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One of the most important retirement planning steps you can take is to visualize your life after you leave the workforce. All the articles I've read about retirement – and there have been thousands – suggest that the unhappiest retirees are the ones that lack a sense of purpose and direction.

Here's something to help get you started in the process of visualizing retirement. It's a list of "retirement paths," or lifestyles that people lead. Pick the one that fits you best and start planning how you'll make it as rewarding as possible.

You'll notice that some of the paths are flashier than others – adventurer vs. the continuer, for example. Don't try to live up to someone else's idea of what retirement should be. You don't have to become sporty in retirement, or develop exotic hobbies to impress everyone. Just figure out how to make life meaningful for you.

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The best gift her emergency fund ever gave her
A blogger's gutsy, beautifully written account of how the money she saved for emergencies helped pay for therapy sessions to help her deal with anxiety.

Drowning in debt is the new normal
A sobering article on household debt stress from a consumer insolvency expert. You should read this if you're complacent about all the debt people are carrying.

Hotel room bed bug alert
Consumer Reports says hotels and motels can be bed bug hotspots. Here's how to check for them. If they're in your room, they can hitch a ride to your home and become a costly, time-consuming hassle.

The case for hiring a wedding photographer
Think of this list as an argument for hiring a pro to do your wedding rather than having your brother-in-law and his smartphone do the job.

Do you have the adviser six-pack?
A blogger-turned-investment adviser writes about what he's seeing in the portfolios of incoming clients. Often, there's a bunch of mutual funds with no coherent plan to create a diversified whole. This is the so-called adviser six-pack. Something I'd add to this is the tendency for lazy advisers to fill client portfolios with multiple balanced funds. Isn't a balanced fund supposed to be like a diversified portfolio all on its own?

Today's featured financial tool
Are your savings accounts and guaranteed investment certificate balances covered by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp.? Check here. Note that credit unions have their own provincial deposit insurance plans.

Ask Rob
The question: "I'm a pharmacist in a hospital and recently was transitioned to a full-time position where I contribute to a defined-benefit pension plan. My employer contributes $1.26 for every $1 that I put in. I am wondering what percentage of my income (if any) I should be contributing to my RRSP, given that I am already using part of my income towards my pension?"

My reply: The usual rule is to save 10 per cent of your net pay, but that applies particularly to younger people who will continue on this track for decades. If you're older and haven't been saving, then 10 per cent of gross pay or more is a better target. Factor your own pension contributions into whatever percentage of your income you decide to save. (A previous version of the newsletter mixed up net and gross pay. We apologize for any confusion.)

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
– Four investing lessons millennials should master before they turn 40.

– For the wealthy, carrying a mortgage is part of the strategy.

– How much cash should I keep in my bank account for daily expenses?

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