All posts by Financial Independence Hub

Unlocking Financial Freedom: A Guide to Calculating your Retirement Needs

By Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli, early retirement advocates, simplify the process of estimating your retirement savings needs.

Akaisha and Billy at the Tour Eiffel, Paris Image courtesy

Are you preparing to retire?

It’s going to happen someday, no matter if you want to retire early or later these questions below need to be answered.

How much do I need to retire?

Without going into complicated spreadsheets and analysis, a simple way to determine your “number” is to multiply your current annual spending by 25.

First you need to figure out what you are spending per year. Do you know? Most people have no idea where their hard-earned dollars go.

We offer an easy-to-use spreadsheet in our book The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, or you can make one yourself. The important thing is that you know how much you are spending annually.

For illustrative purposes let’s use this data

The 2022 Consumer Expenditure Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the average American household’s monthly expenses total approximately $6,081, equating to $72,967 annually. We will round this to $73,000.

Are you above or below this average? Remember, this is not your take-home pay, but how much you are actually spending on rent/house payment, car, insurance, gas, clothing, and everything else that you spend money on.

Using the 73K figure, multiply this by 25 = $1,825,000 Dollars is how much you need to have invested in liquid assets. Most studies use 60% stocks, 40% bond portfolio. In our opinion that’s a bit conservative but it all depends on your personal risk tolerance. In our case Social Security and cash are our bond equivalent; thus we have a higher stock allocation.

Regarding Social Security, do you know what your estimated annual payments will be? Simply go to and create an account. All of your contributions and work history will be there as well as the number of quarters you have accumulated. You need a minimum of 40 quarters of work history to qualify for your payments.

Don’t get discouraged by the $1,825,000 figure, but how are you going to get there?

Based on December 2023 data from the Social Security Administration the average monthly cheque is $1,767.03 or $21,204.36. Multiply this figure times 2 in your household equals $42,408.72.

$73,000 expenses minus $42,409 in Social Security payments leaves a $30,591 income deficit that you need to create from your investments to cover your expenses.

Looking better?

Now let’s multiply $30,591 times 25 and your new “number” is $764,775 that you need to have invested in a stock/bond/cash portfolio.

If you are retiring early like we did before your retirement age, you will need to have enough invested to cover your living expenses before receiving your Social Security. Maybe that is 20 years or more so you need to plan accordingly.

How to get to your number

Hopefully you’ve already started investing and have a growth portfolio that is matching market returns or close to it using the ETF, VTI, Vanguard Total Market. Now you know how much you have to contribute through the years to arrive at your target, assuming that you will continue spending $73,000 per year. Continue Reading…

9 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Every Occasion: Holidays, Birthdays, and Other Special Days

By John Lewis

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Life can get hectic, and sometimes special occasions sneak up on us faster than expected. Whether it’s a friend’s birthday, a colleague’s promotion, or a last-minute holiday party invitation, forgetting a gift can leave you scrambling. But fear not! With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can still find the perfect present, even if you’re on a tight deadline.

This guide explores nine fantastic last-minute gift ideas suitable for any occasion, from birthdays and holidays to anniversaries and graduations. These options cater to various tastes and budgets, ensuring you can find something thoughtful and memorable, even with limited time.

1.) Hand-painted portraits

A unique and personalized present, a hand-painted portrait captures the essence of your loved one. You can commission a portrait based on a favourite photo, featuring their pet, or showcasing a cherished memory. While some artists might require a significant lead time, many online platforms offer expedited services where you can receive a digital file within a few days. This digital file can be printed on canvas, framed, or used to create a variety of personalized gifts like mugs, phone cases, or tote bags.

2.) Audiobooks

Audiobooks are the gift of knowledge and entertainment, making them perfect for busy individuals who enjoy listening while commuting, exercising, or doing chores. Consider the recipient’s interests when choosing an audiobook. Do they love historical fiction? Perhaps a captivating biography or a classic novel they haven’t read yet would be ideal. For mystery lovers, a suspenseful thriller could be a great choice. Many online audiobook retailers offer instant downloads or gift memberships, making them a convenient last-minute option.

3.) Colourful Wall Art

A vibrant piece of art can instantly transform a space, adding personality and a touch of joy. Explore online art marketplaces or local galleries (if time permits) to find unique prints or paintings that suit your recipient’s taste. Abstract art offers a conversation starter, while landscapes or floral prints can add a touch of serenity.

Pro-Tip: Consider the recipient’s home decor style when choosing the artwork.

4.) Cheesecake and Rose Bouquet

Who can resist the delightful combination of a delicious cheesecake and a beautiful bouquet of roses? Many online bakeries and gourmet shops offer gift sets featuring decadent cheesecakes paired with stunning floral arrangements. This decadent indulgence is ideal for birthdays, anniversaries, or simply to show someone you care.

5.) Create a Video Tribute

For a sentimental and heart-warming gift, put together a video montage celebrating your relationship with the recipient. Gather photos and videos from throughout your time together, add some heartfelt music, and maybe even record a personalized message. Continue Reading…

The Financial Side of the Medical Industry: What to Know

Navigating the financial landscape of the medical industry is essential for healthcare professionals and medical students aiming to build successful careers. Understanding the economic aspects enhances the ability to make informed decisions and contributes to better resource management, ultimately improving patient care.

Here’s what to know about the financial side of the medical industry.

By Dan Coconate

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Image by Adobe Stock/Photographer Nuttapong Punna|.

When it comes to fast-growing industries, few stand out like healthcare.

While the top priority in healthcare is always quality patient care, you can only provide that care if you can afford to keep the lights on.

In other words, strong financial management is the foundation that allows any healthcare organization to fulfill its primary purpose.

Let’s take a quick look and discover the financial dynamics of the medical industry, covering budgeting, revenue cycles, and economic challenges healthcare providers face.

Cost Management and Budgeting

Cost management aids in sustaining healthcare facilities. Hospitals and clinics must carefully budget for various expenses:

  • Staffing
  • Medical supplies
  • Equipment
  • Technology upgrades

By implementing strategic budgeting practices, healthcare providers can optimize their operations, reduce waste, and allocate resources more efficiently. This is particularly vital in rural areas, where financial constraints can impact the quality of healthcare services.

Funding and Revenue Streams

Understanding the various funding and revenue streams is fundamental in the medical industry. In Canada, healthcare is primarily funded through public sources, including federal and provincial government allocations. However, private contributions, grants, and partnerships also supplement these funds.

Healthcare professionals and administrators should be well-versed in navigating these financial avenues to ensure their institutions remain well-funded and capable of delivering high-quality care.

Financial Compliance and Regulations

All healthcare providers must adhere to financial compliance and regulatory standards. This includes maintaining accurate financial records, adhering to billing practices, and ensuring transparency in financial transactions.

Compliance safeguards entire institutions against legal repercussions and builds trust with patients and stakeholders. Staying updated with the latest regulations and implementing financial management systems can prevent discrepancies and enhance operational efficiency.

Investment in Technology and Innovation

Investment in technology and innovation is a significant financial consideration for professionals in the healthcare industry. Advanced medical technologies, electronic health records (EHRs), and telemedicine platforms require substantial financial outlays but offer long-term benefits. Continue Reading…

Utilities: A Long-term holding that’s Breaking out

Aerial drone view of a wind farm on the Atlantic coast. Image courtesy BMO ETFs/Getty Images

By Andrew Vachon, BMO Global Asset Management

The Bank of Canada (BoC) cut rates on June 5th for the first time after one of the most aggressive hiking cycles in Canadian history.

Market expectations from the BoC indicate that we may see 2 to 3 more cuts before the end of the year with the second cut potentially as early as July and the remaining later in the year.

South of the border, inflation has remained “stickier” however; the market expects the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) to cut rates twice before the end of the year with the first beginning in September. Moreover, forecasters are predicting the BoC could potentially cut the overnight rate from the current rate of 4.75% all the way down to 3.5% by this time next year, presenting more opportunity for the Utilities sector. 1

With the anticipation of further rate cuts from the BoC and the Fed we may see the Utilities sector shine. Government bond yields tend to have an inverse relationship with utilities (when interest rates drop, utility stock prices typically increase, and vice versa). This is mainly due to the costs involved with these companies. The cost of construction for power plants, and the maintenance of infrastructure required to deliver gas, water, or electricity can make utilities expensive when the cost of borrowing is high.

From a technical perspective, the BMO Equal Weight Utilities Index ETF (Ticker: ZUT) just broke out of a massive “double bottom” reversal pattern this week. A double bottom pattern is a classic technical analysis charting formation showing a major change in trend from a prior down move. The recent close above resistance at $20.60 completed the pattern, shifted the long-term trend to bullish, and opened an initial upside target that measures to $23.40.

One of the key drivers for the turnaround in utility stocks as of late is a sharp decline in long-term interest rates. There is now a possibility of yields testing the lows of 2023, which could be a persistent tailwind for interest rate sensitive sectors of all stripes and perhaps push this Utility ETF above the initial upside target of $23.40 at some point in the next 6-12 months. 2

Yielding the Benefits

For the long-term investor, Utilities offer investors stable and consistent dividends over time along with lower volatility. The long-term growth potential to deliver safe and reliable returns, make the sector an attractive investment to consider adding to your portfolio. Utilities overall have remained fundamentally strong as they provide basic services such as gas, water, electricity and telecommunications that will always be in demand regardless of where we are in the economic cycle.

There are long-term benefits for Canadian investors, especially those who might consider the current environment as an opportunity to capture growth. Continue Reading…

June Checkup: Healthcare & Technology

Image courtesy Harvest ETFs

By Ambrose O’Callaghan, Harvest ETFs

(Sponsor Blog)

The United States stock markets have delivered positive returns through much of 2024, continuing the positive momentum that was established in the previous year.

However, that performance has increasingly been powered by a smaller segment of large-cap companies. Indeed, readers have undoubtedly heard about the outsized performance of the “Magnificent 7” in the tech space over the past year. If we strip out the “big six” of Amazon, Meta, Nvidia, Microsoft, Apple, and Alphabet from the S&P 500, we have experienced three calendar quarters of negative earnings growth across the rest of the market.

Investors took profits in the month of April. Demand resumed in the month of May, but with a broader range of equities. Nvidia continued to show its dominance, but there were other sectors and stocks that were able to catch up with the leaders to close out the first half of 2024.

The summer season is historically slow in the markets. Harvest’s portfolio management team expects volatility to persist for both bonds and equities. Moreover, the team emphasizes that this summer is a key moment to stay active, attentive, and invested. A prudent strategy in this environment involves looking under the surface for opportunities while generating cash flow from call options to support total returns.

June Healthcare check up

The healthcare sector pulled back slightly in the month of May 2024. Negative moves in the healthcare sector over the course of May 2024 were driven by stock specific events. Macroeconomic data sets impacted the healthcare sector in line with others. Within healthcare, the managed care subsectors experienced volatility earlier in 2024 and changes to reimbursement structures impacted valuations in the near term. The Tools & Diagnostics sub-sector has also proven volatile due largely to a slower-than-expected recovery in China.

Regardless, there are still very promising opportunities in the GLP-1 drug category space for diabetes and obesity. The uptake of these drugs in the U.S. has been significant at a still-early stage in their lifespan. A recent study from Manulife Canada found that drug claims for anti-obesity medications in Canada rose more than 42% from 2022 to 2023.

Harvest Healthcare Leaders Income ETF (HHL:TSX) offers exposure to the innovative leaders in this vital sector. This equally weighted portfolio of 20 large-cap global Healthcare companies aims to select stocks for their potential to provide attractive monthly income as well as long-term growth. HHL is the largest active healthcare ETF in Canada and boasts a high monthly cash distribution of $0.0583.

Harvest Healthcare Leaders Enhanced Income ETF (HHLE:TSX) is built to provide higher income every month by applying modest leverage to HHL. It last paid out a monthly cash distribution of $0.0913 per unit. That represents a current yield of 10.44% as at June 14, 2024.

Where does the technology sector stand right now?

Investors poured back into technology stocks in May 2024 after taking profits in the month of April. However, they were more discriminating than in previous months and showed a preference for hardware stocks, specifically semiconductors.

Nvidia maintained its leadership position. It has soared past a $3 trillion market capitalization in the first half of June 2024. However, other AI-related tech stocks encountered turbulence which may give some investors pause around the broader bullish case for AI. Continue Reading…