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A retirement expert has offered his services to explain what irritable male syndrome is all about.

The concept of irritable male syndrome was introduced in a newsletter last month – it can strike men in their retirement years and symptoms can include moodiness, irritability, depression, reduced energy, trouble sleeping and bursts of anger. Doctors blame it on a drop in testosterone.

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John Stapleton, a social policy consultant and expert on retirement issues for low-income Canadians, believes irritable male syndrome has a different origin. He thinks it all comes down to how busy you are after you leave the workforce. Or, as he puts it, whether you have a “capital R” or a “small r” retirement.

Here’s more of what Mr. Stapleton had to say in an e-mail he sent after reading that newsletter on irritable male syndrome (he’s a subscriber): “I retired from government at age 52 and couldn’t wait to start writing, building programs, advocating and changing the world. I kept running into the Freedom 55 types who were always desperately unhappy because after a few weeks of palm trees, they had nothing to do but eat half-price senior’s meals at 4:30 p.m. in chain restaurants. The best thing is to keep doing the things you know how to do, and if you can get paid for it post-retirement, all the better. I turn 68 in August, for the record, and my father turns 99 in six months. He still puts in a day’s work on military memories and genealogy.”

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Why we invest in stocks

These charts show that the year-by-year result you get from investing in stocks can vary a lot – some years great, some not so great and some awful. But the long-term results are markedly better than cash or bonds on an after-inflation basis.

Spending advice for the seriously rich

All about the How to Spend It luxury magazine published by The Financial Times. You’ll find suggestions like “a sumptuous gastronomic tour of Spain by private jet” and “knick-knackery” like a Chaumet Liens Lumière watch in gold with diamonds and mother-of-pearl on alligator strap, costing the equivalent of about $220,000.

Property tax winners and losers

This chart shows the property tax rates in 25 cities across the country. The lowest rates are in British Columbia, and the most expensive are in Eastern Canada. Of course, the actual amount of tax you pay depends on the assessed value of your home.

The new king of savings accounts

Hubert Financial has increased its rate to 2.35 per cent, which puts it ahead of EQ Bank at 2.3 per cent.

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Today’s financial tool

Here’s a list of seven books for Canadians that can help you pound down your debts.

Ask Rob

Q: “I’m a student entering my last year of university. I’ve got considerable student debt, but through summer work and co-op placements I have saved up enough money to pay off my debt as soon as I graduate. My question is, should I pay off all of my student loans in a lump sum, or pay it off over five years while investing these savings to A) earn more on my money, and B) build my non-existent credit score?”

A: “Great job earning money to pay off your student debts. I like the idea of paying the loan off ASAP. Interest rates are rising and it’s questionable whether you would be able to get a return on your investments after fees that beats the interest rate on your loan. Build your credit score by regularly using your credit and paying the balance in full every month.”

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance stories

  • Zero-fee investing is on the rise, but it won’t make you a successful investor
  • Most Canadian caregivers are paying too much tax. Here’s how to remedy that
  • The risk-reward for the TSX is shifting for the better – but few have taken notice (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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