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Elijah is 51, and his wife, Ava, is 50.Blair Gable/The globe and mail

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Elijah has a worsening health condition that makes keeping up with his $139,000 government job difficult, he writes in an e-mail. “My hope is to retire early (at the age of 55) and to eventually switch to part-time self-employment.” Elijah is 51, and his wife, Ava, is 50. “We are a single-income couple with no children,” Elijah writes.

Elijah and Ava are debt-free with a house valued at $800,000. They have registered and non-registered investments, with the stock portion of their portfolio mostly in blue-chip, dividend-paying stocks. Elijah’s non-registered account is mostly in guaranteed investment certificates.

Elijah has a defined benefit pension plan indexed to inflation that will pay him $45,045 a year at 55 plus a bridge benefit to 65.

“We are a frugal couple and only use about half of my current take-home pay,” he adds. If his plans for self-employment do not pan out, or his income is minimal, “would we still be in good financial shape?” Elijah asks. “Or is early retirement a bad idea and we need to change plans or alter our finances now?”

Their retirement spending goal is $50,000 a year after tax, less than they are spending now.

In the latest Financial Facelift, Warren MacKenzie, a Toronto-based fee-only certified financial planner and chartered professional accountant, takes a look at Elijah and Ava’s situation.

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail

When saving for retirement, should you change your asset mix over the course of your career?

In the latest Charting Retirement article, Fred Vettese, former chief actuary of Morneau Shepell and author of Retirement Income for Life, looks at whether it’s best to maintain the same asset mix over your peak savings years here.

I’m 63. Should I have 90 per cent of my money in stocks?

“I am 63 years old and plan to retire in a few years,” writes a reader in an e-mail. “My portfolio is invested 90 per cent in equities and 10 per cent in guaranteed investment certificates. Is it time to go more conservative, such as a 60/40 mix of stocks and GICs?”

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when deciding on an optimal asset allocation, says John Heinzl. The answer depends on many factors, including age, risk tolerance, spending plans in retirement, net worth and how much income is expected from government and company pensions.

In the latest Investor Clinic, Heinzl weighs the options here.

In case you missed it

TFSAs over RRSPs this year, especially if you’re in debt

Will you be taking an RRSP season guilt trip this winter?

March 1 is the deadline for making a registered retirement savings plan contribution that counts toward your 2022 taxes. For those who have the bucks, explains personal finance columnist Rob Carrick, it happens to be a good time to put money in an RRSP because stocks and bonds are looking up after last year’s losses and 5-per-cent guaranteed investment certificates are still available.

If a heavy debt load is stopping you from making an RRSP contribution, skip the guilt trip and focus on debt over saving. As much as we all need to take a long-term view with our finances, there are times when living in the moment takes priority.

And, says Carrick, it looks right now like borrowers will have to wait another 12 months or so before interest rates start to move lower.

Read the full article here.

Online portals are making it easier to deal with estate matters. When will the banks catch up?

Administering an estate is no one’s idea of fun. But with Canadians expected to transfer as much as $1-trillion worth of inheritances over the next decade, more and more of us are bound to become intimately familiar with the emotionally fraught, bureaucratic obstacle course that is distributing the assets of a deceased family member.

The good news is that technological advances sparked by the pandemic are making the process a little easier. But one persistent pain point seems to be the banks.

Read the full article here.

Retirement Q&A

Q: I wonder if you can discuss travel Insurance for over 65 years young. I discovered that most, if not all, credit cards, do not cover medical nor trip cancellation/interruption for those over 65. Also is it better to buy an annual or single trip medical and/or trip cancellation/interruption insurance?

We asked Elliott Silverstein, director of government relations, CAA Insurance, to answer this one:

The last few years have highlighted the importance of travel insurance, regardless of the length of your travels. Before leaving on your trip, it is important to make travel insurance part of your travel plans. If you have coverage (e.g. from a credit card), it is recommended that you review the details to ensure you know what you are covered for, and items where you may be ineligible.

Also, don’t forget to check if there are any exclusions due to age in your coverage through a credit card or any other plan. Doing so will ensure you don’t have a false sense of security where a plan offers options that you are ineligible for. If it isn’t clear, contact the provider to confirm your eligibility status and source other options if the coverage isn’t available to you.

Travellers should shop around and talk to various insurance providers as options, coverages and prices may vary. Depending on the length of your travel, or the frequency of your vacations, you may want to consider an annual plan that would give you peace of mind for an entire year.

When inquiring about insurance, it is important to share your medical history as well, ensuring that you have the right coverage for any pre-existing conditions you may have.

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors? E-mail us at and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.