What every woman needs to know about Retirement

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Akaisha Kaderli

By Akaisha Kaderli, RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Special to FindependenceDay.com

 

The other day I read an article about women and retirement. In this piece, the number one premise for motivation was that we should be afraid. Very afraid. It said that for the most part, men did the planning for retirement and that we as women rely on them blindly.

I dislike reading articles such as this, first, because it is fear-based but second, it doesn’t take into consideration the talents women contribute to the mix of partnership and planning. While it might be true that men are “wired to provide for the household,” women have moved into professions which pay grandly. Many marriages today are a different blend of partnership than what our own parents or grandparents enjoyed. Along with their jobs, many women still run the household, so why not get involved in retirement planning in a proactive manner?

Retirement is a boring word

The word “retirement” conjures up images of old people on pensions or perhaps pictures of those who no longer contribute powerfully to society with their expertise and knowledge. I prefer the description “financially independent” for the freedom, influence and self-reliance it implies.

One can choose financial independence at any stage of life and it’s an exciting and worthy goal. The younger a person begins on this path, the more you have in your favor.

Women, listen up

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How much do you REALLY need to retire?

MarieEngen

Fee-only planner Marie Engen

How much money do you really need to retire? On sister site Financial Independence Hub today, we ran a guest blog by Boomer & Echo’s Marie Engen on this topic, something I also mentioned in a talk last week at Durham LifeLong Learning.

Here’s the link to Marie’s blog at the Hub.

I also referred extensively to this blog in a piece at Money.ca, although I couldn’t locate the actual link. As I said in the piece, when determining how much you need to retire, it all depends on your lifestyle expectations. The short answer is that a Canadian with very modest needs can get by without saving a penny. The catch is you’ll have to wait till age 65, at which quite generous Government pensions like Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) kick in.

The bad news is that if you have expensive tastes and have no employer pension, you’ll need to be a millionaire, or even a multi-millionaire to retire with the kind of lifestyle you enjoyed when working.

Those who have toiled at one or two employers with Defined Benefit pension plans can enjoy a more lavish middle-class lifestyle strictly on those pensions, CPP and perhaps some OAS. Again, if you don’t want to travel in luxury or eat out in expensive restaurants, you may not need to save much extra, although of course the more you sock away in an RRSP and ideally a TFSA, the better.

If you’re reading this, odds are you’re still working, have expectations for a more lavish retirement lifestyle and perhaps are not fortunate enough to have a DB pension, or switched jobs too often for a single one to really “take.” If you earned a decent salary along the way hopefully you maxed out your RRSP throughout, as well as your T Read more

Exploring the ExPat lifestyle in Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende

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View of San Miguel from top of the Rosewood Hotel (Photo J. Chevreau)

Last week, my wife Ruth and I enjoyed a week’s vacation in San Miguel de Allende, which is located in central (and landlocked) Mexico. We’d been to Mexico several times over the years but never this particular community, which is not handy to a major airport.

It was also our first trip to Latin America in about five years, since we had been taking our February breaks in Florida in more recent years.

Ironically, San Miguel was prominently featured in the old magazine I published around the year 2000: The Wealthy Boomer. At the time, I remember being impressed by the fact the cost of living for semi-retired American and Canadian baby boomers was roughly half what it was in our home countries. This theme was also applied to various Asia locations in a Hub blog last year featuring the book Planet Boomer. See also my post, titled 5 Asian locations where retirement is more affordable than North America.

Trading high taxes for crime?

Back during the days of the tax-and-spend Jean Chretien Liberals, I found the Mexican expatriate fantasy quite compelling, so much so that I listened to Spanish instructional tapes on my long commutes to the National Post’s bunker then located in Don Mills. But the fantasy of becoming a tax exile/early retiree faded once the Conservative Party achieved power and at least the hope of reasonable levels of taxation (the TFSA being a major positive example.)

Meanwhile, the unremitting press over drug-cartel-related crime in Mexico reached a crescendo in the last few years so we stopped visiting for several years.  Read more

Should you talk Findependence over Valentine’s Supper?

Shape of heart from hundred dollars at red background

By Josh Miszk, Invisor

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Almost half of married couples say their investing styles differ from that of their spouses, and about one-quarter of couples fight over money, according to a BMO survey.

While your romantic Valentine’s Day dinner may not be the best time to discuss finances, most of us agree that these discussions really do need to happen between couples. Here are a few tips that will help contribute to a sound financial future for couples.

 Keep it open and honest

It’s important for couples to be on the same page when it comes to goal planning and how you intend to achieve these goals together. Adopt the “yours, mine and ours” approach and make your finances visible to your spouse so that you both will be in a better place to plan together for the future. For example, some advisors offer a consolidated household online view of their portfolio, which provides easy access to investment accounts for each spouse. Not only does that allow you to have a more holistic view of your position, but having it all in front of you at once can make it much simpler to digest. Read more

Hedging in the Retirement Risk Zone

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WealthyEdge.ca

My latest MoneySense blog reveals some of my personal strategies for dealing with the bear market: How I’m preparing for Retirement in a bear market.

There may be a few ideas for anyone who, like myself, is in the “Retirement Risk Zone.” That’s the five years prior to and five years following your projected retirement date. If it’s 65, the traditional age, then the Risk Zone is between age 60 and 70. Based on the Hub’s demographic user patterns, a lot of people are in that category (although we actually have lots of millennial and Gen X traffic too on both sides of the border).

Towards the end of the blog, I talk about portfolio hedging. I have to credit my fee-for-service financial advisor for most of these concepts. He didn’t want to be named for the MoneySense blog but he is listed in the Hub’s “Guidance” section elsewhere in this site.

It took me awhile to accept that hedging — that is, using options or selling short certain ETFs representing the major indices — is as much a risk reduction strategy as it is a “risky” strategy.

Hedging means trading off some upside for downside protection

The best way I can describe it is that you’re willing to give up some upside in return for protecting the downside. In this respect, it’s not unlike asset allocation or a classic balanced fund. Naturally, a portfolio half in bonds and cash should be less volatile than one 100% in stocks. You’d expect the aggressive portfolio to have the highest returns in a continuing bull market in equities and if you were in a balanced fund would accept the lower returns that let you sleep soundly at night.

To my mind, hedging is similar. In the MoneySense blog I describe a hypothetical situation (close to my own) in which asset allocation across both registered and non-registered portfolios is roughly 50/50. Ideally, registered plans are mostly in fixed income (and my case some US dividend-paying stocks), and non-registered plans are mostly in stocks, especially Canadian stocks.

But when you’re in “The Zone,” you hardly welcome watching half your portfolio sink. Yes, we’re already down 20% and are firmly in correction or bear mode in most global markets. It could be that now is the proverbial buying opportunity, and that’s probably true for younger investors who have plenty of time on their side.

The Long Run eventually runs out

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The Eagles’ late Glenn Frey (YouTube.com)

Not so we aging baby boomers. The deaths the past week of David Bowie at 69 and of the Eagles’ Glenn Frey at 67 should be sufficient reminder (“memento mori“) that we are all mortal. The concept of stocks for the long run is certainly a good foundation for young people and the middle-aged to build growth portfolios but as Keynes also reminded us, “In the long run we’re dead.”

Here at the Hub our slogan is to achieve financial independence “while you’re still young enough to enjoy it.” It’s hard to really enjoy Findependence when you’re worried about the stock market crashing 50% or more, as it did in 2008.

But as my adviser told me at the time — as he sailed through the financial crisis intact via his hedging strategies — you don’t need to stand helplessly like a deer blinded by headlights as markets go south.  If you care as much now about capital preservation than growth, then it follows that you’re willing to trade off some future upside for a lower downside. Asset allocation may get you there and one of the regular contributors to the Hub is a firm believer in retirees relying on cash flow from high-quality individual stocks.

Partial hedge is still net long equities

Currently “we” are only a sixth to a third hedged so we’re still happy if markets recover. As the MoneySense blog warns, if you do start to hedge, it will be inevitable that you may get whipsawed. So if you choose to initiate a hedge by shorting ETFs covering the TSX or the S&P500 or EAFE ETFs, realize that if markets start to rise, you will be losing money on the the sell side of the hedge. (But if you’re net long you’re still “happy”).

Conversely, if they sink further, you will be glad you purchased the “insurance,” as those positions rise even as the indexes sink further.

No guarantees either way but when in investing was there ever a guarantee? And as the other blog notes, you don’t want to try this without the guidance of a good financial planner or investment adviser who is thoroughly proficient at risk management, options and hedging.

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