Golden Girl Finance
Ellen Roseman
Posts (2)


Are you ready for your 'victory lap'?

May 2nd, 2017 by

The truth about working in retirement


I got my first writing job in 1969 after doing a master’s degree in philosophy.  Once trained to cover business, I found I loved the work. That was the start of a long career, writing for daily newspapers about consumer and money issues. I’m still writing for the Toronto Star, even though I took a retirement package in December 2015. 

Last year, I wrote 52 weekly columns for the Star. I also taught investing courses to adults at the University of Toronto and headed up a registered charity advocating for investor rights

My husband, who retired before I did, wonders why I’m not home more and why we travel less than before. I tell him it’s time-consuming to be semi-retired. And I like it that way.

Mike Drak, a former banker, left his corporate job after three decades because it was stressful and damaging to his health. But he knew a cold-turkey retirement wasn’t in the cards for him.

“I get bored easily and the thought of possibly spending more years in retirement, with nothing to do, than I had spent in my working life scared me a little—no, make that a lot,” he says in a book written with former National Post and MoneySense financial journalist Jonathan Chevreau. 

Chevreau, who spent 10 years trying to get the financial world to replace the word retirement with Findependence (short for financial independence), liked Drak’s concept of Victory Lap Retirement

Think of Usain Bolt, the talented Jamaican sprinter. After he wins gold at the Olympics, he takes a slow jog around the track—a happy time of continuing to run—known as a victory lap.

Victory lap retirement refers to a stage between a salaried primary career and a full-stop life of leisure once you leave your job. It’s about working because you want to, not because you have to (financially speaking).

To enjoy a victory lap retirement, you must become financially independent first. This means being debt-free and having several streams of income arising from pensions, investments, part-time work, rental real estate or Internet businesses.  

“Findependence is best described on a cash-flow basis,” the authors say in their 2016 self-published book. “It’s the point where your basic (non-discretionary) living expenses are covered by your passive (non-work) income.” 

If you need $30,000 a year to cover your living expenses, for example, you need $30,000 in after-tax, non-work income to be financially independent. Any money you earn from work is a “playcheque,” which you can use for pleasure. 

I’m not as hopeful as Drak and Chevreau about Canadian families’ ability to reach that magical state. Debt, divorce and disability keep many people from saving enough during their working lives to fund a long life after work.

My husband and I are financially comfortable. But I like the idea of using my decades of experience helping people fight back against corporate trickery. And I want to avoid depleting our savings too quickly. 

Part-time work is an ideal compromise for me. And I’ll do it until I’m ready to opt for full-time retirement.

Personal Finance

More money, more happiness?

March 7th, 2017 by

5 ways to give yourself the biggest psychic boost possible


Can money buy happiness? There’s a wealth of research to shine a light on this fascinating topic.

A 2010 study by Princeton University professors Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton concluded that money does make us happier – but only up to a certain point. Self-reported levels of wellbeing increased up to about $75,000 (U.S.) a year, their work showed. After that, higher incomes had no further effect on happiness. Both men were awarded the Nobel Prize in economics so their study attracted a lot of attention.

They discovered there are two kinds of happiness and money affects each kind of happiness in a different way:

  • Everyday contentment – the experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger and affection that make your life pleasant or unpleasant. 
  • Life assessment – the thoughts you have about your life.

While everyday contentment levels off at $75,000 – or about $100,000 in Canadian dollars – you will probably assess your life as happier the more your income grows. There is no upper limit. People who earned $160,000, for example, reported more overall satisfaction than those earning $120,000.

“Giving people more income beyond $75K is not going to do much for their daily mood… but it is going to make them feel they have a better life,” Deaton said in 2010.

In another study, business professor Michael Norton gave university students either $5 or $20. He asked them to spend it on something for themselves, or for someone else, by the end of the day. The students who gave their money away were happier than those who spent it on themselves. 

He repeated that study in several different countries and came to this conclusion: Giving money to others instead of spending it on yourself provides a bigger happiness bang for the buck.

“It doesn’t take a lot of giving to get a lot of happiness,” Norton said.  “The benefits of giving can be had for mere dollars a day.”

5 ways money can boost happiness

Jean Chatzky, a U.S. money writer and TV commentator, uses Norton’s research to recommend five ways to give yourself the biggest psychic boost possible:

  1. Favour experiences over things. Spending $100 on a theatre ticket will likely make you happier than buying a $100 pair of blue jeans.
  2. Buy things that align with your values. If you like to take long walks or runs by yourself, for example, you can subscribe to an audiobook service to enrich your experience.
  3. Keep your circle of generosity tight. When spending money on other people, confine it to your family and close friends.
  4. Use cash instead of credit. Being in debt is a strong predictor of being unhappy. So, save money and try to automate it when you can.
  5. Track the payoff from purchases. Write down how you feel when you make a big purchase, a week later and a month down the road. That helps you determine what is worth spending money on what is worth skipping.