Book Review: The Defining Decade

41UYuubxN8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_By Helen Chevreau

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

Review: How NOT to Move Back in with Your Parents

51UopHxeZL._SX331_BO1204203200_By Helen Chevreau

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?

If any of this sounds plausible, I would seriously consider reading this wonderful book called How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents – The Young Person’s Guide to Financial Empowerment by Globe and Mail personal finance columnist Rob Carrick. I don’t want to be dramatic and say it will be your new finance bible, but it’s definitely a book you’re going to be referencing time and time again throughout those first few post-graduate years.

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

chapman1One 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.

HelenAbroadHelen 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. 

 

What Millennials can learn from the Boomers’ reinvention of Retirement

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L to R for the Digital Citizen Show: Hugh Reilly, Norman Evans, Jon Chevreau

By Kollin Lore

We are edging nearer to 2031, the year when all Baby Boomers will be age 65 and above, and most will at least be contemplating some form of Retirement or Semi-Retirement.

It will also be a time when the millennials will have pretty much all grown up and taken over the workforce.

Next month Jonathan Chevreau and Mike Drak’s Victory Lap Retirement will be published, a perfect time considering the age we are headed towards. However, though the book concerns the older generation, there is much to learn for millennials too.

Earlier in July, Chevreau discussed his upcoming book on Digital Citizen’s ThatChannel with creative director, Norman Evans, Laura Tyson, and host, Hugh Reilly. Click on the highlighted link to access the YouTube video: Get Ready to Earn Your “Playcheque.”

“The Boomers have reinvented every stage in life they have gone through,” said Chevreau. “Now they are going to reinvent retirement, by starting with the word ‘retirement’ because they are not ready to stop … That’s why Mike and I created the phrase Victory Lap.”

This titular ‘Victory Lap’ concerns finding that balance between stress and boredom following retirement. It means staying active and can include anything from travelling the world, to part time jobs, to volunteering to more time with family.

Of the many activities in which to partake during the Victory Lap, volunteering is an especially valuable past time to consider. Read more

Merely leaving the nest is NOT my idea of Financial Independence

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Is the little bird kicked out of the nest truly “Findependent?”

 

My latest blog for MoneySense posted today carries the curious headline that most Millennials expect to achieve “financial independence” by age 27. I put “air quotes” around the phrase financial independence because of course it’s nonsense that merely leaving the nest and putting fewer demands on the Bank of Mum and Dad constitutes true financial independence.

Keep in mind that the research firm cited in the piece seems to use quite a different definition of Financial Independence than the one used at this site or as formally defined at Wikipedia. For research firm yconic, it seems financial independence means merely leaving the nest and landing a job that pays at least the monthly rent: they are  merely “financially independent” of mum and dad.

Even with that loose definition, only 56% of older millennials (aged 30 to 33) say they have “achieved financial independence.”

With these savings rates, true Findependence for many millennials is a pipe dream

It’s just as well they’re using such a loose definition because the way the younger generation spends, it’s going to be a long long time before they achieve the kind of financial independence this blog describes.

To sum up the difference, I’d say “our kind” of Financial Independence is being able to stay afloat financially without the traditional source of single income known as “a job” or full-time employment. It’s quite a leap to go from moving out of the parental nest to being able to survive with neither parents nor an employer to keep those regular financial injections into your bank account.

Far from being findependent, almost half the millennials surveyed (46%) admitted “saving money is a struggle” even if they are able to afford to pay the bills. A third say they are living paycheque to paycheque and are barely making ends meet. Fully 43% still rely on their parents for financial assistance, including 37% who look for help paying their student loans off. Does that sound like “our” kind of financial independence?

Non-saving millennials should find a Government job with a DB pension and stay there

I hate to break it to the non-savers but if they don’t start saving soon, they’ll never be able to achieve true financial independence. They had better be prepared to work until age 67 and be able to live on Social Security (in the US) or on the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and possibly the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), or find a good Defined Benefit pension plan somewhere and hang on to the job for three or four decades.

If there’s hope for them, it’s in the finding that most millennials hope to buy a home at some point. I like that because I always say the foundation of financial independence (our kind, that is) is a paid-for home. But even among those who already own a home, 32% got parental help rustling up the down payment. Among those who don’t, a quarter of them (24%) expect their parents to help them with the down payment.

Some millennials do have their act together

I don’t mean to disparage millennials’ aspirations for Financial Independence altogether. Read on our sister site how two millennials aim to be mortgage and debt free in their early 30s. Both of them know all about frugality, saving and deferring instant gratification. Of course they both read the book featured on this web site!

I also suggest reading a guest blog posted on our sister site earlier this week on why millennials should be planning NOT for retirement, but for Financial Independence. The true kind, that is!

Some Christmas book suggestions

rob_carrickparents12Parents who have yet to kick the little birdies out of the nest might consider giving them a hint about what true Financial Independence entails by investing US$2.99 or C$3.37 in either of these e-books. Might make a great stocking stuffer! (Just gift the e-book via Amazon and maybe insert in the stocking a card telling them to check their Kindle).

I suggest too that millennials get a copy of Rob Carrick’s book, How Not to Move Back In With Your Parents. As we speak, my own daughter is reading it.

 

 

A young investor well on the road to Findependence

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Saxon Funk and wife Hailey.

I always enjoy chatting with readers of my blogs, columns and books. The other day I had an especially enjoyable dialogue with a 28 year old Winnipeg-based real estate investor named Saxon Funk. Saxon had bought the Canadian edition of Findependence Day and after a few emails introduced himself on the phone by noting he was the same age the protagonist in the book — Jamie — was when he embarked on the 22-year voyage to financial independence described in the novel.

After graduating from high school, Saxon tried door-to-door selling and selling insurance. He discovered day trading and foreign exchange trading in his early 20s but despite some success, learned that the activity was just as apt to leave him broke. Ultimately, real estate became his preferred road to financial freedom.

3-month mini-vacation in Asia

What really got my attention was the fact he had read a book featured in this blog earlier this summer: Timothy Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Workweek. Not because of my blog, I might add: Saxon read the book three years ago and actually enjoyed a three-month “mini-retirement” in Asia last year, in company with his wife.

Saxon works from home although he is still a salaried employee with one of the telecommunications giants based in the west. But he has a firm plan for achieving financial independence through various passive streams of income. Part of his search included a perusal of Ferriss’s material and Robert  Kyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad, as well as this site.

Saxon is attempting to build his passive investment income through vehicles like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and actively managed reasonably priced mutual funds from Mawer Investment Management. But his real play for findependence comes through real estate. He started while being frustrated in a previous job and reading various books about financial freedom. He was attracted to real estate when he discovered he could buy properties at 10% down, and he caught the Winnipeg real estate cycle at just the right time. Some properties in the city have doubled and tripled since he began buying properties.

Real estate is his main path to Findependence

He’s not a member of the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) or its rivals but Saxon could be the poster boy for any of those educational outfits. He certainly speaks their language, speaking of the 14 “doors” he owned at one point, before selling one of his buildings (a triplex) at a tidy profit. He’s now at eight doors, as he wants the stability of lower levels of debt servicing. Similar to Jamie and Sheena in the novel, he and his wife live in one of the units of the building he still owns, renting out the rest.

He’s not implemented too much of the Ferriss material, other than absorbing the power of outsourcing and technology. So he has a 1 800 number he gives to tenants and when he’s out of the country can manage his properties by outsourcing to property managers closer to home. He’s not yet down to a four-hour workweek (neither am I!) but he does have a vision of living in places like Thailand, where you can get by comfortably on a Canadian income of $1,500 a month.

He doesn’t consider himself findependent yet, but notes that if he were 65 (or 67), the combination of being debt-free, rental income and the usual government sources of retirement income (CPP, OAS), he would be able to enjoy the kind of lifestyle championed by Ferriss et al.

“I could be. We would still have food on table. I don’t worry about getting fired or let go; the main property we live in covers all our bills and puts money in our pocket. If I were 65 and qualified for CPP and OAS,  yes we would be more than free but since we still have another 40 years to go; most of our money goes to giving, investing and trips. So we’re at the point where our money is all play money.”

Despite being a member of the generation that has grown up with the Internet, Saxon views himself as “an old soul” who is not totally sold by the promises of web-based freedom. He does have the beginnings of a website at www.saxonfunk.com but has yet to pursue the blogging that would be part of it.

Another millennial’s dream of Findependence

For another story of a millennial inspired by Findependence Day, read about Sean Cooper’s plan to be findependent, or at least mortgage free, by age 31. You can find it here at the new Financial Independence Hub (which was launched a week ago). And you can read a new post there about how there seems to be a trend developing here.