Oct 27: Best from the blogosphere

27 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

In the last several weeks there has been a stock market correction and although the market has bounced back to some extent, for some investors it has been a bumpy ride. Here’s what several personal finance columnists and bloggers had to say about recent market gyrations.

The Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick says Balanced is best: Never doubt long-term portfolio gains. No matter what the markets do in the short term, the long-term potential from investing is not in question. He also says As markets plunge, it’s time to take stock of Investing habits that have become sloppy. For example, many people are too financially committed to their homes and lots of households owe too much

On Retire Happy, Jim Yih shared The Five Realities of the Stock Market. He says markets go up and down but they go up twice as often and twice as much.  Logically, when markets go down, the odds are in your favour to make money in the times ahead.

What Are You Doing With This Stock Market Pullback? Sorry, but no one can help you during a market correction says Robb Engen at Boomer & Echo.  Watching your portfolio drop from $100,000 to $90,000 over the course of a few weeks is painful, no doubt. But you’d be better off sticking your head in the sand and waiting it out instead of trying to “do something about it.”

In Stock Market Momentum, Michael James on Money says the recent downtrend in stock prices has many commentators saying that we are “in a correction.” But all we can say with any certainty is that we have had a correction. It may or may not continue. Saying that we are in a correction implies that falling prices will continue over the short term, which is far from certain.

Finally, Mark Seed at Million Dollar Journey interviewed Derek Foster, “Canada’s Youngest Retiree”. While the general consensus is that investing only in stocks is too risky, Derek is sticking with dividend stocks because at age 40+ he has other income streams from his books and speaking engagements. Foster says, “Many people point to the 2008-2009 downturn as evidence that bonds will save you during downturns, but what about the 5 years since then?  Look at the long-term returns of stocks over bonds – I think the stats speak for themselves.”

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Living to 100: The four keys to longevity

23 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

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Living to 100: The four keys to longevity” is a fascinating report issued in July 2014 by the BMO Wealth Institute. According to the study, by 2061 it is estimated that there will be more than 78,000 centenarians living in Canada, up from about 6,000 reported in the 2011 census.

If you are a baby boomer on a quest to improve your odds of living longer than previous generations, the research suggests their are four keys to unlock the door to longevity: body, mind, social and financial.

Key 1: The body

Good health is one of the basic elements to achieve long life. A program of healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction can not only reverse the aging process, it may slow down the aging process at the genetic level.

According to the BMO report, other aspects of good health should include:

  • Adequate sleep (7 to 8 hours per night, and naps as needed).
  • Regular stretching and deep breathing to keep your joints flexible and your body oxygenated.
  • Physical activity that includes both high- and low-impact exercise at least 3 times a week.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily.
  • Generous amounts of dark leafy vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains in your daily diet.
  • Eliminating or reducing the amount of unhealthy fats, processed sugars and preservatives in your diet.
  • Consuming a moderate amount of alcohol (e.g., just a glass of red wine with dinner).

Key 2: The mind

Living your best life depends on a healthy brain. A recent article cited in the BMO report explores the best ways to improve your brain power for life.[1] This article reveals that functioning to our fullest capacity is directly linked to the health of our brains. The article suggests that you incorporate these four fundamental lifestyle changes to boost your brain power.

  • Cognitive training: Memory, reasoning, and speed-of processing exercises create a winning combination for cognition.
  • Aerobic exercise: People who exercise moderately to vigorously just once a week are 30 percent more likely to maintain their cognitive function than those who do not exercise at all.
  • Don’t smoke: Non-smokers are nearly twice as likely to stay sharp in old age as those who smoke.
  • Maintain social networks: People who work, volunteer and maintain close-knit human bonds are 24% more likely to preserve cognitive function in late life.

The study results revealed that loss of mental ability was the biggest concern that respondents had about living to 100 and beyond.

Key 3: Social

The popularity of personal bucket lists has ignited a passion in seniors to take up new hobbies, write their life stories, or develop new careers. Senior wanderlust knows no boundaries when it comes to fulfilling dreams after raising a family and retiring from a dedicated career.

Study results suggest there are a plethora of new activities respondents are interested in incorporating into their daily lives after retirement. Spending more time on hobbies and starting part-time jobs were both shown to be highly desirable new activities on the list for many survey respondents and this is widely seen as a positive outcome.

Researchers at the Institute of Economic Affairs in the U.K.[2] recently identified a range of substantially negative effects on health after retirement. Their study found retirement to be associated with a significant increase in clinical depression and a decline in self-assessed health. These effects were shown to grow as the number of years people spent in retirement increased.

If you’re looking to boost your level of social interaction, to supplement your income, or are seeking a productive way to fill your time, you may want to consider taking on a part-time job.

Canadians participating in the BMO survey gave the following reasons for working during retirement:

  • 52%: Keep mentally sharp.
  • 46%: To get out of the house
  • 42%: To socialize
  • 40%: To earn money to improve lifestyle
  • 35%: Need the money
  • 32%: To stay physically fit
  • 28%: To do something I like
  • 16%: To learn new skills

Key 4: Financial

Canadians clearly understand that an important component of successful longevity is having a sense of financial security. Although financial security was cited as a lower priority than maintaining a social network of family and friends for the majority of Canadians surveyed, financial security gains importance with age and as personal assets increase over a lifetime.

The BMO Survey results showed that those with the highest income levels expressed the greatest concern over their finances after retirement. The wealthiest plan to preserve their financial security by  enjoying personal pursuits, socializing, exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Overall, the majority of survey respondents anticipate the financial impact of health-care expenses to be significant as they age, even with government provided health care. In fact, the Canadians surveyed expected to spend an average of $5,391 a year on out-of-pocket medical costs after the age of 65.

Surprisingly, even with provincial health care coverage – Canadians foresee medical and health costs to be the single largest expense for old age (74%). Other significant expenses include food, clothing and day-to-day essentials (57%) and housing (56%).

Putting aside money in Tax Free Savings Accounts and purchasing Long Term care insurance are suggested ways to defray future retiree medical costs.

A final thought

The compelling findings of the BMO study speak to the need for all of us to have a better overall plan when it comes to the four key components of longevity: body, mind, social and financial.

Many challenges that may arise in our later years can be both anticipated, and properly planned for, by making smart decisions focused on the ultimate goal of successful longevity.

[1] What Is the Best Way To Improve Your Brain Power For Life? Bergland, Christoper. Psychology Today. January 21, 2014. (accessed June 2014).

[2] Work longer, live healthier, Sahlgren GH. Institute of Economic Affairs, May 2013.

Oct 20: Best from the blogosphere

20 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

What’s the buzz in the blogosphere this week? Here are some interesting articles that popped up in my inbox.

If you did any house or office cleaning over the Thanksgiving weekend you will be very impressed with what Cait Flanders has accomplished. In Post-Declutter: How Does My Condo Look Now? she notes that she removed a total of 377 items from her home! Not only are her before and after pictures inspiring, I love the view of the mountains from her desk.

With the market drops of the last few weeks, it’s good to know what elements of investing you can control. On the Tangerine Bank blog Forward Thinking, Joe Snyder writes about How to leave your (investing) worries behind.

Jim Yih on Retire Happy discusses a simple way to track your spending. He no longer has time to enter data in spreadsheets or phone apps. Instead, he and his wife put all their expenses on one credit card so the monthly credit card statement has become their tool to know how much money they spend in any given month.

After Thanksgiving excess eating, you may be interested in Sean Cooper’s blog on Million Dollar Journey about how survives on only a $100/month in groceries. Sean is single and has cut meat out of his diet.

Engineer Your Finances suggests that one way to make some extra money is to Make Some Extra Cash By Renting Out Things You Own. For example, rent your car, storage space in your garage or attic or tools and sports gear. There are suggestions for websites that facilitate short-term rentals.

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Loyalty programs: Which one is best?

16 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

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Canadians love loyalty programs. The 2013 Loyalty Census from the industry research group Colloquy reports that 120 million consumers in this country belong to at least one loyalty program and the average number of loyalty programs per household is 8.2. But the challenge you face is selecting the loyalty programs that will give you the best bang for their bucks.

Typically websites that evaluate loyalty programs either rank programs based on the stated preferences of survey participants or by weighting various features like points per dollar spent and the value you can get when you spend the points in different ways.

But the research company Environics recently developed a “time to reward” algorithm for Colloquy that ups the ante by predicting how many months it actually takes to earn $100 CAD in rewards.

The calculation not only takes into consideration the potential payback from a program, but factors like usage patterns, the ability to double-dip (i.e. get points for the dollar value of your travel purchase plus the number of miles you fly) and how much you buy from a particular retailer.

Initially, over 1000 Canadians surveyed online in March 2014 by Environics were asked to select which of 23 top loyalty programs (14 of which have a non-credit loyalty card only) they used to collect loyalty rewards or dollars in the past three months. The programs in the list had membership of at least one per cent of the Canadian population and multiple programs could be picked from the list provided.

The top 10 selected were:

  • 72%: Air Miles
  • 35%: Shopper’s Optimum
  • 29%: Canadian Tire Money
  • 28%: Aeroplan
  • 28%: PC Points
  • 23%: Petro-Points
  • 17%: Scene Rewards
  • 17%: HBC Rewards
  • 13%: Club Sobey
  • 12%: Sears Card

However, once all 23 programs were assessed by Environics applying “time to rewards” metrics, rankings in some categories changed. Not surprisingly, the Air Miles and Aeroplan programs took the first and second spots for long and short haul flight rewards. Both are “coalition” loyalty programs (members can earn points through hundreds of retail partners, as opposed to just one).

But Aeroplan dropped to the number three spot after the Shoppers Optimum card when it came to how quickly cash equivalent rewards can accumulate. The Shoppers Drug Mart program regularly runs promotions where a large number of points is awarded for spending specified amounts on certain days.

The research also revealed the credit cards that will get a program member to a cash equivalent or merchandise reward the quickest tend to be retailer-specific or bank-issued credit cards. The Canadian Tire Cash Advantage MasterCard, the Best Buy Reward Zone Visa and the RBC Shoppers Optimum Card ranked 1, 2 and 3 in this category.

The Environics Research contains many more “time to reward” comparisons for loyalty programs and loyalty credit cards you can check out here. There is also an interactive online tool where you can test which Canadian loyalty programs will get you to your desired reward faster (i.e. travel rewards, cash or merchandise) using either your own spending pattern or pre-programmed Statistics Canada data.

Of course your favourite loyalty program may not have sufficient market penetration to even have been considered in the Environics study.

When I polled several prominent personal finance bloggers to find out the loyalty programs they use the most, Tom Drake (Canadian Finance) said his number one choice is a Costco Executive Membership, which is notably absent from the Environics study. It pays back two per cent of most purchases throughout the year in cash. “I also pay using my True Earnings Card from Costco and American Express which gives me another one per cent cash back or two per cent when I fill up with gas,” he says.

Robb Engen (Boomer & Echo) identified Scene Rewards which allows you to earn points that can be spent on free movies, concession food and music downloads as probably one of the most under-rated loyalty programs in the country. He also subscribes to Amazon Prime for $79/year because it gives him free two-day shipping on most items that Amazon carries.

And even though he is an avid Air Miles fan, Jim Yee (Retire Happy) believes it’s important to take a balanced approach to racking up points vs other important cost-saving considerations. “Safeway gives Air Miles but sometimes it’s more convenient or less expensive to shop elsewhere for groceries,” he says.

Oct 13: Best from the blogosphere

13 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

It was dark when I got up this morning and it won’t be long before it will also be dark before the end of the work day. So let’s shine a light on some interesting topics tackled by personal finance bloggers last week.

For most of your working life you’ve saved for retirement. But as that date nears, your focus shifts to using your savings to pay for life after work. Take a look at my blog What happens to my pension when I retire? on Brighter Life to find out how the money can be paid out when you retire.

GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca has a quiz that will help you build your retirement lifestyle profile — an analysis combining the range of income you’ll need and the level of readiness you’re at today.

In July, on Million Dollar Journey, Frugal Trader published his Canadian Online Discount Stock Brokerage Comparison, 2014. He mentions a number of major (cheap) discount brokerages in Canada including: E-Trade (now i-trade), Virtual Brokers, Qtrade, Interactive Brokers, and Questrade (voted #1 by Million Dollar Journey Readers).

Retire Happy blogger Sarah Milton discusses how to deal with the challenges of dating when you are trying to pay down debt and get your financial house in order. She says miscommunication can create a great deal of stress and tension.

And Retired Syd (Retirement: A full time job) writes about Her Short Career as a Landlord when after extensive preparations to rent out her vacation property in Napa she decided the small amount of money she would net was not worth the aggravation.

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Blonde on a budget embarks on a shopping ban

9 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

9Oct-CaitFlandersblondeonabudget

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Click here to listen

 

Today we are continuing with the 2014 savewithspp.com series of podcast interviews with personal finance bloggers. I’m talking to Cait Flanders, who blogs at Blondeonabudget.ca.

In 2011, Cait had $28,000 worth of debt. To stay accountable throughout her debt repayment journey, she decided to start this blog. She paid off the last dollar just under two years later and today she’s going to tell us how she did it.

Cait lives in the Vancouver area, works full time from home as the managing editor of Ratehub.ca and is a contributor to Gale Vaz-Oxlade’s blog, The Globe & Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and Tangerine Bank’s blog.

Hi Cait, and thanks for joining me today.

Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Q: Cait, before you started this blog you had $28,000 in debt. How did that happen? Was it as a result of accumulated student loans?
A: No, I actually never had a lot of student loan debt. To be perfectly honest a lot of it was consumer debt. For years and years I was just swiping my credit card for anything that I wanted to do or see.

Q: You paid off your debt in just under two years, how did you manage that?
A: I literally had $100 in my bank account and it had to last me for six weeks. So I moved home for six months and from that moment forward just lived what I jokingly called “a very boring life,” saying “no” to everything. The only fun thing I let myself do was go for coffee with a friend which was $4 or $5 instead of $50.

Q: So, you wrote about your journey to solvency on your blog and you still post your monthly budget and goals. How have your family and friends reacted to this high level of disclosure about your financial affairs?
A: That’s actually a really good question. I grew up in a house where my family talked about money very openly, probably every day, so I think my parents love it in the sense that, it’s cool to see that I’m continuing that now and just taking those conversations online.

No one has ever said anything about me posting the numbers but I’ve recently made the decision that I’m going to stop posting them because I’m finally starting to realize that it could actually be pretty dangerous. It could lead to issues like identity fraud or theft. So I’m going to do budgeting a little bit differently going forward.

Q: Since you’ve paid off this significant debt, how has your life changed?
A: I’d say the biggest change is I’m no longer stressed all the time. Not having debt gives me much more freedom. I probably let my lifestyle get inflated a little bit since then because when I was paying off my debt I was sometimes putting up to 50-55% of my monthly income toward debt repayment. That’s not a sustainable budget. After two years of realizing that I don’t need all kinds of fancy things or outings to make me happy, life changes.

Q: In addition to blogs about reducing your personal debt, what other subjects do you write about?
A: On my own blog I’ve written about everything from moving, living in other cities, some travels, and sobriety. I write for the education section of the Globe and Mail about every eight weeks and more recently I’ve been talking about minimalism on my blog.

Q: How many hits do you get on your blog each month?
A: Right now I’m probably averaging between 80,000 and 110,000 page views a month.

Q: Wow. That’s incredible.
A: Yeah. It’s crazy. Fifty per cent of that is usually from Canada and maybe 35 per cent is from the U.S. The rest is divided between the UK, Australia and I even have readers in South East Asia which I think is really cool.

Q: So what have you done to promote your blog? Why do you think your readership is so high?
A: Personally, nothing that I can think of. I love talking to people on Twitter. I reply to every single comment that goes up on my site. There has also been press along the way like stories that The Globe or The Toronto Star have picked up. That obviously brings in more people. But no, I haven’t personally done anything.

Q: How long have you been writing the blog?
A: Technically, in October, it would be 4 years.

Q: What have some of the spin offs been?
A: Everything has changed in my career. When I first started the blog, I found a New York personal finance site for women looking for an editorial intern, I asked if someone from Canada could apply and they said that they’d love to have me. That taught me everything I needed to know about being an editor of a website.

Then my current boss Alyssa, at Ratehub.ca who is a blonde on a budget reader offered me a job in Toronto with the company. There have also been other freelance jobs and my relationship with Gale Vaz-Oxlade. She’s just the most incredible mentor and I write for her site. But her friendship, has been one of the greatest and most unbelievable spin offs from my blog and other writing.

Q: Do you actually have to go to an office for Ratehub.ca or do you work from home?
A: Originally I moved to Toronto for 8 or 9 months, just to really get to know the team and build up my position in the company. Then I moved back to Vancouver where I work from home.

Q: In early July you announced you’re embarking on a one-year shopping ban. Why?
A: There are a few reasons. One day I had this epiphany. Even though I’ve always felt like I was a minimalist, I had this moment where I was trying to open my can opener drawer and I couldn’t find anything in there. I just had this freak out that I actually have way more stuff than I probably need.

Then I started thinking that I wasn’t getting anywhere with my current savings and financial goals I realized that that was because I was spending a lot of money on things that probably didn’t really matter. Although I’ve been really good with my money for the last few years I do think that there is always room for improvement.

I think the ban is going to be difficult at times but I just want to challenge myself and learn and grow from that exercise.

Q: So tell me what the rules are of the shopping ban. Obviously you have to pay your rent and buy food and go out occasionally.
A: I have to pay the bills and get groceries. I’m keeping my car so I have to get gas and pay insurance, and I’m giving myself a small recreation budget. It’s no clothes, no shoes, no electronics – things that not all girls buy but some do. I was always bad for picking up nail polish. I don’t need any more decor items in my home. It’s just that kind of stuff.

Q: So, if the one year ban is successful, what comes next? Are you thinking about a book or is there a major purchase you’re saving up for?
A: I think a book is something that all writers want to accomplish in their career but that has absolutely nothing to do with the ban. I haven’t really announced this but when it’s over my goal is that I’ll have money saved so I can take an extended trip to the UK.

Q: If you had one piece of advice for someone who is deeply in debt and wants to turn things around, what would it be?
A: I don’t think everyone needs to put 55% of their income toward debt repayment like I did, but I think just facing up to the numbers is key and then making a plan so debt repayment is a priority.

Q: Thank you very much for talking with me today, Cait.
A: Oh, thank you so much for having me.


This is an edited transcript you can listen to by clicking on the link above. You can find the blog Blonde on a Budget here

Oct 6: Best from the blogosphere

6 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

It’s October already! How time flies. Here are some interesting posts from some of our favourite, always prolific personal finance bloggers.

On Balance Junkie, Tom Drake discusses options for Banking on Your Mobile Phone. There are smartphone apps to run your business, create a budget, check your bank account and set up mobile payments.

How Behavioural Biases Kept Me From Becoming An Indexer is a confession from Boomer & Echo’s Robb Engen that it’s tough to sell a portfolio of high performing winning dividend stocks – his “babies” that he has nurtured through a five-year bull market. Nevertheless the more he reads about, writes about, and teaches others about investing, the more he is convinced that convinced that passive investing (indexing) is the right approach.

4 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Mutual Fund by Our Big Fat Wallet’s Dan Wesley include how the fund has performed as compared to other funds and the costs of ownership. Like Engen, he concludes that if an actively managed fund can’t beat the index, you’re likely better off with a low-cost index Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).

Whether you are a snowbird planning winter away from Canada’s cold climate or dreaming of a one week all inclusive getaway, take a look at Frequently Never Asked Questions for your Travel Medical Insurance on Bank Nerd. Did you know that in general, an emergency due to a pre-existing condition is not covered?

And finally, on Retire happy, Sarah Milton addresses the question Should New Canadians join a Group RRSP? She agrees that RRSP accounts are intended as a vehicle for retirement savings but says that doesn’t mean they only have value if you plan to retire in Canada.

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

BOOK REVIEW: THE FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK

2 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

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The 4-hour work week was originally published in 2007 and an expanded and updated edition was released in 2009. But I just heard about this #1 New York Times bestseller recently and became curious enough about the author’s philosophy to order a review copy.

Ferriss coins the term “New Rich (NR)” which means people who abandon the “deferred life” plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present, using time and mobility – the currency of the NR. He also says his journey from a grossly overworked and severely underpaid worker to a member of the NR is at once stranger than fiction and simple to duplicate.

His methodology is structured as a 4-step DEAL:

Step 1: D is for definition

To join the NR movement Ferriss says you need to learn a new lexicon and challenge the status quo. For example:

  • Negotiate a remote work schedule based on productivity that allows you to achieve 90% of the results in 10% of the time, thus freeing up time for sports and family travel.
  • As a business owner, eliminate the least profitable clients and projects, outsource as many functions as possible and travel the world while working remotely.
  • Set up a website business to sell a product with virtually no overhead that takes about two hours a week of your time to maintain.

These arrangements seem far-fetched for the average individual, particularly if you work in a lab, construction site or on a farm where you have to be physically present to do your job. Nevertheless there are lots of interesting anecdotes and examples of how many people have successfully applied these principles.

Step 2: E is for elimination

Ferris advocates getting rid of needless busy work to become more effective and more efficient. Adapting the Pareto 60/20 proposition, he says look at your job and your life through the lens of two questions:

  • What 20% of your sources are causing 80% of your problems and unhappiness?
  • What 20% of your sources are resulting in 80% of your desired outcomes and happiness?

For example, he advises freeing up time by “cultivating selective ignorance,” i.e. don’t watch the news and eliminate reading newspapers. I must confess he lost me on this one because I’m a journalist and a news junkie.

But I do buy into his chapter on avoiding interruptions and the art of refusal. Since I’ve retired from the corporate world I’ve managed to almost totally eliminate useless meetings. And checking email only twice a day coupled with a suitable email auto response to “train” your co-workers and clients seems like a laudable (if unattainable in my case) objective.

Step 3: A is for automation

This fascinating (but politically sensitive) chapter explains how not only large companies can outsource and offshore business processes and mundane personal tasks. AJ Jacobs, an editor-at-large at Esquire magazine explains how he outsourced many necessary but non-productive tasks.

He hired the company Brickwork in Bangalore, India that offers “remote executive assistants” to research articles. He also retained Your Man in India to pay his bills, make vacation reservations, renegotiate his cell phone plan and make online purchases.

I’m not sure I can justify the cost of outsourcing as many tasks as Jacobs does but every month when I have to enter data and balance my company bank account, the concept is really tempting.

However, I do outsource transcribing digital interviews by uploading them to the website transcribeteam.com. Less than 24 hours later the transcripts appear in my mailbox at a charge of U.S. $1/minute.

Step 4: L is for Liberation

Once you have eliminated needless busy work and automated or outsourced as many of your job functions as possible, this chapter explains how you can negotiate a remote working arrangement that will allow you to travel and work from anywhere in the world.

Again, the primary premise is that your current job (or any future business) truly doesn’t require you to be physically on the job. Ferriss says:

  • First of all, ensure you are a valued employee by performing well and taking advantage of as much in-house training as possible.
  • Next, call in sick for a couple of days but work from home to show how productive you can be.
  • Finally, make the business case for working at home at least a few days a week.

Then he says you can propose a revocable trial period and eventually ask to increase your remote working arrangement to the full week.

Will this work? Maybe in some cases, but face-to-face interactions with team members can create valuable synergy. And many employees don’t want to be away from the action and opportunities for promotion.

According to Ferriss, the top 13 mistakes the NR make are:

  1. Losing sight of dreams and falling into work for work’s sake.
  2. Micromanaging and emailing to fill time.
  3. Handling problems outsourcers or co-workers can handle.
  4. Helping outsourcers with the same problem more than once or with non-crisis problems.
  5. Chasing more customers, particularly poor prospects when you already have a good customer base.
  6. Not having a dedicated work space for sleeping, living or relaxing.
  7. Answering email that won’t enhance their business and can be handled by an auto-reply message.
  8. Not performing an 80/20 analysis every two to four weeks for their business and personal life.
  9. Striving for perfection rather than great or good enough.
  10. Blowing minutia and small problems out of proportion as an excuse to work
  11. Making issues that are not time sensitive urgent to justify work.
  12. Viewing one product, job or project as the be-all or end all of their existence.
  13. Ignoring the social rewards of life.

It’s easy to dismiss this book as a fantasy because most of us don’t have the vision, or the nerve or the self-discipline to try and apply the principles Ferris espouses. We can only dream of crafting an entrepreneurial lifestyle working four hours a week where big cheques still routinely appear in our bank accounts.

But there are lots of interesting anecdotes and great ideas in this book that anyone can put to good use. I plan to read it again carefully on my own time and make a “To Do” list of strategies I can implement.

My goal? Work less and earn more until I am really ready for full retirement!

You can buy both used and new copies of The Four Hour Work Week on Amazon. The hard cover edition is $16.89.

Timothy Ferriss

Timothy Ferriss

Sept 29: Best from the blogosphere

29 Sep

By Sheryl Smolkin

As I write this, Summer is definitely over. The nights are getting chilly and the tree on our front lawn seems to be dumping a never ending volume of leaves.

If you are offered something for free it seems to always end up costing you money. In Free is a Good Price (but still can be expensive) Big Cajun Man because they have Home Depot credit cards, he and his wife are now victims of yet another massive personal information breach, which may cause them financial Issues in the future. As a result, he got free Equifax credit monitoring for a year, but the services were not really free because his identity is now in the hands of “dastardly thieves.”

Robb Engen asks the question Should You Pay Off Your Partner’s Debt? in Boomer and Echo. The decision to pay off a partner’s debt shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it can lead to resentment or even divorce if the couple is truly financially incompatible. Nevertheless, he and his wife pooled their resources and their finances became a joint endeavour after they started living together in 2003.

Jessica Moorhouse blogs at Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses. She tackles the issue how to manage family finance when one partner is a freelancer with erratic income. For any of you in a similar situation, her only piece of advice is to communicate, communicate, communicate! Being on the same page is crucial, even when you make money differently or one person makes more than the other.

Be cautious of debt repayment companies says Wayne Rothe on Retire Happy. They will consolidate and pay off your loans and set up a repayment schedule to their own company. He says this is something you can do for yourself or with the help of a friend to avoid paying the additional fees that are part of the deal.

And finally, Choosing Mutual Funds in your Employer Pension? FrugalTrader  says pick the index funds – the ones with the word “index” in the title of the fund. If you follow the indexed “couch potato” philosophy of investing, then you’ll pick 4 funds:

  • Canadian Index
  • US Index
  • International Index
  • Bond Index

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

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