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.

A Procrastinator’s Guide to RRSPs

Procrastinators: There is just a week to go until the March 1st deadline for making contributions to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). My column in the Financial Post in today’s paper (page FP10) can also be found online by clicking on the following highlighted text of the headline, As the RRSP deadline looms, here’s what all the procrastinators need to know.

One of the sources cited is CPA David Trahair, author of the book illustrated to the left: The Procrastinator’s Guide to Retirement. Here’s a link to the Hub’s review of that book.

The FP piece notes that while making an RRSP contribution before the deadline is not technically a “use it or lose it” proposition, procrastination nevertheless provides opportunity losses: you end up paying more income tax than necessary for the 2016 tax year (reminder, THAT deadline is also looming: see Jamie Golombek’s reminder in his FP column: Tax season is upon us.) Procrastination also creates the opportunity loss of considerable tax-compounded investment growth.

While you can arrange an RRSP top-up loan or — for multiple years of under contributions — an RRSP “catch-up” loan, my conclusion is that the optimum course of action is to automate RRSP savings through a pre-authorized checking (PAC) arrangement with a financial institution. This approach also allows you to “dollar cost average” your way into financial markets: that way, you reduce the stress of coming up with a large lump sum to contribute, as well as the stress of fretting about the best time to invest.

Of course, as Trahair notes at the end of the article, and as Borrowell’s Eva Wong reminded us in her Hub blog on Monday, if you’re heavily in debt you may be better off eliminating that debt before getting too serious about RRSP contributions: See When you should NOT invest in an RRSP.

Introducing the inaugural winner of the Victory Lap Retirement [VLR] Award

Author Ernie Zelinski

Picking the first winner of the VLR [Victory Lap Retirement] Award was easy for me. Some might consider me a little biased, but how could I not give the award to my friend and mentor Ernie Zelinski?

After all it was Ernie’s books How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free and The Joy of Not Working that basically salvaged my life and gave me the courage to leave a 36-year banking career that was slowly killing me.

If I had read Ernie’s book earlier, I would have probably exited my corporate job even sooner than I did.

Ernie is an interesting guy, who learned early in life that he wasn’t cut out for the corporate world.

He’s a true free spirit, always has been, always will be and I just love his personal story. At the age of 29 he bailed (some might say was fired) from his job as a professional engineer. I say bailed because subconsciously we sometimes do things that will end up giving ourselves the result that we really want, as in “I know if I do this they will probably fire me” and in Ernie’s case they actually did.

In Ernie’s own words: “I Truly believe that had I not left corporate life, I would either be dead today, or suffering from some serious stress-induced illness.” Yours truly was also on this path. Thanks for showing me the way Ernie!

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Boomer & Echo’s Review of Victory Lap Retirement (+ a giveaway)

There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests postponing retirement – even by just one year – can lead to a longer, healthier life. The reality is that we’re living longer and saving less. Something has to give. But another year or two spent pushing paper in a cubicle is probably not the holy retirement grail we’ve been searching for.

RelatedGrowing older in America – The Health and Retirement Study

Indeed, if you’re healthy and can afford to stop working, the idea is to find something else you’re passionate about and do that instead – whether it’s switching to a new career in an unrelated field, writing a book, starting a blog, or simply volunteering at your favourite charity. Call it your work-optional years.

Victory Lap Retirement

Authors Mike Drak and Jonathan Chevreau call it your Victory Lap Retirement. The authors argue that the idea of retirement has to change in the sense that going from 100 percent work mode to 100 percent leisure mode is boring and fraught with risk.

The fact is we might be retired, in the traditional sense, for thirty or forty years – as long, or maybe longer, than we spent during our working lives. That’s too long to spend in an armchair watching Seinfeld reruns.

How do we find purpose and meaning in this third stage of life? More importantly, for some, how do we finance it?

 In Victory Lap Retirement, Drak and Chevreau describe a post-employment lifestyle designed with a unique blend of work and play that allows you to live life to the fullest, on your terms, while you’re young enough to enjoy it.
Financial Independence


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Tapping “Flow” to boost Creativity

flowcreativityLast year,  the Hub reviewed a classic (i.e. not recent) book called Flow, written by a University of Chicago professor, Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi. This time, we’re going to take a look at the same author’s followup book, Creativity, which bears the subtitle Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.

It’s a fascinating read for anyone who has fancied themselves an “artiste” or musician, but were never able to extract a living from their creativity. But of course, one bonus of achieving financial independence is that it’s never too late to cultivate one’s creativity. One of the author’s concluding points is that we should strive in various ways to boost our creativity, whether or not it leads to the world’s recognition of our talents. The concluding words are these:

“… what really matters, in the last account, is not whether your name has been attached to a recognized discovery, but whether you have lived a full and creative life.”

Much depends on what “domain” one chooses: there is a chapter on the domain of words: for writers, poets, novelists and those who are “vendors of words,” to use an expression often used by the British journalist and author Malcolm Muggeridge Continue Reading…

Retired Money: Retirement planning is about more than money

Meta at her 100th birthday party early in December

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column was published today. Click on the highlighted text for the full piece: Retirement planning is about more than money.

The piece is based on a recent Seniors’ Luncheon hosted by the Toronto church I attend and as you will read, I was struck by how the experiences of these seniors — who ranged in age from 82 to 100 — reinforced the theme of my recently released co-authored book, Victory Lap Retirement.

In short, every senior at the table believed in continuing to work in some fashion even in their looming old age. Including 100-year-old Meta, pictured. While I changed the names of the other seniors in the article, Meta is a real name and used there and here with her permission.

Here’s the thing. Until she suffered a hip injury earlier this year, Meta was still working one or two half-days a week at a nearby printing firm. And at her 100th birthday celebration earlier this month, this continued work connection meant several of the people celebrating with her were from work, as well as the church, neighbours and various other circles.

And now that the din over her 100th birthday milestone has subsided, Meta told me last week that she wanted to return to work one day a week, because she misses her co-workers and she likes to get out of the house (she lives in the top floor of a house overlooking Lake Ontario, and has been there since the 1960s. The last thing she would want would be to move to an institution catering to seniors.)

The danger of retiring “too soon”

As for the senior men I chatted with that day, one regretted having voluntarily retired “too soon” at the tender age of 58: Kevin (not his real name) said he did so because he had a good teacher’s pension but when his wife passed away soon after, found himself with too much time on his hands.

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