Paying down debt and investing are great items to have on your financial ‘to-do’ list.  Both will increase your net worth and accelerate your path to financial independence. But, which of these financial goals should get the first spot on your list? In order to determine the right plan for you here are a few key variables to consider. Let’s dive in!


Paying off your debts can lift a huge burden of anxiety, fear and stress. But, a debt-free life without any savings is like teetering at the edge of a cliff. One gust of wind (i.e. an expensive surprise) and you’re tumbling back into the abyss. For most millennials, especially those living in expensive urban cities, it doesn’t take an actual emergency to be hit with large expenses that might require dipping into an emergency fund.


The logical course of action when deciding between paying off your debt or investing boils down to a comparison of two variables:

  1. The interest rate you’re paying on your debt. 
  2. The rate of return you can expect to earn on your investments

On the one hand, if you reduce your debt, you guarantee yourself a rate of return equal to the interest rate that you’re avoiding. For example, paying off a $10,000 line of credit will “save” you from having to pay interest of 6%. And in effect you have “earned” a 6% rate of return.

On the other hand, if you set aside that money in savings instead, you would require a 6% rate of return from your investment to be in the same position as having paid down the debt, or breaking even.


There is one major distinction between the rate of return you can expect from paying off your debt versus the rate of return you can expect from an investment. The interest rate on your debt is guaranteed, whereas most investment products can’t promise any guarantees at all, and can potentially result in a loss.

So, if you’re carrying debt, and the thought of losing money keeps you up at night, there’s only one safe bet here and that’s putting debt repayment squarely at the top of your financial to-do list.  


Investing is within reach if you take things one step at a time. Here’s the framework that we use at Paper & Coin to guide our community and clients on how to strategically reach their financial goals, one step at a time. 

    This is the starting point. Your Booster Fund is 1-month’s worth of ESSENTIAL living expenses set aside in case of an emergency. This money should be kept:

Liquid: meaning readily accessible

Safe: meaning not invested in anything that could result in a decrease in value.

    Next, start devoting as much of your financial efforts as possible to debt repayment. That means aiming to completely eliminate all debts that are within your control, as fast as possible.

    During this time, you should also still aim to set aside a little bit of additional savings in your “Stuff Fund”.  This is separate from your emergency fund, and it meant to be a temporary hold for cash that you’re setting aside for specific upcoming purchases like buying winter tires, for example. This is a key aspect to successful budgeting.  You do NOT want to be relying on your credit card to make purchases while you’re trying to pay off that credit card, after all.  
    Once you’ve completely paid off all of your open loans, your efforts should be redirected to saving up an additional 2-5 months of expenses to your Buffer Fund, a fully-fully emergency fund.  That’s 3-6 months of living expenses set aside in a high-interest savings account. This is going to give you peace of mind and is absolutely essential before you move on to investing and building long-term wealth.
    Congrats! At this point you are debt-free, your Buffer Fund is fully loaded, and you now have the wiggle room in your budget to allocate towards investments and additional savings goals.

If you’re ready to get on a financial plan toward debt freedom, or establish a strategy to start investing, our Paper & Coin financial coaches are here to help. Prefer self-learning? Our Money Masterclass has two entire modules devoted to teaching you how to successfully and sustainably invest your money to build lasting wealth both now, and well into retirement.


Just over a decade ago, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne took the world by storm. The self-help book outlines strategies for leveraging what’s known as The Law of Attraction. This concept claims that a person can create desired outcomes in their life through the power of their thoughts and intentions. Selling over 30 million copies worldwide, The Secret became a pop culture phenomenon. While some consider the theories in the book to be bogus, others swear they really work. 

Millennials have a resurging interest in The Law of Attraction. Currently, there are 2.6 million posts on Instagram tagged with #manifestation, accompanied by a booming “mindset coaching” industry that has emerged to meet the demand. What’s behind this peaked interest in manifestation and what does science tell us about The Law of Attraction? Let’s attract some answers, shall we?


The ideas shared in The Law of Attraction theory stem from a field known as quantum physics, which describes the behaviour of the atoms and subatomic particles that make up, well, just about everything. 

Dating back to the early 1900s, the first basic principle related to The Law of Attraction states that all matter is interchangeable. The second principle is a concept known as The Observer Effect, which states that by simply observing the behaviour of a particle, you can potentially change that particle’s behaviour. So, how exactly do the science of these subatomic particles apply to our careers and relationships? According to the principles of quantum physics “like attracts like”, and if we focus our energy on the things we desire, we might be able to attract them to us. 

This concept is supported by some psychological research, as well. The areas of the brain known as our “intention centers” are shown to be highly connected to the “action centers” of the brain. Thus, focusing on desired outcomes might cultivate the action required to achieve them. 

Additionally, focusing on an emotion or a sensation tends to intensify it, while ignoring it we might mitigate it. fMRI experiments reveal that when we see someone who appears anxious or fearful we’re likely to mirror those emotions. Clearly, the mind is a powerful tool, and our energy and emotions impact the people around us, and vice versa.


The use of terms like “manifesting”, “attracting”, and “magnetizing”, which were perhaps once considered outlandish have become decidedly mainstream. When asked why she believes so many people are turning to manifestation strategies for their life and career, Rachael Hunt, a Business and Mindset Coach in Toronto cites the rise in popularity of other new-age movements like mindfulness and self-love as contributing factors. “People are hungry for something bigger than themselves to believe in”, she says. “Manifestation is different from traditional faith, in that you are able to create your own experience with it. For younger generations, I think that really resonates.” 

Olivia, a Toronto-based content creator and Naturopathic Medicine student, says she turned to manifestation strategies because she felt stuck. “I was working very hard and putting in all the hours but I wasn’t moving forward. It felt like I was stuck on a hamster wheel and something needed to change,” she says. “I thought it was a little woo-woo,” she admits.  “I had joked about manifesting things but never took it seriously. I just didn’t get how it could possibly work.” 

Her skepticism has certainly disappeared. Today, she credits manifestation strategies with transforming both her life and her business. Olivia uses visualization every morning before she starts her day and focuses on the things she wants to bring into her life. “I feel exactly what it is like to be in that scenario. That is the key, you need to feel the emotion that is associated with what you want in order for it to come to fruition.” 

How has this practice changed things for Olivia? “Success comes easily to me now, and I am putting in less work than before. Things simply aren’t as hard anymore. Now, don’t get me wrong, you still have to put in the work, but the mindset shift that goes into manifestation allows those things to come to you. Whereas, before, there was a block,” she says. 


Millennials have had the tarnished, and often ill-informed reputation of being entitled and lacking a strong work ethic. By crediting manifestation strategies for our success, could we be internalizing this reputation? Are we failing to give ourselves credit for the hard work we’ve put in to achieve our goals?

This is especially problematic given that women seem to be the key adopters of the strategy. Also, promoting manifestation practices in the context of business development and sales strategies raises a number of questions. Does this isolate individuals who don’t consider themselves to be spiritual? What about those who subscribe to a traditional, organized religion, and have suffered the long-held idea of this subject being considered taboo in professional contexts? 

According to Jordanna Levin, author of Make It Happen – Manifest the Life of Your Dreams, many of these issues stem from the oversimplification of the concept behind manifestation. “Somehow the expansive, grand, and intricate concept of manifestation got boiled down to this: thoughts become things,” says Levin. “All of a sudden, a bunch of people were under the impression that simply thinking about the million dollar mansion they were going to live in… while not thinking about their unpaid bills, would be enough to manifest a big fat cheque,” she continues.

Hunt echoes this sentiment, and believes that manifestation strategies “show us how incredibly powerful we are as creators. We truly can co-create our own reality when we understand how to use our mind to manifest our desires in an intentional way. The beautiful thing about manifestation is that it’s a process of having fun, so it doesn’t ever have to feel like work.” She highlights that part of what manifestation strategies encourage is a shift in our perspective. What once felt like toiling work might feel like an easier process when we can trust that what is meant for us will come our way if we stay positive, focused, and intentional. 

Building a vision, staying focused, thinking positively, and being intentional with your energy might change the way you experience hard work, but it doesn’t mean you get to skip it altogether. “If living the good life was as easy as thinking the good thoughts and feeling the good feels, don’t you think we’d all be driving around in sports cars and working remotely from idyllic beachside bungalows by now?” says Levin.

In other words, manifestation isn’t magic. Instead, it is a tribute to what can happen when intention meets action; when what you’re seeking starts with a positive attitude and intentional focus. But, don’t expect your dream life to appear at your doorstep after a fifteen minute meditation. No, you’re actually going to have to head out into the world and go make it happen.