Oct 25: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

Major changes to the mortgage rules announced by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in early October have both existing homeowners and people planning to buy a home for the first time scratching their heads. They are wondering precisely what the changes are and how they will be personally impacted.

Here are some blogs and media articles that may answer some of their questions (and yours).

In his blog Dave the Mortgage Planner, Dave Larock presents a three- part look at the new mortgage reality:

Part 1 looks at changes effective October 17th.  Beginning on that date all insured mortgage applications will be underwritten using the Bank of Canada’s Mortgage Qualifying Rate (MQR). As of the date the blog was written  the MQR was set at 4.64%, which is about double what you would actually pay for a market five-year variable-rate mortgage, and that gap helps ensure that the borrowers most vulnerable to rate rises can afford higher payments when the time comes.

Part 2 covers additional rule changes that will take place November 30th. Until now, the rules for insuring low-ratio mortgages have been more lenient than those used for high-ratio mortgages, in recognition of the fact that low-ratio loans have more paid-in equity, which makes them inherently less risky. But after November 30, the qualifying rules used to underwrite portfolio-insured low-ratio loans will be the same as those that are used to underwrite insured high-ratio loans.

Part 3 explains why Dave believes these changes are necessary, and who the winners and losers are in the new world of mortgages. For example, he says Canadian home owners in hot markets, where property values are better protected when lending standards are raised and household debt accumulation slows are winners. However losers include high-ratio borrowers, who just saw the rate that lenders use to qualify them for a five-year fixed-rate (which most of them are choosing) more than double.

In a CTV News story, Meredith McLeod reports that until now, buyers with more than a 20% down payment opting for mortgage insurance have escaped stress testing. They were able to obtain low-ratio insurance sold through two private insurers, but backed by the federal government, subject to a 10% deductible. Starting Nov.30, new criteria for low-ratio insurance will take effect. To qualify, the mortgage’s amortization period must be 25 years or less, the purchase price be less than $1 million, the property has to be owner-occupied, and the buyer must have a credit score of 600 or more.

While the new mortgage rules respond to legitimate concerns about escalating home prices in the red-hot Toronto and Vancouver real estate markets, it is still unclear how they will impact smaller cities and towns in other provinces where prices are more stable, or in some cases even dropping. Todd Kristoff, a Regina mortgage broker told CBC there has already been a correction of roughly five percent over the last several years in Saskatchewan and therefore the changes are not necessarily needed in this province.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Tips from a millennial homeowner

By Sheryl Smolkin

Click here to listen
Click here to listen

Buying a first home used to be a rite of passage for young people in their 20s and 30s. However, even for many millennials with well-paying jobs, buying property in large cities like Toronto or Vancouver has become an elusive dream.

But in smaller centres across the country purchasing a residence is a more practical and affordable option. Nevertheless, even though the sticker price is lower, owning a house is still a big commitment with many potential pitfalls.

That’s why we decided to chat with Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s Network Technician Stephen Neiszner (age 29) about his first foray into the real estate market in his home town of Kindersley, Saskatchewan

Q: Stephen, Saskatchewan Pension Plan in Kindersley was your first full-time employment after you graduated from college and you’ve worked there ever since. Where did you live before you bought your apartment?
A: I lived in a rented condo across the street from the Saskatchewan Pension Plan office.

Q:  Why did you decide it was time to take the plunge?
A: I was looking on and off for about a year before I found my place. The thing that sparked it off was that the light in my bedroom was leaking and the landlord had no intention of fixing it.

Q:  Tell me about the property you bought and how much it cost.
A: I bought a 1,000 square foot, 2-bedroom condo in a four-plex, with a small yard for $155,000.

Q: How much did you put down on the $150,000 purchase price?
A: My down payment was 13% of the purchase price, which is about $20,000.

Q: How long did it take you to save up that $20,000?
A: I started saving as soon as I moved into Kindersley in 2008.

Q: How much are your monthly mortgage payments? Are there also monthly condo fees?
A: I make payments every two weeks so my monthly mortgage payments are about $620. There are no condo fees, but I put away $100 from each paycheck just in case of any unexpected expenses. I pay for my own utilities.

Q: Are there any common expenses for services like clearing driveways and care of the yard?
A: Each unit takes care of their own section of the yard. We all pitch in to clean the sidewalks as required.

Q: What percentage of your monthly take-home pay do you actually spend on the mortgage?
A: It’s 27%.

Q: Does that leave you with enough money to also save for retirement and for other things?
A: Yes. I put $50 into my RRSPs every paycheck, $200 into my TFSA, and the amount of $100 for taxes and building upkeep goes into a high interest savings account.

Q: Okay. I imagine you’re also invested in Saskatchewan Pension Plans.
A: I am.

Q: Did you opt for a fixed rate of interest or a floating rate on your mortgage?
A: I went with a variable interest rate.

Q: What are the term and amortization period for your mortgage?
A: My mortgage term is 25 years and amortization period is five years.

Q: Are there any prepayment provisions in the mortgage? Do you plan to make lump sum payments to reduce the principal over time?
A: Yes. I am able to pay back as much as 20% of my original mortgage payment each year. In the future, I think it will be possible to make extra payments, but right now I’m still trying to balance my budget.

Q: How long ago did you actually buy your condo?
A: I bought it in December 2015.

Q: Ah, so it’s your first year. Were there any surprises before or after closing? Any expenses you didn’t budget for?
A: I had a large amount in my TFSA that I was able to pull for my closing expenses. The one thing that really got me was the setup fees for the utilities that I wasn’t expecting, which were almost $500.

Q: Wow. What about telephone? Are you all cell?
A: I am all cell.

Q: Have you ever regretted your decision to purchase an apartment?
A: No, not really. I knew there would be challenges and growing pains. To offset some of the costs, I recently acquired a roommate.

Q: That’s interesting. What advice would you have for potential first-time homeowners in their 20s or 30s? What things should they consider before they make the jump?
A: Save. When you think you have enough money, save some more. Don’t rush into anything. I looked at 20 places before I found this one. Ask a lot of questions, not only to your real estate agent, but to your bank, the home inspector, people you know around town, your parents and friends. Just ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to use the RRSP first-time home buyer’s program. I withdrew $10,000 or half my down payment from my RRSP under this plan.  I have 15 years to pay back the interest free loan.

And also remember, budgeting isn’t just about your mortgage. You have to factor in utilities, vehicles, transportation, food, traveling and insurance. You’ll still want to take holidays, I’m sure. And I have to budget for a new water heater within the first year.

Q: That’s great. Thank you, Stephen. It was a pleasure to talk to you today. Enjoy your new home.
A: Thank you, Sheryl.

This is the edited version of the transcript of a podcast recorded in September 2016.

Saskatchewan Pension Plan employees trust 30 years of simplicity and security

Seeing what the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has done for its members is giving Debbie Dand confidence about her own retirement.

“I usually talk to people who are inquiring about retiring,” said Dand, who works as a retirement officer for the plan.

“I educate them the best I can as to what their options are with the plan so they can make the best decision about what to do with their retirement savings.”

She discusses those options on the phone with members, knowing in detail what the plan has done over the last 30 years, first as a member and then, as an employee.

“Since 1986, when the plan started, it has accumulated an average return of 8.1 per cent less administration fees, so it has been a very good plan.”

It’s not just the return history that has benefited members.

“Saskatchewan Pension Plan has very low management fees at around one per cent, which is very low if you look around at some of our competitors,” said Dand.

“(The competitors) fees could be quite a bit higher. Over the years, it makes a quite a difference in what you are going to make in the long run.”

Now, after working for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan for the last 26 years, Dand is looking ahead to her own retirement.

“I myself have been a member of the plan right from 1986. The accounts have grown very nicely,” said Dand.

Her co-worker, Melody Lamont, sees the plan having a solid future capable of taking caring of members in retirement.

“For anybody that’s a member, they have the opportunity to receive an annuity if they remain with the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, guaranteed for the balance of their life,” said Lamont.

“So we’re offering the members something that’s very simple to work with. It’s a fit for anybody who’s interested in obtaining a wonderful pension plan.”

That’s why she encouraged her husband and daughter to join the plan while Dand says her husband and four children are also members.

Canadians between the ages of 18 and 71 with room to make RRSP contributions are eligible to become members. Your Notice of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency will tell you what amount you are eligible to contribute each year. There is no minimum contribution amount and members have options about how they will make their contributions, including through online banking or directly from a bank account.

“I believe it’s something that’s there for the long term and that’s what’s very important for anyone who wants to look toward retirement and a good pension plan,” said Lamont.

Oct 17: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

Building on the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand word, in this edition of Best from the Blogosphere we direct you to video channels and specific personal finance videos you may want to follow regularly.

First of all, keep an eye on the series of videos from Saskatchewan Pension Plan, and in particular this one, which clarifies issues raised in a recent quiz posted on savewithspp.com. Other video blogs discuss how to become a member of SPP, how to start a company plan with SPP and why fees matter to your investments.

Money School with Preet Bannerjee tackles a whole range of topics including Employer Matching Retirement Contributions. Are you leaving money on the table?

Only buying a house is a bigger financial commitment than buying a car. The message in this humorous Get Smarter About Money video blog is that you have to look at the cost of ownership from operating costs, insurance, maintenance and financing to understand the big picture.

The Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick is featured in the “Carrick Talks Money” series of video blogs. If you can’t figure out whether or not your investment advisor is making money for you, take a look at Where can I find out how much I’ve made or lost since I opened my investment account?

And last but not least, Bridget Eastgaard from Money After Graduation discusses two ways to pay off debt in The Debt Avalanche vs The Debt Snowball. Find out which is the best approach for you!

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

How to spend less on Halloween

By Sheryl Smolkin

According to the Retail Council of Canada, Canadians annually spend upwards of $1 billion on Halloween-related products and services each year, with the average Canadian spending more per capita than the average American on various Halloween- related goods. In fact Canadians have become so enamored with Halloween that holiday-related spending is second only to Christmas.

So how can you spend less on Halloween without disappointing all the big and little ghosts and goblins that live with you or show up at your door? Here are some ideas:

  1. Buy later: Don’t buy Halloween candy when it hits the shelf in September. Chances are you will eat up the first batch and just have to buy more. And your waistline doesn’t need the extra calories.
  2. Buy what you need: There are very few young children who trick or treat in my neighbourhood. Yet “just in case” every year I buy several boxes of mini-chocolate bars to give out. As a result I typically end up spending more and eating the leftovers.
  3. Buy in bulk: It’s easy to toss a box of individually wrapped candy bars or small bags of chips into your grocery cart and call it a day. But do the math. Chances are that if you buy treats from the bulk store and package them in small plastic bags tied with a ribbon, the cost per item will be much less.
  4. Make your own costumes: I must confess I just spent $40 on an “Elsa” costume for my granddaughter because she is crazy about the character in the Disney movie Frozen. But her other grandmother sews and has made her great costumes for a fraction of the cost in previous years, including a very clever dinosaur that she loved every bit as much.
  5. Re-use, re-cycle: Check out Value Village or another local thrift or second hand store. For a few dollars you can find great stuff to outfit yourself or your little one as everything from a hobo to a travelling salesman to a ballerina.
  6. Costume swap: If you bought or made your child the most popular costume last year, for sure it no longer fits. Furthermore, even if it does fit, she won’t want to wear the same thing two years in a row. Set up a page on Facebook and invite your friends to participate in a costume swap.
  7. Avoid over-decorating: A pumpkin carved with a funny face and lit with a candle shows the neighbourhood you are open for business. But you don’t need cobwebs, sound effects and a fake grave with dancing skeletons to attract people or enjoy the evening.
  8. Have a party: Halloween is often cold and wet in Canada. A house-party with lots of games and orange food can be a lot more fun than traipsing around in the rain or wind with heavy coats covering up lovingly crafted costumes. This website has hundreds of economical Halloween party ideas.
  9. Check out community events: If you don’t have the time, money or space to host a Halloween party, check out community events. You will likely discover that your local library, community centre, school or museum is hosting free or low cost events.
  10. Buy on sale for next year: If you have space to store then, buy costumes in sizes your children will grow into, decorations and non-perishable snacks when they go on sale November 1st. However, be prepared for the fact that the kids might have very different ideas about what they want to wear for Halloween when they are one year older and if you put your purchases away in a really safe place by next October, you may not be able to find them!

Oct 10: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

As the days get shorter and the temperature goes down, staying fit is often a challenge. Joining a fitness club can be expensive, particularly if you don’t use it regularly. On a windy, chilly morning it seems a lot easier to just take the car rather than walking even a short distance to work.

But if you modify your schedule now to incorporate some fun, inexpensive activity into your day, you will be healthier and less inclined to hibernate before the first snowfall. Here are some online resources that will both inspire you and give you some ideas.

I really like Nia Shanks on Lift Like a Girl, where she encourages women of all sizes and from all backgrounds to start strength training. Shanks writes empowering articles about how women can be more, not less, the best bodyweight exercises to do, and why exercise should never be considered punishment for eating.

If you are a runner, or always wanted to run but haven’t gotten around to it, take a look at Couch to 10K and Beyond: My Journey to Becoming a Runner by Alison Micelli. Her advice is, “Grab a friend, a crew or a mentor and give it a go, use it as a way to explore your city, get outside or switch up your routine. You’ll be amazed at what you can do and the things that you can accomplish when you stick with it!”

Dave Smith from Make Your Body Work, was chosen as “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013. There are lots of great ideas in his blog How To Exercise At Home: The 50 Best Free Online Workout Resources. The YouTube videos he links to include workouts of all different kinds from kick boxing routines to yoga to Pilates.  CafeMom Studios is a very popular YouTube channel that helps moms build their body back after pregnancy and childbirth using postnatal workout videos for cardio, pain-reduction, circuit training, and yoga exercises for strength and flexibility.

On his blog Frugalwoods, Mr. Frugalwoods has posted The Ultimate Bike Commuter’s Guide to Winter Cycling. He shares both safety tips and how to stay warm. Why bike to work through notorious Boston (substitute Saskatchewan) winters? He says:

  1. It could be the fastest way to get to work.
  2. You need to exercise anyway so you might as well combine exercise with commuting.
  3. It’s a focused way to start and end the day.
  4. Bike commuting saves a bunch of money.

And if you are planning to participate in winter sports like skiing or skating, now is the time to check out 10 Exercises for Winter Sports: Increase Strength & Reduce Injury. While winter sports are great fun, you definitely don’t want to underestimate the workout they provide.  In fact, if you’re not fully prepared physically for the season you could be at a high risk for injury.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Side hustles you can take to the bank

By Sheryl Smolkin

If you are having trouble making ends meet you can spend less, get a job that pays more money or work more hours. Spending less will only take you so far in your quest for a balanced budget and better paying jobs are not always easy to find, particularly in the short-term.

However, there are lots of options available if you want to put in more time. Where overtime is readily available in your primary job, taking on a few extra shifts could be the answer. Otherwise, you may consider taking on a part-time job, or to use a newer expression in the workplace lexicon — find yourself “a side hustle.”

Before you commit to a regular part-time gig it’s probably a good idea to think about any potential conflicts with your primary position. First of all, if you have the kind of job that doesn’t end promptly at 5 PM, you can’t plan to start work somewhere else across town an hour later. Also, if your day job is at Apple, it’s a safe bet that part-time work at Microsoft will be viewed as an untenable conflict of interest.

Potentially lucrative side hustles are more available than you think, and many can be done from the comfort of your own home. For example:

  1. Seasonal work: Retail establishments frequently hire extra staff for the Christmas holiday season. A party store in my neighborhood is looking for staff for their busiest time of the year, which is Halloween. You can bet that after the first big snowfall lots of people would be thrilled if you offer to shovel their driveways.
  2. Blogging: I’ll be the first to admit that making money via personal blogging about a subject of interest is not a slam dunk. The major advantage for me has been the exposure which has led to regular well-paid writing jobs. But there are lots of bloggers out there who have thousands of readers and generate revenue from goggle ads and industry players.
  3. Complete surveys online: Big brands need consumer opinions on their products, advertisements and identity. Your feedback will help them to improve and grow. To show their appreciation they will reward you for your time on reputable market research panels. Companies typically pay through PayPal or in the form of gift cards. You won’t make a fortune but every little bit helps.
  4. Sell your photos online: Do you take amazing photos? You can actually sell your photos online at places like iStockPhoto, Shutterstock, Fotolia, and Bigstockphoto. Photos can be sold over and over again, allowing you to earn a residual income.
  5. Transcriptionist: If you have excellent keyboard skills you can get piecework transcribing everything from audio interviews to meetings to legal proceedings. This can be done on your own time, but make sure you understand the minimum weekly quotas and how much you can reasonably expect to earn.
  6. Customer Service Agent: One position I saw advertised online is for fundraising agents who make outbound calls to existing and past supporters of some of the largest charities across Canada. Each day, representatives speak with donors to help raise funds, respond to emergencies, renew support, sponsor children, and provide other worthwhile opportunities for charitable giving.
  7. Airbnb: Are you an empty nester with one or more empty bedrooms in your home or a currently unused basement apartment? Consider sprucing them up and renting them on Airbnb. However, before you start, check the zoning in your area to ensure short-term rentals are permitted.
  8. Driving: The future of Uber in many parts of Canada including Saskatchewan is up in the air. But if you are available evenings and weekends you may be able to make money using your own car to transport other people around as Lyft or Uber drivers. If this option appeals to you, make sure to check with your insurer to see if you have the proper coverage.
  9. Baking: Does everyone love your banana bread? Is your cheesecake to die for? How many free wedding or shower cakes have you baked for friends? If you love baking, why not start a home-based business? You can set up a Facebook page with lots of pictures of your work and before you know it you will have more business than you can handle.
  10. Caregiving: Most daycares close by six PM, but not all jobs are 9-5. People who work shifts are always looking for experienced caregivers to cover evenings and weekends. Similarly, many elderly people have regular caregivers but their families need occasional respite care.

These are only a few of the dozens of possible side hustles that can earn you extra money to pay the bills. Any hobby has the potential to be turned into a business. However, it is important to realistically assess how much time and energy you have and the possible impact working more will have on your family and your performance in your day job, before you take on extra work.

Here are some additional articles with lots of other ideas you may be interested in:

99 Side Hustle Business Ideas You Can Start Today
50+ Ways To Make Money Fast By Side Hustling
The Top 68 Side Hustles: Add Some More Money to Your Life
29 Smart Ways to Make Money on the Side in 2016

Oct 3: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

The leaves are turning and the weather is changing. As fall visits us briefly before the long cold winter sets in, it’s time to re-visit recent posts from some of our favourite personal finance writers.

On Boomer and Echo, Marie Engen offers 5 Ways To Stretch Your Retirement Dollars. My favourite is to sign up for senior discounts. In Calgary an annual transit pass for seniors is just $95. BC Ferries gives a 50% discount on passenger fares (Monday to Thursday, except holidays). Retailers such as Shoppers Drug Mart have senior discount days. A number of universities and colleges offer free tuition, at least for non-credit courses.

Sara Milton writes on Retire Happy about Financial warning signs: Are you prepared for the worst?. She says before financial disaster hits, there have  usually  been warning signs for some time. Just like on the dashboard of a car, an individual’s financial “check engine” light was lit up like a Christmas tree and, either he/she didn’t notice or  deliberately ignored it in the hope that it would somehow fix itself and switch off.

While investors may be reluctant to sell stocks because the sale will trigger tax inclusions, Pat McKeough reminds us on the Financial Independence Hub thatCapital gains tax is one of the lowest taxes you’ll ever pay. For example, if an investor purchases stock for $1,000 and then sells that stock for $2,000, they have a $1,000 capital gain. Investors pay Canadian capital gains tax on 50% of the capital gain amount. This means that if you earn $1,000 in capital gains, and you are in the highest tax bracket you will pay about $247.65 in Canadian capital gains tax on the $1,000 in gains.

For most young people in college or university student loans are a necessary evil. But they can become a tremendous burden after graduation. How I worked my way through university by Robin Taub on Forward Thinking profiles Corey Barss (age 25) who grew up in Brantford and attended Ryerson University. By saving money while he was in high school and working nearly full-time as a cook and server at the Ryerson campus pub while he was in university, he was able to graduate with only $30,000 in student loans. Even when he got a full-time job he continued work 12 hours/week at the pub in order to become debt free in three years.

And finally, the Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick writes that one of the most important financial literacy lessons young people can learn is how to deal with banks. In Millennials, banks are not your friends his message to students is that banks aren’t your friend, and neither are they your enemy. They’re companies you do business with and that means you have to have to go in prepared to defend your own interests. He says students should look for ways to bank for nothing, and he gives  important factors to consider when evaluating student bank accounts.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

One in five Canadians look to home equity for retirement funding

By Sheryl Smolkin

Financial planners will tell you that when you are planning for retirement you should not include home equity as a potential source of income. That’s because you have to live somewhere, and increasing numbers of older, healthy Canadians hope to “age in place,” at least initially.

However, for many Canadians the equity in their home is their greatest asset. So the findings of a new HSBC study that 20% of pre-retirees believe that income from downsizing or selling a property is likely to help them pay for life after work are not surprising. But income from downsizing or selling property is currently helping only 5% of retirees to fund their retirement.

Among pre-retirees who have started saving, people that have either stopped and/or faced difficulty (29%) are most likely to consider using property downsizing or sale income than those who did not face difficulty.

Those closer to retirement are more likely to think that income from downsizing or selling property will help them fund their retirement. Pre-retirees who are committed savers (26%), are the most likely to think that income from downsizing or selling a primary or secondary property will help them to fund their retirement. Those who are comfortably affluent (13%) are the least likely.

Looking forward, working age people and retirees of all ages have plans to change their living arrangements in the future. These include moving to:

A smaller home: 59%
A retirement home: 59%
A care home: 49%
Another city/ town in the same country: 33%
Live closer to family members/children: 27%
A bigger home: 26%
Another country: 15%
Live with my children: 13%


Sixty-two percent of people in their 50s plan to move to a smaller home in the future compared to 59% of people in their 40s and 49% of people 70 or over. Sixty-three percent of people aged 60 or over plan to move to a retirement home at some stage, compared to 55% of people in their 40s. Those who have received some sort of retirement advice are also more likely to think they will move to a smaller home (65%) than those who have received none (41%).

I must confess we buy lottery tickets every week (aka a tax on the statistically- challenged) in the vain hope that if we win “the big one” we’ll be able to renovate a large bungalow in a central part of Toronto and rent or buy a pied-à-terre in Ottawa where our daughter’s family lives.

However, in the meantime, as long as my husband and I are in good health, we are planning to stay in our three-story North York home. Currently Joel is using the basement apartment as a work room where he makes beautiful cutting boards, bowls and other decorative items. But when the time comes that we need help to remain in our home, the apartment can be used by a live-in caregiver.

At least that’s the plan for now! No doubt as the years go by and we move through the “go-go, go-slow and no-go” stages of retirement, our plans may change. And it is comforting to know that if we do live into our 90s, that the equity in our home is available to help finance a variety of options later in life.

Sept 26: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

You are back to work after your summer holiday. You have used up all your vacation days for the year. It’s dark outside when you have to get up for work. You’d like to retire early, but life is expensive and forever is a long time.

What are you willing to give up both now and later to achieve your goal? Do you have what it takes to live very frugally? Here are some blogs and blog posts that may give you some ideas if packing it in really early is at the top of your bucket list.

Engineer Tim Stobbs who lives in Regina, Saskatchewan is the author of Canadian Dream: Free at 45. While his objective initially was to retire at age 45, he’s pushed that date back to age 40. His ultimate goal between investments and home equity is a net worth of around $1 million. With a net worth in August 2016 of $883,000, he is getting close to meeting his target. He has some Dark Fears but has come to realize it is impossible to cover off every possible contingency in advance.

Freedom 35 is written by two married engineers in their early 30s living in sunny California to document their journey to financial independence and early retirement. Their Progress to Freedom 35: 2016 Q1 Update reveals that depending on the following projected withdrawal rates, they are less than three years away from bidding adieu to their employers:

Projected retirement date at 3% withdrawal: May 2022
Projected retirement date at 4% withdrawal: Sep. 2019
Projected retirement date at 5% withdrawal: Jan. 2018

Mr. Money Moustache was a thirty-something retiree when he started his blog. He and his wife retired from real work back in 2005 to start a family. “This was achieved not through luck or amazing skill, but simply by living a lifestyle about 50% less expensive than most of our peers and investing the surplus in very boring conservative Vanguard index funds and a rental house or two,” he writes. “Yet the whole country seems to be living ridiculously expensive lifestyles while thinking they are completely normal, and then being baffled when they have no money left over to buy their own freedom.”


Living a FI describes himself as a 38-year old happily retired dude (formerly a software engineer) living in Boston. He says that if you are close to the end of your early retirement journey, what you need to do is Build a Vision of Life Without Work. His favourite approach to managing the transition between work and retirement was created by Ernie Zelinski, author of several early-retirement lifestyle books.  He named the technique the “Get-A-Life-Tree.” (see above). “If you follow this method, you’ll easily wind up with tons of stuff to do, scattered over a few pages,” he explains.

And finally, ThinkSaveRetire is Steve’s blog about financial independence and taking control of his life. He figures that if he is still working at age 43 he has done something wrong. Here are several of his “must reads” if you want to get the most out of his journey.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.