden egg. Therefore, you need to protect your ability to earn an income. Taking care of yourself and your family is key – and it helps you sleep well at night.

Insurance is an extremely large topic that we have touched on several times. Some key points from the past:

  • creditor insurance protects the lender
  • renewable and convertible are your friend
  • partial and residual will serve you well
  • insuring items that are easily replaced is not the best use of your cash
  • protect from liability

The key to know here is that not all insurance is of equal value.

Of late I’ve been getting more questions around permanent life insurance. Yes, this can be an effective strategy but, as cash flow is king, you need to prioritize those dollars allocated to insurance premiums. Using life insurance as an investment tool should generally only be considered after you have exhausted all other saving vehicles.

Plan for the best, prepare for the worst.

  1. Minimize Taxes

No one likes taxes and, if you take a salary or make installment payments, you may assume that you are covered off here. The reality however is that those amounts are based on either the current tax tables or your past payments. They don’t reflect the lowest amount of tax you have to pay.

There are many opportunities to lower your current and future income taxation; different savings account types, the use of health spending accounts, and debt swap are just a few options. Dividends vs salaries. Share sale vs asset sale. Investing personally vs in a corporation. Buying real estate vs marketable securities. TFSA vs RRSP. They all have different tax implications that you need to understand.

Understanding your after-tax rate of return also matters. If your marginal tax bracket is 50% and you earn a 10% rate of return on your investment, your after-tax rate of return is only 5% if this is an Open account. But it is 10% if the investment is held in a TFSA.

Spend some time reviewing your last year’s tax return (personal and business) with your CPA and CFP to develop a plan to reduce your tax bill this year. Lots to talk about and lots of opportunity.

  1. Save for Retirement

I struggle with the word retirement and really do prefer financial freedom. Regardless, you can’t cover your living expenses if you haven’t created an income stream that doesn’t involve you working day in and day out.

There are many ways to build up net worth and you need a plan that includes some liquidity. Building a practice is great, as is commercial real estate. But these are illiquid and are often not as easy to access when you need the cash flow as you expected. It’s important to have liquidity in some of your investments. You just never know when your dream around the world cruise might come on sale!

When is the best time to start investing? 20 years ago. The second best time though is NOW.


As your Chief Financial Officer, I am here to help guide you through the various areas of creating your financial freedom plan. Helping you understand your money and assisting you in making smart financial decisions about your debt repayment, insurance protection, tax management and wealth creation, are just some of the ways that I work as your fiduciary.

Have more questions than answers? Educating you is just one piece of being your personal CFO that we do. Call (780-261-3098) or email ( today to set up your next conversation with us.

Roxanne Arnal is a former Optometrist, Professional Corporation President, and practice owner. Today she is on a mission of Empowering You & Your Wealth with Clarity, Confidence & Control.

These articles are for information purposes only and are not a replacement for personal financial planning. Everyone’s circumstances and needs are different. Errors and Omissions exempt.


Optometrist and Certified Financial Planner

Roxanne Arnal graduated from UW School of Optometry in 1995 and is a past-president of the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) and the Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS).  She subsequently built a thriving optometric practice in rural Alberta.

Roxanne took the decision in  2012 to leave optometry and become a financial planning professional.  She now focuses on providing services to Optometrists with a plan to parlay her unique expertise to help optometric practices and their families across the country meet their goals through astute financial planning and decision making.

Roxanne splits EWO podcast hosting duties with Dr. Glen Chiasson.


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The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has caused changes in mindset, attitude, direction, and behaviour for practice owners. It changed for employees too. One year later, we can all agree that important lessons have been learned – not always by choice but by necessity.


Lesson #1: Learning to be agile.
We all had to respond quickly to changing events. Sometimes with only a couple of days notice. This made us realize how
important it is to be comfortable with change and willing to shift gears when necessary. A sub lesson in learning to be agile was also recognizing the gaps in the way things were being done. Because we had to change, perhaps some of these changes had positive outcomes.

Lesson #2: Appreciating technology more.
So many of us have had to change the way we do business. The face-to-face meetings, attending events/conventions and how
patients needed to be looked after are just some of the many examples. Corona emphasized the importance of technology. Think of all the virtual learning opportunities we have had to embrace or tele-medicine that became a necessary and by default option. I for one was forced to embrace webinars and Zoom calls. Prior to the pandemic, these were never an option for me because I was not comfortable. Simple applications like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram have enabled me to meet new people and stay connected to those I already knew. I must admit, until the pandemic, I never appreciated the value of these tools.

Lesson #3: Being more empathetic.
In these trying times, clear communication with all stakeholders of your practice—staff, partners, advisors, and patients are
critical. There is no doubt that the stress of the pandemic on owners is massive. The key towards sustaining your business
in this situation is being transparent with your stakeholders and prioritising their needs. Apart from supporting your staff and
understanding the situation, you must support your workforce by encouraging them to learn and give them opportunities to join Zoom training and courses.

Lesson #4: The essential nature of social interaction.
While digital collaboration tools have become critical to remote work and will remain post-pandemic, the new way of work also emphasized the need for social interaction for humans. Suddenly a trip to your office during a lockdown may possibly be a real treat or outing. People miss human contact with those outside of their homes. Never underestimate the positive effect you have on the people who walk through your doors. For the staff, as stressed as people may be, the ability to laugh or participate in banter can mean so much. For example, when I was at my office a few weeks ago, four of us, while social distancing, had the most frivolous conversation that left us simply laughing. It was such a wonderful feeling, one that has been missed from our daily lives.

Lesson 5: Keeping a cash buffer.
The period from mid-March 2020 to mid-June 2020, taught all of us the importance of fiscal responsibility. Certainly, our credit cards took a beating as evidenced from the multitude of Amazon packages, however, for owners of practices as well as the associates, these were very scary times. Even with the various government programs, the major lesson learned by all was that we must have something in reserve. It is why banks are being tough on purchasers today because they must be confident that this person could withstand another lockdown if it ever happened. The good thing we have seen is that healthcare is recession resilient and now pandemic resilient. The pandemic has taught us the importance of having a cash buffer. Hopefully, it has also taught many of us to be grateful for what we have. So many have fallen on economic hardship and forced with extremely difficult decisions.

The pandemic has been an unforeseen situation for the whole world. It has brought about crisis and problems we never experienced before and has exposed us to many unknown vulnerabilities. This has been a period for all business owners to take a closer look at how their practice was run pre-pandemic versus now. However, along with the many challenges we faced due to the pandemic, it has also given us an opportunity to align, adapt and amend businesses as well as reinforce the strategies to make the most of the ongoing situation. Clearly, it has also taught all of us lessons that shall be both applicable and beneficial in the long run. A wise man told me that we do not need to embrace the reason for the change, but we must embrace change!

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp


Jackie has 30 years of experience in the industry as a former banker and now the Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at or 1-844-764-2020.


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