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 VictoryLapRetirement.com). 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.

When Low Rates cause people to do Dumb Things

Image courtesy Outcome/ShareAlike 3.0 Unported 

By Noah Solomon

Special to Financial Independence Hub

When cash, high quality bonds, and other safe assets offer little yield, investors get caught between a rock and a hard place. They can either (1) accept lower returns and maintain their allocation to safe assets or (2) liquidate safe assets and invest the proceeds in riskier assets such as equities, high yield bonds, private equity, etc.

Using history as a guide, when faced with this dilemma many people choose the second option. This decision initially produces favorable results as the increase in demand for stocks pushes prices up. However, as this reallocation progresses, prices reach levels which are unreasonable from a valuation perspective, and the likely returns from risk assets do not compensate investors for their associated risk. At this juncture, committing additional capital to risk assets becomes akin to picking up pennies in front of a steam roller. For the most part, this narrative is what played out across markets following the global financial crisis of 2008.

Following the global financial crisis, near-zero rates pushed investors to take more risk than they would have in a normal rate environment, which entailed making outsized allocations to stocks and other risk assets.

Unable to bear the thought of receiving negligible returns on safe assets, people continued to pile into risk assets even as their valuations became unsustainable.

Had central banks not begun raising rates aggressively in 2022 to combat inflation, it is entirely possible (and perhaps even likely) that stocks would have continued their ascent, valuations be damned!

Instead, rising rates provided risk assets with some worthy competition for the first time in over a decade, which in turn caused investors to rethink their asset mix and shed equity exposure.

The Equity Risk Premium: A Stocks vs Bond Beauty Contest

The equity risk premium (ERP) can be loosely defined as the enticement which investors receive in exchange for leaving the safety of Uncle Sam to take their chances in the stock market. More specifically it is calculated by subtracting the 10-year Treasury yield from the earnings yield on stocks. For example, if the P/E of the S&P 500 is 20 (i.e. earnings yield of 5%) and the yield on 10-year Treasuries is 3%, the ERP would be 2%.

Historically, stocks tend to produce higher than average returns following elevated ERP levels. Intuitively this makes sense. When valuations are cheap relative to the yields on safe assets, investors are getting well compensated for bearing risk, which tends to portend strong equity markets. Conversely, at times when stock valuations are rich relative to yields on safe assets and investors are getting scantily compensated for taking risk, lower than average returns from stocks have tended to ensue.

Chart courtesy Outcome
  • At the end of 2020, the S&P 500 Index’s PE ratio stood at 20 (i.e. an earnings yield of 5%), which by no means can be considered a bargain. However, stocks were nonetheless rendered attractive by ultra-low rates on cash and high-quality bonds. It’s easy to look good when you have little competition!
  • By the end of 2021, the Index’s PE ratio was above 24 (i.e. an earnings yield of 4.2%). Stocks were even less enticing than valuations suggested, given that 10-year Treasury yields had risen from 0.9% to 1.5%. This set the stage for a decline in both prices and valuations in 2022.
  • From an ERP perspective, 2022’s decline in valuations did not make stocks less stretched vs. bonds. The contraction in multiples (i.e. increase in earnings yield) was more than offset by a rise in bonds yields, thereby causing the ERP to be lower at the end of 2022 than it was at the start of the year.
  • In 2023, the S&P 500’s PE ratio expanded from approx. 18 to 23, which was not accompanied by any significant change in 10-year Treasury yields. By the end of the year, U.S. stock multiples had nearly regained the lofty levels of late 2021, despite the fact that Treasury yields had actually increased by over 2% during the two-year period.
  • In contrast, the relative valuation of Canadian stocks vs. bonds currently lies at levels that are neither high nor low relative to recent history.

 Low Rates: The Growth Stock amphetamine

Growth companies, as the term implies, are those that are projected to have rapidly growing earnings for many years. Whereas an “old economy” stock such as Clorox or General Mills might be expected to grow its profits by 2%-10% per year, a juggernaut like NVIDIA could be expected to double its profits every year for the foreseeable future. Continue Reading…

Retired Money: Plan for Retirement Income for Life with Fred Vettese’s PERC

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column focuses on a free retirement calculator called PERC, plus the accompanying new third edition of Fred Vettese’s book, Retirement Income for Life: Getting More Without Saving More.

You can find the full column by clicking on the highlighted headline: Retirement Income for Life: Why Canadian retirees love Frederick Vettese’s books and his PERC. Alternatively, go to MoneySense.ca and click on the latest Retired Money column.

As the column notes, I have previously reviewed the earlier editions of the book but any retiree or near retiree will find it invaluable and well worth the C$26.95 price. Also, there is a free eBook offer.

PERC of course is an acronym and stands for Personal Enhanced Retirement Calculator.

PERC is itself a chapter title (chapter 15 of the third edition) and constitutes the fourth of five “enhancements” Vettese describes for getting more without saving more. Vettese developed PERC while writing the first edition in 2018: it is available at no charge at perc-pro.ca.

In another generous offer, anyone who buys the print edition can get a free ebook version by emailing details of proof of purchase to ebook@ecwpress.com.

I reviewed the previous (second) edition of Fred’s book for the Retired Money column back in October 2020, which you can read by clicking on the highlighted headline: Near retirement without a Defined Benefit pension? Here’s what you need to know. Continue Reading…

Estate Planning Mistakes that could Jeopardize your Findependence

Image by Unsplash: Melinda Gimpel

By Devin Partida

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Estate planning is crucial for anyone looking to secure findependence and leave a lasting legacy for their loved ones. It involves making deliberate decisions about who will inherit your assets and how executors should handle your affairs after you’re gone.

However, many overlook the finer details, leading to common mistakes that can have significant financial and emotional impacts on those left behind. Understanding and avoiding these pitfalls ensures your estate plan fulfills your wishes and supports your loved ones without unnecessary stress or financial burden.

Common Estate Planning Oversights

Navigating the complexities of estate planning is no small task, and it’s all too easy to overlook crucial details that can make a big difference. Here are some common estate planning oversights that could derail your intentions and how to steer clear of these potential pitfalls.

Neglecting to Update Beneficiaries

Regularly reviewing and updating beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement accounts and other financial assets ensures your estate plan reflects your current wishes. Life events — like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or the death of a designated beneficiary — can alter your intentions for asset distribution.

Failure to update these designations can lead to your assets going to unintended recipients — like an ex-spouse or estranged family members — instead of supporting your current loved ones or preferred charities.

Underestimating the Value of a Comprehensive Will

Having a will that comprehensively covers all assets and wishes is fundamental to effective estate planning. Despite its importance, only about 32% of Americans have taken the step to create a will.

This document ensures your assets are distributed according to your desires, provides clear instructions for caring for minor children and appoints executors to manage your estate. An incomplete will — or the absence of one — can lead to family disputes, as loved ones may have differing opinions on the distribution of assets.

Such disagreements often result in extended legal processes, which can deplete the estate’s value through legal fees and other costs. Additionally, without a will, state laws dictate the distribution of your assets, potentially leading to outcomes that starkly contrast with your wishes.

Failing to Establish an Advanced Health Care Directive

An advanced health care directive guides medical decisions if you can’t communicate your wishes, providing physicians and loved ones with clear written instructions. Healthcare providers especially value this foresight, ensuring your care aligns with your preferences and alleviating the burden of decision-making from your family. Continue Reading…

Creating your own Podcast Studio: A Step-by-Step Guide

Image courtesy Canada’s Podcast/unsplash royalty free

By Philip Bliss

Special to Financial Independence Hub

In the ever-expanding world of podcasting, creating a professional and efficient podcast studio is essential for producing high-quality content that captivates your audience.

Whether you’re a seasoned podcaster or just starting out, building a dedicated podcast studio can elevate your production value and enhance the overall podcasting experience.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential tasks, equipment, and strategies to not only set up your podcast studio but also effectively promote your podcast.

 

 

 

Tasks

  1. Define Your Niche and Audience:
  • Identify your target audience and the niche you want to focus on.
  • Research competitors in your niche and understand what sets your podcast apart.
  1. Create a Content Plan:
  • Develop a content calendar outlining topics, guests, and episode release schedule.
  • Plan for regular, engaging content to keep your audience coming back.
  1. Design Your Studio Layout:
  • Choose a quiet and dedicated space for your podcast studio.
  • Consider acoustic treatment to minimize echo and external noise.
  1. Invest in Quality Recording and Editing Software:
  • Choose reliable recording software like Audacity, GarageBand, or Adobe Audition.
  • Invest time in learning the basics of audio editing for polished episodes.
Image courtesy Canada’s Podcast/unsplash royalty free

Equipment

  1. Microphone:
  • Invest in a high-quality microphone like the Shure SM7B or Blue Yeti.
  • Consider a pop filter and shock mount to enhance audio clarity.
  1. Headphones:
  • Choose closed-back headphones to prevent audio leakage during recording.
  • Opt for comfortable and studio-grade headphones like Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.
  1. Audio Interface:
  • Select a reliable audio interface such as Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for clear audio signal processing.
  1. Mixing and Monitoring Equipment:
  • Include a mixer if you plan to have multiple hosts or guests.
  • Invest in studio monitors for accurate sound monitoring.
  1. Recording Accessories:
  • Use a sturdy microphone stand or boom arm for convenience.
  • Consider a portable vocal booth or isolation shield for noise reduction.

Promotion Strategies: Continue Reading…

A Canadian Perspective on Health Care Overseas: Q&A with RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Jim and Kathy McLeod in Mexico/RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

By Akaisha Kaderli, RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Billy and I are Americans. For most of our adult lives we have been self-employed, paying for our own health insurance out-of-pocket.

We retired at age 38, and while initially we paid for a US-based Health Insurance policy, we eventually “went naked” of any health insurance coverage. Wandering the globe, we took advantage of Medical Tourism in foreign countries and again, paid out-of-pocket for services.

This approach served us very well.

However, we understand that choosing the manner in which one wants to pay-for-and-receive-health-services is a personal matter.

In our experience, it seemed that Canadians generally were reticent to stay away from Canada longer than 6 months because they would lose their access to their home country’s health care system.

We did not know the full story of why many Canadians preferred not to become permanent residents of another country due to this healthcare issue. So, we asked Canadian Jim McLeod if he would answer a few questions for us to clarify! And then, to give that information to you.

Below is our interview with Jim McLeod. He and his wife are permanent residents of Mexico, and now receive all their healthcare from this country.

It is our hope with this interview, that there would be options explained to other Canadians who might not want to maintain 2 homes, be snowbirds in Mexico, or could vision living in Mexico with its better weather and pricing.

Take a look!

Jim and Kathy in Mexico

Retire Early Lifestyle: In the beginning, did you choose to do a part-time stint in Mexico before fully jumping in? You know, like to test the waters?

Jim McLeod: Yes. Because of the following stipulations for our Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and the possibility of getting a maximum of 180 days on a Mexican Tourist Card, we decided to do the “snowbird” thing initially: 6 months in Ontario during the warmer months, and 6 months in Mexico during the colder months.

“You cannot be out of Ontario for more than 212 days (a little over 6 months) in *any* 12 month period (ex. Jan – Dec, Feb – Jan, Mar – Feb, etc.)”

During this time, we used World Nomads for trip insurance to cover us while in Mexico. For us, this wasn’t too bad. However, according to other couples we’ve spoken with, after a certain age, depending on your health, this can become quite expensive.

Retire Early Lifestyle: When you retired early and left your home country of Canada, was leaving the guaranteed health care system that your country provides a large hurdle to your plans? How did you factor that cost in?

Jim McLeod: After doing the “snowbird” thing twice, we had enough data from tracking all our spending, as per Billy and Akaisha’s The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, that we knew we would save approximately $10,000cdn a year by moving full time to Mexico. And we knew we would lose our OHIP coverage. As such, we budget $2000cdn a year for out-of-pocket medical expenses. But we also knew that, at that time, we qualified for the Mexican Seguro Popular insurance coverage. Note: Seguro Popular has since been replaced with a new health Care system, el Instituto Nacional de Salud para el Bienestar (INSABI), which has the following requirements:

• Be a person located inside Mexico

• Not be part of the social security system (IMSS or ISSSTE)

• Present one of the following: Mexican Voter ID card, CURP or birth certificate

As an expat, in order to obtain a CURP,  you must be a Temporal or Permanente resident of Mexico.

Retire Early Lifestyle: Initially, did you go home to Canada to get certain health care items taken care of and then go back to Mexico to live?

Jim McLeod: No, we have not gone back to Ontario for any health care. Having said that, there is one medication that Kathy needs, that she is allergic to here in Mexico, so she gets a prescription filled in Ontario whenever we return and we pay for it out-of-pocket. Continue Reading…