Who Takes Financial Advice from a Figure Skater?

Who remembers the 1988 Winter Olympics? 

That was the year the world was introduced to a young man from Rockie Mountain House AB named Kurt Browning.  He finished 8th overall, not a bad showing for a 22-year-old considering what it takes to get the Olympics in the first place. 

A few weeks later his place on the international stage was cemented when he landed the first ever quadruple-toe-loop in competition at the world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Browning went on to win the world championships 4 times and represented Canada at two more Olympic Games, retiring from international competition in 1994.

Kurt Browning was, and no doubt remains, a great figure skater, he is not a banker!

Today Kurt Browning is best known as the spokesperson for Home Equity Bank where he pitches the idea of a reverse mortgage to seniors. 

What is a Reverse Mortgage? 

Simply put, it is a way to turn the equity in your home into tax free cash.  At least, that’s the pitch. 

In reality, people who take advantage of this offer end up deep in debt at a time when they need all the assets they can get.

I recently read an article in The Financial Post that pointed out how, after a year of lockdowns and limited spending options one third of Canadians are still feeling “house poor”.  Low interest rates have helped encourage people to spend on their homes, driving up the value of real-estate and increasing our overall debt levels.  Now, as we come out of the pandemic, many people are starting to worry what might happen when interest rates inevitably rise. 

While a reverse mortgage might look attractive to some, there is a better way. 

All-In-One Banking is a newer concept in home financing.  Not only does it give the owner access to the equity in their home, but also functions as a bank account, mortgage, and line of credit, all in one.  Unlike a reverse mortgage you don’t have to be 55 or older, anyone can set it up, and you can receive up to 80% of your home’s value instead of the 55% that is advertised by Mr. Browning.

I mention All-In-One Banking as part of the Three Steps to Financial Freedom in my eBook of the same name.  For more information you can download your copy here.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Right now, I have room in my calendar for four 30-minute strategy sessions within the next week.  If you are interested in learning more about All-In-One Banking or want to discuss any other aspect of your financial plan, request a meeting here.

Talk soon – Lauren

P.S. I have nothing against Mr. Browning personally, I even had the opportunity to meet him once, he’s super nice guy, just not a banker.

P.P.S. I am considering writing another eBook called “How to Turn Your House into an ATM, the smart way, no figure staking required” if I do you will be the first to know. 

Do you remember “Boomerang Kids”?

No, that’s not some 80s era toy, like Cabbage Patch Dolls or Transformers. 

(Although seriously, we had the best toys in the 80s didn’t we? I can still remember how jealous I was when my cousin got a Megatron like this one for Christmas, so cool!)

When I was in my 20s, Boomerang Kids were what we called people who moved out of their childhood home to go to school or start their careers and then, through a series of mistakes, bad planning, or difficult circumstances, found themselves moving back in with their parents a few years later. 

They left, and then they came back, just like a boomerang.

My sister and I were both Boomerang Kids.  She went away to school, I moved to Calgary for my first a job.  But we both ended up coming back home when our circumstances changed, and the opportunities dried up. 

It took me 3 years to find another job, reestablish my credit and be ready to move out again.  If memory serves my sister was a bit more efficient, maybe only staying for 2.5 years.

The point here is that after our first taste of freedom moving back home was an adjustment for everyone.  Living with your parents through your childhood and teen years is one thing, it’s a whole different ballgame when the household now consists of four independent adults.  We made it work though and my last 3 years with my parents turned out to be the perfect time to launch my first real business without the added pressure of making rent on a regular basis. 

The COVID19 pandemic has created a whole new generation of boomerang kids. 

The Pew Research Centre in the US recently published results of a study showing 18 to 29 year-olds as the cohort most impacted financially by the pandemic.  The survey reported over half (52%) of them currently living with their parents.

I work a lot with people that I would classify as recent graduates.  For the most part these are young people between the ages of 22 and 30 and within about 2 to 5 years of finishing their formal education. They are generally under-employed, saddled with debt and now, partly thanks to COVID and partly due to a much larger long term trend, facing an uphill battle to establish themselves financially in the areas of home ownership and retirement planning. 

Three Steps to Financial Freedom,  the program I built to help my clients, Eliminate Debt, Build Wealth and Leave a Legacy, was created in part with needs of these recent graduates in mind.  The earlier you can start establishing good financial habits the better, especially in a difficult time such as many young people find themselves today.

So, for all the recent graduates, boomerang kids, parents, and grandparents, I have set aside a block of time over the next week to provide free 30-minute strategy sessions to anyone who has been affected by COVID19 and is interested in Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.   Book your free session here.

There is no shame in being a Boomerang Kid, especially now.  Take it from one who’s been there. 

Check out this article  from Business Insider for some interesting tips on how best to deal with kids that move home during the pandemic.  These are the kinds of things my parents did for me and it really helped. 


P.S. For more information on the Three Steps program request a free copy of the ebook, Three Steps to Financial Freedom; The No Reddit, No MLM, No Crypto, No BS Path to the Financial Freedom Most of Us Only Dream Of, here.

I Think This is What You Call ‘Normal’

I’m just back from my first vacation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Starting on Canada Day and running until this past Tuesday, for a total of 6 days I changed the channel on life and spent my time visiting museums, eating out, and swimming in Lake Ontario, all in the company of family and close friends. 

Like a lot of people, I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed the company of others until it was all taken away so abruptly last year.

On Tuesday afternoon, while enjoying a lovely lunch on a patio in Picton ON, I paused for a minute and took in the scene.  Here we were, a group of friends who haven’t seen each other since the summer of 2019, sitting maximum four to a table, outside of course, wearing face masks, signing contact tracing forms everywhere we went, and just loving the fact that we could be together. 

Two thoughts occurred to me simultaneously; it felt so strange, and yet so right.

And then a third thought, in 2021, this is what we call ‘normal’.

I’ll be honest, I hate the phrase ‘new normal’, but I can’t really come up with anything else that adequately expresses the reality we find ourselves in.  The world is never going back to the way things were in 2019.  Some things, like movie theatres, live sporting events and indoor dining will return, hopefully sooner rather than later.  But facemasks, open spaces that encourage social distancing and the signing of contact tracing forms may be with us for a long time. 

As things reopen there is another aspect of normal that I think could stand a bit of adjusting; the way we look at, plan for, and manage our spending on non-essential items. 

According to Statistics Canada, in the second quarter of 2020 consumer spending fell off a cliff.  There was nowhere to spend your money.  As a result, household financial assets have been steadily increasing ever since. 

With most travel, entertainment and other non-essential businesses closed people have been able to turn their money toward debt repayment, investing and home improvements.  That’s a good thing. 

The government has done its part by keeping interest rates low and flooding the market with cash for those who lost their jobs due to the closures.    

But now, with low interest rates, pent-up demand, and ready cash, it’s starting to look like a perfect storm.  Now that things are starting to reopen there is a real danger that, for many, the temptation to over-spend may be too great.  Check out this article from CTV News for a sombre take on what reopening might mean to some household balance sheets.

Getting on and sticking with a budget is key to achieving life long financial security.  Budgeting is never easy and coming back from almost 2 years of restrictions and lock down I understand the desire to make up for lost time, but the fundamentals haven’t changed.  You still need to be mindful of both sides of your balance sheet.

As things open back up and we all start to get back out there, tell me what your summer plans are.  I hope to see all of you in person again soon. 


P.S.  Now is the perfect time to strategize your comeback, why not book a 30-minute financial strategy session here?

P.P.S  My E-book “Three Steps to Financial Security:  The No MLM, No Crypto, No BS path to the Financial Security Most of Us Only Dream About” has been getting rave reviews, get your copy here.

How To Supplement Your Retirement Income Tax Free!

Why are we working so hard if we can’t have a little fun once in a while?

My old boss and good friend Fred used to ask me that on a regular basis.

Fred was a partner at the record company where I worked 20 years ago.  He was a real “Jack of All Trades” kind of guy.  He did graphic design, built the website, packed deliveries, met with artists, wrote and co-wrote songs and produced records. 

At first glance you might think Fred was just your typical aging rock star, come business owner.  He wandered into the office most mornings around 11:00 and left again by 4:00 pm but his 5-hour workday only told part of the story.  What most people did not see was what happened after he left the office.  Most days, after he picked his daughter up from school, Fred started his second shift working from his home office/studio well into the night, often not getting to sleep before 3:00 or 4:00 am. 

Fred made very little distinction between work and play, it was all just life.  More than once I walked into Fred’s office to find him playing video games.  He did everything with the same level of intensity, and he got results. 

When it came to managing money, Fred was not a saver.  He wasn’t what you would call rich, but thanks to a few hit songs he co-wrote back in the 80s he received enough residual income on top of his business interests that he never felt the need to think about such things.  Nevertheless, in 2009, when the government introduced the TFSA Fred immediately saw the value in setting aside some of those royalties in a tax-free account, just in case. 

Fast forward a couple of decades and Fred is now in his sixties.  While the royalties he still receives are likely to act as a nice retirement annuity for several more years, he recently retired and approached me to help plan what to do with his money. 

On a recent zoom call the conversation came down to this, how should he spend money in retirement?

Fred has three potential sources of income, the quarterly royalties, CPP/OAS and about $125,000 in his TFSA.  He figures he needs to supplement his current income by about $1,000 per month to maintain his current lifestyle and smooth over the irregular payments that come with the quarterly royalty cheques. 

We crunched some numbers and decided that if he is able to keep putting about $5000 a year back in to the TFSA as he takes it out, that money should last him at least 25 more years. 

That is the real beauty of the TFSA.  As you take money out, (tax free!) you can recontribute the same amount next year, on top of any additional room the government gives you.  In Fred’s case, if he takes out $12000 this year, he can put it all back next year, in addition to the $6000 room the government is probably going to release on January 1st.  If all he does is continue to contribute $5000 from his royalty cheques and take out a steady $1000 per month, as long has he can maintain an 8% return on investment, he won’t deplete his nest egg until he’s 90 years old! 

Granted, Fred’s is a unique case.  How many people are receiving royalties from songs they wrote when Regan was president, really?  But if we think about Fred’s royalties like a standard pension, then more people can relate. 

Regardless of how good your pension is, a lot of people are still going to find themselves having to supplement their income with investments to some degree.  Like I was able to show Fred, TFSAs are one way to do this without incurring extra tax. 

For more information on how to take money out of a TFSA check out this article from Canada Life and let me know if you need any help managing your spending in retirement.    

Have a great day – Lauren

P.S.  Download my new e-book “Three Steps to Financial Freedom; The No Reddit, No MLM, No Crypto, No BS path to Financial Freedom Most of Us Only Dream About.”  – click here.

P.P.S.  Fill out my Financial Facts survey to receive your own personalized Financial Security Report and get started on your journey to Financial Freedom today – click here.

My Friend, The Rastafarian

In my previous life as an Artist Representative at an independent record company, I used to hang out with some interesting characters. 

One of my friends was a Rastafarian named Dee. 

Dee is quite possibly the only person I have ever met who completely embodies the saying “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  I have never once seen Dee stressed or agitated in any way.  He is a true example of Jamaican cool. 

Dee made Reggae Music, toured the country in a ramshackle old van, sold CDs and other merchandise from the side of the stage and when money got tight, he would take the odd gig writing web code until he’d saved up enough to head back out on the road.  

After a few years of this gypsy lifestyle Dee had saved up enough money to buy a farm in Prince Edward County, down by Belleville, where he built a recording studio, got married, and became a dad.  To this day he continues living solely on his terms, making music, touring, writing the odd bit of code, and generally loving life. 

Dee is 45 years old, and you might say he’s been retired for at least 10 years now.

How does he do it? 

Dee is a proponent of what has been termed The FIRE Movement.  FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retired Early.  In his twenties Dee made a conscious decision to live a minimalist lifestyle on a fraction of what he made, invest heavily in both his art and investment markets, and look for opportunities in unusually places.  By following this strategy, he was able to quit his day job before he turned 30 and within few more years, he had built up enough assets to live comfortably, (yet still frugally) for the rest of his life.

What is FIRE?  According to financial blog Hardbacon.ca, FIRE is a mindset that starts by looking at money as units of time.  If you make $15 per hour and spend $150 on something, you have really traded 10 hours of your time for that thing.  When you start to look at money this way, you start to view all purchases, whether for necessities or luxuries differently.  You start to think of goods and services in terms of the amount of time they cost, and your priorities begin to shift.  You also start to look at money and investments not as a store of value, as the economists define it, but as a store of time. 

When you embrace the FIRE movement the goal of investing becomes how quickly can you store up enough time, in the form of money, to become financially independent? 

Back in the early 2000s, when Dee would take a coding gig, he would talk about in terms of how many days it would buy him.  A few days of coding could buy him up to a month on the road.  Today he talks about his investments in much the same way.  He knows that if he keeps making an 8% return, he only needs to spend 10 weeks on the road and do 4 or 5 coding gigs to live comfortably and not deplete his savings.  COVID changed the math a bit, but he’s not worried, last summer he got to stay home more, played with his daughter did a bit more coding and recorded a whole album’s worth of new songs.   

I met Dee several years before I became a financial advisor, he introduced me to Reggae music and showed me how to ride a long board, but I remember him most often now when I’m working with my clients.  He is a living example that with the right attitude and a little planning, early retirement, or at least financial independence is possible. 

To put FIRE to work for you, you need three things.  You need to be debt free you need to be willing to live frugally, and you need a broad base of good growth investments.  I am here to coach you in all those things. 

Check out this blog post on hardbacon.ca (https://hardbacon.ca/en/financial-independance/financial-independence-retire-early-in-canada/) and get in touch if you want to learn more about FIRE, my previous life in the music business, or general financial planning.  We could even put on some Reggae and chill like we’re Buffalo Soldiers, but sadly, my long boarding days are over.


I got my Income Tax Notice of Assessment last week, did you?

Like about a third of Canadians I waited until the last minute to file.  I hit submit on the Turbo Tax software package I use at about 3:00 pm on April 30th.  Not literally the last minute but awfully close. 

About two weeks later the government sends you your NOA (that’s financial advisor language for Notice of Assessment) which confirms what you submitted.  It’s not the final word, you could still receive the dreaded audit notice but for now your taxes are officially filed, Yippee!

There is a neat little line item on everyone’s NOA, that I think most people know about but that still bears a bit of explanation.  It’s your RRSP contribution limit. 

As a financial advisor I get a lot of questions about RRSPs.  A few years ago, I noticed that there seems to be a bit of a seasonal pattern to the questions I get.  Most of the questions come in February as the annual contribution deadline looms but I also get a batch of questions in September, as the kiddies are heading back to school, and we are all waking up from our summer slumber, and right around now as people receive their NOA and see that little line item at the bottom of the page. 

In case you are wondering here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions, in no particular order:

1.What is the contribution limit and how is it calculated?

There are lots of factors that go into calculating your contribution limit each year, but the simple math is 18% of your previous year’s income minus any contributions made to a pension, employer sponsored share-purchase plan or group RRSP. 

Any unused contribution room from previous years is carried forward into the next year indefinitely or at least until you reach the mandatory dissolution age which I will explain in a minute. 

There is also a maximum income that can be used towards the calculation, this past year if you made over $151,277 your contribution limit is capped from there on up at $27,230.  

2. Where Should I Invest My RRSP?

A lot of people have opened an RRSP at their bank and yet have no idea how that money is invested.  I’ll be honest, that drives me crazy.

Usually, it’s because they filled out a risk assessment questionnaire which told them if they were an aggressive or conservative investor and their banker told them which mutual funds fit that profile.  Essentially, they did what their banker suggested without doing any further research.    

The problem with that approach is at least twofold:

  • Most people when asked will almost always err on the side of caution.  The pain of loss, or even the anticipation of loss is always more acute and long lasting than the joy of gain.  The questions asked when you open an investment account are designed to make you more conservative than you are so that the banks don’t get sued if your investments lose money.  Nobody thinks about the long term lost opportunities if you stay too conservative for too long.  There are better ways to hedge your bets than investing in so called conservative funds, but nobody asks the right questions.
  • Mutual Funds are not always the best option for your investment funds, yet they are often the only option presented by advisors.  Not a lot of people realize that RRSP money can be invested in stocks, bonds, real-estate, ETFs, and cash, to name a few.  Again, you just need to ask the right questions.

3. How Do I Make A Withdrawal From My RRSP?

The hard truth on this one is that unless you are retired or facing bankruptcy (or using one of the approved economic incentives like the Home Buyers Plan), don’t.  The second R in RRSP stands for Retirement and while it is technically possible the government has built in quite a few disincentives to taking the money out prior to retirement age. 

  • Withholding Tax: The financial institution where you made your RRSP contribution will hold back anywhere from 10-30% if your withdrawal and pay it in tax to the government. 
  • Income Tax:  Any money received from your RRSP will be considered income for the year in which you take it out and could increase both your immediate tax payable and tax bracket for all other income as well.  This could add up to a lot of extra tax at the end of the year. 

If you anticipate needing this money for any purpose prior to retirement, don’t put it in an RRSP.   TFSAs, non-registered investment accounts and simple savings accounts are far better short-term savings vehicles when you consider the tax consequences of early withdrawal.

4.  What About Those Economic Incentives?

There are two scenarios in which you can withdraw money tax-free from your RRSP:

  • Home Buyer’s Plan: You are permitted to take out $25,000 from your RRSP to make a down payment on your primary residence if you have not owned property in Canada in the past 4 years.  The borrowed amount must be repaid back into your RRSP within 15 years or be considered taxable income.
  • Lifelong Learning Plan: You are also allowed to borrow up to $20,000 over the course of your life for the purpose of education and retraining.  The maximum a person can withdraw in any year is $10,000 and any borrowed amounts must be repaid into the RRSP within 10 years.

5. I’m Retired, What Now?

When you are ready to start taking money out of your RRSP as income you need to convert it to a RRIF.  You can do this at any time, but it must be completed before December 31, of the year in which you turn 71 (mandatory dissolution age).  Once converted to a RRIF you can no longer make any deposits to the account. 

As money comes out of your RRIF it is taxed as income but because most people are no longer employed their income tax rate is lower in retirement than it was when they were working.  The government also requires that a minimum amount comes out each year based on the individual’s age so that there isn’t a large sum left over when you die.  This isn’t an exact science however a lot of people die with money still in their RRSP.  It’s important to make provisions in your will and estate plan to deal with potential tax consequences if money is remaining when you die, but that is a discussion for another time.

Have you received your NOA yet?  I hope you filed your taxes on time.  If you have any questions about your RRSP contribution limit or how to take advantage of the many investment options available to you, feel free to reach out any time. 


P.S. If you are looking for a quick snapshot of your financial security needs why not fill out my financial planning forecaster assessment at: https://form.jotform.com/211354286658058  I will get back to you with a financial security report within 48 business hours.

Psst… I’m About to Reveal My Secret Identity

There is a piece of my past that I don’t talk about much in the daily course of business but as we go deeper, it’s time you knew.

I’m a P.K.

I bet most of you are wondering what the heck that is.

Well, before I tell you, just know that I am in good company. 

Denzel Washington for instance is a P.K, so are Alice Cooper, Katy Perry, and George Stephanopoulos.  Looking back in history, Aretha Franklin was a P.K, so were Malcolm X, Vincent Van Gogh, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Give up? 

What if I told you Martin Luther King Jr was a P.K. too, would that give it away? 

A P.K. is a Preacher’s Kid. 


You shouldn’t be.  If I’ve been true to myself in all our interactions to date, the signs have always been there. 

Growing up a P.K. you experience life differently than most kids.  When your dad, (or increasingly your mom) is front and center of a community, teaching life lessons, counselling parishioners and leading by example, your perspective is altered.  Speaking from experience, it’s not enough to be kind to your neighbour, P.K.s are held to higher standard, it’s almost as if the community thinks we are God’s grandchildren or something.

A lot of us crack under the pressure.

Look at those names again, there no angels there, but they do all share a couple of interesting traits.  They all understand the power of words, the art of oratory and the importance of being true to your convictions, even if the ideas they eventually claim as their own aren’t exactly in alignment with those of their parents. 

I’m no exception. 

I won’t bore you with a laundry list of my indiscretions, just know that they happened, just like yours, and let’s move on. 

Pastor Dad, as I sometimes call him, taught me to study the words and teaching of many great philosophers and teachers (not just Jesus) and come to my own conclusions.  Through that study I found the work of a little-known theologian by the name of Paul Tillich. 

Tillich lived and worked most of his life in Germany but had to flee to the west late in life after publicly opposing the Nazi party. Embedded within his body of work are five important lessons for living your best life that I wanted to share. 

1 – The best life is a rich and varied one.

We are wholistic beings.  You can’t separate one aspect of your personality from the other without losing something.  Your values and beliefs interact with and influence the other areas of your life.  You must embrace complexity, diversity, and nuance, so that you can live a rich and fulfilling life.

  • Avoid compartmentalization.
  • Think holistically and take the time to assess how each of your choices will affect each aspect of you and your values.

2 – In the face of life’s uncertainties, be courageous.

You must learn to hold onto yourself, keep a firm grip of who you are and be brave.  Courage is not the absence of fear but “self-affirmation in-spite-of.”

  • If you believe in yourself, affirming yourself despite whatever difficulties life throws at you, you become your own anchor in a swirling sea of uncertainty.
  • By accepting anxiety as inevitable, but always conquerable, we can courageously bear the weight of existence, no matter what life throws at us.

3- Overcoming loneliness involves embracing the joy of solitude.

Truly appreciating the difference between loneliness and solitude is the key to unlocking self-acceptance and meaningful connection.

Loneliness is the pain of being alone, while solitude on the other hand, is the glory of being alone. Embracing the glory of solitude, and learning to love alone time, is the best antidote to loneliness.

  • We will all spend periods of our lives alone, this we cannot control, but we hold immense power over how we respond to this aloneness.
  • By embracing solitude, alone time can turn from lonely to truly joyful.  There are ways to turn aloneness into a positive experience.

4 – Life is about transformation.

Each of us has the ability to embrace change and transform ourselves into a newly courageous and joyful individual whose life is rich and fulfilling in every sense.

  • Allow yourself to step out of your Old Being into your New Being by embracing the power of change.
  • Accept transformation and change as a positive, spiritually enlightening experience.

5 – Without self-awareness, true fulfillment is unobtainable.

If preliminary concerns like work or politics take up a large amount of space in your life, care should be taken to make sure that these do not dominate you.

  • Try to remain mindful of your beliefs, those spiritual aspects of your life that shape and guide you and that comfort you in times of boredom or trauma.
  • By embodying spirituality, and living ethically and faithfully, you can use preliminary concerns as a lens through which ultimate concern comes into sharp focus.

So, what do you think?  What are some of your ultimate concerns?  How can we work together, through your financial plan to bring things into focus and help you live your best life, aligned with your values?

Let me know how I can help, talk soon…


An easy way to protect your credit

Creditor insurance is a safety net for you and your family. It can help you pay your debt or keep up with payments if you are diagnosed with a critical illness, become disabled or pass away. 

Have I ever told you about my friend Stan? 

Stan met my wife in university, and we’ve all been friends for over 30 years.  When my wife and I got married Stan stood up with us as we pledged our lives to each other.  (Ah, what a sweet memory).

Anyway, about 10 years ago Stan got a headache while attending a funeral in New Brunswick.  It was a hot day and he just figured he hadn’t eaten enough the day before.  That night, after a long, stressful day, Stan sat down and logged in to an online chess match to relax.  

That’s all he remembers.  

Stan woke up 24 hours later in the hospital and was told he would need major brain surgery.  Turns out he’d had a seizure caused by a golf ball sized tumor pressing against his ocular nerve. 

Thank-fully it wasn’t cancer but at just 39 years old his world changed forever.  He couldn’t walk due to vertigo for 6 weeks, couldn’t work for 8 months, and couldn’t drive for almost 5 years. 

As scary as Stan’s situation was, this isn’t a bad news story. 

You see, Stan is smart.  Just a few weeks before he flew to New Brunswick, Stan met with his financial advisor (not me, I wasn’t in the business yet), and they determined that he needed some additional Life and Disability Insurance.  His Group Benefits at work wouldn’t be enough to maintain his lifestyle should something happen.  The policy he bought went into effect literally two days before his big seizure.  Good thing, because without it, Stan might have lost his house while he recovered from his multiple surgeries. 

What Stan bought was essentially creditor insurance.

What is creditor insurance?

When you get a house, loan, line of credit or a credit card, you want to know you won’t lose them should anything happen to you.  You also want to make sure your loved ones aren’t stuck with debts they are unable to handle.

This is where creditor insurance comes in.  Sometimes known as creditor protection, it can pay your mortgage or loan balance or help make debt repayments on your behalf, in case the unexpected happens.

The unexpected can be a critical illness such as life-threatening cancer, heart attack, stroke, your death or any involuntary health related time off work, like Stan’s tumor.   

How does it work?

Creditor insurance can make a lump-sum payment towards your loan or make regular payments directly to your lender.  The maximum amount and number of payments, and other terms of coverage, may differ depending on the lender and loan product.  They will be specified in your certificate of insurance provided on enrollment.  

What can you insure?

  • Your mortgage
  • Your loan and line of credit (personal or business)
  • Your outstanding credit card balance

How do you get it?

You can apply for creditor insurance directly from most banks and other lenders when you arrange your loan.  You can also apply for a standalone product through a financial advisor like me.  The cost of insurance or the premium will depend on the coverage you enroll for.  You will need to fill in a separate application for insurance and may need to answer a few health questions.  However, in many cases you may even automatically qualify for coverage.  If you decide to cancel your insurance later, you’re free to do so at any time.  

What does it cover?

  • Critical Illness
  • Disability
  • Health related job loss
  • Death

I’ve been helping people with their financial plans for just about 10 years now.  One of the reasons I got into this business was that I saw how a good financial plan helped my friend Stan.  He’s doing fine now by the way, a testament to some great doctors a patient family, and of course, a solid financial plan.  Things could have tuned out so much worse. 

What about you?  Have you, or anyone close to you experienced an unexpected health related job loss or work interruption? Did they have enough insurance to weather the storm?

Tell me your story in the comments….


Enough Already

A slightly longish lament about lockdowns, mental fatigue and overtraining. The end is in sight but we’re all over it. Now is not the time to relax, hunker down and let’s get through this thing.

Food is Fuel

And other random thoughts on nutrition, exercise, and a three-point prescription for a balanced life.

I recently changed my diet, again. 

During this latest lockdown, the 4th time in a year that “non-essential” businesses have been forced to close, I’ve had to take all my training outdoors and focus almost exclusively on the running part of my triathlon journey.  But this time around I am also focusing more on nutrition and proper fueling for my workouts. 

Previously I had toyed with a paleo approach, but that never really stuck.  I found the lack of grains, especially at breakfast nearly impossible to maintain and in preparing meals for the rest of my family I was often forced to compromise as they insisted on potatoes and pasta.  After a few days of watching them enjoy these staples while preparing extra salads and veggies for myself, I would inevitably give in and end up eating what they ate. 

This time around I am taking a more wholistic approach, eating a broader range of foods and focusing less on what I can’t eat and more on eating what I can.  If you can attach my approach to anything I’ve been following what is known as The Endurance Diet by Matt Fitzgerald. 

Mr. Fitzgerald is a journalist and exercise physiologist who has covered some of the world’s most successful Olympic and professional athletes across a broad range of endurance sports, marathoners, cross-country skiers and of course my favorite, triathletes.  Over his career hanging out with these elite endurance athletes Fitzgerald has noticed, and subsequently written about what he calls the 5 key habits of endurance nutrition. 

  1. Eat Everything
  2. Eat Quality
  3. Eat Carb Centred
  4. Eat Enough
  5. Eat Individually

Fitzgerald argues, and the evidence both anecdotal and scientific agrees, that the key to dieting isn’t in eliminating any one food or type of foods but in balancing a broad range of high-quality foods to meet your daily requirements of vitamins nutrients and calories. 

All this got me thinking not just about how best to balance my diet as an amateur triathlete but also how to balance my life as a human across the broad spectrum of demands placed on me both personally and professionally. 

Every first-year psychology student knows about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  In 1943, Dr. Abraham Maslow published a landmark paper called “A Theory of Human Motivation” in the journal Psychological Review.  In it he proposed that every human being on earth is constantly working to fulfill 5 sets of needs, Physiological (survival) Needs, Safety (security) Needs, Love (belonging) Needs, Esteem (ego/respect) Needs and Self-actualization (purpose/achievement) Needs. 

Maslow felt that each of these needs built on each other like a ladder, or pyramid as they are often illustrated, and it isn’t until each successive need is met that we can move on to the next.  The reality is that each of these needs are so inter-related that beyond survival and a minimal amount of security it is impossible to think of them separately.

So what?

How did a book about exercise nutrition lead to an 80-year-old psychological theory and what does it have to do with business?  I am so glad you asked!

Just like we need to build a balanced diet we also need to build a balanced life.  Through my triathlon journey, professional and spiritual life I have come up with a prescription for balance that works for me.  It may not work for you, but I believe that if you pay attention to your basic needs and follow a framework like what I have built more often than not you will find balance and peace enough to pursue your goals and achieve self-actualization, or as Oprah calls it, to live your best life. 

1 – Move your Body

The physical and psychological benefits of exercise are indisputable.  As little as 15 minutes per day of purposeful movement has been proven to increase both.  For me that means an average of an hour a day of swim, bike, run but you don’t have be a triathlete to reap the rewards of daily exercise, just get out of your chair and move. 

2 – Engage your Mind

Another one that is not really in dispute, although there is less science to prove it, reading helps to both calm and stimulate in different ways.  Not to mention the increase in knowledge you can gain.  I read an average of 30 minutes per day at a pace of 24 pages an hour.  That’s 4380 pages a year, or about 15, 300-page books.   Since I started doing this, about 13 years ago I have read over 400 books on everything from business theory, philosophy, economics, history and even a few love stories. 

3 – Calm your Spirit

I’ll be honest, I’ve had mixed results with meditation.  Some people swear by it and claim it’s what gives them an edge in their daily lives.  People who meditate for 20 to 30 minutes per day report lower blood pressure, less anxiety and better clarity of purpose.  Personally, I find I get much the same benefits from exercise or reading.  Instead, I use meditation is more of a reset button throughout my day.  Whenever I feel tensions rise or I’m being pulled in multiple directions, a few deep breaths, and a repeated mantra of “I’m okay,” or something similar is usually all it takes to calm my nerves and help me to regain focus.  If you are one of the millions of people who prefer longer, more focused meditation, I’m glad it works for you, I’ve never experienced that and find the shorter “mindful breathing” that I do to be just as effective. 

So, there you have it, my rambling decertation on nutrition, exercise, and basic psychology.  I hope I didn’t bore or confuse you too much.  Everything is interconnected and my brain just does this sometimes.  Let me know what you think about any of the topics discussed, and how they inter-relate in the comments below.