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.

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.

Continue Reading…

4 sensible financial literacy books as gift suggestions

Santa Clause putting a shiny Christmas present into a stocking. Isolated on white.Want to give the gift of financial literacy to a loved one this Christmas?

We have a few stocking stuffer ideas,  following the just-completed Financial Literacy Month in Canada. Throughout November,  there were lots of articles out there on the importance of financial literacy and even more opinions about how to improve it.

Some argue for it to be taught in schools:  aren’t our schools stretched enough for resources as it is?  Some say parents should make it a priority to teach their children about money but many parents struggle with money concepts themselves and “do as I say, not as I do” isn’t always convincing.  Many argue very credibly that the financial services industry in Canada generally works to separate people from their money rather than to educate them about how to best grow their money.

We’re not sure what the answer is but agree it’s an important subject.  If you’ve already read David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber and are ready to move on to the next step, here are a few investment books that are sensible and concise.

*We first published this list in February 2015 and have received positive feedback!

1) The Investment Answer – Daniel Goldie and Gordon S. Murray – 2011

The Investment Answer – Daniel Goldie and Gordon S. Murray – 2011

Publisher summary:

“What if there were a way to cut through all the financial mumbo-jumbo? Wouldn’t it be great if someone could really explain to us–in plain and simple English–the basics we must know about investing in order to insure our financial freedom? At last, here’s good news. Jargon-free and written for all investors–experienced, beginner, and everyone in between–The Investment Answer distills the process into just five decisions–five straightforward choices that can lead to safe and sound ways to manage your money.”

2) The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns – John C. Bogle – 2007

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing- The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns – John C. Bogle – 2007

Publisher summary:

“Investing is all about common sense. Owning a diversified portfolio of stocks and holding it for the long term is a winner’s game. Trying to beat the stock market is theoretically a zero-sum game (for every winner, there must be a loser), but after the substantial costs of investing are deducted, it becomes a loser’s game. Common sense tells us-and history confirms-that the simplest and most efficient investment strategy is to buy and hold all of the nation’s publicly held businesses at very low cost. The classic index fund that owns this market portfolio is the only investment that guarantees you with your fair share of stock market returns. To learn how to make index investing work for you, there’s no better mentor than legendary mutual fund industry veteran John C. Bogle.”

3) The Empowered Investor: A Canadian Guide to Building a Better Investment Experience – Keith Matthews – 2013

The Empowered Investor- A Canadian Guide to Building a Better Investment Experience – Keith Matthews – 2013

Publisher summary:

“With The Empowered Investor: A Canadian Guide to Building a Better Investment Experience, author and advisor Keith Matthews answers the call for a clear, intelligent guide for Canadians looking to invest wisely. Dispensing with jargon and hype, The Empowered Investor is an easy-to-read finance and portfolio management book that offers a down-to-earth treatment of a complex subject with an accessible style that will appeal to novices and experts alike.”


4) Exchange Traded Funds for Canadians for Dummies – Russell Wild and Bryan Borzykowski – 2013

Exchange Traded Funds for Canadians for Dummies – Russell Wild and Bryan Borzykowski – 2013

Publisher summary:

“The fast and easy way for Canadians to understand and invest in ETFs – Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are an increasingly popular part of the investing landscape, being less volatile than individual stocks, cheaper than most mutual funds, and subject to minimal taxation. But how do you use this financial product to diversify your investments in today’s ever-changing market?

Exchange-Traded Funds For Canadians For Dummies shows you in plain English how to weigh your options and pick the ETF that’s right for you. It tells Canadian investors everything you need to know about building a lean, mean portfolio and optimizing your profits. Plus, the book covers all of the newest ETF products, providers, and strategies, as well as Commodity ETFs, Style ETFs, Country ETFs, and Inverse ETFs. The only book on the market catering specifically to Canadian investors.”

5 more suggestions

Editor’s Note: For a list of  5 more financial book suggestions, read this article from Saturday’s Financial Post: Here’s a look back at some of the best personal finance and economics books of 2016.

graham-bodelGraham Bodel is the founder and director of a new fee-only financial planning and portfolio management firm based in Vancouver, BC., Chalten Fee-Only Advisors Ltd. This blog is republished with permission: the original ran November 29th here

ChangeRangers’ Mark Venning interviews Victory Lap Retirement co-authors

Mark Venning,

By Mark Venning,

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

“We’re on a bit of a crusade to change the way our society thinks about retirement.” — Jonathan Chevreau & Mike Drak

Mike Drak and Jonathan Chevreau, co-authors of Victory Lap Retirement (published, October 2016) are not the first to head out on this crusade. Apart from the material on the larger subject of aging and longevity, in my library I must have at least 19 books, in addition to the stacks of reports, studies and new models on the subject of Retirement.

Over the twenty years in the career services industry, where I worked directly with business executives in their later life transitions – leaving the corporate crow’s nest, as I call it, I can appreciate where Mike and Jonathan are coming from in their take on this. I have produced three retirement programs since 2001, and in the process suffered from metaphor madness, developing novel ways of reframing the concept of retirement and our later life journey.

However, this Drak & Chevreau volume is a welcomed new addition to this crusade. The book, by way of its novelty, weaves the conversation from the threads of a concept called Findependence, as the cornerstone of a Victory Lap Retirement.  So here we go. Rather than a traditional book review, here in this blog post, I present views of the authors as shared through interview questions with them in late October.

Authors Interview

Mark’s Q: Your co-authored book, early on, takes a shot across the bow at the “financial media & financial services industries” in the way they persist to push “Retirement” as if it were some final destination. (There seems little shift between the 1970’s London Life’s Freedom 55, to Prudential’s 2016 Race for Retirement campaigns for example.) What one new key message should marketers take from reading Victory Lap that could become a differentiator in their marketing?

Mike: The industry is using the same commercials that they used 40 years ago. The only difference is that they are now in color. The world of retirement has changed significantly over the years and most people cannot afford nor do they want to live the lifestyle portrayed in their commercials.

Banks assume more money equals better retirement, which is wrong thinking. Banks are good with the investment piece but they need to become more involved with the lifestyle piece. How can you ever know if you have enough if you do not have a firm handle on what type of retirement lifestyle you want in retirement and what that lifestyle will cost?

Mark’s Q: At one point in Chapter 3, you make the point that: “Compounding the problem is the lack of financial education our children receive in school.” You also say in Chapter 4 that the importance of financial independence is a prerequisite to the new stage of life you call “Victory Lap Retirement.”  Let’s play here. What do you think about an opportunity for you to design/deliver a “Findependence” course relatable to high school teenagers that didn’t use the word Retirement? What then would the main message sound like to them?

Jon: We’d say there is an opportunity there. Continue Reading…

Investing for the Trumpocalypse; Review of Trump bio, Never Enough

trumpbookEditor’s Note. The Hub originally ran the book review that appears below last February but in light of last night’s shocking defeat of Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump, it seems timely to rerun it now, when the world is thinking of no other topic.

In the meantime,for the possible financial implications of the Trump victory: see my FP blog today on what investors should do in light of the feared “Trumpocalypse.

In brief, and as I noted in my Twitter feed last night, those overweight stocks could reasonably have expected a major plunge on the major US and stock indexes at this morning’s open. Markets elsewhere started to plunge as soon as the historic result became clear well before midnight. However, this did NOT occur once the American markets opened at 9:30 this morning: instead, US markets were mostly positive almost from the get-go and by the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 257 points, while the Canadian market was up more than 100 points.

Things could change over the coming days but as always diversification and asset allocation offers a degree of protection under such uncertain conditions. Those with cash, gold or precious metals, bonds, real estate and who are in some way partly hedged by being short certain equity ETFs should find themselves partly cushioned should markets go south. 

The unexpected election outcome was predicted in certain circles: documentary maker Michael Moore and currency expert James Rickards come to mind. But of course, very few would have heeded these warnings, so unbelievable did this outcome appear. While the expectation was that Clinton was good for markets and Trump was not, Wednesday’s market action confounded this notion. Still, if you’re an investor, definitely consult your financial advisor. 

I’d argue that if you didn’t take steps to hedge against this outcome before, the horse has already escaped the barn and it may be best to sit aside, try not to panic and wait for things to stabilize in a day or two. If you’re with a robo-adviser service, hopefully your asset allocation reflects your true investment personality and no major actions should be necessary. 

As advertised,  here’s the (very short) book review, as I originally wrote it:

Book Review: Never Enough — Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success

The title of Michael D’antonio’s new biography of Donald Trump — Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success — was enough to get me to order the book from the library and read it from cover to cover. After all, I was a big fan of John Bogle’s book with a similar but diametrically opposed title: Enough.

Perhaps my view of Donald Trump was long coloured by my late mother’s assessment that if I ever turned out like the Donald, she’d disown me, or words to that effect. After all, Trump epitomizes the main worldly goals of our era: his career was all about pursuing the holy triad of fame, money and power: in that order. And add a fourth, his admission that his main vice has been sex, even though he was largely an abstainer from other popular vices like drinking or drugs.

The original Wealthy Boomer

Continue Reading…

Financial Independence, Zen and the Art of Wealth

zenw_fr_500_773I was recently asked to review a new book, Zen and the Art of Wealth, by Warren MacKenzie. It’s the story of two friends who chat while one helps the other build his drystone wall.

It’s a good book and reminded me of some important life lessons that I had forgotten over the years. The book also triggered some memories about how I was first exposed to the world of Zen.

My first exposure to Zen was as a child, when I watched the TV show “Kung Fu” starring David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine. In the first episode, Caine is accepted for training at a Shaolin monastery, where he grows up to become a Shaolin priest and martial arts expert. Caine fights for justice, protects the underdog and has a strong sense of social responsibility, something that is sadly lacking today. Flashbacks were often used to reveal specific lessons from Caine’s childhood training in the monastery, from his teachers: the blind Master Po and Master Kan.

I loved the lessons from Caine’s training in the monastery and those lessons have stuck with me for some reason over the years: Continue Reading…