It's Your Money  

Early retirement is growing momentum with FIRE movement

The FIRE movement

In an era marked by shifting career expectations, evolving financial landscapes and a renewed focus on life's purpose, the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement is experiencing a significant resurgence.

Traditionally, retirement has been synonymous with a gold watch and a pension plan at age 65, but for today's younger generations, the notion of early retirement is gaining momentum.

The FIRE movement emerged in the early 1990s, from the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, but has gained significant traction in recent years. It revolves around the idea of achieving financial independence as quickly as possible, allowing individuals to retire early and pursue their passions or simply enjoy life on their terms.

FIRE followers typically save a substantial portion of their income, practice frugal living and invest wisely to build a nest egg that can support their desired lifestyle without relying on traditional employment.

So, what is this movement and how does it work? Let’s break down the main components:

1. Financial security and freedom—One of the primary reasons for the resurgence of the FIRE movement is the desire for financial security and freedom among younger generations. Millennials and Gen Z have witnessed the challenges faced by their parents and grandparents, such as the uncertainties of traditional retirement plans and the burden of student loan debt. In response, they're seeking alternative paths to achieve financial independence and retire early to enjoy life on their own terms.

2. Work-Life balance and pursuing passions—Younger generations value work-life balance and are keen on pursuing their passions outside of the 9-to-5 grind. The FIRE movement aligns perfectly with this mindset, as it encourages individuals to prioritize personal fulfillment and spend their time on activities that genuinely matter to them, whether it's traveling, volunteering or starting a business.

3. Investment opportunities and financial education - Advancements in technology and increased access to financial education have empowered younger generations to take control of their finances and investments. Online platforms, robo-advisors, and investment apps have made it easier than ever to build a diversified investment portfolio. Younger people are leveraging these tools to grow their wealth and work toward early retirement goals.

4. Remote work and gig economy—The rise of remote work and the gig economy have expanded opportunities for earning income outside of traditional office jobs. Many younger individuals are capitalizing on this flexibility to supplement their savings and accelerate their path to financial independence. The ability to generate income on their own terms brings them closer to achieving FIRE goals.

5. Minimalism and sustainable living - Minimalism and sustainable living are trends that resonate with younger generations. FIRE aligns with these values by encouraging a minimalist lifestyle that focuses on essentials and avoids unnecessary expenses. By cutting back on materialism and wasteful spending, individuals pursuing FIRE can accelerate their savings rate and reduce their financial dependency on traditional employment.

6. Community and support—The FIRE movement has a thriving online community where like-minded individuals share their experiences, strategies, and support. Younger generations find inspiration and motivation in these communities, helping them stay on track with their FIRE goals. The sense of belonging and the ability to learn from others' experiences have fueled the movement's resurgence.

The resurgence of the FIRE movement among younger generations is a testament to their determination to take control of their financial futures and prioritize a life of fulfillment and purpose. By focusing on financial independence, early retirement, and the pursuit of passions, the FIRE movement offers a compelling alternative to the traditional retirement narrative.

While FIRE isn't without its challenges and sacrifices, it provides a roadmap for young people to escape the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and achieve a future where they can choose how they spend their time and resources.

Whether it's through diligent saving, wise investments, or embracing minimalist lifestyles, the FIRE movement is reshaping the way younger generations approach their financial goals, offering a path to a brighter and more self-determined future.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Investing in cryptocurrency after Its fall

Buying into cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency, once hailed as the future of finance, has witnessed a rollercoaster ride in recent years, with staggering peaks and alarming troughs.

The year 2021 saw cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum reach all-time highs, followed by a significant downturn.

Let’s delve into the rise and fall of cryptocurrency and explore strategies for safe(r) investing in this dynamic space now that it's considerably down from its peaks.

Cryptocurrency, born with the launch of Bitcoin in 2009, steadily gained momentum over the years. It promised decentralized, borderless, and transparent financial transactions, attracting both enthusiasts and institutional investors. The real watershed moment came in 2021 when Bitcoin's price skyrocketed from a few thousand dollars to over $60,000, and other cryptocurrencies followed suit. Ethereum, with its smart contract capabilities, also experienced exponential growth.

However, this meteoric rise was unsustainable. Cryptocurrencies are notorious for their volatility, driven by factors like market sentiment, regulatory changes and macroeconomic events. In 2021, concerns over excessive speculation, regulatory crackdowns, and energy consumption in mining triggered a significant correction. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies experienced substantial losses, leaving many investors with heavy losses.

So where does that leave us today and is there a way to invest in this space today without taking on too much risk? Here are some steps to consider if you’re interested in investing in cryptocurrency:

1. Diversify your portfolio—The first rule of safe investing in any asset class, including cryptocurrencies, is diversification. Avoid putting all your funds into a single cryptocurrency. Instead, spread your investments across a range of digital assets. Diversification helps mitigate risk by reducing the impact of a poor-performing asset on your overall portfolio.

2. Do your research—Before investing in any cryptocurrency, conduct thorough research. Understand the technology behind it, its use case, and the team behind the project. Read whitepapers, follow news and updates, and be aware of the latest developments. Make informed decisions based on solid information rather than FOMO (fear of missing out).

3. Invest only what you can afford to lose—Cryptocurrency investments should come from discretionary funds that you can afford to lose without affecting your daily life or financial goals. Given the volatility of the market, it's crucial to avoid investing money you cannot afford to lose.

4. Dollar-cost averaging (DCA)—To mitigate the impact of price volatility, consider a dollar-cost averaging strategy. With DCA, you invest a fixed amount of money at regular intervals, regardless of the cryptocurrency's price. This strategy reduces the risk associated with trying to time the market and can work well for long-term investors.

5. Use reliable exchanges and wallets—Select reputable cryptocurrency exchanges for buying, selling and trading digital assets. Research their security features, customer support and track record. Additionally, use secure wallets to store your cryptocurrencies offline (hardware wallets) or in trusted digital wallets with strong security measures.

6. Beware of scams and frauds—The cryptocurrency space is rife with scams and fraudulent schemes. Exercise caution and be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities, especially those promising quick and guaranteed returns. Always double-check the legitimacy of the projects you invest in.

7. Stay informed about regulatory changes—Regulations surrounding cryptocurrencies are evolving rapidly in various jurisdictions. Stay informed about the regulatory landscape in your country and internationally. Compliance with local laws is essential to ensure the legality of your investments.

8. Prepare for long-term holding—Consider adopting a long-term investment mindset. While day trading and short-term gains can be enticing, they come with higher risks. Holding onto cryptocurrencies for an extended period may offer better prospects for a return on your investment.

9. Seek professional advice—If you're uncertain about your cryptocurrency investment strategy, consider seeking advice from financial professionals who specialize in digital assets. They can help tailor an approach that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

The cryptocurrency market's rise and fall have been nothing short of dramatic. While the 2021 peaks are now distant memories, the space still may hold some potential for long-term investors.

Safely navigating cryptocurrency investments requires discipline, research, and a cautious approach. By following these principles, you can participate in the cryptocurrency market with greater confidence and resilience in the face of its inherent volatility.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Twelve steps to take after a disaster

Dealing with disaster

Disasters can strike when least expected, leaving individuals and families devastated both emotionally and financially.

In Canada, wildfires have become an increasingly common threat, leaving many residents grappling with the loss of their homes and possessions. While the emotional toll of such an event is immeasurable, it's crucial to develop a comprehensive financial plan to help rebuild your life after such a catastrophe.

In today’s column, I will discuss financial planning strategies for people who have experienced the loss of their homes in a wildfire or other disaster and the steps they can take to get back on track:

1. Prioritize safety first—After a wildfire has destroyed your home, the first step is ensuring the safety of you and your family. Contact local authorities and follow their guidance on when it's safe to return to the area.

2. Contact your insurance company—Reach out to your insurance company as soon as possible to report the loss and initiate the claims process. Understand the details of your homeowner's insurance policy, including coverage limits and deductibles. Insurance companies will send adjusters to assess the damage and determine the compensation you are eligible for. But make sure you get legal advice on the compensation they are offering to ensure it’s fair and correct.

3. Find a place to stay—While your home is being assessed and rebuilt, you'll need temporary housing. This may include staying with family or friends, renting a temporary residence or seeking assistance from local disaster relief organizations. Finding a rental home in the Okanagan can be challenging at the best of times and it is important to look ahead to the busy summer months next year as rebuilding will take significant time and many rentals only allow people to stay until springtime when they switch to AirBnB type accommodations.

4. Document the damage—Once you’re allowed back to the area, it's essential to document the damage caused by the wildfire thoroughly. Take photographs and make a detailed inventory of the items you've lost. This will be crucial when filing insurance claims or applying for government assistance programs. Be sure to include the estimated value of each item and any receipts or proof of purchase you have.

5. Access government assistance—In Canada, federal and provincial governments often provide assistance to individuals affected by disasters like wildfires. Research the available programs and apply for any financial aid or relief that you may qualify for. This assistance can help cover immediate expenses, such as emergency housing and basic necessities.

6. Create a budget—Once you have a clear understanding of your (new) financial situation, create a detailed budget. Calculate your income, expenses, and any available resources. With this information, you can prioritize essential expenses and allocate funds to cover immediate needs. Adjust your budget as necessary to ensure your financial stability during the recovery process.

7. Seek professional financial advice—Financial recovery can be a complex and overwhelming process. Consider seeking assistance from a certified financial planner, who can help you navigate insurance claims, government assistance programs, and amend your long-term financial plan to your new situation.

8. Rebuild your emergency fund—If you had an emergency fund before the disaster, you may have had to dip into it to cover immediate expenses. Rebuilding this fund should be a priority once you're back on your feet financially. Having a robust emergency fund can provide peace of mind and financial security in case of future unexpected events.

9. Re-evaluate your investment portfolio—If you are rebuilding, you may end up spending more than what is provided by your insurance company, and you need to plan ahead for where this money will come from. If some funds may be needed from your savings, it's essential to reevaluate your investment portfolio now to set aside funds in an account that will not be subject to market risks.

10. Rebuild your credit—A wildfire can have an impact on your credit score, especially if you missed payments or incurred additional debt during the recovery process. Rebuilding your credit is crucial for your long-term financial health. Pay off any outstanding debts, make on-time payments, and consider seeking advice on credit repair strategies.

12. Review and update insurance coverage—After experiencing a disaster like a wildfire, it's essential to review and update your insurance coverage to ensure you are adequately protected in the future. Work with your insurance agent to make any necessary adjustments to your policies.

Recovering from the loss of a home due to a disaster is a challenging journey but with careful financial planning and perseverance, you can rebuild your life.

By following these financial planning strategies, Canadians who have experienced a disaster can work toward a brighter and more financially secure future.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Financial strategies to help you retire early

Retire early money tips

The idea of retiring early is a dream for many Canadians, but it often feels like an unattainable goal. And with expenses and the cost of living skyrocketing, the dream seems to be slipping further away.

However, with the right strategies and financial planning, early retirement can be a reality even in the current market and interest rate environment. Let’s explore some tips and strategies people can consider if they are looking to retire early without sacrificing financial security or dramatically altering their retirement plans:

1. Start early and save aggressively—One of the fundamental keys to early retirement is to start saving as early as possible. The power of compounding interest works in your favor when you invest for the long term. Begin by maximizing contributions to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans, like a company pension or group RRSP, if available.

2. Create a comprehensive financial plan—Building a comprehensive financial plan is crucial for early retirement. Consider working with a certified financial planner who can help you set realistic retirement goals, assess your risk tolerance, and create a well-structured plan that will keep you on track and adapt to changing market conditions.

3. Manage debt wisely—High-interest debt can be a major impediment to early retirement. Prioritize paying off high-interest loans, such as credit card debt and personal loans. Make a plan to reduce and eventually eliminate mortgage debt before retirement. Lowering your debt burden will free up more of your income for savings and investments.

4. Live below your means—Living below your means is essential for building substantial savings. Avoid lifestyle inflation as your income grows, and commit to a frugal lifestyle. This means cutting unnecessary expenses, making thoughtful purchase decisions, and setting a budget that allows for consistent savings.

5. Maximize tax-efficient investments—Take advantage of tax-efficient investment strategies. Invest in tax-efficient accounts like TFSAs and RRSPs, and consider using other tax-efficient investment strategies once those accounts are topped off. Tax planning can help reduce your tax liability both before and during retirement.

6. Explore income-generating opportunities—To retire early without sacrificing financial security, you may need to generate additional sources of income. This can include part-time work, freelance gigs, or passive income streams like real estate or dividend-yielding investments. Supplementing your retirement income can help bridge the gap between early retirement and traditional retirement age.

7. Healthcare planning—Retiring early means you might not be eligible for certain employer-sponsored benefits. Plan for your healthcare needs, and consider private health insurance options if necessary. Ensure you have adequate coverage for potential health expenses during your early retirement years.

8. Emergency fund and cash reserves—Maintaining an emergency fund is essential, even in early retirement. Having a cash cushion to cover unexpected expenses or market downturns can prevent you from having to tap into your retirement savings prematurely. Aim to have at least six to twelve months' worth of living expenses in readily accessible cash or liquid assets.

9. Regularly review and adjust your plan—Market conditions and personal circumstances can change, so it's important to regularly review your retirement plan. Adjust your investment portfolio, savings goals, and spending as needed to stay on track for early retirement without compromising your financial security.

10. Consider the sequence of withdrawals–Once in early retirement, be mindful of the sequence in which you withdraw funds from your various accounts. A well-planned withdrawal strategy can optimize your tax situation and extend the longevity of your savings.

Achieving early retirement in the current market and interest rate environment is still possible with careful planning and disciplined financial management – and should not mean you need to sacrifice your financial security or alter your retirement plans dramatically.

By following these tips, sticking to your well-constructed financial plan and staying committed to your goals, you can enjoy the benefits of early retirement while maintaining a comfortable and financially secure lifestyle throughout your retirement years.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More It's Your Money articles

About the Author

Brett has worked in the financial advice industry for over 15 years and is designated as a chartered investment manager(CIM) and certified financial planner (CFP).

In 2014, Brett was appointed to the board of directors of FP Canada (the national professional body for financial planning) and spent seven years on the board, including his final two as board chair. More recently, he was appointed to the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB), which is the international professional body for this industry with a three-year term beginning in April 2023.

Brett has been writing a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy-to-understand explanations of the complex financial challenges that they face in every stage of life.

Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority of Brett’s and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer and on the regulatory side through the national and global boards focus on this initiative.   

Please let Brett know if you have any topics that you’d like him to cover in future columns or if you’d like a referral to a qualified CFP professional in your area by emailing him at [email protected].


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories