David Chilton tells UTM students relationships, saving key to financial success

File photo of David Chilton
Philip Walker/ Waterloo Record staff

The first incarnation of the Wealthy Barber may have come out 22 years ago, but students need David Chilton’s advice more than ever.

The author and personal finance expert was at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus on Friday for the first annual Countdown to Success networking conference.

Chilton spoke about the importance of relationships and the growth in the national debt. But his most relevant words were about the modern definition of success and how it’s centred on money.

“We define ourselves by our possessions more than by our character or anything else,” he told the crowd of roughly 400 university students, alumni, industry professionals and members of the Certified General Accountants of Ontario.

“I don’t mind if people spend money, but you have to do it in the context of affordability.”

“We’ve hijacked the word success to mean something financial and that is not a good thing,” he said, citing the granite countertops as a way people now often measure if someone’s a “loser”. “And people do think that!”

Ultimately, Chilton stressed to students the importance and benefits of living within  your means.

“People think you have to make sacrifices now to have a happy retirement future,” he said, addressing the belief that most young people don’t think abut pensions and aren’t saving for their golden years.

“But people who save now are also happier now.”

This is because they’re not stressed about their financial future or caught up in stress about possessions. “They’re living a little bit of a different life,” Chilton said. “And even if you do, spend it on experiences. Take trips and do those sorts of things.”

Chilton also spoke at length about his experience on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, working with entrepreneurs from the show and his unintentional foray into publishing.

While he self-published his own book, Chilton eventually invested in Ottawa sisters Greta and Janet Podleski and helped them publish three cookbooks.

Fourth-year management student Shaalini Sellvaratnam said the lessons from the Podleskis’ dogged pursuit of Chilton were clear. “Being friendly, being persistent and working hard,” said the 22-year-old work-study student. “Eventually you’ll get your foot through the door.”

Friday’s speech by Chilton was sponsored by the Ontario accountants group and presented by the University of Toronto Mississauga’s department of management.

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