How I Relax

When this is posted, I will be on a flight to the Dominican Republic to spend a week in the heat and sun. I have around 10 books that I’d like to read in the 7 days that I’m away, and will probably eat and drink too much – providing some incentive to hit the gym fairly hard on my return.

This year, I had 26 vacation days at the start of the year. I used a day in February on Super-Bowl Monday, in order to be able to fully enjoy the game without having to worry about getting up early the next day for work. Most of the other days I used in the summer were to golf or do things with my wife. This week’s vacation will be my only week-long time away from work. I prefer to break my work into shorter weeks in the summer than have huge chunks of time off at once and then have to work full-time.

I enjoy the type of all-inclusive vacation my wife and I are taking because everything is pre-paid. This type of vacation allows me to stop comparison shopping, stop reviewing opportunity costs or alternatives to the current purchase and just enjoy myself for a week with my wife in nice climates and get a huge chunk of my “to read” list cleared off. We are not tourists and don’t really leave the resort to learn anything about the land that we are visiting. We take full advantage of the items we have already paid for, rather than spending additional money on side trips that don’t really interest us.

This trip cost us around $2,000. We are both aware that this money could be spent on things that would allow us to retire earlier than 45, or something healthier. For anyone who lives through Canadian winters though, there comes a point where you need some relief from the cold grey snowy mornings, warming up your car, chipping ice and shoveling snow, or you go a little nutty. This annual window of heat in early December can usually get us through the entire winter – to give us a break during our normal hibernation period, and get out into the world.

I’m hoping that when we retire, we can find a reasonable rental someplace warm in the south to get away from the cold – getting away from winter for an extended period of time is one of the things that gives us incentive to maintain our savings plan and continue working towards our goal of early retirement.

Do you go away for the winter? Are you expecting to go to warmer places more (or are you going away more) after you retire?

4 thoughts on “How I Relax”

  1. I would love to try all-inclusive vacation one of these days. The closest I’ve come to is Alaska cruise.

    We don’t have any vacation plans this winter, maybe next year. 🙂

  2. Flying out Friday to huatulco Mexico for a month! Condo this time, we prefer to be off the resort and really enjoy the towns. Meeting lots of great people from past visits and have long walks and dinners planned. We try to walk 20 km per day, every day. It is a great spot for getting out and about.
    Booked a cooking class and a snorkel day
    After a foot of snow today I can hardly wait!

  3. Whadaya know Lorain, we fly to Mexico Friday as well! (different area though)

    Just for 3 weeks… if my wife would hurry up and ER we could stay for months and sit out Canadian winter COMPLETELY!

  4. I am reaching out to discuss an important issue that has significant implications for the financial security of Canadian seniors. I’m not sure if it would be an appropriate topic for your blog but still hope it is of interest.

    In Canada, seniors walk away from, through surrender or lapse, approximately $7 billion of permanent life insurance every year. These terminated policies represent a excessive windfall for life insurance companies. Ideally, seniors would maintain their policies however, as the need for protection and their ability to pay premiums changes, they abandon their insurance. Some of these policies are surrendered for cash value (significantly below the real economic value of the policy) but many seniors will allow a policy to self finance, using up whatever cash value is in the policy, until the policy lapses and they receive nothing.

    In the US a large market has evolved to help seniors capture fair value for their life insurance. A life settlement is a transaction whereby a senior sells his or her policy based on the face value of the policy, the ongoing premium obligations and an actuarial estimate of the policyholder’s life expectancy. The development of this market has allowed seniors to capture fair value, usually significantly in excess of calculated cash surrender values.

    Unfortunately, in Canada this is not possible. At a time when 8 out of 10 Canadians are retiring with less than $250k, it makes no sense to limit the ability of seniors to maximize the value of all their assets. In a number of provinces we have insurance laws that have lost relevance and these transactions are not legal. These laws, drafted in the 1930s, are now out of place and are protecting life companies from market forces and competitive bids. The lifeco’s benefit from the status quo, are putting up resistance to change and they have adopted very strict policies prohibiting their agents from engaging in, or even discussing, life settlements. Frequently, they threaten to cancel their agents’ contracts. In the four Canadian provinces, QC, NB, NS & Sask., where life settlements are legal this stance is unjustifiable.

    This means that in the permitted provinces the person best positioned to give policyholders appropriate advice – their life agent (who today is often also their financial advisor) – can’t. Policyholders, and agents, should be free to consider all options, weighing what is best for them, without limitations that put lifeco profits ahead of appropriate client advice. We have discussed this topic with many life agents who felt, almost without exception, that giving their clients the best advice was their priority but that they were in an untenable position as they must weigh giving appropriate advice against threats to their livelihood (i.e. the loss of their agency agreements).

    As life agents can’t educate the public about life settlements we have been doing our best to reach them though other means. The attached sponsored content was in La Presse and The Montreal Gazette earlier this week. We will maintain an online presence on for the next 3 months and will have follow up print dates in La Presse. Our online presence is now bilingual on both our website ( and our Facebook page ( We continue to build awareness and gain traction within a growing number of organizations in the four permitted provinces.

    I first got involved in this topic purely as a business opportunity but my growing awareness of the issues has led me to be more of an advocate for change. Legislative change in the rest of Canada is a long term goal that we are beginning to pursue (seniors should be upset about this but generally they don’t even know that a lapsing policy could have significant value) but educating seniors where life settlements are now legal is a priority. Life settlements are not for everyone but some policyholders could clearly benefit from them and restricting the flow of full disclosure is inappropriate.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or interest in learning more about this issue.

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