5 Things to Help You Survive Your 40s & 50s

5 Things to Help You Survive Your 40s & 50s

You know those days where everything goes wrong and you’re so tired you don’t know what direction’s up? They’re a lot more manageable when you know what you’re working towards.  

Here’s 5 things that’ll help you survive—and make the most of!—your 40s and 50s.

1. Do work you enjoy.

Brace yourself for the motivational platitudes… Life’s too short to do work you don’t enjoy. You’re never too old to start something new. It’s not too late!

They’re cliches for a reason.

We spend too many hours working and commuting to be in a career that gives us the Sunday night dreads. Doing work we enjoy gives us the sense of purpose and energy we need to juggle our way through these years. And man, do we need all the energy we can get…

This doesn’t mean you have to storm into your boss’s office yelling, “I QUIT” so you can start a surf school in Hawaii (Although, go for it!). Maybe you do need a whole new career, but perhaps you just need a new position within your company, or to tweak the one your have so you’re working on different projects. 

Bottom line, a more enjoyable career might be easier to get than you think. And it’s so worth it. 

2. Have extra cash on hand for emergencies.

Between your kids, your parents, your home, and even your pets (have you seen vet bills these days?!) someone’s bound to need something. 

Having cash on hand means you’ll be able to cover these surprise expenses stress-free. So the next time Fido needs an emergency run to the vet to get who-knows-what removed from his paw, your won’t have to rely on credit or give up your weekly brunches to cover it. 

The general rule of thumb is to have three to six months worth of cash on hand in an emergency fund. In these years make it closer to six months worth, just to be safe.

3. Take care of your health.

What’s that got to do with money, you ask? Everything.

We all know neglecting your health now can lead to big medical bills down the line, but that’s not really the point. Staying healthy means you can make the most of your time, and time is the most precious thing we have. What good is time off if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it?

We’re not saying you should stop buying cookies and sign up for a triathlon, just a couple healthy habits can go a long way. Maybe that’s walking your kids to practice instead of driving, having healthier lunches at work, joining a hockey league with your friends… whatever works for your lifestyle. 

4. Know what you’re working towards. 

No, “retirement” doesn’t count. Get specific! How do you want to spend your time? What do you truly value? What makes you happy?

Spend more on that and less on everything else. 

If you’re a homebody or someone who loves to entertain, it makes sense to put money towards renovations or a bigger house. But if you’re a travel junkie who sees wine tastings across Europe in their future, maybe you need to downsize and put those dollars towards your Italy fund.

Let go of what you think you should be spending on and working towards, and get clear on what you actually want. 

5. Make a plan for your money.

Once you know what matters to you and what you’re working towards it’s a whole lot easier to make a plan for your money. 

You can estimate what that new house or wine tour will cost and save for it accordingly. You’ll know how much you’ve got leftover to spend today and you’ll know what spending will make you happy, and what won’t.

The daily grind becomes a lot more manageable once you know you’re investing in the life you want.

 

This article was written by Randy Cass, CEO, Founder, and Portfolio Manager at Nest Wealth. This article originally appeared on the Nest Wealth blog on May 26th, 2017. 

Finding the Right Home Without Blowing Your Budget

Finding the Right Home Without Blowing Your Budget

If you have been looking to find the right first home within your budget, it’s a matter of mind over money, here’s some tips from Genworth Financial that will help you keep perspective!

It’s hard to say “goodbye” to your dream home. But if you fall for a house that’s out of your budget, that’s exactly what you should do. Don’t ask your mortgage broker to get you approved for a larger mortgage, and don’t stew over the one that got away.

Responsible homeownership includes knowing what you can comfortably afford, setting a budget, and buying within it. If you take on a budget-hammering mortgage, you’ll be left with little discretionary income or emergency funds.

Exercising self-control is crucial. Shopping for your first home? Use our top 3 tips to stay budget-focused:

Avoid a multiple offer situation

If a great house is priced low for its neighbourhood, chances are the sellers want to generate a lot of interest and ultimately create a bidding war. If the list price is near the top of your budget, save yourself the anxiety – and probable disappointment – of bidding.

If it’s well under your budget, put in your one best offer. If the seller comes back inviting another offer, don’t bite. Move on.

Shop with your head, not your heart

A common mistake first-timers make is getting too emotionally invested in the home-buying process. Avoid that!

  • Don’t fall in love with a house that’s not yours.
  • Don’t let your ego push you into a bidding war because you “are in it to win it.”
  • Do go house hunting when you’re rested, fed and level-headed, not tired, stressed out or “hungry” (so hungry you’re borderline angry).

Finally, remember it’s a starter home

According to Genworth Canada research, 50% of first-time homebuyers view their first home as a starter home and plan on moving within the decade. Those years go by quickly when you’re living your life, raising a family, and completing home improvement projects that increase the enjoyment of your home.

Buy conservatively (a good-enough home you can comfortably afford), build equity over the next decade, and hit the market when you’ve got the means to hunt for your blue-sky-perfect forever home.

 

This article: Mind over money: Find the right home without blowing your budget was originally published by Genworth Canada on homeownership.ca here.

Your Work Makes You Happier Than You Think

Your Work Makes You Happier Than You Think

While we may think we dislike our work, research shows we’re considerably less happy doing nothing.

The great paradox of working for a living, according to a recent longread by Derek Thompson for The Atlantic, is “that while many people hate their jobs, they are considerably more miserable doing nothing.”

The research backs this up. We think we’re happiest when not working, but studies show that Sunday at noon—a time when we’re usually up to nothing—is when we feel the least happy. Our best moments come when we’re actively engaged in what we’re doing—not passively vegging on the couch.

This mistaken impression comes up all the time in how we behave: we don’t act in ways that make us happy. For example:

  • We buy homes in the suburbs, even though a shorter commute is shown to have a significantly better effect on our happiness and wellbeing. With a one-hour daily commute, you have to earn 40% more to be as satisfied with your work as someone who walks to the office every day.
  • We think buying more crap will make us happy, but we very quickly adjust to what we have.
  • More than half of us don’t use up our vacation time because we want to get more accomplished at work—when really, nothing has a more positive impact on our productivity than [taking the time] to disconnect, unwind, and recharge.

Work is the same way. In the absence of it, we gravitate towards doing nothing—after all, doing nothing takes considerably less effort than engaging in more complex projects. But doing nothing, especially in large doses, has been shown to make us deeply unhappy.

This affects those who are unemployed as well. As Derek writes, “Two of the most common side effects of unemployment are loneliness, on the individual level, and the hollowing-out of community pride. […] The unemployed theoretically have the most time to socialize, and yet studies have shown that they feel the most social isolation.”

On top of keeping us happy and engaged with life, work gives us something to be proud of. As Derek writes, “[c]ontentment speaks in the present tense, but something more—pride—comes only in reflection on past accomplishments.”

As Michael Lewis puts it in his great new book The Undoing Project, “It is a cognitive and emotional relief to immerse oneself in something all-consuming while other difficulties float by. The complexities of intellectual puzzles are nothing to those of emotional ones. Work is a wonderful refuge.”

But work is more than just an activity that gives us money and purpose: it’s also the process through which the world functions. It lets us, as individuals, produce goods and services for one another. As a whole, human beings value effort. To illustrate this idea, I love this story from behavioral economist Dan Ariely, as quoted in the BBC:

. . .”Early in his career, the locksmith “was just not that good at it: it would take him a really long time to open the door, and he would often break the lock,” Ariely says. Still, people were happy to pay his fee and throw in a tip. As he got better and faster, though, they complained about the fee, and stopped tipping. You’d think they would value regaining access to their house or car more swiftly. But what they really wanted was to see the locksmith putting in the time and effort – even if it meant a longer wait.”

While the nature of our work is always changing—whether on a societal or individual level—it’s more valuable than we think. And because of how engaged we are in our work—especially relative to doing nothing—it makes us happier than we may think, too.

 

This article was written by Chris Bailey, chief productivity expert over at “A Life of Productivity” – It was originally published here on May 15th 2017. 

A Strong Case for Homeownership

A Strong Case for Homeownership

Housing affordability questions have placed homeownership and public policy near the top of the national agenda, as mortgage brokers know. Most of the commentary has been focused on the extent to which government policy, particularly with regards to supply, is contributing to the affordability challenges. This debate is ongoing and will not be resolved here.

But there is less basic commentary about why we should care about homeownership. Why should government policy support homeownership? Simply put: it remains a powerful conveyor belt to the middle class.

Home ownership is associated with a raft of economic and social benefits including better educational and health outcomes, stronger families, safer communities, higher levels of civic participation and greater wealth accumulation. A few policy areas are more likely to generate upward mobility and economic opportunity than housing and home ownership.

Here are some highlights from a considerable body of research:

  • Kulkarni and Malmendier (2015) analyze the link between homeownership and upward mobility, and find a strong positive relationship for the children of homeowners that the two economists attribute to the stability and social capital that is associated with owning one’s home.
  • A post-recession update to past research on the broad economic and social benefits of homeownership by Rohe and Lindblad (2013) concludes that “there is considerable evidence that positive homeownership experiences result in greater participation in social and political activities, improved psychological health, positive assessments of neighborhood, and high school and post-secondary school completion.”
  • Ni and Decker (2009) study the relationship between homeownership and crime and find not only that “homeownership itself has a strong and statistically significant negative effect on both violent and property crime rates,” but that increases in homeownership rates reduce criminal activity over time.
  • Haurin et al. (2002) study the link between homeownership and educational performance for children and find that it leads to a 13 percent to 23 percent improvement in a higher-quality home environment, greater cognitive ability and fewer child behaviour problems relative to renting.
  • Harkness and Newman (2003) examine whether children from lower-income and higher-income families benefit equally from homeownership and find that for children growing up in families with incomes less than 150 percent of the federal poverty line, homeownership raises educational attainment, earnings and welfare independence in young adulthood.

These studies show the direct and spillover benefits that can come from a pro-homeownership society. Limited research has tested these findings in the Canadian context. Yet the work that has been done finds similar experiences and results.

A 2013 CMHC survey of nearly 1000 Canadians who purchased a home through Habitat for Humanity casts light on the significant benefits that come with homeownership. Respondents showed positive results across a range of economic and social indicators, including labour force attachment, the educational performance and behaviour of their children, improved personal finances, better health, and general happiness. Most respondents identified that these benefits derived “from the security, stability and sense of control that comes with homeownership” (2).

A 2012 study commissioned by Habitat for Humanity Toronto found similar results in its assessment of the “social impact” of homeownership. The findings are powerful: 95 percent of respondents said that their families were stronger, 81 percent reported an improvement in their child’s social life, 76 percent reported improvement in their children’s grades, 72 percent reported strong community and neighbourhood ties, and 50 percent reported that they felt safer.

As for wealth accumulation, housing has been a major driver of overall household net worth in Canada. A 2015 report by TD Economics finds that it represents about one-third of the roughly $6.6-trillion increase since 1990. The importance of housing wealth has even increased as an overall share of household net worth and accounted for 40 percent of the total increase in net worth since 2001 (TD Economics 2015).

While a number of factors contribute to upward mobility and middle-class opportunity including education, family and culture, homeownership plays a strong role in Canada and elsewhere. This is a critical point: the evidence shows that the benefits are not just limited to homeowners. Society benefits when families have access to affordable, responsible homeownership and thus government policy should continue to support it.

 

The article “The Case of Homeownership” was originally published on the Canadian Mortgage Trends, a publication of Mortgage Professionals Canada. 

Bank of Canada Rate Announcement May 24th, 2017

Bank of Canada Rate Announcement May 24th, 2017

The Bank of Canada is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent.

Inflation is broadly in line with the Bank’s projection in its April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Food prices continue to decline, mainly because of intense retail competition, pushing inflation temporarily lower. The Bank’s three measures of core inflation remain below two per cent and wage growth is still subdued, consistent with ongoing excess capacity in the economy.

The global economy continues to gain traction and recent developments reinforce the Bank’s view that growth will gradually strengthen and broaden over the projection horizon. As anticipated, growth in the United States during the first quarter was weak, reflecting mostly temporary factors. Recent data point to a rebound in the second quarter.  The uncertainties outlined in the April MPR continue to cloud the global and Canadian outlooks.

The Canadian economy’s adjustment to lower oil prices is largely complete and recent economic data have been encouraging, including indicators of business investment. Consumer spending and the housing sector continue to be robust on the back of an improving labour market, and these are becoming more broadly based across regions. Macroprudential and other policy measures, while contributing to more sustainable debt profiles, have yet to have a substantial cooling effect on housing markets. Meanwhile, export growth remains subdued, as anticipated in the April MPR, in the face of ongoing competitiveness challenges. The Bank’s monitoring of the economic data suggests that very strong growth in the first quarter will be followed by some moderation in the second quarter.

All things considered, Governing Council judges that the current degree of monetary stimulus is appropriate at present, and maintains the target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent.

Here are the announcements dates set out for the remainder of 2017.

  • Wednesday 12 July*
  • Wednesday 6 September
  • Wednesday 25 October*
  • Wednesday 6 December

*Monetary Policy Report published

All rate announcements will be made at 10:00 (ET), and the Monetary Policy Report will continue to be published concurrently with the January, April, July and October rate announcements.

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