Do you really desire early retirement? Or just early Findependence?

After a bit of a hiatus, the Investor Education Fund has resumed publishing of my blogs within its Masters of Money platform, now well into its second year. Here’s one of two recent posts on Early Retirement, which include some personal reflections on this topic in light of my recent job change to become Editor of MoneySense Magazine.

We’re now ramping up for a new series of blogs at IEF. Meantime, I’m also blogging at moneysense.ca. Last week, I reviewed a book — Managing the Bull — which also made the distinction between Retirement and Financial Independence. As I note in the blog titled “Another Vote for Financial Independence” there seems to be a growing recognition of the distinction between the two terms.

And just as you can distinguish between Findependence and traditional full-stop Retirement, similarly you can distinguish between Early Retirement and Early Findependence. As I’ve noted before, Findependence can often occur much earlier than traditional retirement: sometimes decades before. In fact, it’s never too early to establish financial independence: if you can pull it off in your teens so much the better. Of course, few of us have the good fortune of the Miley Cyruses of the world so most of us will have to settle not for Early Findependence but Findependence somewhere between mid-life and the traditional retirement age.

Retirement overrated, Findependence underrated?

In the current issue of MoneySense Magazine now on newsstands (Retire in Luxury for Next to Nothing), we include a story asking whether traditional Retirement is Overrated. One person who has retired at 59 insists that to the contrary, Retirement is UNDER-rated, but we also include two professionals who continue to work in their chosen fields well past their mid 60s.

Personally, I’m coming around to the view that it’s quite possible and perhaps desirable to aim for the seemingly contradictory goals of both Early Findependence but Delayed Retirement. Think of any rich and famous artist, musician or business person, be it Steven Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, JK Rowling or Mick Jagger. All these people experienced early success and therefore Early Findependence.

But it’s telling what they chose to do with that Early Findependence: in almost every case, they continued to do what they loved and that had been the source of their worldly success and accompanying financial independence. Jagger is still rocking, Jobs was designing the next generation of Apple devices until his last few months of life, Zuckerberg is a billionaire but still engaged in his 20s at the social media giant he founded and Rowling has now branched out beyond her 7-part Harry Potter novels to pen a new adult novel that’s reviewed in the current New York Times Book Review.

Findependence as means, not end

This also tells us something important about the nature of work and wealth. If you’re really passionate about something and doing work that satisfies the soul and that the world benefits by, then wealth is merely a byproduct of that activity. Let’s not confuse the means and the ends. Financial Independence should not be viewed itself as the goal (or end) but merely the means to an end, which is whatever vocation, business or creative pursuit you are called to do.

 

Preet Banerjee podcast on Findependence Day (plus a Guerrilla Frugality anecdote)

This week I had the pleasure of doing a 15-minute podcast with Preet Banerjee, who recently launched his Mostly Money, Mostly Canadian podcast as an adjunct to his popular Where Does All My Money Go blog and numerous other media-commentary activities. You can find the podcast here: it’s billed as describing the concept of “Findependence” and also touches on my recent job change.

Preet is a fast-rising star in personal finance in Canada. Currently he has a regular column in the Globe & Mail and he’s a frequent guest on CBC’s nightly news. For a time, we were both bloggers for the Investor Education Fund’s “Masters of Money” blog series. He first came to my attention when he self-published a book on RRSPs. At the time he was a little-known financial advisor. I reviewed the book in the Post, interviewed him on what was then the Wealthy Boomer web video interviews and the rest is history. Preet wrote the feature on calculating your returns in the current issue of MoneySense and will be making the odd contribution in future issues.

We “splurge” on lunch

Those who follow either of us on Twitter may be amused to hear of a sidebar to this podcast, which touches on the topic of “guerrilla frugality.” Preet came up to the MoneySense offices on One Mount Pleasant on Thursday, equipped with his MacBook Air and a new portable mic he had just acquired. We conducted the interview in my office, then adjourned for lunch. I mentioned a nearby mid-scale eatery popular around here but Preet indicated he preferred to eat something light and healthy. “Like a salad?” I asked. When he affirmed this was his preference I suggested a nearby Swiss Chalet. I’ve been on a diet and exercise kick myself for the past six months and find that the “West Coast Salad” at Swiss Chalet is a very tasty filling meal, with the bonus that it’s eminently affordable.

So Swiss Chalet it was but Preet wasn’t done. We’d also ordered a couple of waters with lemon then decided to “splurge” after on coffee. When the bill was presented, Preet used his smartphone to snap a photo of the rather modest bill, then proceeded to post it on Twitter, remarking on our collective “splurge.”

When I retweeted it to my followers I commented that our luncheon choice wasn’t so much predicated by “guerrilla frugality” but by health and dietary considerations.

All in all a fun and productive few hours. As they say too often at Cineplex previews, “enjoy the movie.”

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Improvements to this site

While this site was only launched in early September, this week we’ve made several changes, hopefully all for the better.

At the bottom right corner you can now see rolling feeds from my Twitter and Facebook accounts. This is in addition to the latest columns I write at the Financial Post and current entries at the Wealthy Boomer blog, which is housed at FinancialPost.com.

While we’ve not yet added feeds from the other two social media I participate in, you can also find me at Linked In and Google Plus (which I described here).

Cosmetically, we’ve added a bigger more visible button for those who want to order the book via PayPal. We’ve added some links under the Reviews & Media tab, including a fabulous new endorsement from none other than the Wealthy Barber himself: David Chilton.

We’ve also revised and expanded the entry describing the book: never easy in this hybrid category of financial primer/ fictional novel. (yes, the “financial novel” genre pioneered by the same David Chilton but see this entry for how Findependence Day has pushed the envelope on this genre.)

For those who have enjoyed the book but have trouble summarizing it to friends you think may be interested, my shorthand description is “a financial love story.” That’s how it’s described in one set of targeted Facebook ads that are currently running.

Findependence Day and Financial Literacy

With Financial Literacy Month coming up and then Christmas, I’d hope those who have enjoyed the book will spread the word.  Tell friends, neighbours and even local libraries about this unique book that helps raise the financial literacy of young people who are just entering the workforce and starting to form their own families.

Cartons of 36 are available at greatly reduced prices and you’d be surprised at who are buying entire cases: NOT the giants of the financial industry but everyday working people and parents. One dentist bought a case for his patients in British Columbia. Real estate agents are buying them, credit counselling groups, even business people from church.

Of course, the full-carton deal is also popular with individual fee-only and fee-based financial advisors: those I naturally consider the “good guys.” (and gals: the first to buy a case was a top-knotch Oakville advisor I first “met” on Twitter!) With Christmas coming, I’d remind financial professionals that if purchased in quantity, the book makes a less-costly client gift than a box of chocolates but will be timelier and longer-lasting.

U.S. e-book edition coming

One exciting development is that Findependence Day will soon be available as an e-book or tablet edition in a brand new U.S. edition. For now, the existing North American edition will be available only in the “dead-tree” edition sold on this site. As those who have read it know, the original edition provides both U.S. and Canadian financial content and is set in both countries. The new e-book is set only in the U.S. and provides a lot more information about IRAs, Roth plans, Social Security and other topics.

In response to reader feedback, the new edition will also feature a glossary and an end-of-chapter summary of what Jamie and Sheena learned. I have mixed feelings about this. I didn’t go that route initially because I didn’t want to break the “fictive dream.” On the other hand, since this book IS primarily a tool for raising financial literacy, once you’ve read it it’s useful to have a chapter summary at the end in straight prose.

There will be a few other surprises, so stay tuned. Remember, while I may only update this particular blog twice a week or so, the site as a whole is constantly changing because of the continual new content from my day job and social media activity.

As they say on 680 News radio, “the news is constantly changing, so check back three, four, five times a day.” Just kidding but hopefully there’s enough here to merit a bookmark and a look once or twice a week.

See you next time!

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Time to add your 4th Social Network: Google Plus

Most visitors to this web site are no doubt well familiar with social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Off to the right of this blog you can click on either to check out my activity on those two sites. I’m also active on Linked-In and for the past three years have been content to leave it at that. It’s a big time and energy commitment to get involved in these sites and I find they chew up a lot of time nights and weekends.

For that reason, I’ve been reluctant to jump on board every new social network that comes out. I didn’t join My Space and I only briefly tried out FriendFeed until it was acquired by Facebook. I didn’t join Google’s first attempt at social networking but have made the decision in the past week to join Google’s second try: Google Plus. I’m active there as Jonathan Chevreau.

Here’s my logic for “starting all over again,” despite a significant commitment to the other three sites, which I’ll continue to be active on. I always viewed Facebook as primarily for Friends and Family, although the Facebook account linked from this site is a newer account used for broader business and investment purposes. I view Linked In as essentially a rolodex of business contacts: the same people you’d normally exchange business cards with over the course of a working day.

Twitter I’ve viewed as a sort of free-for-all, open to the serendipity of random encounters. Of course, Twitter’s List feature allows you to drill down on very specific types of Tweeters. Since my focus is personal finance and financial independence, I maintain Twitter lists on everything from stocks to retirement to insurance and annuities to economics and politics, hedging and options.

So how is there room for Google Plus? Well, first of all, Google is a web powerhouse we all use anyway. Second, by being late to the market, Google seems to have figured out a way to leverage the experience of all who preceded it in social networking.

All my life’s a circle

The key concept with Google+ is Circles. The first “Circle” is your immediate family. The second is Friends: people you’ve actually met and with whom you have some kind of positive relationship. These two circles I view as equivalent to how I originally used Facebook:  a way to keep up with the family, to see what photos Daughter has posted while at college, etc.

The third Google+ circle is Acquaintances: people you’ve met that aren’t strangers, but nor are they bosom buddies. Probably, many people you know at work would be classified initially as Acquaintances, and hopefully after time some become real friends. But at least they’re real people who you’ve met.

The fourth circle at Google+ is “Following.”  These are people you’ve never met and with whom you have no relationship: many are celebrities or gurus of some sort who don’t know you from Adam. You’ve heard of them but not vice versa. So you “follow” them in the same way you’d follow someone on Twitter, fully expecting to be able to monitor whatever they’re putting out on their “public” feed. They may also be putting out more intimate content to their inner circles but alas, it is unlikely that we ordinary followers will be privy to those feeds. Such is the nature of the beast.

Finally, you can create and label additional circles, just as you might use Twitter lists to sort Tweeters into various categories. Since you’re currently reading a web site devoted to Financial Independence, you can be sure I’ll create at least one circle devoted to that topic.

It’s a big commitment to “start all over” with yet another social networking site. It’s still early innings for Google+. Through much of the summer, there was a three-month “by invitation only” trial but Google just threw it open to the rest of us a few weeks ago.

If you’ve not jumped aboard the earlier social networking sites, you might be comfortable starting now with Google + since almost everybody but the early-adopter stars are just getting up to speed and learning about it, building their circles from scratch. For those already active on the other sites, it remains to be seen how much Google+ displaces them. Personally, I expect to be a tad less active on Twitter and I was never hyperactive on Facebook to begin with.

Hope to see many readers of this blog over at Google +, in whatever circle makes sense.

And enjoy the rest of this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend!

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