Work while you play, play while you work: subtitle of Victory Lap Retirement
By Michael Drak
How did the Victory Lap concept originate? I smile every time I think about the fact that Jonathan and I have written a retirement book about not retiring. I know it’s weird, but weird seems to work in today’s world …
It all started about five years ago: the day I woke up and realized I didn’t want to do my corporate job anymore. Thinking like this was strange for me because I had always liked my job. I was good at it and it paid well, providing security and a good living for my family.
But truth be told, over the last few years the job was starting to have a negative effect both on my health and on my personal well-being. The stress of performing at a high level year in and year out was getting to me. I was reminded of this every morning, when I took my blood pressure medication.
For a long time I hadn’t been taking proper care of myself. I wasn’t in a good spot mentally or physically and was out of balance. I had been so caught up in the competitions, titles, and salary increases along the way in my career that I had lost track of who I was in the process.
Material success doesn’t guarantee happiness
I had bought into the idea that material success would eventually bring me happiness, but believe me on this, it doesn’t! I really didn’t know what would make me happy, I just knew that I didn’t like how I felt anymore. I used to laugh a lot more and I didn’t understand why that had stopped. I yearned to get rid of that nagging feeling and the sense that something needed to change. I had to slow down the pace of life and get out of the rat race.
But what was I going to do? Was retiring my only alternative? And if I did retire, to what would I be retiring? I had no idea, but I knew in my heart that a full-stop retirement just wasn’t in the cards for me: I get bored easily and the thought of possibly spending more years in retirement, with nothing to do, than I had spent in my working life scared me a little—no, make that a lot. I didn’t want my story to be, “He went to school, married, worked for a company for thirty-plus years while raising a family, then retired.” I had worked and sacrificed too much over the years to have it all end abruptly like that. My corporate job had served its purpose, but I wasn’t done yet and I knew my best days were still ahead. I wanted more — much more — out of life.
In my search for answers I visited the local library and read every retirement book I could get my hands on. Most of them were limited to the financial aspects of retirement. But then I was lucky to get my hands on a copy of Ernie Zelinski’s book How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom that You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor.
It was a few years ago now that my mom came to me and told me about this book I just absolutely had to read. As with most things my mother tells me, I nodded, and then continued on as if nothing was said.
After she gave me a copy of it, with key passages underlined, I kept the book on my shelf, along with many other parental recommendations that I never quite had the time to pick up and get to.
This past January, though, I was sitting around with my friends and they were all panicking about this book they were reading, and how their lives weren’t where they should be for our age, and how their entire perspective had shifted after reading it. Naturally, I was intrigued. What is this book and why is it so powerful as to elicit such a panic from my friends?
As luck would have it, the book they were discussing was the same book my mother had tried to get me to read years before, and I knew exactly where it was sitting on my shelf. I picked up The Defining Decade as soon as I got home that evening, and didn’t put it down ’til it was done.
The Defining Decade by Meg Jay is, as cliché as it may sound—a call to action. It is geared toward those of us in our twenties (the ‘defining decade’), specifically, but realistically I think it should be required reading for everyone on their 18th birthday.
It’s become a common opinion that our twenties are ‘party time’. They’re a time for us to figure out what we want, take it easy, and relax after those stressful college years. The attitude of “if not now, then when” is often on our minds, and it’s difficult for us to see a clear path in front of us toward our future. As popular as this mindset is, what Jay shares with us in ‘The Defining Decade’, is that it can be extremely detrimental to our ill-thought-out futures if we continue thinking that ‘real life’ starts in our thirties. Read more
As the accompanying photograph of me and coauthor Mike Drak shows, the book Victory Lap Retirement has finally come off the printing presses.
It will be a few weeks before it is available in bookstores but it can be ordered and delivered now directly through the web site VictoryLapRetirement.com.
At one level you could call the book, which we shorthand as VLR, as the sequel to Findependence Day, the book to which this website is dedicated. However, it is a work of non-fiction so it’s not a fictional sequel, although that project is still on a future to-do list.
The above photo was taken Thursday at Mike’s Toronto home. As you can see from our casual poolside attire, we’re trying to live the lifestyle described in the book, and summarized by the subtitle Work While You Play, Play While You Work.
You can also see the yellow book cover is now in rotation on the front page of the Hub, along with the US and Canadian editions of Findependence Day and the summary Kindle ebooks titled A Novel Approach to Financial Independence.
You can order any of these books or Victory Lap Retirement by clicking on the book cover image: it will relocate to fulfillment pages, using in most cases PayPal or credit cards tied to it. (The book has been available on pre-order but can now directly be ordered: we will mail copies out as soon as orders are received.)
The official book release date is September 26 and the in-store date is October 10. It should be available in Chapters and other major book stores and independents, plus some mass retailers.
You can see a bunch of testimonials on the Victory Lap website, including from such well-known personal finance gurus as the Globe & Mail’s Rob Carrick, the Star’s Ellen Roseman, the Post’s Diane Francis, BNN’s Larry Berman, CTV’s Patricia Lovett-Reid, and MoneySense’s Julie Cazzin, as well as from fellow financial authors like Gordon Pape, Ernie Zelinksi and Daryl Diamond.
Other media members and bloggers interested in receiving a review copy can request one by emailing Mike at email@example.com or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday July 29th will be a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. After thirty-eight years, I finally packed in my banking career. I suppose my co-author Jonathan would call this my Findependence Day!
To be honest, it will take some getting used to as my banking job played an important role in my life. It provided financial security for my family and gave me a good reason to get out of bed most mornings.
My career, like most careers, had its good and bad points. Overall though, it was a good ride and one that I will miss to some degree, but I had to leave in order to publish Victory Lap Retirement and create my blog.
Banks really don’t like it when employees write books or blogs because it might not align with the story that they are trying to convey. Banks get nervous when employees stand out and don’t fit in, when employees invent something that is outside the approved message.
Banks are very protective of their brand. They want the customer experience to be the same in every branch across the country. They want every employee to talk, walk and act the same. They desire a high degree of predictable sameness, as it’s easier to control.
Why banks still sell the old version of Retirement
This is not a bad thing at first blush, but it tends to stifle individual creativity, which is costly long term both to the bank and its customers. The danger is that you end up being like every other bank selling the same story and nothing much happens out of the ordinary. Maybe this is why the banks continue to sell the old version of retirement, as it’s easier to sell to the masses. Marketing to the few is not very cost efficient.
You’re a millennial. You’ve recently graduated from university and are beginning your career. You aren’t making quite as much as you’d hoped for, and as it turns out, rent is crushingly expensive.
Okay, you’ll just put off moving out for six months, save some money, live at home. Everyone’s doing it these days. You’re sure that before you know it you’ll be on track to success, living it up in homeowner-ville, sitting pretty. You’re not quite sure exactly how you’ll get to homeowner-ville, but it can’t be that hard, right?
Something I really love about this book is that it’s broken down into great detail. Not only that, but it’s organized according to when in life you should be needing the advice.
Covering all the financial bases
HNTMBIWYP (as I will be referring to it henceforth) actually begins before college, with tips and important information on affording school and budgeting once you’re there. From there Carrick covers pretty much all the financial bases young people need to be aware of.
These include how to manage debt, how to shop around for banks and ‘play the field’ when it comes to your choice of financial institutions, how to create and stick to a budget that works, buying a car, buying a house, financing a wedding and starting a family, and how to protect yourself and your belongings with insurance and wills. Woo — that was a lot!
You’d think it would be easy to get overwhelmed while reading HNTMBIWYP (originally published by Doubleday Canada in 2012), but it’s so well laid out, and flows so well that the information within just makes sense. As I was reading, I came across countless useful tidbits that I had to highlight and make note of for future reference.
Emergency Funds & Building Savings
One tidbit I’d like to share is the idea of an emergency fund. I recently participated in a video chat with Chantel Chapman of MOGO and Jonathan Chevreau (my dad) in which the idea of an emergency fund was discussed. Chantel, as with most other financial advice-givers, recommended a 3-month salary buffer for an emergency fund.
Carrick suggests, however, that young people don’t worry about the amount right away. He says what’s important is that you just put a little in each month. “Start with a couple of hundred dollars in a high-interest savings account and try to build up to a few thousand dollars.” I like the idea of building up the fund over time, instead of worrying about it all at once.
Building savings over time is a theme that pops up throughout HNTMBIWYP, and is discussed again in reference to making contributions to RRSPs and TFSAs. Carrick recommends here that instead of making a contribution once a year, to have the money come out at steady intervals throughout the year so you feel the brunt of it less heavily. As an added bonus, says Carrick, doing it this way helps us to average out from highs and lows that the market might reach.
Though How Not to Move Back In With Your Parents is an effective tool for those of us with a background of financial knowledge, it is probably most helpful to complete newbies. Rob Carrick is with us, essentially holding our hand, telling us what we need to know and showing us what we need to do to get there. If it were up to me, HNTMBIWYP would be required reading for every person older than 17.
Helen Chevreau is a student teacher, blogger and global adventurer. She also happens to be the daughter of Hub CFO Jonathan Chevreau. She has a B.A. in English and has been blogging for four years. Her next stop is Scotland for postgraduate studies in education.