Reviews

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.

2 powerful New Year’s resolutions for a wealthy and healthy 2018

This will be a VERY short blog; nonetheless if you take the two resolutions seriously, you might well transform both your Wealth and Health. As Sandy Cardy wrote in a Hub blog, last week, Health IS true Wealth.

Resolution 1: Health

If I haven’t done it already, I will embark on a lifelong program to improve my nutrition and exercise daily, along the lines of the last Hub blog of 2017: Younger Next Year.

Resolution 2: Wealth

As of January 1st (if I have an online discount brokerage account, otherwise January 2nd or later this week), I will top up my Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA) by a further $5,500: the “new” TFSA contribution room that all adult Canadians qualify for as of the new year. This resolution applies to everyone from age 18 to seniors: especially to seniors and those in semi-retirement or approaching full retirement. The Hub’s second last blog of the year explains why: Retired Money — How TFSAs can give seniors more tax-free retirement funds.

That’s it: one short blog, two simple resolutions; yet with the potential to transform almost all aspects of your existence. So to all who read or contribute to the Hub, a very happy, healthy and wealthy new year. See you in 2018!

P.S. New Younger This New Year 2018 Facebook Group

I’d like to spread the word that this weekend’s Younger Next Year blog triggered via Twitter the creation of a new Facebook group called Younger Next Year – 2018. I believe I am member #5: thanks to Vicki Peuckert Cook for taking the initiative to create this. As with the Hub, the group consists (at least initially) of both American and Canadians. Hope to see you there!

 

Younger Next Year (& creation of Younger Next Year – 2018 Facebook group)

Younger Next Year. How’s that for a New Year’s Resolution?

Seriously, as we head into 2018, who wouldn’t want to be younger in 2018 than they were in 2017?

Impossible, you scoff? Clearly, you haven’t read the New York Times bestselling book, Younger Next Year, or its spinoff titles, including Younger Next Year for Women.

The authors are a vibrant 70-year old (at the time of writing) and ex New York litigator Chris Crowley and his personal physician (25 years his junior), named Henry Lodge (Harry in most of the text; I should clarify that this is the late Henry Lodge, since he passed await at age 58  early in 2017 of prostate cancer. Ironic.)

The subtitle says it all: Live Strong, Fit and Sexy — Until You’re 80 and Beyond. I’m grateful to one of my sources — Hub contributor Doug Dahmer of Emeritus Retirement Strategies — both for twigging me to the book’s existence and to supplying me a copy. (He appears to have laid in a good stash of the book).

Take control of your Longevity

And for good reason. The book is all about taking control of your personal longevity, chiefly  through proper nutrition but first and foremost by engaging in daily exercise: aerobic activity at least four days a week and weight training for another two days a week. Week in and week out, for the rest of your life. And the payoff is what is promised in the subtitle.

Apart from daily exercise and “Quit eating crap” (to use the authors’ phrase, one of Harry’s 7 Rules reproduced below) the authors urge readers to “Connect and Commit,” which means staying engaged even after formal retirement. In fact, as we argue in our own book Victory Lap Retirement, there’s a case to be made for never entirely retiring. Leaving the corporate workplace, probably, but semi-retirement and self-employment from home are certainly viable alternatives.

While Younger Next Year only touches on retirement finances, it certainly reinforces the main theme of this web site (FindependenceHub.com). It’s encapsulated in Harry’s 4th Rule: Spend Less Than You Make.

Harry’s Rules

I can see at this point that it’s best to simply list Harry’s 7 Rules, which formally appear in the book’s appendix (page 305 of my copy): Continue Reading…

Retired Money: the case for laddering Annuities

“The more bells and whistles, the lower the monthly income,” from annuities, says Caring for Clients’ Rona Birenbaum,

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column looks at the case for laddering annuities in order to avoid the problem of committing funds to annuities at interest rates that are only now coming off their historic lows. You can retrieve the whole article by clicking on the highlighted text: A low-risky annuity strategy to beef up your retirement cash flow.

Many investors are already acquainted with the concept of “laddering” guaranteed investment certificates (GICs), or bonds with different maturities. Maturity dates are staggered over (typically) one to five years, so each year some money comes due and can be reinvested at prevailing interest rates. This minimizes the likelihood of investing the whole amount at what may turn out to be rock-bottom interest rates, only to watch helplessly as rates steadily rise over time.

The same applies when it comes time for retirees or near-retirees to annuitize. At the end
of the year you turn 71 you must decide whether to convert your RRSP into a RRIF,
cash out and pay tax (few do this), or thirdly to annuitize.

Fortunately, annuitization isn’t an all-or-nothing decision. You can convert some of your RRSP to a RRIF and some to a registered annuity. You can take a leaf from the GIC laddering
concept and buy annuities gradually over five, ten or even more years. As regular Hub contributor Patrick McKeough observes in the piece, laddering annuities can reduce the potential downside: “You could buy one annuity a year for the next five years. That way, your returns will increase if interest rates rise, as is likely.”

Tally up how many annuities you may already have

Mind you, few observers believe in converting ALL your disposable funds into annuities. After all, as another Hub contributor — Adrian Mastracci — notes, you need to take inventory of the annuity-like vehicles you already may have, or expect to have: such as  employer-sponsored Defined Benefits, CPP or OAS. Some investors may have a high component of annuity-like income without realizing it, and many families may already have five or six such sources of annuity-like income.

Certainly you need to consider both the benefits and drawbacks of annuities. The main benefit is they are a form of longevity insurance: making sure you never outlive your money no matter how long you live. There’s a case for having enough annuities that your basic “survival expenses” (shelter, food, heat, transport etc.) are taken care of no matter what. Finance professor Moshe Milevsky is also quoted in the article to the effect there are compelling financial and psychological reason to at least partly convert to annuities. And Milevsky is famous for making a distinction between “REAL” pensions (like DB pensions) that behave like annuities, as opposed to vehicles like RRSPs and TFSAs, which provide capital that only have the potential to be annuitized. Hence the title of Milevksy’s excellent book, Pensionize Your Nest Egg.

But annuities are not perfect. Apart from the common reluctance to commit to buying annuities at today’s still-low interest rates, there’s also the matter of the irreversible nature of the decision to convert some capital to an annuity. You’re handing over a large chunk of change to an insurance company and should you die earlier than expected, they in effect “win,” to the partial detriment of your estate. If on the other hand you live to 120, then YOU “win.”

Continue Reading…

Mobile Personal Finance apps for Millennials seeking Financial Independence

By Reviews Bee

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Smartphones and apps have enormously affected our daily life and financial management. And despite the fact the elder generation may still have some doubts about tracking incomes and expenses,  millennials are more likely to connect their financial independence with these apps.

The fact is many mobile apps nowadays enable quickly entering data on incomes and expenses, and to find information about completed operations, make changes, export the database or restore it from a backup, and track your expenses and income. They give you some perspective on major and minor decisions in life so it becomes much easier to make  right decisions on the flow of your personal money.

When choosing a program, it’s important to consider not only functionality and convenience of interface but also safety. To be sure the financial apps will not let you down, we have considered  functional peculiarities and user reviews of many similar mobile apps, on the basis of which we present some of the best ones:

Mint

The Mint application helps to form a budget, track expenses and achieve financial goals. Costs and savings can be easily tracked in a special list, where different types of financial transactions are marked with different colors, as well as in the tables and charts that the application forms.

Users can also track movements on their bank accounts and credit-card balances in real time, monitor investments and even break their expenses into categories.

In addition, you can set up alerts if it’s time to pay bills, or if users have exceeded their budgets. Another convenient feature: a weekly consolidated report of the movement of your funds is available.

Wally

Continue Reading…

Two notable investment books to build your long-term Wealth

“Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.” — James Russell Lowell, poet and author

Last week I highlighted two books that help manage your family’s retirement aspirations. This week I turn my sights onto two books that shape investment success over the long run: all about taking charge of investing in your self-education through quality reading.

I’ve selected two books that provide great insights into stewarding your long-term wealth. The authors are well known in the wealth management profession.

The books emphasise simple, yet fundamental recipes of investing: something for everyone’s investment toolbox when the bulls and bears make their presence known.

The Elements of Investing

Burton G. Malkeil and Charles D. Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

My initial pick is a gem written by two leading, seasoned authors of many books. Both have contributed heavily to the profession of managing wealth. The investing process is condensed into five short chapters, all in layman’s language.

The authors make the point that everything starts with savings. It is their position that each of us can make sound investing decisions. The process does not have to be complicated.

Rather, it is a highly disciplined approach to investing. All the rules you need to know and implement are explained. I visualise the book as a clear, concise and practical guide for the long road ahead.

The easygoing writing style emphasises keeping the approach to investing as simple as possible. My perspective concurs with the view that the book is a prudent, logical road map.

Continue Reading…