Definitely, Maybe

That’s what my business is all about.

I use a number of different “elevator” pitches when talking to perspective clients.  One of my new favorites is to begin by telling people that I help mitigate the impact of the Definitely, Maybes in our lives.  Regardless of when or even if these things happen the impact on our lives and the lives of those around us can be devastating if not properly planned for.

Here they are;


We are all going to die.  The only question is when and what that might mean for the plans of the people we love.

Pretty much everyone can agree that the younger you are when you die the more tragic it seems.  The death of a child is almost always met with disbelief and regret for the senselessness of it all.  Such limitless potential cut short for no apparent reason.  Just about every parent I know would gladly trade places with their dying child.  Few parents put in that situation would ever consider that the collateral damage caused by their death would have a lasting impact on the life that child now gets to lead.  When a parent dies without having made adequate plans for their family the resulting financial difficulty can and most often does lead to lost opportunities and permanently alters the life trajectory of their children.

It may seem counter intuitive but the younger you are the more life insurance you should potentially have.  It’s not quite a straight line from birth to old age, more of a bell curve, peaking somewhere in middle age when your children are still young and your debts are still high but everybody dies and regardless of when that happens everyone should have some form of Life Insurance.


When I first started in this business one statistic surprised me.  According to StatsCanada one in three Canadians between the age of 25-65 will be out of work due to illness or injury for more than 90 consecutive days at some point during their working lives.  Three months may not seem like a long time at first but considering the fact that over 90% of Canadians are only one missed pay-cheque away from serious financial stress and you have a recipe for disaster.

Without adequate insurance a prolonged period of disability is in many cases a fate worse than death.  While the financial struggles brought about by the premature death of a bread winner are tragic, the person who caused them is gone.  What if that person wasn’t gone but had to sit by, helpless and watch his or her family struggle because they failed to adequately prepare for this very strong possibility.

Thankfully most employers in Canada offer some form of Disability Insurance through a Group Health Plan but these plans are often inadequate for maintaining your lifestyle long term and many smaller employers don’t offer any coverage at all.  Which would you rather have, a job that offers you a high salary with no guarantees of continued income or a job with a slightly lower salary and guarantees an income for life if you contract a serious illness or injure yourself long term?  Personally, I think the answer is a no brainer, sadly too many people disagree with me and don’t realize how short sighted their mistake made them until it’s too late.

What if you own a small business?  There are a lot of rewards to being your own boss but insurance benefits aren’t one of them.  The high stress of running a business, coupled with the fact that business owners tend to be the least likely to own any form of disability insurance makes owning a business, regardless of what the business does, among the most vulnerable sectors of the economy to long term illness and injury.  Not to mention what could happen to the people you employ if the business suffers because you don’t show up to work for six months.

Maybe #2 (R-2.0)

Increasingly in Canada more and more people are foregoing retirement and continuing to work in some capacity well into their 70s and 80s.  The reasons for this are varied.  Some haven’t saved enough and need to keep working to survive, others are still healthy and want to stay active.  As a result, the traditional retirement age of 65 is a thing of the past but regardless of when or even if you fully retire there will come a day when you either don’t want to or simply can’t keep going.

This phase of life is what I call Retirement 2.0.   Planning for R-2.0 is about more than just saving money to live on for the next 20-30 years.  It’s about deciding what you want to do with yourself and how to fund it.  And it’s about planning for the impact of declining health.

In preR-2.0 planning is about growing your nest-egg just like always, but once you start your R2.0 life it’s about guaranteeing income and securing your legacy.


So that’s what I do.  I help people plan for definitely and maybes.  I can definitely help you.  Maybe you’ll contact me.

Lauren C Sheil is a Serial Entrepreneur and Financial Security Advisor.  He helps people live life to the fullest along the way teaching them to Eliminate Debt, Build Wealth and Leave a Legacy.  Write to 

Quick Tip #18 – The Value of Advice

One way to prepare for the retirement you want is with the help of an RRSP (registered retirement savings plan). But how do you know you’re on track? Is your plan going to allow you the retirement you’re hoping for?

An Ipsos Reid research study reported that almost 84 per cent of households with an advisor invested in RRSPs compared with only 36 per cent without an advisor. Working with a financial security advisor can help you feel more confident about achieving your goals, and more confident that you’re on track. [Ipsos 2011, Department of Finance, Canada]

Quick Tip #15 – The Value of Planning Ahead

A sound financial security plan will outline your path from point A to point B. It answers questions like “How much money do I need to retire comfortably” or “How will my debts affect my financial future?” A financial security plan is a map that guides you along the way. It’s a living document that reflects changes at every stage of life.

Quick Tip #6 – The Value of Planning Ahead

Are you concerned about reaching your financial goals? The Financial Planning Standards Council recently reported on the value of advice. The report showed that working with a financial security advisor can help you feel more confident about achieving your goals:

  • Individuals with comprehensive financial plans feel more confident in their plans to retire
  • More than 80 per cent said they feel on track with their financial affairs compared to only 44 per cent who had no planning

[FPSC, Value of financial planning, 2012]

10 Questions to Consider For Your Retirement


You’ve saved, invested wisely and built a sizeable nest egg. Retirement is within your grasp, so it is no time to take chances. Here are 10 questions to move you towards a secure, confident retirement.


1              When do you want to retire?


The timing of your retirement is crucial to building your retirement nest egg and assessing how long it needs to last. In retirement, you will experience a fundamental shift – from saving to spending.


2              How much of your current income do you expect to need in retirement?


Your goals and challenges are unique to your life situation. The amount of your current income you’ll need in retirement depends on how much you’ve saved and how much you plan to spend during retirement.


3            How do you plan to spend your money?


How you spend during your retirement will depend on your choices and could be influenced by factors beyond your control.


4              Have you considered your retirement lifestyle needs?


What is your lifestyle vision for your retirement years? How will you spend your time? These choices may impact your spending pattern during retirement.


5              What guaranteed sources of income can you count on in retirement?


Taking into account your existing sources of guaranteed income can help determine how much additional money you require to cover basic living costs and preserve the lifestyle you’ve worked hard to achieve.


6              Do you plan to work part-time or full-time in retirement?


Perhaps you want to continue using your skills or explore new opportunities. You could also be influenced by debts or helping family members.


7             How do health and wellness factor into your retirement plan?


Focusing on your wellness is central to your vitality and enjoyment of life. You may want to consider using retirement to focus on your mental and physical fitness. It’s important to make room in your budget for health and wellness priorities.


8              Are you ready for the unexpected events in life?


When considering retirement planning, take into account unpredictable events – both financial and personal – for which you want to be prepared. Check to see if your retirement nest egg is strong enough to support you through a future economic downturn, a rise in the cost of living or a longer lifespan.


9              How will you keep your money working in retirement?


In addition to fully protecting the money you need to cover your basic expenses, many retirees want a portion of their nest egg to grow.


10           Do you plan to leave a legacy?


You might want to leave an inheritance to your family or favourite charity.


Retirement brings many mixed emotions, but we can help you create a vision for the future so you can plan for retirement with confidence. For more information write to

Retirement Planning – It’s About TIME

I’m a Financial Advisor.  A big part of what I do is help people plan for retirement, whatever that may be for them.

I hear a lot of jokes from people.  “I’ll never be able to retire.  Freedom 55?  More like Freedom 95!”  But I’ve found that what people are really saying when they joke about it is they can’t imagine what “retirement” looks like.  On the surface it is a money question, certainly.  But it’s much bigger than that.  Planning for retirement means also to plan for a day when you wake up in the morning and have no particular place to go.  Apart from the money question not know what to do with yourself day in and day out can be just as scary, maybe even more.


When we speak of retirement planning we need to expand the discussion to include not just how am I going to pay for things when I don’t draw an income but also how am I going to fill my days?

Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen, in his book Timeshiftingputs it this way;

Paradoxically, the one aspect of aging we look forward to, the one we “can’t wait” for, the one we “put in our time”, to achieve, is retirement.  But once we get there, we hit a wall.

We hit a wall because we spend all of our time planning the money aspect of retirement but we don’t give more than a passing thought to the time aspect of it.

My father “retired” in 2005.  For years leading up to it he planned his money, invested wisely and started a side business as a cabinet-maker.  The plan was to work in the garage making furniture and small wooden trinkets for local craft stores and special orders, do a bit of consulting with his old employer and travel with my mom.  Within a year he was back to work 3 days a week because he had too much time on his hands and missed the schedule too much.  He turns 74 next month and has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

My father-in-law on the other hand retired in 1999.  He planned his money just as well, if not even a bit better than my dad, and invested in a vending machine business.  His plan was to service the vending machines for a few years and slowly wind that down as his health failed him.  Unfortunately he had no experience in running and business and didn’t do enough research into it.  The business didn’t really take off the way he had hoped so he shut it down after a year, fell into a massive depression and has spent the last several years virtually “marking time” and waiting to die.

Both men are well positioned financially.  They had good advisors throughout their lives that guided them on the road to retirement.  My father-in-law has a solid government pension and my dad has a medium-sized nest egg in RRSPs, a bit of Real Estate and still pulls in a small salary from his part-time gig.  They are not hurting for cash.  What neither man had however; was a good “time plan”.

There is a lot of talk in the financial planning world about the fact that people are living longer.  This talk understandably focuses on the fact that we need to make our money last a lot longer than we used to.  With the average lifespan reaching 80 years and up in North America the average retirement is now lasting 20 years or more.  That’s a lot of time to make money last for and financial planners need to be good at identifying risk and return.  But it’s also a lot of time to sit around playing Bridge.  As in the case of my dad, people are healthier and stronger than ever before.  I swear at 74 he could still work circles around me at any physical task.  In this day and age, expecting someone to retire and simply stop being active is unrealistic and in many cases just cruel.

Fortunately the tide is changing.  Psychologists and other professionals are starting to open practices designed to help people make a more holistic plan for their time in retirement.  This RRSP season why not take a few minutes with your financial advisor or other professional planner and talk about what you want to do in retirement, not just how you’re going to pay for it?  You might be surprised to find that you aren’t as prepared as you thought.

For more information on a more holistic approach to retirement planning, write to