Book Review: How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free

As par of my vacation I’m getting caught up on some reading and I came across a great little book. How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski is a must read, but not for the usual reasons.

Typically I read books for investment advice, spending reductions and taxation. This one is different in the regards it focuses on that old question of “What are you going to do with all that time in retirement?” Ernie actually gives a great read on how to plan your leisure time to ensure you have a rewarding retirement.

It a pleasure to read a book that addresses the idea of how to have satisfying leisure time. I think most people spend far too much leisure time at passive activities such as watching TV. One example in the book is if you reduce your TV time by just one hour a day you will gain about 365 hours a year or about 20 extra days a year (based on a 18 hour day awake time) to do something more meaningful, such as reading or another hobby.

So next time you think you don’t have time for anything. Try to just find one hour a day and see what happens. (Yes, I know that an hour can seem like an impossible goal some days, but try for just 15 minutes and you still gain an extra 5 days a year on something.)

Holiday Posting & Book Review: The Millionaire Next Door

Well everyone I’m officially on vacation from 3pm today until Jan 3rd. I will not be posting on Christmas and Boxing Day, but I will try to post after that as often as possible. Happy Holidays and have a great long weekend.

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I recent read the book, The Millionaire Next Door by: Thomas Stanley and William Danko, and I was a bit amazed by some of their findings. For example that fact that 80% of the millionaires in the US are first generation to their money was a bit of a wake up call. There are basically two types of a rich in the book: those that look rich (but actually have little assets) and those who don’t look rich (but have tons of assets).

If nothing else this book teachings you not to worry about what others think and just do your own thing when it comes to money. Just because you earn enough to have the big house in the best neighbourhood and two cars, doesn’t mean you have to spend it that way. I’ve always liked buying the worst house on the block in a decent neighbourhood and making sure I have a profit when I need/want to sell.

It also hammers home the idea that you are not what you drive. You have guys in the US who have a net worth of $10 million, but drive an old truck, because he likes to toss dead fish in the back seat after a trip to his best fishing spot.

So if your looking for some reading material over the holidays, I would suggest reading this book.

Pitfalls of Early Retirement

Early retirement is a wonderful dream, but in some cases that ends up being a nightmare. So let’s looks at some common pitfalls of planning for early retirement.

1) Underestimating expenses. It’s amazing how during your working left you get use to your lifestyle that you tend to forget about certain items like health benefits, replacing your car, your water heater, roof and the list goes on. When your planning for an additional 20 years of retirement you better make sure you check your expense list twice. One way to plan for this is to make sure when you go into retirement that everything is new or that you have planned for an extra replacement money. So for cars and houses a good minimum is $2000/year extra expense to cover those unusual expenses.

2) Not having any margin of safety on your calculations. It’s nice to hope that things turn out just the way you plan, but let’s face it, life doesn’t work that way. So you better leave some wiggle room when doing the math. In my case I drop my expected rate of return by an extra 1%. Some people like to boost their expenses by an additional 10%. Either way works out fine, but you do want to have some cushion there.

3) Not enough diversification in your investments. In order to avoid having your retirement savings go up in smoke you need to make sure you can suffer some serious damage to your savings. The solution is to avoid putting all your nest eggs in one basket. You most likely want a conservative mix once you get near retirement, but not too conservative that inflation takes you down in twenty years. So you most likely want a high interest savings account, bonds/CD’s, at least one REIT and a mix of other equities in Canada, US and the world.

4) Forgetting about taxes. Knowing your Canada or US tax law is required to build a good portfolio as much as diversification. For Canadians you need to know about the three types of investment income and how each is taxed.

5) Unrealistic expectations. You can’t travel the world and live in five star resorts and leave work at 30. Ok, perhaps one in 13 million can, but I know that isn’t me and most likely not you.

6) Emotional considerations. Some people do all the math and planning but forget one thing. What are you going to do with all that time? So they end up bored and go back to work. My question is what’s the point of saving if you don’t have a plan for your activities in retirement! Early on in your planning you want to start considering this. After all you don’t want to forget about enjoying your life now and you also want to ensure you will continue to enjoy your life in early retirement.

A blog about early retirement and happiness