Victory Lap

Once you achieve Financial Independence, you may choose to leave salaried employment but with decades of vibrant life ahead, it’s too soon to do nothing. The new stage of life between traditional employment and Full Retirement we call Victory Lap, or Victory Lap Retirement (also the title of a new book to be published in August 2016. You can pre-order now at You may choose to start a business, go back to school or launch an Encore Act or Legacy Career. Perhaps you become a free agent, consultant, freelance writer or to change careers and re-enter the corporate world or government.

Navigating the Challenges of Solo Entrepreneurship


By Devin Partida

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Solo entrepreneurs face unique financial challenges, including inconsistent income streams, high operational costs, limited access to capital and the difficulty of separating personal and business finances. Effective financial planning becomes crucial to navigating these hurdles and ensuring sustainable business operations and long-term success.

Creating realistic budgets, building emergency funds and managing expenses allows solo entrepreneurs to stabilize their financial health. Additionally, seeking professional financial advice offers personalized strategies, tax planning and investment guidance, which are essential for securing a stable and prosperous future.

Unique financial hurdles for Solo Entrepreneurs

Variable revenue presents significant challenges for solo entrepreneurs in budgeting and managing expenses. The unpredictable nature of income makes it difficult to plan for consistent cash flow, often leading to financial strain. According to a recent survey, 77% of respondents reported their expenses increased by 6% or more due to inflation, further complicating financial planning.

Solo entrepreneurs also face the challenge of managing overhead costs without the benefit of economies of scale. Unlike larger businesses that can reduce per-unit costs through bulk purchasing, they must find ways to cover operational expenses efficiently. In fact, 37% of small businesses resort to borrowing to meet their operating expenses, which highlights the financial pressure they endure.

Securing loans and investments is another hurdle for solo entrepreneurs. Financial institutions and investors may view them as high-risk due to their lack of a proven track record and limited collateral. This makes it difficult for single proprietors to obtain the necessary funding to grow and sustain their businesses. Continue Reading…

Read these 4 books if you fear for U.S. Democracy

Added Note on July 4, 2024, America’s Independence Day

American stock markets are closed today for Independence Day. I wish all Americans a happy holiday. 

This blog originally ran in February but in light of the momentous events of the past week, we’re republishing and updating it. In fact, emotions have been so raw the last week that some corners of the web fret that July 4, 2024 may turn out to be the last Independence Day. 

I doubt that but the events since last Thursday certainly have grabbed the world’s attention, as well as Canada’s: as ever, when the elephant south of the border sneezes, we in the great white north catch a cold. 

Those new developments are of course President Biden’s disastrous debate last Thursday, June 27th, and then this week’s equally dismaying Supreme Court ruling (on July 1) to grant the Former Guy immunity for any official acts while he was president.

If Democracy seemed on shaky footing back in February, it seems doubly so today, roughly four months from the November election. But that’s still enough time to read the four books highlighted in this blog, and perhaps act on them.

Back to the original text in the blog, which has also been revised and updated where appropriate:

While Findependence Hub’s focus is primarily on investing, personal finance and Retirement, Findependence has given me sufficient leisure time to absorb a lot of content on politics and the ongoing battle to preserve democracy and in particular American democracy. What’s the point of achieving Financial Independence for oneself and one’s family, if you find yourself suddenly living in a fascist autocracy?

To that end, I have recently read four excellent books that summarize where we are, where we have come from and where we likely may be going. (Note, this blog is an update of what I wrote in late November, but with two books added.)

In contrast to two of the books mentioned below, Heather Cox Richardson’s Democracy Awakening is disturbingly current and explicitly names names. There is an extensive recap of The Former Guy’s attempt to highjack the 2020 election and the subsequent event of January 6th and everything that has occurred since.

Yes, I’m sick of reading about him too, which is why I don’t even name him here (even on social media accounts I prefer to use 45). But after his deranged Thanksgiving rant and an equally insane Christmas greeting on the soon-to-be defunct Truth Social (aka Pravda Social), his behaviour has become nothing short of alarming.

There is of course no shortage of mainstream analysis of this. I refer Globe & Mail readers to Andrew Coyne’s excellent column in February (link in highlighted headline, possibly curtailed for non-subscribers; also note the hundreds of reader comments:) First, Trump tried to overthrow Democracy. Now he is attempting to overthrow the Rule of Law. After the Supreme Court’s July 1st decision, Coyne also weighed in with his take on July 2nd: The Supreme Court has just removed the last bar to dictatorship.

On other words, what may have seemed alarmist warnings in these books six months ago now seem scarily more relevant and likely to pass. So what do these books actually say about past dictatorships of history and the possibility of another one coming to pass in the not-too-distant future?

Reclaiming America

Richardson is a history professor at Boston College. For Canadians in particular the book is a valuable primer on the founding of America, the Declaration of Independence, the civil war, the Constitution and its many amendments, the creation of the Democratic and Republican parties, and the politics of the last few centuries. I assume most well-read American readers are taught this in grade school (although maybe not, judging by the millions of deluded MAGA zealots.)

The book itself is divided into three main parts: Undermining Democracy, The Authoritarian Experiment, and Reclaiming America.

Richardson make frequent references to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. As she writes in the foreword:

“Hitler’s rise to absolute power began with his consolidation of political influence to win 36.8 percent of the vote in 1932, which he parlayed into a deal to become German chancellor. The absolute dictatorship came afterward. Democracies die more often through the ballot box than at gunpoint.”

She goes on to write that a small group of people “have made war on American democracy,” leading the country “toward authoritarianism by creating a disaffected population and promising to re-create an imagined past where those people could feel important again.”  In other words, MAGA.

I’ll skip to the ending but again urge readers to get a copy and read everything between these snippets:

“Once again, we are at a time of testing. How it comes out rests, as it always has, in our own hands.”

Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939

Even since I wrote the original version of this blog in November, the press has been full of alarming reports of 45’s Hitler-like rhetoric early in 2024: famously his references to vermin and to immigrants poisoning the blood of the American people, both from the original Hitler playbook. And who can forget his “dictator only on the first day,” an alarming recent example of many a truth said in jest?

A two-book series by Volker Ullrich looks first at Hitler’s political rise and then to his decline and defeat in the second World War that he created.The second book is titled Hitler: Downfall: 1939-1945.

While most of us may think we know this history going back to high-school history classes, not to mention numerous histories, novels and films about World War II, Hitler: Ascent is nevertheless a bracing refresher course.

Ullrich charts Hitler’s improbable rise from failed artist to political rabble rouser, to his failed beerhall putsch in the 1920s, his writing of Mein Kampf after a too-short prison sentence and ultimately his stunning January 1933 manoeuvre to become the Chancellor of Germany, which he soon consolidated as combined chancellor/president and ultimately the dictator he is now known to be.

The book also makes clear his goals for creating a Greater Germany at the expense of most of his European neighbours (famously Poland and France), and his plans for impossibly grandiose architectural structures to be implemented by Albert Speer, with Berlin (to be renamed Germania) the centre of what he hoped would be a global dictatorship.

The second Ullrich book — Hitler: Downfall, 1939-1945 —  is also well worth reading. The final sentences are particularly relevant to today’s environment:

If Hitler’s “life and career teaches us anything, it is how quickly democracy can be prised from its hinges when political institutions fail and civilizing forces in society are too weak to combat the lure of authoritarianism; how thin the mantle separating civilization and barbarism actually is; and what human beings are capable of when the rule of law and ethical norms are suspended and some people are granted unlimited power over the lives of others.”

Of course, for most of us, reading yet another book (or two) about Adolf Hitler doesn’t usually create undue anxiety, since it all seems to be comfortably in the faraway past. Ancient history, as they say. Continue Reading…

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…

Ethical Investments can come with Conflicts of Interest

The hidden risk every investor should be aware of

Image courtesy Pexels/ Markus Winkler

As I’ve often mentioned, the biggest risk you face as an investor is hidden or unrecognized conflicts of interest. It’s not because any one conflict of interest can do great damage to your finances. The risk comes out of the fact that conflicts of interest are everywhere.

That’s especially so with many ethical investments, also known as ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues. These issues may come with pure motives, but they require outlays that depend on judgment calls rather than financial analysis. Companies deal with these issues by hiring outside consultants and firms to help with decisions. These outsiders supply guidance on how companies should spend their money. The advice they give can raise or lower a company’s profits. This is a potential source of conflicts of interest, for the companies and the consultants.

Alex Edmans is a professor of finance at London Business School and author of Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit. He is widely viewed as an ESG advocate.

In an August 19 Wall Street Journal article entitled “A Progressive’s Case for Getting Rid of ‘ESG,’” Dr. Edmans wrote, “ESG has outlived its usefulness. It’s time we scrap the term.” He added, “While an incorporation of ESG can enhance financial and social returns, an obsession with ESG can distract companies and investors from both objectives — by causing them to ignore non-ESG factors that may be even more relevant for long-term value.”

This is what you’d call a “high-level view.” However, if you let ESG and related or similar issues influence your investment decisions, it can have a negative impact on your personal finances.

The downside of ethical investments 

Early in my career, I began writing about the harm that conflicts of interest can have on your investments. Back in 2010, I started writing an occasional column for The Toronto Star, on a wide variety of investment issues and questions from readers.

The term “socially responsible investing” was coming into fashion back then. In one of my columns, I addressed a reader’s question about investing in a mutual fund that described itself as socially responsible.

My view — then and now —i s that a socially responsible fund may not expose you to any extra risk. It may simply mean the fund’s managers are highly principled and want to do some good in the world. Of course, it may also mean they see the marketing value in declaring their good intentions.

In any event, the best way to get to a destination is generally to go there directly, rather than take a two-stage route. So I advised readers that if they wanted to do some good in the world, they should invest with profits in mind, then give a portion of their gains to a charity of their choice. 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…