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.

Do you have a case of the “What If’s”?

An Interview with Brian Watkins by Billy and Akaisha Kaderli,

Special to Financial Independence Hub

We at RetireEarlyLifestyle love to bring you retirement stories of people we have met. There’s no one right way to get to Financial Independence, and we are happy to bring Brian’s adventure to financial freedom to you.

Thank you, Brian, for taking the time to answer all our questions!

Brian Watkins enjoying his last year of teaching

Retire Early Lifestyle: Could you tell us a little about yourself, and how old you are?

Brian Watkins: Hi, as of 14 months ago I quit my job as a teacher, a position I held for 22 years, and at 48 decided to travel and enjoy a different lifestyle. I wanted a life with more freedom and less obligation to debt. I had spent a lifetime accepting that debt was part of the American lifestyle and just wanted something different.

REL: What got you started investing and when?

BW: In my very first year of teaching, I was broke and struggling from month to month. At work I saw sign that read “Free Pizza….. in the Library.” Not sure what the rest of the sign said but I was down with free pizza, so I headed to the library. Little did I know that with a slice came some financial advice. By the time I left I was investing $100 a month in a 403B and only going to see a $70 difference in my check. The lesson: live on less and invest!

REL: When did you know you were ready to retire and what motivated you?

BW: At 46 both my mother and father passed within six months of each other. I really didn’t want to risk working till death. So at that point I started working on my exit plan.

REL: What do you do for income generation?

BW: When I turn 55 I will be eligible to withdraw from my pension. I have a 403B in place that will be eligible at 591/2 and I currently live off the sale of my condo. My overall goal has been to live off 4% of my total investments.

REL: What do you plan to budget annually for your retirement?

BW: I had an educated idea of what my expenses might be but purchasing your book and tracking my expenses helped me more than you’ll ever know. In my first 12 months I spent $16,542. Eight months of that was for two people. My annual budget broke down as follows:

REL: Can you share with us anything about how your portfolio is structured?

BW: My current portfolio is 75% equities, 25% bonds.  

Puerto Galera, Philippines

REL: You are one of the new generation of Early Retirees who are well versed in a digital lifestyle. How have you used this technology to enhance your retirement?

BW: I have actually learned so much from the retirees who are digitally inclined. I use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for those countries IP address that my bank blocks. I have a Google voice number so that I can call (or text) a U.S. number from Google Hangouts using wifi only.

The most important people to me have the Cash App and I can send or receive money on it and have it deposited for free (3 day waiting period) or for a fee same day. Continue Reading…

Why my goal to live off dividends remains alive and well

Image myownadvisor/

By Mark Seed, myownadvisor

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Some time ago…yours truly wrote a controversial post about the intent to live off dividends and distributions from our portfolio.

Well, a great deal of time has passed on that post by my thinking and goals remain the same – as least in part for semi-retirement!

Read on to learn why my approach to live off dividends remains alive and well this year in this updated post.

Why my goal to live off dividends remains alive and well

First, let’s back up to the controversy and offer a list why some investors couldn’t care less about my approach and why dividends may not matter at all to some people:

  1. The trouble with any “live off the dividends” approach is that you’d need to save too much to generate your desired income. Fair. 
  2. Dividends are not magical – there is nothing special about them. Sure.  
  3. A dollar of dividends is = a one-dollar increase in the stock price. True, a dollar is a dollar. 
  4. Stock picking (with dividend stocks) is fraught with under performance of the index long-term. I’m not convinced about that. 
  5. You can never possibly know long-term how dividends may or may not be paid by any company. Fair. 

In many respects these investors are not wrong.

You do need a bunch of capital to generate income.

Dividends are part of total return. [See image at the top of this blog.]

Stock selection can open up opportunities for market under performance.

And the negativity doesn’t stop there …

Some financial advisors will argue your investing world starts to shrink if you demand 2% or 3% (or more) income from your portfolio, so dividend investing leads to poor diversification.

My response to this: I don’t just invest in dividend paying stocks. 

Further still, some advisors will argue picking dividend paying stocks may lead to negative outcomes and too many biases.

My response to this: while I believe markets are generally efficient, I also believe that buying and holding some dividend paying stocks (while there could be market under-performance at times) does not necessarily mean I cannot achieve my goals. In fact, that’s the entire point of this investing thing anyhow – investing in a manner that keeps you motivated, inspired and helps you meet your long-term goals.

Consider this simple sketch art from Carl Richards, who is far more famous than I will be, and author of the One-Page Financial Plan and more:

Keep Investing Super Simple - Goals and Happiness

Source: Behavior Gap.

From Carl’s recent newsletter in my inbox:

“Pretend you live in some magic fantasy world where all of your dreams (according to the investment industry) come true, and you actually beat an index every quarter for your whole life. Congratulations!

So here’s my question: You landed in Shangri La, according to the financial industry. You beat the index. But you didn’t meet your goals. Are you happy?

The answer is “No.”

Now let’s flip that scenario on its head. The worst thing in the world happens to you (again, according to the investment industry). You slightly underperform the index every quarter for your whole life. But because of careful financial planning, you meet every one of your financial goals. Let me repeat the question: Are you happy?

And the answer is obviously… “Yes.”

Stop worrying about beating indexes. Focus instead on meeting your goals.”


Finally, some advisors will argue that dividends and share buybacks and other forms of reinvesting capital back into the business can be equally shareholder friendly.

My response to this: Well of course that makes sense. Dividends are just one form of total returns.

But you know what?

The ability to live off dividends (and distributions from our ETFs) will be beneficial for these reasons:

1. I continue to believe there are simply too many unknowns about the financial future. So, living off dividends and distributions will help ensure our capital remains hard at work since it will remain intact.

2. If we are able to keep our capital intact we don’t need to worry as much about when to sell shares or ETF units when markets don’t cooperate. We can sell assets as we please over time.

3. Living off dividends is therefore just one way I’m trying to reduce sequence of returns risks. See below.

BlackRock - Sequence-of-returns-one-pager-va-us - December 2022 Page 2.pdf

Source: BlackRock.

As such, we’ll try to live off dividends and distributions in the early years of semi-retirement to avoid such risks.

4. I/we don’t necessarily believe in the 4% safe withdrawal rule. It’s impossible to predict next year, let alone 30 or more investing years.

5. I’m conservative as an investor. Seeing dividends roll into my account help me psychologically to stick to my investing plan.

6. Dividends is real money, tangible money I can spend if and when I choose without worrying about stock market prices or gyrations.

7. It is my hope dividends (and capital gains) can work together to help fight inflation. As consumer prices rise, as the cost of living rises, the companies that deliver our products and services will rise in price along with them.

8. I like dividend paying stocks for a bit of the “value-tilt” they offer. 

9. Canadian dividend paying stocks are tax-efficientWith my RRSP growing more with U.S. assets, I tend to keep Canadian dividend paying stocks in my TFSA and inside my non-registered account.

In a taxable account Canadian dividend paying stocks are eligible for a dividend tax credit from our government. This means taxation on dividends are favourable, it is a lower form of tax; lower than employment income and interest income. This will help me in the years to come.

Will I eventually spend the capital from my portfolio?

Of course I will.

But with a “live off dividends” mindset I can sell assets or incur capital gains largely on my own terms during retirement. I plan to do just that.

Why my goal to live off dividends remains alive and well summary

This site continues to share a journey that includes how passive dividend income can fulfill many of our retirement income needs – whether that might be covering our property taxes, paying our utility bills, delivering enough monthly income to cover our groceries, fund some international travel or all of these things combined.

Here was one of my recent updates below.

We’re now averaging over $3,300 per month from a few key accounts.

(Hint: likely more next month!)

We’re trending in a great direction thanks to this multi-year investing approach and I have no intentions of changing my/our overall approach.

I firmly believe our focus on the income that our portfolio generates, instead of the portfolio balance, is setting us up to deliver some decent semi-retirement income.

Our goal to live off dividends and distributions remains very much alive and well for the years ahead.

I look forward to your comments.

Mark Seed is a passionate DIY investor who lives in Ottawa.  He invests in Canadian and U.S. dividend paying stocks and low-cost Exchange Traded Funds on his quest to own a $1 million portfolio for an early retirement. You can follow Mark’s insights and perspectives on investing, and much more, by visiting My Own Advisor. This blog originally appeared on his site on March 27, 2023 and is republished on the Hub with his permission. interview on Financial Independence & the “Findependent” lifestyle

By Billy and Akaisha Kaderli,

Special to Financial Independence Hub

We at Retire Early Lifestyle like to bring you individual FIRE stories and interviews of interesting people. There is no one single way to retire, and it is our hope that in reading these interviews with those who are on the path to Financial Independence it will inspire you to do the same!

Meet Jon [Jonathan] and Ruth Chevreau

Jonathan (Jon) and Ruth Chevreau

RetireEarlyLifestyle: Could you tell us a little about yourselves? Are you financially independent now?

Jon Chevreau: I’d describe Ruth and me as financially independent, yes, although it’s hard to claim we retired early like yourselves.

I just turned 70 and am still writing and editing, as well as running my own website on Financial Independence. Ruth is a year younger and retired from full-time work when she turned 65. My last full-time employment was at age 61, so by my definition when I became freelance/self-employed that was the start of our Findependence.

But we COULD have left the salaried routine earlier if we had wished to do so: we paid off our mortgage decades ago and our financial assets in combination with small employer pensions and the usual Government pensions are more than enough to fund a modest lifestyle.

REL: What type of work did you do, and what your life was like before FIRE?

JC: I’ve always been a journalist and editor, as well as an author and blogger.

Initially I worked in staff newspaper jobs covering technology in the early 80s ‘for the Globe & Mail (one of Canada’s two national newspapers), then almost two decades covering personal finance and investing for the National Post (Canada’s other national newspaper). I was also editor-in-chief for MoneySense Magazine for a few years after the Post and continue to write and edit for them in addition to running Financial Independence Hub, which I launched in 2014 when I left my full-time job at MoneySense.

REL: Because Billy has a background in finance and securities, he’s very familiar with US investments. Tell us about Canadian-backed assets.

JC: Canada is similar to Australia in its investment profile.

We’re dominated by energy and materials stocks and by six big banks. We have virtually no health care stocks and our consumer staple stocks are really just publicly traded grocery store chains like Loblaw;  our tech sector is small. Every once in a while Canada spawns a technology winner: Nortel, which went bust after China’s Huawei “borrowed” some of its technology; Research in Motion, whose Blackberry was a big-time success until the Apple iPhone ursurped it; and currently Shopify is our big tech winner.

Jon & Ruth sitting on a sand dune in Morocco

But mostly the Toronto Stock Exchange is dominated by banks like Royal Bank, BMO, Bank of Montreal, and TD Canada Trust (all with some US presence) and energy giants like Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines. An American investor can get away with almost exclusive home country bias since the US is roughly half the global market cap and many of the big players are international anyway.

Canada is maybe 3% of the world’s total market cap, so we are forced to look to the US and global markets to be properly diversified. Once upon a time we were limited to just 20% foreign content in our pensions and retirement plans but that got scrapped so now we can overload on the S&P500 if we wish.

REL: Are discount brokers available to you in Canada like Fidelity, Charles Schwab and Vanguard?

JC: Oh yes, mainly through the big banks, so there’s TD Waterhouse, RBC Direct Investing (both of which we use) and the other banks have similar operations. There are also several independent online brokers like Questrade. Fidelity and Vanguard have Canadian divisions but mostly to sell their mutual funds and ETFs.

REL: Are capital gains taxed more favorably than income in Canada?

JC: Yes. Only half of capital gains are taxed, so that means about half as much tax as is usually paid on interest income or employment income. Also, unlike the US, the capital gains tax in Canada does not rise or fall depending how long you held before taking a profit. Dividends paid by Canadian companies get a lower tax rate than foreign dividends, which are taxed like interest and so best held in tax-sheltered retirement vehicles like the RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan, similar to America’s IRA).

Ruth hiking in Spain

REL: Could you explain Canada’s Old Age Pension, how that works, at what age one can begin receiving it, and how one qualifies for it?

JC: Canada’s equivalent to Social Security is actually three programs we dub CPP/OAS/GIS.

The main one is the Canada Pension Plan, to which all employees must contribute. Like Social Security you can take CPP early (even at age 60) but it pays much more if you wait till 70.

There is also Old Age Security or OAS, which people normally take at the traditional Retirement Age of 65. You can’t get it earlier than that but like CPP, can defer it to 70 and get paid more. It’s funded by the government’s general tax revenues but it’s means-tested, so if you have taxable income above $80,000 or so (the threshold rises a bit each year), you start to have OAS taxed away and you lose it all around $120,000. This is for each person, so retired couples normally try to keep their taxable income below $80,000 each, so $160,000 between them.

Finally, there is the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to the OAS: which is means-tested and aims to top up income for seniors who have no real pensions or retirement savings. Personally, we don’t plan on receiving GIS: most middle-income seniors worry more about preserving OAS benefits: CPP is taxed but benefits are not clawed back.

REL: Could you tell us a little about how your portfolio is structured?

JC: I always used to wonder [in articles] why anyone would need more than a single global balanced mutual fund or these days a comparable Asset Allocation ETF from firms like Vanguard, BlackRock or BMO ETFs.

I believe in diversification by asset class, geography, investment style, and market cap. To some extent I keep in mind the All-Weather Portfolio championed by Ray Dalio, or before that, Harry Browne’s Permanent Portfolio. The latter was 25% in bonds for deflation, 25% stocks for prosperity, 25% gold for inflation and 25% in cash for really bad times. Dalio is a bit like that but would add commodities and maybe real estate. I don’t believe you can consistently predict markets and asset classes so I believe in being exposed to all of these over the long haul, with perhaps shorter-term tactical tweaks if trends become obvious (like interest rates bottoming a year ago.)

REL: How big a part of your retirement plan does the Canadian-based healthcare play? Would you consider permanently relocating to another country? If so, which countries have you considered?

JC: Canadians are a bit spoiled with universal health care. US Democrats would probably call it socialized medicine.

Jon in Malaga, Spain

It’s not entirely free as Ontario levies an annual Health Premium [i.e. tax] depending on income, but it’s lower than private insurance would be. We don’t worry about sticking with a single employer just to keep their health care insurance, although of course some will buy private Blue Cross and that kind of thing beyond what employers provide.

We travel a lot: Florida for a while, more recently Morocco, Mexico and other Spanish-speaking places including Spain itself. But I doubt we’d permanently leave Canada.

Just today we were walking around our home turf by the lake in Toronto. It’s called Long Branch, which was originally a Summer Resort when founded in 1884: affluent families in downtown Toronto would take the street car to their summer “cottage” in Long Branch. It’s now just another bedroom community but only a 15-minute GO train ride from downtown Toronto.

Canada overall is a blessed place: we’re protected by two oceans and it’s nice having a friendly neighbor and military power to the south. The rest of the world probably considers us boring, which suits us fine: we’ll keep us a best-kept secret! At one point we considered Mexico as a way to avoid Canada’s long winter and relatively high taxes but the high apparent levels of crime in recent years scared us off. My parents were British and French so we like to visit the UK and France, as well as Spain. But we are happy to keep Toronto a home base and to visit places for months at a time through AirBnB.

REL: In your retirement life, what will you do about access to health care? Are you open to Medical Tourism?

JC: Again, Canada’s health care system is almost free for citizens and reasonably accessible. In fact, it’s so attractive that it may prevent some of us from permanently pulling up stakes. I can see Dental Tourism as more likely, as only recently have the NDP started to badger the Trudeau Liberals to provide universal free dental care for young people and low-income seniors.

Sadly, neither category is us!

REL: Are you a traveler or more of a stay-at-home, community kind of guy? Are you and your wife on the same page regarding retirement and travel?

JC: I think we are. Ruth retired from her full-time job in the transportation industry three years ago but still does a bit of consulting and a lot of church work, volunteering, tutoring and the like.

Lake Ontario, a 30-second walk from Jon and Ruth’s home

As I said to you before this interview, I still put in a “gruelling 3-hour day” Monday to Thursdays, with Friday mornings if necessary. Like yourselves, I can run the web site from anywhere with good Internet access. Most recently we spent 4 weeks in Malaga, Spain and I kept things going from there. But in our next stage we will try to avoid more of the long Canadian winter and spend 2 or 3 months at a time abroad in January/February/March. Continue Reading…

AgeTech Careers are EPIC, don’t you know?

By Mark Venning,

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Attending three AGE-WELL EPIC conferences on-line since 2020, my level of understanding of Canadian research and development in ageing and technology, or AgeTech (as it is universally called now), has truly deepened. It could be said that AgeTech became epic in 2022 as AGE-WELL, Canada’s technology and aging network established in 2015, spelled out the acronym EPIC – Early Professionals, Inspired Careers in AgeTech.

Updating from my blog post last May – An EPIC AgeTech Adventure Continues, the EPIC-AT is a national health research training platform, designed to prepare graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early career researchers to be future leaders in digital health solutions for older adults with complex health needs.

Hosted at the University of Toronto EPIC-AT is powered by AGE-WELL, led by researchers from 11 universities and research hospitals from across Canada.

While it could be argued that AgeTech is still in its adolescent stage, as many people I speak with have no idea what it really is, never mind how large in scope it has become so far; it is worthy to repeat how much AgeTech will become more prolific over the remainder of this decade, assuming research is supported and consumer awareness and adoption is widely acknowledged. So the good news is that at this point, the modest $13M funding in EPIC-AT runs through to 2027.

If you are wondering how all this research manifests itself in the marketplace, recently AGE-WELL published its revised AgeTech Startup Map for 2023 and here you will get up to speed on the 114 Canadian companies in eight categories from, for example, Supportive Homes & Communities to Healthcare & Health Service Delivery and Cognitive Health & Dementia.

From Dementia to Deep Space

On further note, sometimes the discussion on AgeTech can take you to far out places, and on Feb.2, 2023 the EPIC-AT Webinar I attended, did just that – it took me to Deep Space, in one of the longest webinar titles ever, “The Challenge of Deploying Large Scale Digital Health-Based Support to Older Adults Aging at Home:  When Deep Space Travel Offers Opportunities.” Actually it was quite uplifting so to speak, to learn how the far out the journey with AgeTech might take us. Continue Reading…

The Balanced Portfolio journey after a terrible 2022