The Hub’s Weekly wrap: Bag lady fears, fast-casual dining stocks & more

Woman in povertyLaunched last week, the Hub’s Weekly Wrap aims to be a weekend read with brief commentary and links to some of the more interesting items touching on Financial Independence that appeared in North American cyberspace in the past week or two.

We aim to split these roughly half from American blogs and online media and half from Canadian. (That roughly corresponds to current traffic levels at the Hub.)

We’ll begin with this piece from Next Avenue: Unemployed, 55 and Faking Normal. This blog about the common fear of becoming a bag lady (financially speaking) was widely tweeted, including by a few women I suspect were in similar circumstances. No doubt about it, a combination of divorce and job loss can add up to a tough go, especially if you’re still not old enough to qualify for Social Security or the Canadian triad of CPP/OAS/GIS.

Fast-casual dining

Moving on to the more fortunate comes this piece from the Washington Post, mentioned on the Motley Fool’s Market Foolery podcast on Tuesday. The Chipotle effect: Why America is obsessed with fast casual food is an analysis of the trend to “Fast Casual” dining and the stocks of the major players capitalizing on this change (Chipotle and Panera to name two.) This is a threat to the old-time fast food joints like McDonald’s: ironically, McDonald’s incubated Chipotle in its early days.

4 reasons to pay your credit card bill early

From Daily Finance comes these 4 reasons to pay your credit-card bill before it’s due. But this may not be true for everybody. Click through to see the exception.

Safe retirement withdrawal levels

If you want to make sure you can afford to dine out, even at fast-casual emporiums, you might want to check a recent blog by Michael James on Money: Debating what income level is safe in retirement.  HIs view is that Bill Bengen’s 4% “safemax” recommendation is a tad on the high side and retirees should adjust to life on a 3% annual withdrawal amount, with adjustments for inflation.

5 financial decisions that can change your life

From Rockstar Finance comes 5 financial decisions that changed my financial life. Pretty hard to argue with this list, which ranges from buying a home you can afford to be willing to strike out on your own to change your life. And while we’re running lists of 5, let’s not forget Wes Moss’s 5 tips to avoid a costly retirement, based on input from me.

Bank index funds

With all the media coverage of ETFs lately, it’s easy to forget that most of the big banks offer pretty decent no-load index mutual funds. Million Dollar Journey surveys the field in this piece, entitled Easy Index Mutual Fund Portfolios with the Big Banks.

Feeling Sandwiched?

Finally, a couple of my latest pieces: on the Investor Education Fund’s site comes this piece entitled Advice for the Sandwich Generation. From the current issue of MoneySense is this column on how investors seem to be taking to robo-advisers. And various PostMedia regional dailies (Vancouver, Calgary, Regina among them) ran versions of RRSPs still relevant despite rising power of TFSAs.