Category Archives: Book Reviews

Making retirement planning real – Why Me? And No Gold Watch!

A lot of times, we read about what we are supposed to do before and during retirement, and have trouble connecting the dots of good advice.

Author Rick Atkinson has taken a unique and forward-thinking approach to the topic in Why Me? And No Gold Watch! To make all the information more relatable, he turns it all into a story – the story of Sally McBride, a marketing exec who is unexpectedly let go from a good job at age 57.

Sally is initially shocked by the news that she’s been terminated. “Will I be able to find a new job? Who will hire someone who’s 57… am I now facing retirement?”

An overwhelmed Sally does the right thing, however. When faced with a situation she’s not sure how to cope with, she reaches out to friends for advice. Her friend Thelma soothes her initial fears about retirement, that she would be “unproductive” and losing her identity. “It doesn’t have to be that way,” explains Thelma. Retirement, she says, is an opportunity for all of us “to be enthusiastic about their futures and shape (our) destinies.”

The book weaves in quotes from real people about their perspectives on retirement. Rick Hansen is quoted as saying, on goal-setting, that “it should be challenging enough to make you stretch, but not so far that you break.” Another nice feature of this book is that each chapter also contains a worksheet, for you to add in your own perspectives.

Chapters deal with retirement preparedness, working and volunteering, money, health and well-being, and more – almost every facet of life after work.

In the section on money, Sally meets with friends to talk about how to select a financial advisor, who at a high level talks about the need to have a budget. The worksheet pages at the end of the chapter provide you with your own template; so after seeing Sally walk through it, you can next walk through yourself.

After attending to her financial, health, spiritual and social concerns, Sally is feeling a lot more positive. “You’re beginning to build your vision of retirement, and how to spend your time. You’re giving thoughts to your finances… (and) you’re thinking about your health and well-being strategy,” her friend Thelma enthuses. “The more positive images, questions, implicit beliefs and positive self-talk you engage in, the more positive your mindset,” she adds.

“You’re right, Thelma. I’m beginning to be excited about life after work,” Sally replies.

This book is definitely a positive addition to any pre-retirement/retirement library. Author Atkinson’s style reminds us of talking to a friend or parent, the tone is patient, sensible, non-judgmental, and convincing. If you are unsure about retirement, this book is definitely for you.

A good part of any retirement plan – specifically the financial angle – is to put away money while you’re working to use later to finance life after work. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers you a full-service retirement savings plan. SPP will grow your savings (they have an enviable track record of growth) and turn them into a series of lifetime payments when it’s time to turn in the name tag. Be sure to check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Slim, fact-packed book puts you in the know about stock trading

Since the days where you could sock away money in a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) and get interest rates in the teens are long, long gone, a lot of savers are looking at other ways to make their money grow.

And often, based on what people talk about on the putting green, in the curling rink, or at the gym, investing in stocks seems to be working out for some folks. Problem is it’s one of those things that we hear a lot about, but tend not to know a lot about.

Enter The Canadian’s Guide to Stock Investing by Andrew Dagys and Paul Mladjenvoic. This slim but fact-packed volume teaches you all the information you need to know to get started in stock investing.

The book explains that there is a difference between investing, saving, and speculating. Investing, the authors write, “is the act of putting your current funds into securities or tangible assets to gain future appreciation, income, or both.” That’s different from saving, “the safe accumulation of funds for a future use,” or speculating, “the financial world’s equivalent of gambling.”

The authors then explain the difference between “growth investing” and “income investing.” When you are investing for growth, they note, “you want your money to grow… if you bought a stock for $8 per share and now its value is $30 per share, your investment has grown by $22 per share – that’s appreciation.” Growth, they write, is probably the number one reason people invest in stock.

Income investors are looking more at ways “to invest in the stock market as a means of providing a steady income and preserving risks.” They aren’t, the book notes, looking for stock values to go through the ceiling; instead “they need stocks that perform well consistently,” and that pay dividends.

Dividends, the authors explain, are usually paid quarterly and aren’t the same as interest. Dividends are paid to owners (interest is paid to creditors), and when you own a stock you are a shareholder, or partial owner, of the company that issued the stock. “When you buy stock, you buy a piece of that company,” the authors point out.

So how do you pick a good stock, either for growth or income? First, the authors say, you need to think about supply and demand, “the relationship between what’s available (the supply) and what people want and are willing to pay for (the demand).” Is the company making or selling something that people want, the authors explain, or is it a company “that makes elephant-foot umbrella stands… that has an oversupply, and nobody wants to buy them anyway.”

Next, there’s cause and effect, or, as the authors explain, logic. If you read a news report that says sales of tables are plummeting, “do you rush out and invest in companies that sell chairs or manufacture tablecloths?” On the other hand, good news about sales may be a reason to consider buying shares, the authors explain.

Another factor to think about is “economic effects from government actions.” A government “can willfully (or even accidentally) cause a company to go bankrupt, disrupt an entire industry, or even cause a depression.” Pay attention to what the government is saying if it has an effect on something you are thinking of buying into as a shareholder, the authors note.

The book explains how to look at a company’s balance sheet to figure out its net worth, profitability, and performance.

Other general tips from the book include having “a cushion of money” for emergencies, cutting back on your debt, get as much job security as you can and be correctly insured.

On the investment side, the authors urge diversification – don’t put all your money in one stock, one industry, or one type of investment.

Final chapters explain some of the tax impacts of investing, whether it is within a registered retirement account or a tax-free savings account.

There is a lot covered here, and this book is a great help for any investor.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan follows many of these principles. During the accumulation period you can choose a growth fund for your savings, and when you go to collect your SPP annuity, it is paid from a fund that is focused on capital retention and fixed-income investments. Be sure to check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Well-written book identifies – and help fixes – retirement mistakes

A recent headline shouted out the fact that an eye-popping 40 per cent of Canadians “think they’ll be in debt forever.”

The article by Anne Gaviola, posted on the Vice website, cites data from Manulife. The article goes on to note that the average Canuck has $71,979 in debt – up from $57,000 five years ago. These figures, the article says, come via Equifax.

It wasn’t always like this, was it? Why are we all willing to live with debt levels that are approaching record highs?

Save with SPP had a look around for answers – why are we so comfy carrying heavy debt loads?

According to the Advisor, it may simply be that paying the way with debt has become so common that no one gets worked up about it anymore.

“Living with debt has become a way of life for both Generation X… and baby boomers as the stigma of owing money is gradually disappearing,” the publication reports, citing Allianz Life research originally published by Generations Apart.

The research found that “nearly half (48 per cent) of both generations agree that credit cards now function as a survival tool and 43 per cent agree that ‘lots of smart, hardworking people who are careful with spending also have a lot of credit card debt,’” the article reports. Having debt is making people plan to work indefinitely – the article notes that 27 per cent of Gen Xers, and 11 per cent of boomers “say they are either unsure about when they plan to retire or don’t plan to retire at all.”

Why the comfort with debt? The Gen Xers got credit cards earlier than their boomer parents, and half of Gen Xers (and nearly a third of boomers) never plan to pay anything more than the minimum payments on them, the article notes.

“Over the last three decades, there has been a collective shift in how people view debt – it’s now perceived as a normal part of one’s financial experience and that has fundamentally altered the way people spend and save,” states Allianz executive Katie Libbe in the article. “If Gen Xers continue to delay saving for retirement until they are completely out of debt, their nest egg is clearly going to suffer. For Gen Xers who are behind on saving, better debt management, with a focus on credit card spending, should be the first issue they address to get back on track,” she states.

To recap, it almost sounds like there’s a couple of generations out there who have never worried about debt.

What should people do to get out of debt?

According to the folks at Manulife, there’s a five-step process that will get you debt-free.

Manulife cites the fact that Canadians owe about $1.65 for every dollar they make. That suggests they aren’t ready to “make a budget and stick with it,” and always spending more than they earn, the article says.

In addition to getting real about budgeting, the other tips are paying off credit cards by targeting those with the highest interest rate first, considering debt consolidation, earning extra money, and negotiating with creditors.

Tips that Save with SPP can personally vouch for in managing debt include giving your credit cards to a loved one, and instructing that person not to hand them over even if you beg; paying more than the minimum on your credit cards and lines of credit; and trying to live on less than 100 per cent of what you earn, so that you are paying the rest to yourself.

While a country can perpetually run deficits and spend more than it earns – and most do – the math doesn’t work out as well for individuals. The piper eventually has to be paid. And if you only pay the minimums, that piper will get paid for many, many years.

Getting debt under control and paid off will help you in many ways, including saving for retirement. Perhaps as you gradually save on interest payments, you can direct the savings to a Saskatchewan Pension Plan retirement account, and watch your savings grow.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Thinking your way to wealth: Napoleon Hill

What if all that is keeping you from being rich is the way you think? Could you change your thinking and realize your dreams?

According to Napoleon Hill, author of Think & Grow Rich, the answer is yes. This interesting and somewhat classic book (the copyright date is 1937, and it was first reprinted 60 years ago) starts by telling the tale of Edwin Barnes, a man who despite lacking any skills or knowledge, desperately wanted to work alongside the great inventor, Thomas Edison.

The penniless Barnes managed to get a meeting with Edison, who noted that “there was something in the expression of his face which conveyed that he was determined to get what he had come after.” He hired Barnes, the book says, and later, it was Barnes who spotted the potential in a dictaphone device Edison had invented, was given the job of selling it, and made a fortune with the product. “He proved that one may Think and Grow Rich,” Hill writes.

Hill outlines six steps to take to turn “desires into gold.”

You should “fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire.” Next, determine “what you intend to give in return for the money you desire.” Set a date for when you plan to possess the money, create “a definite plan for carrying out your desire,” develop a written statement of your plan and “read your written statement aloud, twice daily,” ideally when you get up and again when going to sleep.

While this sounds simple enough, the book looks at all the obstacles that get in the way of such positive, structured thinking.

To build your self-confidence (towards attaining your goal), Hill recommends that you “demand of (yourself) persistent, continuous action towards its attainment.” You need to set aside at least 30 minutes daily to take action on your plans. In this way, which Hill calls “auto-suggestion,” you basically coach your thinking into focusing on achieving your goal.

You need to fend off the “31 major causes of failure,” all of which can be overcome, Hill notes.

Among these are “lack of a well-defined purpose in life,” a lack of ambition, a lack of self-discipline, poor health, procrastination, the lack of persistence, and many more.

He lists the six “basic fears” that prevent people from trying to reach their goals – fears of poverty, criticism, ill health, failure in love, old age and death. “Fears are nothing more that states of mind,” he writes. “One’s state of mind is subject to control and direction. Man can create nothing that he does not first conceive in the impulse of thought.”

Another tactic is to make sure, Hill writes, that you are “money conscious” and not “poverty conscious.” The former, he argues, can be created – or you can be born with it, it is having a mindset that is focused on attracting wealth. The latter will fill the void if you don’t have a developed money consciousness, he notes.

This is a fascinating book, and while it’s a vintage example of self-help writing, it stands up quite well. The central message here is that if you set a goal – any goal – you can achieve it by committing yourself to focusing on it, banishing negative fears and obstacles, and following your own thorough plan.

You could apply these principles not only to amassing wealth, but maybe for things like losing weight or breaking 90 at golf. Controlling your mind will conquer fears, distractions, and inaction.

Thinking in the way that Hill does, then, you could plan for a specific total in your retirement savings account – let’s say $100,000, as an example – and then write out the steps you would take to get to that target. It’s adding structure and purpose to the activity of saving.

Should you be looking for a destination for your retirement savings, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan  may be a good place to check out. They’ll professionally manage your savings, and when the blessed day comes that you punch the time clock for the last time, they’ll turn your savings into lifetime income. Check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Book puts the wisdom of Buffett at your fingertips

We often run in to various thoughts and pronouncements by the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, when reading the papers, watching the news, or even scrolling through social media. The man, after all, is a financial genius and one of the richest people in the world.

A nice book by Robert L. Bloch, My Warren Buffett Bible, catalogues some of the great man’s thinking in a well-organized, easy-to-access way.  There are literally hundreds of bits of good advice tucked away in this book that will help even the most novice of investors.

“Rule number one,” Buffett is quoted as saying, is “never lose money. Rule number two – don’t forget rule number one.”

He suggests that investors “buy companies with strong histories of profitability and with a dominant business franchise.” In other words, leading companies that are making profits.

“When I buy a stock, I think of it in terms of buying a whole company, just as if I was buying the store down the street. If I were buying the store, I’d want to know all about it.” The same holds true, Buffett says, when buying shares in a well-known company.

As well, Buffett states, “it’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” He also notes that “startups are not our game;” his company, Berkshire Hathaway, tends to buy companies that have been around for a long time. Its oldest holdings, the book reports, are American Express, Wells Fargo, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, all firms that are over a century old.

And he says he plans to increase his holdings in these types of companies. “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful,” he states in the book. “The definition of a great company is one that will be great for 25 or 30 years.”

He’s not one for making a lot of portfolio changes, either. “Inactivity strikes us as intelligent behaviour,” he notes, adding that “what the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.”

He is not, the book states, a big fan of bond investing. “Overwhelmingly, for people that can invest over time, equities are the best place to put their money. Bonds might be the worst place to put their money. They are paying very, very little, and they’re denominated in a currency that will decline in value.”

For those who don’t want to pick stocks, he recommends index funds (such as index ETFs). “If you invested in a very low-cost index fund – where you don’t put the money in at one time, but average in over 10 years – you’ll do better than 90 per cent of people who start investing at the same time,” he states in the book.

And for those who may think money is everything, the book closes with this quote from Buffett – “money to some extent sometimes lets you be in more interesting environments. But it can’t change how many people love you or how healthy you are,” he states in the book.

This is a fine little book that is fun and quick to read.  If you are running into problems running your own investments for retirement, it’s never a bad idea to get some help. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan will grow your savings for you, using expert investment advice at a very affordable rate. When it’s time to turn those savings into retirement income, SPP has an array of annuity options to provide you with steady lifetime income. You can transfer up to $10,000 each year from your existing RRSP to SPP; check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Pat Foran’s book offers a wide-ranging look at ways Canadians can save

There’s a lot of meat in Pat Foran’s book The Smart Canadian’s Guide to Saving Money.

The CTV “On Your Side” reporter covers a lot of ground. He starts by asking the rich and the famous about their personal money tips. The late Alberta premier, Ralph Klein, states “never spend what you do not have. It is far better… to put off a purchase for three months until you can afford it than to spend the next six months paying it off.” Don’t, Klein notes in the book, “line the pockets of your bank… line your own!”

Noted financial author David Chilton tells Foran that “as corny as it sounds, what people have to do is stop caring so much about stuff.” He adds that as he gets older “the more I realize that good financial planning is less about the intricate knowledge of the stock market and forecasting future interest rates, and more and more about discipline and not wanting so much stuff.”

And Ben Franklin once said “the borrower is a slave to the lender… be industrious and free; be frugal and free.”

But how to get there?

Foran’s book covers all the bases. Everyone, he writes, needs to track their expenses. “The most important thing you can do is monitor the amount of money that is flowing in and out of your life every month,” he notes, providing a sample worksheet to get you started.

After looking at the importance of having a spouse who is your financial partner, he talks about tackling debt. Consolidation loans aren’t always the best approach, he warns. “Consolidating various high interest rate balances into one easy-to-handle payment is often just a quick fix to roll your `junk debt’ into a bigger pile,” he notes. He defines `junk debt’ as debt “that has been rolled around so many times you can’t remember what you originally went into debt to buy in the first place.”

So, he suggests, cut back on “bad spending habits,” such as smoking and excessive drinking. A case of beer a week costs you $1,872 each year, he writes. Even $4 a day spent at Timmy’s can add up to $1,460 per year, Foran writes. Other “money wasters” that make his list are dining out often, expensive clothes and jewellery, premium gas, dry cleaning clothes you could wash yourself, buying a brand-new car, flying first class, and so on. With all such expenses, he suggests, one should first ask “can I afford it.” If not, perhaps there are cheaper ways to go, he notes.

Credit cards, write Foran, need to be paid off and cancelled. “Once you have paid off a credit card, you must let it rest in peace! You have to call your credit card company and say… please cancel my credit card.”

After mastering debt, you need to look at saving, and the power it has. If you were to save $20 a week for 50 years, you’d have $1.4 million in your pocket. “Imagine saving your own jackpot…. Even a small amount, just $20 a week, can become a fortune over time,” he explains.

Other good advice in this book – those saving via mutual funds or other investment vehicles need to take note of the fees charged. A $10,000 investment in a mutual fund with a high “management expense ratio” of 3.1 per cent would cost you $1,029 over three years – three times more than a similar fund with a one per cent fee, he notes. “That’s a huge difference,” Foran warns.

If you are saving in an RRSP or similar vehicle, Foran suggests you should “reinvest your tax refund, which most of us don’t.” RRSPs and debt reduction are both part of a “well balanced retirement plan,” he writes.

This is a great, easy-to-understand book that covers so many bases we don’t have room to explore them all here.

If, like Pat Foran suggests, you are looking for a low-fee retirement savings vehicle, be sure to check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP will grow your money and the fee is typically only 100 basis points, or about one per cent. Check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

The Wealthy Barber Returns, bearing some easy-to-follow advice

When David Chilton came out with The Wealthy Barber decades ago, it was remarkable in that was a financial self-help book that was fun to read and easy to understand.

His follow-up book, The Wealthy Barber Returns, does not disappoint. It’s friendly, clear, and helpful, and is not mired in overcomplicated examples, tables, and worksheets. It feels more like you are benefitting from the experience of a good friend who’s bested some of the financial headwinds that have you mired down.

He begins with the “painful truth” that unless you come from money or marry into it, “you’ll have to learn to spend less than you make,” a message that “clearly hasn’t sunk in with the majority of Canadians.” Because of that, he continues, “a disturbing number of us aren’t saving enough to fund our future goals, most notably, a reasonable retirement.”

People, Chilton writes, think saving “requires sacrifices today” that somehow lessen life. “Surprisingly, it’s quite the opposite! People who live within their means tend to be happier and less stressed,” he notes.

One way to spend less is to avoid going to places where you like to spend money, or to leave credit cards at home. “Giving into temptation is only a mindless swipe away,” he warns. Currency users look in their wallets and see “a finite amount of cash – the ultimate forced discipline.” Those with credit and debit cards carry “virtually unlimited funds,” which may explain why average Canucks have $15,000 to $25,000 in credit card debt, Chilton writes.

“Credit cards allow us to act wealthier than we are, and acting wealthy now makes it tough to be wealthy later,” Chilton points out.

Another way to ramp in spending is to learn the phrase “I can’t afford it,” he notes. He cites the example of home renovations, which almost always go overboard. “More than half of the people I know who are in trouble with their lines of credit… arrived there via excessive home-renovation expenses,” he observes. If you are going all out on the house with borrowed money while neglecting your RRSP or your kids’ education, Chilton warns, “yeah, that’s an issue.” Instead of paying for heated marble floors, buy slippers, he adds.

Lines of credit “are helpful, yet insidious…. when drawing from your line of credit, always remember this incredibly basic but ultra-important fact. It’s not your money, it’s the bank’s,” he writes. Be careful at the bank with credit lines, because if you ask for a $30,000 line you may get approved for much more. “Just say no,” he writes. “You are your own credit-control board.”

You don’t want to take debt into retirement, Chilton states. “It drains cash flow, creates worry, and is subject to interest rate risks that will most assuredly follow Murphy’s Law,” he adds. He’s also leery about reverse mortgages.

In a chapter on retirement, Chilton says that most experts recommend that you put 10 to 15 per cent of your gross income away for retirement. “Don’t despair, though,” he writes. “A relatively small cutback in your spending rate can dramatically increase your savings rate.”

He concludes by reminding readers to “pay yourself first” by directing a set portion of your earnings to savings. The Wealthy Barber Returns is a great read, an insightful overview, and is non-threatening. You won’t feel like you’re a financial failure after you read it, but you will learn to recognize (and correct) your own bad habits.

If you are thinking of paying your future self first, why not set up an account with the Saskatchewan Pension Plan? The amounts you contribute will be carefully invested, will grow, and will be harvested in the form of a future lifetime pension. It’s an option worth checking out!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Book offers inspiring tune-up for mind and attitude re retirement

Many books about retirement focus on finances, others on health, wellness, and attitude. But Eric Thurman’s Thrive in Retirement provides a holistic owner’s manual to help get your mind, your soul and your attitude on the right path.

“Retirement,” he writes, “is no longer a short pause between work and the grave. It is now a long, major stage of life, because never before in human history have so many people lived decades beyond their working years.”

He looks at the five vital parts of life, which are “mind, body, relationships, soul, and finances.” The book uses these five things as a sort of lens through which to view your retirement activities and progress.

He also notes that the “three secrets of happiness” are “purpose, pleasure, and peace.” These ideas should also guide you, Thurman recommends.

Having a purpose in life, he notes, citing research from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, “is associated with increased survival.” The study found that 29.3 per cent of people “in the lowest wellbeing quartile” died within 8.5 years (of retirement);” that compares to just 9.3 per cent in the highest wellbeing quartile. Thurman calls this “compellingly good news,” noting that “you can be happier and live longer if you wake up each morning enthused about the importance of how you will spend your day.”

He expands on this idea. “Recall the five parts of your life: mind, body, relationship, soul and finances. Don’t settle for any of them being deficient or, worse yet, sources of pain. Pursue emotional freedom.”

Your mind will thrive if you “free it from emotional pain” by letting go of minor things that bother you; you then need to keep it active through learning, through hobbies and activities, and even through part-time work, the book notes.

For one’s body, consider where you are on this scale – at the topic is “physically elite,” followed by “physically fit, physically independent, physically frail and physically dependent.” You need to try and be as high up on that scale as you can. He quotes the Quebec marathon runner Jacqueline Gareau as saying strategy must be employed in fitness – “it is not age, it is not diet. It is the will to succeed.”

In the chapter “Make Peace with Money,” Thurman advises us to “clarify our dreams” about money and importantly, to “control your money or it will control you.” He writes that we should “always view money as something you should put to good use and treat with respect. Never love the money and possessions you have. Never love money you don’t have. Never let money own you.”

Debt, he notes, should be treated “like a disease.” Avoid catching it, but if you do, “work to get over it as quickly as possible.” Overspending, he writes, “is always harmful” and credit card debt “ruinous.”

This well-written and motivational book ends with this bit of advice. “Think about how you want the story of your life to close. It won’t be a great ending if you drift passively, letting the river push you wherever it wishes. Instead, choose to steer towards happiness; do some paddling and raise your sail.”

It’s true that debt is the slayer of retirement dreams. One reason may be that paying off debt prevents people from saving for retirement, which in turn leads to less retirement income or a later retirement date. You can fight back by saving on your own for life after work; the earlier you start, the better it will be. And a great tool to use in that effort is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Book helps map out a happy retirement

Retirement is a strange thing, in that you can’t really imagine what it is like until it happens – and when it does, you find it hard to believe you spent so long working.

But for many of us, leaving work and our colleagues behind might limit our social connections. What to do when work is in the rearview mirror? A great book, 101 Fun Things To Do in Retirement, has the answers.

Author Stella Rheingold begins by defining retirement as “entering a new, self-determined phase of life, leaving the employer or oversight of others to exercise greater choice and freedom in the use of one’s time.” In her view, that freedom is akin to “a lottery win.”

The book’s chapters then look in detail at various retirement pursuits, ranging from arts and crafts, the outdoors, sports, charitable work, and many more.  Some interesting hobbies in the “Head to Your Shed” chapter include blacksmithing and glassblowing, which “could be your passport to making some truly stunning artistic creations.” In “The Great Outdoors” chapter, she suggests picnicking – “if you are on a budget, but still want million-dollar views with your lunch, there is no better way than packing a picnic lunch.”

Under “Social,” a suggestion is to start or join a film club, ideal for “genre nuts” or those who love “films of a particular era.” Often such events can be hosted at a fun venue, such as a local pub, she writes.

The “Musical” category suggests learning to play an instrument, joining a choir, and later, checking out an “open mike” night. The “Educational” chapter talks of going back to school to further your education, or sitting in on university lectures, or joining a debating club.

Ideas for you to think about in the “Sporty” pages include lawn bowling, 10-pin or duckpin bowling, croquet and archery.

What’s great about this book is that Rheingold not only describes the various activities that are out there, but she gives you suggestions on how to reach out and join up. Trying out new things can be a bit daunting, but the warm, witty and wisdom-packed writing here makes it seem like getting going on all these great things will be worth the effort. As well, the activities are mainly, for the most part, quite affordable and thus, doable on most budgets.

Among her concluding thoughts is this gem – “life is short and may not have any meaning beyond the meaning we give it. The one thing we can do to truly honour life is to live it to the fullest for as many days as we are able.”

This is a great addition to any library.

Whatever you decide to do with your freedom after work, having a little income security will never be a bad thing. Consider opening a Saskatchewan Pension Plan account. Your contributions will be professionally invested over time, and at retirement, you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of options that turn those savings into a lifetime income.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22