We review books that deal with everything from financial independence topics to politics, and anything in between. We may sometimes stray into films and music if there is a “Findependence” angle.

4 books to prepare for Your Victory Lap

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A question that frequently comes up is what books we would recommend people read to help prepare themselves for a successful VL (Victory Lap). I think this happens because many of our talks are held at libraries and people there are accustomed to doing their own research. There are a lot of good books out there, including Victory Lap Retirement, but the following four will do the job getting you both mentally and financially prepared to launch your own VL.

1)   How To Retire Happy, Wild, and Free, by Ernie Zelinski.

This is the book that helped convince me it was ok to leave my stressful banking job. If you are in a similar position, you know it is hard to leave a well-paying job late in your career. However it is just as hard staying in a job that makes you miserable just to save some extra money for a retirement that you have no idea what it will look like. When you are in a job you hate, something has to give and I hope it’s not your health. If you lose your health,  does it really matter how much money you have? You might want to think about that one a little before it’s too late.

We give out a copy of Ernie’s book at our presentations, as there is usually at least one person in attendance who is willing to admit they are struggling with the “should I stay or should I go?”  decision.

Having been there myself I feel for them and know Ernie’s book will help them, just like it helped me.

2)    The Essential Retirement Guide, by Frederick Vettese

I like to sleep at night and after reading this book I was able to sleep a lot better. Most of us are stressed out about the possibility of running out of money in retirement. I can’t speak for any of you but I worried about money, making the mortgage payment, getting the kids through school for most of my life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste any more of my life worrying about money during my Victory Lap. Life is too short for that and I have better things to do with my time.

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Millennial Money: Can Money buy Happiness?

By Brandon Hill, CFP

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Do you believe the saying money can’t buy you happiness? Most people laugh at that notion, while some of the wealthiest people sing its praises …

I recently read a book called Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.

The book set out to tackle the question – “Just because money often fails to buy people happiness, does that mean that it can’t?”

Luckily it can:  it just depends on how you go about spending it. It turns out that our everyday spending choices releases a variety of biological and emotional effects – either positive or negative.

This book covers five specific spending strategies to spark positive effects and increase happiness. You may have heard of some – such as buy experiences, not “things.”

The goal is to maximize the amount of happiness you get out of every dollar you spend.

Some of the wealthiest individuals have mastered these tactics (Bill Gates / Warren Buffett) and don’t let their wealth become a source of anxiety or stress.

It’s important to note that these ideas aren’t supposed to encourage you to spend your way to happiness. All strategies are meant for your discretionary spending, after your needs and future savings goals are taken care of (see my previous article on Guilt-free Spending).

All of the ideas written about here are completely attributable to the authors of this book and include paraphrased ideas and/or direct quotes from the authors. I don’t take credit for the concepts written here. The full book is a quick read and if you are interested in reading more in-depth, you can buy a copy here.

Buy Experiences

A study found out that once an individual makes $75,000 or more (in the US), any increase in income has no effect on their everyday general happiness. Isn’t that crazy?
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A cure for the Retirement Blues

Whaaaat? Is it possible that this whole retirement thing can be a letdown once you finally get there — that some people may experience the Retirement Blues?

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column looks at the problem of having too much free time in your golden post-employment years, which you can find by clicking this highlighted headline: Retiring frees up 2,000 extra hours a year.

In the piece, I describe at least one senior who felt in retrospect that he retired too early: he had a great pension so money wasn’t a problem but he soon realized he had started to miss the many benefits of work. In short, he had a mild — or not so mild — case of the Retirement Blues.

As you’ll see, the column references an RBC program called Your Future by Design (See

The 2,000 hours is the result of a simple calculation: 50 weeks multiplied by 40 hours a week equals the amount of “found” leisure time freed up by no longer working full-time. The 2,000 hours figure was referenced in a survey by the Royal Bank last year. Those with long commutes can add a few more hundred hours a year of “found” time.

Keep in mind that if you don’t work at all in retirement you’ll have a lot more than just those 2,000 hours a year to fill. Subtracting 3,000 hours for sleep, you’ll have a total of 5,840 waking hours every year. So if you live 30 more years after retiring, that’s 175,000 waking hours to be occupied.

Little wonder that 73% surveyed by RBC aren’t sure what they’ll do with all that time. We spend more time planning vacations (29%) or weddings (19%) than on retirement!

5 top retirement activities, plus a sixth that should be considered

RBC finds the top five activities for replacing work are health & fitness, travel, hobbies, volunteering and relaxing at home,  but I suggest in the column that many recent retirees may discover they want a sixth activity: work, if only on a part-time basis.

Imagine that: doing a little more of what you may have done too much of during your primary career, but enjoying it for its own sake, its networking properties and social stimulation. And, incidentally, adding a little to your retirement nest egg while you’re at it.

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Business owners need to step up Wealth transfer plans for next generation

Here’s my latest High Net Worth blog for the Financial Post, titled Only 40% of new business owners have transition in place, says new report.

The latest in a series of global surveys by RBC Wealth Management and Scorpio Partnership finds that while more than a third of business owners in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom  have a full formal plan in place to pass their wealth on to their heirs, one in five have not even started to plan.

RBC surveyed 384 high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the three countries, with average investible wealth of US$6.4 million. While 51% of business owners have a will in place, a startling 22% have not yet started any sort of wealth transfer preparations; which means “the majority of business owners are relatively unprepared to pass on their financial legacy,” the report says.

One of the experts I consulted was business transition and valuation expert Ian R. Campbell, who  recently wrote a Hub blog about Donald Trump’s business transition plans for his high-profile family members. It was also the basis for an earlier Financial Post column by me headlined Donald Trump is upping the ante in the Wealth Transfer game.

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Weekly Wrap: Census; Estate planning; Trump’s succession plan; Mutual Funds embrace ETFs

Based on the widespread media coverage of the 2016 Canadian census this week, Canada’s baby boomers are going to be just as much of a demographic force as ever once they enter their golden years. For the first time, our seniors now outnumber our kids, the CBC reported.

Not all seniors are baby boomers, of course, but sadly the reverse will soon be true: most if not all baby boomers will be seniors. For this generation retirement (or semi-retirement) is a huge looming event, as a quick browse of this site will establish. Hey, just this week I got a package from Service Canada advising me that I will be able to draw Old Age Security (OAS) when I turn 65 next April. And I intend to take it then too, as I wrote in MoneySense last August: Why I’m taking OAS right at 65.

Boomers need to face up to their own mortality

All of which suggests it’s time for Canadian boomers to start looking more seriously at their own mortality and the admittedly dreary topic of estate planning. I covered this Thursday in my latest MoneySense Retired Money column: Retirees need to start thinking ahead.

In my Financial Post article that ran on Wednesday, I looked at estate planning from a different perspective: how the original “Wealthy Boomer” —  Donald Trump —  is tapping his family members for senior roles in his administration and possibly for his business succession planning. Click on Donald Trump is upping the ante in the Wealth Transfer game.

Ian Campbell

One of the sources for the FP piece was business transition and valuation expert Ian Campbell, pictured. (He himself admits to his strong resemblance to investing legend Warren Buffett!). By coincidence I reached out to Ian about the Trump piece just as he had published a blog on that very topic. It ran on the Hub Wednesday under the headline Generational Business Transaction: The Apprentice. Check the links to his site for his free newsletter.

The Truth about Working in Retirement

Our best-selling (G&M, Amazon among others) book, Victory Lap Retirement, continues to get some positive reviews. Earlier this week Ellen Roseman of Toronto Star fame wrote the following review on Golden Girl Finance: The Truth about Working in Retirement. As Ellen recounts, she herself has retired from her full-time newspaper gig but continues to be fairly busy in the semi-retirement described in our book.

Mutual fund companies Excel Funds, Franklin Templeton enter ETF business

Finally, some big news in the asset management industry, where it was announced that two Canadian mutual fund companies — Excel Funds Management and Franklin Templeton Investments — are entering the ETF business. The Globe & Mail’s Clare O’Hara reported this on May 2nd. Click on Franklin Templeton, Excel Funds to enter Canadian ETF market.

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