Category Archives: Guest Post

Reader’s Story: "What Do You Really Want?"

A while back I had the following comment by Turney left on my post about Living Below Your Means.

(LBYM)What a quaint idea! All kidding aside, my husband and I have done this all our working and non-working lives and we’ve been able to do all sorts of things most people only dream of. While we fully retired when we were 50, we’re now 55 and we’ve been semi-retired since we were 40. We are very conservative investors but pay minimal tax due to those dividend paying stocks and limited withdrawals from our RRSp’s. Consequently our investments are growing not decreasing. It’s too bad more investment advisors don’t give you the scoop on actual taxes payable with a conservative portfolio. Forget those mutual funds that have high MER’s and trade stocks incessantly.

Another key to LBYM is that as Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, we can live very easily with items that have been discarded by people. Second-hand stores are abound with wonderful almost new items. And you are helping the environment. We have a lot to learn from our parents who never threw anything useful out.

It’s all about making choices. What do you really want? You can’t have it all but you can have many adventures. Last winter, we took a month and travelled by local bus through Mexico at for the cost of one week for two at an expensive resort. What memories!

In response to this I asked Turney to provide some more details about how they semi-retired at 40. She was kind enough to provide a wonderful story that I hope you will enjoy.

First, we paid off the mortgage on our first $28,000 house in 5 years. This was done by living on one income , mine, even though I only worked as a piano teacher at home. My husband was only taking home $150 a week at the time and the mortgage was $250 a month at 13% interest rate. We then saved for our next home for 3 years and bought a nice 2 bedroom bungalow in a small town. My husband could walk to work , so we only needed one small car and I worked at home. No babysitters for our son, either.

After buying the new house, I went to university and got a 4 year degree in 3 years and then my C.A. designation. Commuted with friends and bought very little. However, we always traveled, usually camping. Since our 40’s we have taken extensive trips. I worked part time and my husband was now working part time also.

Our hobbies or interests are very inexpensive, hiking, biking and in the winter cross-country skiing.
We now travel in the winter but our 5th wheel is 30 years old and in very good shape. However, we carry kayaks, bicycles and a small motorcycle. We use solar panels so that we don’t need to pay exorbitant camping fees. The total cost of a Dodge truck, 5th wheel and all our equipment is under $25,000. and we will probably be able to sell the 5th wheel for what we paid for it when we decide to sell. My husband is very capable of fixing and maintaining what we own, so we have saved a small fortune over the years. I also love cooking, so we eat out very little.

The C.A. designation has enabled me to keep our taxes low and choose the right investments for our situation. Dividend paying stock and capital gains split between us keep our income very low.
We live very well for under $30,000 a year. But don’t think we have really sacrificed everything to reach this goal. We had had a lot of fun too even when we were saving.

It really means that you need to keep your expenses as low as possible. Living close to our work really helped us. Having inexpensive hobbies helped us. Travelling on the cheap helped too. Being self-sufficient was a huge help. No debt was a big factor. Waiting and saving for what we wanted was very important too.

Hope I don’t sound too preachy. Good luck to you in your endeavour. I’m sure it will work out if this is what you want.


So there you go folks a story of how anyone can really retire early. All it takes is answering one question, As Turney said, “What do you really want?”

Guest Post by Margot Bai

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest to win a copy of Margot Bai’s new book Spend Smarter, Save Bigger. The winner is Duane L, who should have an email back from me asking for his address. With this contest I ask Margot if she would be willing to write my first guest post and she graciously agreed. So here we go. – CD

Thanks CD for the opportunity to be your first guest post!

Thousands of dollars spent (I would say lost) following the “advice” of commission-based financial professionals. In our efforts to take responsibility for our financial future, many are paying a high price, locking up their money in high-fee mutual funds, high-interest rate
mortgages and expensive insurance policies.

Mortgage reps recommend we lock in for a 5-year term, trapping us at a higher rate. Insurance salespeople convince us to pour our money into expensive permanent life insurance policies. Financial planners like author David Bach try to distract us from their fees by telling us that
what really counts is cutting back on discretionary spending like coffee and take-out.

When did common sense fly out the window? My message is simple but I believe pivotal to financial success: focus on bigger savings because this will build your wealth much faster than the small stuff. Often these big savings come at the expense of commission-based service
professionals whose livelihood depends on taking a slice of our pie.

While there are certainly many well-meaning financial service providers, their compensation is based on them convincing you to buy their more expensive products. It is a situation that can make one very angry, especially because these people appear to be there to help us. However,
the age-old principle of buyer beware applies to every other area in life. Why should financial services be any different?

I wrote Spend Smarter to inspire Canadians to create an affordable lifestyle that will allow them to live comfortably while saving a significant part of their income. However, a frugal lifestyle alone does not guarantee financial success. When it comes to financial services, we need to educate ourselves so we can see through the sales pitch and make the choice that will help us keep more money in our pocket. At the end of the day, isn’t that what saving money is all about?

-Margot Bai, Author of Spend Smater, Save Bigger