Q. I have thousands invested in shares. I also have a large balance on my credit cards but always make the minimum payment. I have read that it is important for me to pay off my credit cards first. Why? I would have no investments with this approach and therefore have little for retirement. — Amir

A. Investing for your future is more than holding stocks. An investment objective should be to increase your net worth year over year but not lose sight of long-term goals.

You would increase net worth (assets less liabilities/debt) faster if you paid off debt before buying shares. Some critics may argue that buying shares could give better returns than the interest paid on the debt. That’s a possibility, but “could” comes with unknowns and risk. Your returns are not guaranteed, as demonstrated by the past year. Paying down debt is a guaranteed increase in net worth. When you eliminate debt, you increase net worth and cash flow for future investment. Only then, look at buying into the market.

Debt elimination is not as colourful as forecasting the next oil or IT darling but it gives results.