Will the Liberal landslide delay your Findependence Day?

The “Hair” Apparent? National Post.com

The Financial Post provides my take on last night’s Liberal landslide, as it pertains to Financial Independence in this blog that just was published online: So long $10,000 TFSA, and other personal finance fallout from the federal election.

The gist is that we’ll likely lose the $10,000 annual contribution TFSA limits that were only hiked earlier this year but as aging boomers move into semi-retirement or full retirement, it’s likely they’ll fall into the middle tax bracket where the Liberals’ 1.5 percentage point cut should provide several hundreds of dollars of annual tax savings. There are also significant implications for an expanded Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and I expect that Ontario will now no longer see a need for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan or ORPP.

Plenty of other links via my Twitter feed (@JonChevreau), which can also be viewed under the new “Social” tab over at the Hub.

UPDATE Oct 21. See the updated version of this blog at sister site Financial Independence Hub, with links to various Financial Post stories by me, by Jamie Golombek on tax bracket changes, Garry Marr on lost TFSA limits, and Fred Vettese on an expanded CPP and probable elimination of the ORPP.

Millennial is mortgage free at 31. Next goal: Findependence Day by 35


Sean Cooper in front of his paid-for home.

My latest MoneySense blog features 30-year old millennial and financial writer Sean Cooper, who is having a mortgage-burning party tonight to celebrate his paying off his mortgage in just three years. See Mortgage free by 31.

In an early guest blog here at the Hub, Cooper credited my financial novel, Findependence Day, with inspiring him to seek early financial independence himself. See also a second millennial’s story at Two millennials well on the way to achieving early Financial Independence.

The book argues in particular that “the foundation of financial independence is a paid-for house.”

Cooper apparently took this message to heart because. He doesn’t even turn 31 for a few more months and has set his next goal to achieve a net worth of $1 million within four years. Well done, Sean, may you serve as an inspiration to your generation!

Click on the above link at MoneySense to find the full Q&A I conducted with Sean or see below.

Email Q&A with “Findependent” Sean Cooper

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How “Findependence” differs from “Retirement”

By Jonathan Chevreau, Financial Independence Hub


Road signs to savings and financial independenceHaving planted a stake firmly in the camp of Financial Independence, I’m often asked exactly how the phrase Findependence is different from Retirement.

There are a lot of distinctions between the terms, many of them subtle ones. I often say that Financial Independence means working because you want to, rather than because you have to financially speaking. In the latter case, the situation is akin to the bumper sticker that says “I owe, I owe so off to work I go.”

I may also say that Findependence (I’ll use the contraction of Financial Independence here now) often occurs years if not decades before traditional retirement. There are several Early Retirement practitioners running websites about how they achieved Financial Independence in their 30s or 40s, although they usually add that they continue to “work” in the sense of doing some work for money. That “work” will typically be as an independent supplier rather than an employee and may consist of writing books, running web sites and perhaps publicly speaking. They call this “Early Retirement” but I’d argue the better term is “Early Financial Independence.”

You can find more on this topic by simply googling the term “Financial Independence vs. Retirement.” You’ll find several results, including a couple of articles by me that have appeared in various web sites both Canada and the United States.

Consider this piece from FI Journey entitled Financial Independence vs Early Retirement: What’s the Difference? Here’s how the writer sums it up: “Financial independence is setting an annual income goal for yourself, and putting your money to work in such a way that you can live off the proceeds from your investments without ever reducing your retirement account. If you started your ‘retirement’ with a million dollars in the bank, the idea is that you would die with a million dollars in the bank, whether that was 5 years or 50 years later.”

Working even if you don’t need to do so

Then there’s an article from a year ago featuring a dialogue between two Early Retirement gurus, J.D. Roth of the Get Rich Slowly blog and the blogger known as Mr. Money Mustache: Coming to terms: retirement vs. financial independence. There, Roth notes that both bloggers have accumulated nest eggs that would allow them “never to work again” yet “both of us have elected to continue doing work for money.” Even so, they still consider themselves “retired.”

Mr. Money Mustache, aka “Pete”, replied that only certain personality types will sit around doing nothing in retirement but for him, retirement “just means you’re free to do what you really want to do.”

Roth said they both think it’s possible to call oneself “truly retired” even if they continue to work for money but added that not everyone agrees. One reader maintained that “retiring is stopping doing work for pay.” Then Roth segued to an excerpt from his one-year Get Rich Slowly Course that outlines four types of retirement: traditional “full-stop” retirement at 65 or so, Early Retirement that can occur between 30 and 50, Semi-Retirement and finally a series of “Mini Retirements” that can be distributed at various points of a long career of work.

Let’s retire the loaded word Retirement

Roth concludes much as I would, saying that because Retirement is a loaded word, he prefers to use the term Financial Independence, which he says “is essentially the same idea but without the baggage.” He also talks about something we’ve mentioned in this blog before: that there are degrees of Financial Independence, ranging from dependency on parents or employers, to dependency on creditors, to freedom from debt, to what I’ve called “barebones” Findependence and finally “complete” financial independence. He decides that once you’ve saved enough to fund 25 years of your current lifestyle, you’ve achieved financial freedom.

Jonathan Chevreau is the author of Findependence Day and runs the Financial Independence Hub. This article originally appeared at MoneySense.ca under the title How ‘findependence’ differs from retirement.









Why Work probably won’t end after your Findependence Day


Graphic courtesy of Challenge Factory

By Jonathan Chevreau

On Wednesday, the Financial Post ran an online column of mine it titled Life After Retirement: Your Working Career Probably Isn’t Over Yet — Welcome to the Encore Act.

Regular readers will know that if I had my druthers, the headline would read more like the one we’ve displayed above: “Why Work probably won’t end after your Findependence Day.” (that is, the day you achieve Financial Independence).

I don’t view the terms Retirement and Financial Independence as interchangeable. By definition, Retirement (or at any rate, traditional full-stop Retirement funded with a generous Defined Benefit pension) means no longer working for money. Financial Independence (aka Findependence), on the other hand, can occur years and even decades before traditional Retirement and so seldom means the end of productive work.

This very web site — as well as the now six-m0nth-old sister site, the Financial Independence Hub — is dedicated to clarifying this distinction. And of course the Hub also constitutes a big element of my own personal Encore Act: next Tuesday will be the one-year anniversary of my own Findependence Day. In my case, I define that as no longer working as an employee of a giant corporation or government entity, and having the financial resources to work if I choose to, and not if I don’t.

How to find your Encore Career

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Global study finds 15% of Canadians plan never to fully retire but many will embrace semi-retirement

nonameA global study on retirement finds 15% of Canadian workers don’t expect to ever fully retire, but many plan to downshift gradually into semi-retirement.

Compared to 14 other countries surveyed, Canadians do well in reaching their later-in-life goals, even if they have to spend all their wealth and leave less to their children.

HSBC’s latest global report — The Future of Retirement, Choices for later life – surveyed 16,000 working-age and retired people, including 1,000 Canadians.

When asked about their attitude towards spending and saving, 27% of working-age Canadians say “spend all your money and let your children create their own wealth.”

The study also found Canadian retirees are much more likely to reach their later-in-life goals than some of their counterparts in other countries. 44% of Canadian retirees have reached “at least one of their retirement hopes and aspirations,” well above the global average of 24).

Mixed sentiments on semi-retirement

Canadian retirees are among the most likely to feel forced into semi-retirement, but almost half of those still in the workforce are planning for it. Only 17% of today’s fully-retired Canadians say they semi-retired first, versus 45% of working-age respondents who say they plan to semi-retire before taking the traditional full-stop retirement.

While semi-retirement can be forced on some as employers look to downsize older more expensive workers, many full-time workers actually aspire to semi-retirement. 15% of Canadians who are retired say they made the decision to semi-retire due to a lack of employment opportunities later in life. Only Australian retirees (17%) reported a lack of job prospects in greater numbers than Canadians, and respondents from both countries were well above the global average (10%).

“This latest research suggests that older Canadians and those approaching retirement age may also be feeling the pinch of underemployment at time when saving for the future is often at its most crucial,” said Betty Miao, Executive Vice President and Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Bank Canada, via a press release distributed Wednesday (April 29).

Semi-retirement can also be forced on mid-career workers

Even among younger workers, 10% of survey participants between the ages of 45 and 54 admit their shift into semi-retirement wasn’t their personal choice. HSBC suggests that in the post-downturn job market, many experienced workers are being overlooked for full-time positions. In fact, half of all semi-retired respondents globally say they changed careers when they stopped full-time work. HSBC says some of these will be high achievers who reached their career aspirations and financial goals before retirement, but the figures “also point to a pool of wasted potential among experienced employees.”

The research also shows a major shift in how Canadians plan to retire in the future. While only 17% of those now fully retired say they semi-retired first, 45% of working-age respondents plan to semi-retire before taking full retirement. Around the world, an average 26% of working-age people plan to semi-retire at some point.

Miao says that with expected shortages of skilled labour in some sectors and professions “career opportunities look bright for at least some of those planning to work into their golden years.”

The full global and Canadian retirement survey reports and online retirement planning tool are available online here.

The Apple Watch and Findependence

Smart watch isolated with icons on white background. Vector illustration.My friend the inimitable Norman Rothery posted a blog at MoneySense.ca Thursday that was inspired by a Twitter exchange last weekend: the post is titled Apple Watch Delays Findependence.

On Twitter, I had publicly disclosed that I had pre-ordered the new Apple Watch, even though delivery is several weeks away. Norm made a query about the possible impact on Findependence, then followed up in his blog by suggesting that young people buying these gadgets might seriously be delaying the arrival of their Findependence Day (that is, the day they reach Financial Independence) by 17 days for the cheapest model and for as much as two years for the expensive glitzy gold model.

I have no great problem with the blog, a typically contrarian piece by a great value investor: it’s all grist for the mill, as they say and I’m happy to see an influential writer like Norm use the term Findependence. Even so, let me assure readers out there who may have fancied me to be a frugal kind of guy that I quite definitely did NOT purchase the expensive gold-banded version. For the curious, I picked one of the simple entry-level models with a black band and the smaller watch-face, roughly the model illustrated above.

I entirely agree with Norman that the first generation of technology tends to have kinks and it’s never a bad idea to wait for a few releases and let the pioneers suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous technology fortune.

Three reasons why I pre-ordered

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Are you ready for The Big Shift?

bigshiftIf you’re intrigued by the kind of content we publish here and on our sister site, you should be fascinated by The Big Shift, a book published originally in 2011 by Marc Freedman.

The subtitle tells it all: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife. Freedman is a “social entrepreneur” who founded a firm called Civic Ventures (now Encore.org), and previously published (in 2007) a book called Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life. We’ll review that in the next few weeks.

Both books have crystallized my thinking of what our sister site is all about, so much so that we have renamed the fifth of its six major blog categories Encore Acts, (from the previous Business Ownership). As we noted Saturday in the Hub’s new weekly wrap, an Encore Act may or may not include entrepreneurship but there are many Encore Acts that may not involve launching a new business.

The Longevity Bonus: centenarians galore? Read more

Maybe you just THINK you want to retire?

senior gentleman working on laptop outdoors

My latest MoneySense blog has been posted, titled Maybe you just think you want to retire?

The word “think” needs to be emphasized, since the point is that I’m not so sure baby boomers really want to retire anymore, at least not in their 50s or early 60s. I actually had written this particular blog before reading and reviewing some books about Encore Careers and Second Acts, such as last week’s review of Unretirement.

Of course, this website and sister site Financial Independence Hub are dedicated to the proposition that there is a difference between traditional “full-stop” retirement and Financial Independence, or “Findependence.” To us, Findependence sets the stage for one’s true calling in life, which is why the six blog sections over at the Hub now include one called Encore Acts. From where I sit, it’s a lot easier to launch an Encore Act once you have a modicum of Financial Independence established.

For the full blog, click the blue link above.

For archival purposes and the convenience of one-stop shopping, you can also find the original blog below.

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Baby Boomers embrace Unretirement

BN-ER243_bkrvun_GV_20140923135029Unretirement is a concept not unlike Findependence or Financial Independence; it’s also the title of a recently published book by Chris Farrell, Bloomberg Businessweek columnist and senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s syndicated radio show, Marketplace.

I’ve also seen the term Unretirement used by Sun Life Financial in Canada but that seems to be more a marketing term the company uses to promote its surveys on traditional retirement. That survey has been going for six years now, which certainly predates the publication of Farrell’s Unretirement (it was published in 2014 by New York-based Bloomsbury Publishing plc).

The theme of the book is encapsulated in the title of the opening chapter: Work Long and Prosper. As we’ve noted in the Aging & Longevity section of our sister site, the Financial Independence Hub, advances in life expectancy suggests the Baby Boomers and succeeding generations may work long past the traditional retirement age of 65.

True, many boomers may no longer be employed by giant corporations — either because they choose to leave or are involuntarily parted from such employment — but Farrell sees most of them becoming free agents of some sort: finding new “encore” careers, starting new businesses or contracting their services back to former employers while adding other clients, volunteering and philanthropy, among other activities.

Five pitfalls related to Longevity Read more

Is “Extreme Working” as unbalanced as Extreme Early Retirement?

My latest MoneySense blog is on the pros and cons of Extreme Early Retirement, or its opposite, which one reader dubbed “Extreme Working.”  It was in response to my recent column in the magazine about extended longevity, a theme we regularly explore here at the Financial Independence Hub’s “Longevity & Aging” section.

David Headshot small2
David Davidson

As mentioned in the MoneySense version of the blog, one of the readers highlighted — Oakville-based David Davidson — also sent along a photograph of himself, which we’re running here (on the left).

For continuity and archiving purposes, here’s the original version of the blog:

By Jonathan Chevreau

My recent column on planning for longevity attracted some good counterpoints from readers. In it, I suggested that with life expectancy rates steadily on the rise, people shouldn’t get too hung up with early retirement.

However, I recognize that my own preference to “just keep working” (at least for the time-being) is not necessarily shared by everyone.

There’s more to life than working

Click to the comments section of the story, and you can see one reader was concerned “the author can’t think of anything they would rather do with their time then work.” He or she cites such non-paid activities as volunteering, cultural activities, and visiting friends and family:

“Those activities would be mentally and socially stimulating, and wouldn’t require that I have to be somewhere at any given moment. I would be in charge of when and how often I participated.”

Well sure, but I’d argue much of that can be accomplished on nights and weekends. I don’t see paid work and other rewarding activities as being mutually exclusive. I certainly can see plenty of things I’d love to do that don’t result in attaching an invoice. One reason for my focus on “Findependence” has been my wish to pursue longer-term creative projects.

I’ve also argued that as the Boomers shift gradually into semi-retirement, they can find a more comfortable balance of paid work and those rewarding alternative activities. Several years ago, my wife went down to a four-day work week, precisely so she could visit her aging parents in the country, usually on Fridays. Both have since passed away and she has returned to a five-day week but the point remains. Those who are really well to do and who have an extensive network of friends and family can go to a three-day week if necessary, or do what one self-employed colleague of mine does: she works from home from 8 am to 2 pm, then takes the rest of the day off for all these other activities.

45 years of working is enough

While it wasn’t posted as an online comment, I also received an email from an Oakville reader happy to be identified by his real name (and supplied the above photo): David Davidson is 62 (as I will be in a few months) and has been working full-time since he was 17.

“After 45 years I think I’ll stop working and enjoy the fruits of my labour before it’s too late … I do get exasperated by all the ‘keep working and never spend your money’ retirement articles I see these days”

While Davidson agrees with my skepticism about “extreme early retirement” he draws the line at planning to work into advanced old age and having to save enough money to last beyond 100 years of age:

“That seems like ‘extreme working’ to me and a way to ensure the financial management business hangs on to my money as long as possible.”

Davidson says he has “scrimped and saved all my life to pay off the house, and put my children through university debt free, all while maxing out both my and my wife’s RRSPs and TFSAs.  This was not easy and involved a lot of long hours and sacrifice from everyone.”

Now that they are totally debt-free and the children launched, the couple have more than $1 million in combined registered savings “and we intend to spend it.” (She has a small indexed pension; he does not.)

Delaying CPP until age 70

As a hedge against extended longevity, they won’t take CPP until age 70, but it has “long been my plan to have all the savings spent by our mid-80s.  After that, if we need money, we’ll have the house to sell (it’ll probably be too much for us to look after by then anyway) and we can rent an apartment or whatever.”

Davidson says his parents and grandparents had minimal expenses once they passed age 80:

“My father and his wife are both 89, in good health until recently, and don’t spend all their CPP & OAS (neither has a pension); my mother and my wife’s mother were the same.  My wife’s father died at 68 so there is a downside to planning to live a long time – you might not make it.”

Well, yes, we all realize that. As a friend of mine says, “Live every day as if it were your last, because one day it will be.”

Enjoy the good early years of Retirement

Davidson sensibly counsels enjoying the “really good early years of retirement, before infirmities and just plain exhaustion set in.” He describes my hail-and-hearty 98-year-old friend Meta who still works part-time as “an outlier: the reality is most of us aren’t like that.  My father rode his motorcycle until he was 88 so he’s been as healthy and active as anyone could wish for.  This year at 89 he has inoperable cancer and most would say he’s had a good long life.”

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