The 6 steps to Financial Independence

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L to R: Ed Rempel, Jon Chevreau, Mike Drak

By Ed Rempel, CPA, CFP

What is financial independence? How do you get there?

Financial independence means work is optional. You have enough money to live the way you want without having to earn money.

When you get there, life changes. You have freedom. You can do only what you enjoy or find meaningful.

If you don’t like your job or your boss, just quit. Your life is full of options. You can make the most of your own life.

When you get there, you can have a quiet confidence. You are financially secure.

Your plan should start with understanding your inner motivation and defining specifically the lifestyle you want to have once you are financially independent. It is your opportunity to determine your future.

Becoming financially independent requires planning and effort, but it is worthwhile to live a more fulfilling life. “It’s not about the money. It’s about your life.”

“Real freedom is financial freedom.” When is your Findependence Day?

Achieving financial independence is a very broad topic. Writing nearly 1,000 comprehensive, professional financial plans specifically for real Canadians has given me a deep insight into what really works.

Seminar Wednesday in Toronto

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Burn Your Mortgage: The simple, powerful path to Financial Freedom

BurnMortgageFrontCover_150RGBBy Sean Cooper

Five years ago I read Jonathan Chevreau’s financial novel, Findependence Day, and it changed my life forever.

One of the central themes of the book is that the foundation of Financial Independence is a paid-for home. I wasn’t a fan of six figures of mortgage debt hanging over my head for the next 30 years, so I aimed to pay off my mortgage as quickly as possible.

A little over a year ago I reached my goal of “Findependence” when I burned my mortgage – literally. I paid off my home in Toronto in just three years by age 30. Thanks to a stroke of luck and good timing, the story went viral, making headlines around the world from the U.K. to Australia. I received hundreds of email from people congratulating me and wanting to follow in my footsteps.

This inspired to me write my new book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for CanadiansWith home prices skyrocketing in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, many feel like  the dream of homeownership is out of reach. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. I may have paid off my mortgage in three years, but that doesn’t mean you have to. There are simple yet effective lifestyle changes that anyone — from new buyers to experienced homeowners — can make to pay down their mortgage sooner.

Some people argue it doesn’t make sense to pay down your mortgage early with interest rates near record lows. I see it differently. Instead of using low interest rates as an excuse to pile on more debt, use them as an opportunity to pay down the single biggest debt of your lifetime: your mortgage.

Here’s an excerpt from my book that looks at why you’re most likely better off paying down your mortgage instead of investing.

Why pay down your Mortgage when you can come out ahead Investing?

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ChangeRangers’ Mark Venning on Findependence & Victory Lap Retirement

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Mark Venning of ChangeRangers.com

By Mark Venning, ChangeRangers.com

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

“We’re on a bit of a crusade to change the way our society thinks about retirement.” — Jonathan Chevreau & Mike Drak

Mike Drak and Jonathan Chevreau, co-authors of Victory Lap Retirement (published, October 2016) are not the first to head out on this crusade. Apart from the material on the larger subject of aging and longevity, in my library I must have at least 19 books, in addition to the stacks of reports, studies and new models on the subject of Retirement.

Over the twenty years in the career services industry, where I worked directly with business executives in their later life transitions – leaving the corporate crow’s nest, as I call it, I can appreciate where Mike and Jonathan are coming from in their take on this. I have produced three retirement programs since 2001, and in the process suffered from metaphor madness, developing novel ways of reframing the concept of retirement and our later life journey.

However, this Drak & Chevreau volume is a welcomed new addition to this crusade. The book, by way of its novelty, weaves the conversation from the threads of a concept called Findependence, as the cornerstone of a Victory Lap Retirement.  So here we go. Rather than a traditional book review, here in this blog post, I present views of the authors as shared through interview questions with them in late October.

Authors Interview

Mark’s Q: Your co-authored book, early on, takes a shot across the bow at the “financial media & financial services industries” in the way they persist to push “Retirement” as if it were some final destination. (There seems little shift between the 1970’s London Life’s Freedom 55, to Prudential’s 2016 Race for Retirement campaigns for example.) What one new key message should marketers take from reading Victory Lap that could become a differentiator in their marketing?

Mike: The industry is using the same commercials that they used 40 years ago. The only difference is that they are now in color. The world of retirement has changed significantly over the years and most people cannot afford nor do they want to live the lifestyle portrayed in their commercials.

Banks assume more money equals better retirement, which is wrong thinking. Banks are good with the investment piece but they need to become more involved with the lifestyle piece. How can you ever know if you have enough if you do not have a firm handle on what type of retirement lifestyle you want in retirement and what that lifestyle will cost?

Mark’s Q: At one point in Chapter 3, you make the point that: “Compounding the problem is the lack of financial education our children receive in school.” You also say in Chapter 4 that the importance of financial independence is a prerequisite to the new stage of life you call “Victory Lap Retirement.”  Let’s play here. What do you think about an opportunity for you to design/deliver a “Findependence” course relatable to high school teenagers that didn’t use the word Retirement? What then would the main message sound like to them? Read more

Sheryl Smokin interview with Mike Drak on Victory Lap Retirement

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Jon Chevreau and Mike Drak (with beard) at Zoomer Show with Victory Lap Retirement and prequel Findependence Day

By Sheryl Smolkin

Today I’m interviewing Michael Drak for savewithspp.com.  He is an author, blogger and speaker based in Toronto and co-author of Victory Lap Retirement with Financial Independence Hub CFO Jonathan Chevreau. Thank you for joining me today, Michael.

Mike: Thank you Sheryl.

Q: First of all tell me, what made you decide to write this book?

A: The stress at work was affecting my health, and I was reminded of this each morning as I took my blood pressure pill. I began to look into the possibility of retiring and got my hands on every retirement book that I could. I found out that most of them were just filled with numbers and rules of thumb about how much money I would need in order to retire. None of them really told me anything about what I might actually do in retirement. I think Victory Lap Retirement fills that gap.

Q: What exactly does the phrase “Victory Lap Retirement” mean to you? How does it differ from full stop retirement?

A: To me Victory Lap Retirement means freedom. It’s freedom to do what I want to do when I want to do it. In contrast, full stop retirement means pulling back — disengaging, sitting on the sidelines and becoming a spectator. It wouldn’t work for me at this point in my life because I still have a lot of game left in me.

Q: Is Victory Lap Retirement essentially a synonym for an encore career or an encore job?

A: No, not really, because Victory Lap Retirement is all about lifestyle design. The goal is to maximize the quality of your remaining years by creating a low stress, fulfilling lifestyle based on your own unique needs and values. An encore career is really work either paid or unpaid. But it can be an important component of the victory lap lifestyle. Part of my own victory lap contains a component of paid work, which I view as my fun money to fund new experiences for me and my family.

Q: Your coauthor Jonathan Chevreau coined the expression “findependence,” which is a mash up of the word “financial” and “independence.” Why is findependence the cornerstone and prerequisite to victory lap retirement?

A: Having financial freedom is what allows you work and live on your own terms. In other words, you can do what you want to do with your time and energy, not what someone else on whom you are financially dependent says you have to do. In short, “findependence” equals personal freedom and freedom is what life is all about in the end.

Q: How can people calculate how much they’ll need to be findependent and then reach that objective? Read more

The Great Retirement Con Game

many water bottles on blue backgroundBy Michael Drak

I don’t like to admit it, but over the years and due to circumstances largely beyond my control, I have turned into a skeptic.

I wasn’t born that way, but who here can blame me for turning into one with all the crazy stuff going on in this world? Today people seem to say anything they want. They just make stuff up. If you want proof of this, just watch the race for the presidency in the US. Enough said.

I discovered I was a skeptic one day while drinking bottled water. I used to get clean drinking water at several places in or outside my house. I just had to pick up the hose and there it was, as much as I wanted and best of all, it was free. I think we can all agree that when healthy things are free that’s a pretty rare and good thing, especially these days.

But things changed after I married the Contessa and became “sophisticated.” Water was no longer free and I began a new routine of driving to the grocery store to buy bottled water. It didn’t stop there, because I now drink a particular brand of water called “Smart Water,” probably not a very smart thing to do as it costs more than regular bottled water.

Have you read about what’s inside your bottle of water? The nutrition label is all zeros, because there’s nothing in it besides water.

It’s incredible how advertisers have been able to convince us to start drinking bottled water when we all have free clean water to drink at home. I would love to meet the person who came up with the idea that we need to drink eight 8-ounce bottles of water a day in order to stay healthy.

In North America bottled water is a $170 billion dollar industry. I don’t know where all this bottled water is coming from, but I can’t get this image out of my head of a couple of people sitting in a bathtub somewhere filling up water bottles. That’s what being skeptical does to you.

Beware The Spin Doctors

All joking aside, it’s important to understand advertisers have over the years developed the ability to put a spell over us. They can make us believe something is good for us when it really isn’t, as with bottled water, or even when that thing is harmful. A good example is how they used to manipulated us into accepting cigarette smoking was safe, cool and even sexy. Even now I cringe when I think about it.

Back in the day, cigarette companies were worried about how the growing health concerns over smoking would negatively affect sales. How they duped the public into thinking cigarette smoking was safe is just incredible, if not criminal. The spin doctors knew people trusted their doctors and would follow their advice. They began to use medical research and physicians to convince the public that cigarette smoking was not harmful. They advertised that cigarettes were “physician tested” and “approved.”

One of the most famous campaigns was the “more doctors” campaign for Camel cigarettes. It stated that more doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette. It made cigarette smoking seem safe, which it wasn’t. The reason they could truthfully say that most doctors smoked Camels is that the company was giving away free camels to all the doctors who smoked.

You see more and more examples of this type of manipulation every day. Is fracking really safe for the environment? Weapons of mass destruction anyone?

Remember, everything is created for a reason

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