Debt & Frugality

As Didi says in the novel (Findependence Day), “There’s no point climbing the Tower of Wealth when you’re still mired in the basement of debt.” If you owe credit-card debt still charging an usurous 20% per annum, forget about building wealth: focus on eliminating that debt. And once done, focus on paying off your mortgage. As Theo says in the novel, “The foundation of financial independence is a paid-for house.”

5 small steps to improve your physical health & 5 for your financial health

Duke University conducted a two-year study of 218 healthy adults of normal weight to determine if a modest, sustained calorie reduction would show appreciable benefits. The plan was to reduce calories consumed by 25 per cent, but participants were unable to achieve that much.

(Author’s note: I sure couldn’t do it! A 25% reduction in my 2,000 daily calories would leave me staggering around at only 1,500 per day.)

Participants were able, however, to cut calories by an average of about 12 per cent.  This smaller change allowed them to stick to the plan without any adverse effect on mood (wherein lies a useful message in itself). The results? Lowered blood pressure; decreased insulin resistance; as well as a drop in several predictors of cardiovascular disease.

But the most appreciable result concerned C-reactive protein, a substance produced by the liver and a marker of inflammation in the body. The participants’ C-reactive levels plunged by almost half: a remarkable 47%!

It’s a no brainer that poor dietary habits would exacerbate internal inflammation. But very often this is an invisible menace (see my article ‘The Truth About Inflammation’, October 2015). Most of us remain blissfully unaware of any chronic inflammation cascading throughout our bodies. Yet this exposes us to chronic health risks as a result of knocking the body out of whack. In my case, I had the aforesaid silent inflammation and observable inflammation, which I felt in my poor old joints. And I am pretty convinced that chronic inflammation was one factor in my developing cancer.

An elevated C-reactive protein level can be a valid identifier of inflammation in the body. So, if just a 12% calorie restriction can reduce this marker by almost 50%, this is as good information as that available to an insider trader.

In the blindness of youth, so many of us can compromise our health in a mad dash for wealth. But from the other end of the lifespan, a good many seniors would gladly sacrifice some wealth for even a smidgen of better health. Those who don’t make time for their health early on in life more often have to make time for illness later.

5 ways to improve your physical health

So, if you are young, young at heart, worried that you are no longer young, here is some insider information. Five smart, little investments you can make, the aggregate interest of which, over time, will have compound into positive health returns. Continue Reading…

9 ways to survive when money’s tight on Maternity Leave (or Pat Leave)

By Maria Weyman

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Being on maternity ‒ or paternity leave ‒ usually means you’re taking a pay cut, and that can leave you feeling perpetually broke.

Not only are you bringing in a smaller income each month, but you’re also shelling out for baby items you never had to buy before. Despite the crunch, many parents also struggle with the temptation to shop more than usual since they have extra time to spend wandering around the malls or browsing online.

However with some effort, it’s possible to get through maternity leave with your finances ‒ and your sanity! ‒ intact.

Challenge yourself

Saving money can be kind of fun if you make a game out of seeing how much you can save ‒ and then trying to beat your own record.

1.) Get your thrift on

Babies outgrow their clothes very quickly, and secondhand items are usually in nearly-new condition because they’re hardly worn.

So why not plan an outing at the thrift store, meet up with a friend (who’s also on mat leave) and dig through the bins and racks together.

2.) Try couponing

Even if you’ve never clipped a coupon in your life, there’s no better time to learn.

You can save on groceries once you learn how to find grocery coupons online, how to stack coupons, and earn money with cash-back couponing apps.

Pssst. Babies also come with some handy freebies if you know where to look.

3.)  Trim the budget

Sit down and look at where your spending could be tightened, and decide on a goal that’s going to help you spend less each month.

If you’re overspending on groceries ‒ after all, you are home all of the time now ‒ maybe you can set a strict budget and really stick to it.

If you’re visiting the coffee shop a little too often, make the effort to bring a hot drink in a travel mug when you head out the door.

Look for free fun

It might feel like every activity costs money, but there are so many ways to get out that are absolutely free.

4.) Take a walk

Walking is a great way to explore new neighbourhoods, get some exercise, and lower your stress levels by breathing in the fresh air.

Babies also enjoy going for walks, and usually the movement lulls them to sleep. If it’s too cold or rainy to walk outside, look for an indoor track. Often it’s free for people from the community to use, and you can bring the baby in their stroller.

5.) Try something new

Most gyms and fitness centres offer a trial membership, whether it’s a day pass or even a full week. By expressing interest in maybe joining their facility, you can get the chance to try out their equipment, sweat through a cardio class, and take a shower in peace.

Bonus points if you find a place that offers free daycare for your little one!

6.) Join a group Continue Reading…

Do you need two million dollars to retire?

By Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

We like to keep informed about the topic of retirement from the perspective of money managers and those in the financial fields.

You might have read some of these articles also; you know, the ones that say North Americans have not saved enough to retire.

Many of these pieces proclaim that you must save enough in your investments to throw off 80% of your current annual salary so you can afford a comfortable life away from a job. Lots of them will say that you need US$2 million in investments and woe to the person who thinks they can do it on less.

Approximately 10% of the households in the US have a net worth of one million dollars or more. What are the other 90% supposed to do? Not retire? What kind of common sense does this make?  Expecting the regular “Joe” to meet this $2 million dollar mark is not realistic.

As you know, we have almost three decades of financial independence behind us. And while everyone’s idea of a perfect lifestyle sans paycheck is different, we can tell you that for these almost-30-years, we have kept our annual spending around $30,000 or less per year.

The secret: Living within your means

In all of our years of retirement and travel we cannot recall one retiree who regrets their decision to retire. In fact, most have told us that they wished they had done it sooner.

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) recently conducted 62 in-depth interviews of retired individuals across both the U.S. and Canada. These people were not wealthy and had done little to no financial planning. But the vast majority of them shared that they had adapted to their situation and live within their means. Meaning, they have adjusted their spending to the amount of money they have coming in every month.

So basically, it’s really that simple and this is why we say if you want to know about retirement, go to the source.

It doesn’t have to be complicated

In our books and in our articles about finance, we say over and over that there are four categories of highest spending in any household. We personally have made adjustments in all four of these categories, and have therefore reaped the benefits of having done so.

The financial guys and gals will have you tap dance all over the place with investment products, and a certain financial goal you must achieve. They will press upon you the seriousness of this decision to leave your job for a couple of decades of jobless living. We say it doesn’t really have to be that complicated, but it’s very important to pay attention to these four categories.

Listen up Continue Reading…

How to choose your financial oasis

By Lidia Staron

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

So, you have a job where you have to start at 9 a.m. in the morning and end at 5 in the afternoon. It pays a good amount; you’re able to enjoy life and you also have the capacity to pay the bills.

And then it hits you: you asked yourself the question, “Do I want to live here for the rest of my life? Or do I want to go somewhere else and live there instead?”

Questions such as these are pretty common, especially if you’ve reached your 30s. Some people quit their day jobs and turn to freelancing instead, because of the freedom to work from home. Do you want to do that?

In today’s article, I am going to talk about choosing your financial oasis. An oasis, by its definition, is a haven where everything is perfect. So, how do you choose yours? Read on to find out

1.)  Is it Better to Go Abroad?

One of the questions you need to ask yourself is if it is better for YOU to go abroad or not? I emphasized the word “you” because not everyone wants to go abroad due to a lot of reasons such as family, friends, your current job, among others.

Now, if you ask me, the answer to the question depends on where you live. If you live in a developing country where money is a bit harder to earn, then I highly recommend moving to another state or province.

Conversely, if you already live in a country or state that doesn’t have a lot of problems (especially when it comes to money and taxes), then I would suggest that you stay.

Again, this decision is entirely up to you. You have to weigh the pros and cons so that you can have a clearer mind to make the decision.

2.) Find a place with low Income Tax

If you do decide to move out of your country or place and into a new one, find a place where there is low income tax.

You see,  some countries take a huge chunk of your salary per month for taxes. Heck, they even take almost 30% of your salary just for taxes!

Ideally, find a place where income tax is not present. There are certain states in the U.S such as Washington, Florida, Nevada, and Texas that do not require Income taxes.

If you found a place where there is still an income tax, make sure that it doesn’t require more than 15% of your total salary.

3.) Find a place with a low cost of living

One of the criteria for moving into a new state is that it should have low-cost living.

There are certain places that do not have a huge cost of living, such as Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, to name a few. Continue Reading…

Early Retirement: It’s a Lifestyle, not a Vacation

Billy and Akaisha in the Highlands of Ecuador

By Akaisha Kaderli, RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Ever wonder how it was for us in the beginning of living life without a paycheck?

In 1991, we understood that we were retiring with the idea that we would not be returning to work. If we had to, we would, but it was not part of the plan. We were not taking a break from work, we were leaving the working world all together. It was a little unnerving to be making such a clean break because we were out on our own with little emotional support from family and friends. Our retirement at age 38 challenged the belief systems of everyone we knew.

Important points

After all this time, the most important thing we want our Readers to know is: Don’t let anyone destroy your dream. Learn to be self-sufficient and self-motivating and you can create the life you want to live. If you desire something strongly and it makes you happy, don’t look to others for approval. Move in the direction of your dream.

Additionally, we want to inform you of the value of tracking spending. We’ve tracked our spending since our early years of owning a restaurant when we were in our 20’s. This has given us a sense of control over our finances and that brings self-confidence. If you track your spending you always know where you are financially, and if you know your net worth you can calculate what percentage you are spending. A rule of thumb is to keep your spending at 4% or below of your invested capital. If the market changes or your life circumstances change, knowing where you are with your money output is priceless.

What we wanted to achieve

Above all else, we wanted our freedom.

We had been working 60-80 hour work weeks with very little personal time or time with family and friends. While we consider ourselves to be productive people and we loved our jobs, this amount of time focused on work began to feel like a grind. I am sure many readers understand this feeling as we were not unique. We longed for large stretches of time before us that were unstructured so we could do as we wanted, when we wanted. So we traveled, read books, took classes, played music, took photos, and met new people – all on our own time schedule.

This pleased us greatly.

The greatest lessons we have learned Continue Reading…