Make & Save: The importance of actionable Personal Finance habits

coins-currency-investment-insurance-128867By Hellen McAdams

Special to FindependenceDay.com

When it comes to actionable personal finance habits, earning more money and saving a good portion of it are near the top of the list. Sadly though, before you can ascend the tower of wealth, many of us need to first dig out of the basement of debt.

Escape Debt in 5 years

Did you know the average American household has approximately $137,063 in debt? (all figures $US.) That’s too much debt. But what if you were to discover it’s possible for the average household to get out from under the thumb of that kind of debt in as little as five years?

There are several ways to do this. Loan consolidation is a practice whereby you reduce the complication of managing debt by combining everything together. If you have a bunch of little debts that individually compound separately from one another, one possible solution could be to take out a small loan, pay them off, then pay off the small loan in a single payment from then on.

There are online loans of this type which can, believe it or not, be secured online, if you’re considering such.

Still, this is just a debt transition; it doesn’t truly get rid of that which you owe: it merely reduces the complexity of paying a dozen little things off in tiny increments; like cellphones, furniture, and medical bills. A better way to get your debt paid off more quickly is to downsize.

Debt Relief Strategy

This is where you have to establish good financial habits. This hypothetical revolves around $3,000 a month in earnings from the primary breadwinner of the household. That comes to $36,000 a year before taxes. Now say you’ve got $137,000 in debt hanging over your head. You need to find a way to pay that off with the money you’ve got.

In five years, you will have made $180,000 through a job that pays $3,000 a month, or $36,000 annually. If you can reduce your annual budget to $8,600 a year, you can pay off the debt in five years: assuming, of course, that the $137,000 figure is an overall projection throughout the time, which includes accumulated interest.

But how is that possible with mortgages at $1,500 a month, gas at $3 or more a gallon, and rising food costs? Well, the first thing you might do is get rid of your mortgage. If you’ve got $70,000 paid in on a $250,000 house, you can sell the house and turn the majority of that $70,000 into paying off your $137,000 debt.

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How to reach your Victory Lap Retirement

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By Richard Eisenberg, Work Editor, Next Avenue.org

Special to FindependenceDay.com

Mike Drak and Jonathan Chevreau, authors of the new book, Victory Lap Retirement, are on a crusade to change the way society thinks about retirement. Their book is actually, as Drak says, “a retirement book about not retiring.”

A Victory Lap Retirement — Drak, 62, coined the term — means spending years combining work and leisure between the time you quit a full-time job and stop work entirely. In the book, the authors say a Victory Lap Retirement lets people change from a “surviving mentality” to a “thriving mentality.” The Toronto-based duo would know: They’re both taking Victory Laps right now.

Previously, Drak spent nearly 40 years working in commercial banking. He quit in 2014 to protect his health and personal well-being. Now, when he works, he  is a retirement coach, public speaker and writer (next up: a retirement transition guide). Chevreau, 64, is a veteran financial columnist, blogger and author of the book Findependence Day; I interviewed him for Next Avenue in 2013 about “findependence” — his term for having enough money so you can work because you want to, not because you have to. He still writes about personal finances, but on his schedule.

I recently spoke with Drak and Chevreau about how and why to have a Victory Lap Retirement. Highlights: Read more

Retirement STILL Rocks!

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By Heather Compton and Dennis Blas

Special to FindependenceDay.com

Since retiring in 2004, we’ve learned a thing or two.  Foremost, a rockin’ retirement requires more than a bucket list: it’s not a given, it’s a statement of intention. A satisfying retirement requires finding new ways to satisfy our needs and utilize the skills and talents that give us the greatest satisfaction. Like a working career, a retirement career unfolds, develops, progresses and changes as life circumstances unfold. This doesn’t mean some front-end planning won’t be useful. Our cornerstones for a rockin’ retirement include Lifestyle, Relationship and Finances.

Go-Go to Slow-Go to (sigh) … No-Go

Many of us will have a third act lasting 30 plus years and few will plan for the full-stop retirement of a previous generation.  All play and no work also makes Jack a very dull boy! We may think of retirement as one long time frame, but those who study aging divide it into three distinct phases: the go-go, slow-go and no-go years. Certain Victory Lap careers, travel destinations and budding interests must be pursued in the go-go years; others might wait until the slow-go. Either way, you’ll want to mind-bank lots of great life experiences to relive in the no-go years! Read more

R.I.P. Traditional Retirement

 

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By Brandon Hill

Special to FindependenceDay.com

Does the notion of grinding it out day in and day out for the next 40 years to experience the freedom of retirement scare you? Wouldn’t you rather strive to enjoy the journey along the way?

The good news is that the traditional concept of retirement is slowly dying.

With the elimination of most employer pension plans and the fact that humans are living longer than ever, we are forced to come up with a different take on how our parents/grandparents view retirement.

Today I’ll show you two different concepts that rethink our traditional retirement model and are gaining popularity amongst the next generation of workers.

Findependence

What’s Findependence? It’s a term coined by Jon Chevreau: author, former editor-in-chief of MoneySense Magazine and founder of the Findependence Hub, an online platform and community for curated content focusing on achieving Financial Independence. “Findependence” is simply a contraction of the phrase “Financial Independence.”

Financial Independence is the point at which you work because you want to, not because you have to. It’s the tipping point where you have the right level of savings and investments working for you to provide the income you need to live your ideal life.

Think about that. It sounds very similar to our definition of retirement and at the same time totally reframes the perception of what retirement should entail. Rather than focusing on when you can stop work forever, you now shift your mindset to creating enough passive income through investing so that you can pursue anything you want.

Charitable intentions, golfing every day, or continuing to work knowing you’re doing it because you love it. In my mind, this is true financial freedom, as it allows you to make decisions based on your interests, not your financial obligations. This is living A Life of Wealth.

Financial Independence is unique to everyone’s situation. Does $35,000 of annual passive income allow you to follow your dreams of travelling the world and starting that passion product you’ve always had on your to-do list?

If so, maybe you don’t have to work until you’re 65.

So how much do you need to reach Findependence? A great rule of thumb is The Rule of 25.

The Rule of 25 is simple. Based on historical stock market data, your money will never run out if you have 25x your required annual income invested.

Need $35,000 for your idea of Findependence? You will need $875,000 saved up.

Want $60,000 a year for the rest of your life? You will then need $1,500,000.

Note: This simplified model does not include social security, pensions, inflation or taxes. Also, by working part time doing something you love in your Findependence years, you reduce the strain on your portfolio and need much less saved. Read more

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

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