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Mrs. Ma isn’t your typical Instagram star but has become somewhat famous after being featured in a project-turned-book, Chinatown Pretty, by photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu.

Andria Lo / Chinatown Pretty/Handout

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The Instagram model is posing in a powdery blue skirt set and chunky pink orthotic sneakers with a matching backpack hanging off her small shoulders. She’s demonstrating tai chi, a sport she does competitively, on a colourful street in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

The model, Mrs. Ma, isn’t your typical Instagram star but has become somewhat famous after being featured in a project-turned-book, Chinatown Pretty, by photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu.

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During dim sum dates in Chinatown, the creative duo noticed that seniors in the neighbourhood had a very distinct style: “Lots of colour, pattern, Supreme hats mixed with velvet, quilted, two-piece sets that they got from Hong Kong,” Ms. Luu says. “And there were so many unexpected, colourful, beautiful, touching details – maybe they were wearing a hand-knit sweater their sister-in-law made or a shirt made from leftover scraps from a sewing factory where they worked.” (Mrs. Ma inherited her pink Dora the Explorer backpack from her grandchildren).

The scenes made Ms. Lo and Ms. Luu want to know more about the poh pohs (grandmas) and gung gungs (grandpas) that were rocking these unique looks. And when they started posting their miniprofiles on Instagram, they realized other people did, too. Stacey Lee Kong reports.

Is this couple saving enough to retire at 65?

Lucas and Penelope are in their early 40s with two children, ages 9 and 5. Their family income is about $195,000 a year. Both have company sponsored registered retirement savings plans at work to which they and their employers contribute. They have a house in the Greater Toronto Area with a small mortgage, which they hope to pay off in a few years. As well, they have a condo in Ontario, rented to a relative, and another in Alberta – their first home as a married couple – that they are renting out at a loss. “We tried to sell this a few times, but with the economic downturn, we couldn’t get what we paid for it so we decided to rent it,” Lucas writes.

They wonder whether they can afford to retire at age 65 with a budget of $80,000 a year after tax. “Until what age do we have to work?” Lucas asks. “Should we sell the rental condo?”

In the Globe’s latest Financial Facelift column, Ian Calvert, a vice-president and principal at HighView Financial Group in Toronto, looks at their situation.

In case you missed it

Why Canadians should plan early to age in place in their later years

It was after Richard Dutchak hired an occupational therapist to help his elderly mother-in-law stay in her home as long as possible that he started thinking about his own living arrangements later in life.

Recently retired, Mr. Dutchak and his spouse believe their long-term plan is likely to downsize from their beloved custom-built, multi-level home in Winnipeg.

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“We’re psyching ourselves up and convincing ourselves,” he says about planning for the eventual time when going up and down stairs could become more of a challenge as they age.

Still, if the couple knew 30 years ago what they have come to realize today, “we would have built a bungalow and included an easy path to make it friendly for aging,” Mr. Dutchak says

They’re far from alone. Most Canadians are considering growing old in their own homes, in particular after watching the disproportionately negative impact the pandemic had on seniors in assisted living and long-term care residences. A survey from the National Institute of Ageing and Telus Health released last fall found that 91 per cent of Canadians of all ages, and almost 100 per cent of Canadians 65 years of age and older, plan on supporting themselves to live safely and independently in their own home as long as possible. Joel Schlesinger reports

What else we’re reading

How to protect your retirement portfolio from inflation

Rising inflation suddenly has people even more worried about their retirement. Prices for goods and services have been moving higher over the last several months and, for the first time in a long stretch, it’s top of mind for consumers.

“We have had such a benign environment from the standpoint of inflation, so I think we all got a bit complacent,” said Christine Benz, head of personal finance at Morningstar told CNBC. “Inflation had been so low for so long.”

This article is focused on Americans, but has some good advice for Canadians, too.

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Is it time to get your adult child a financial adviser?

It’s not uncommon to hear people in their 60s and 70s say they wished they had developed a financial plan earlier in their lives. While you can’t go back in time, as this Kiplinger article notes, there may still be time to encourage your adult children to do so.

“As young adults reach their 30s and 40s, life begins to get more complex,” it states. “They are earning more money, buying homes and starting families. And their parents, remembering their own experiences, see that their children may benefit from speaking with a professional financial adviser about their future.”

The article looks at four events where it may make sense for baby boomers with adult children to discuss whether a financial adviser can help adult children get their finances in order and build a wealth management plan for the future.

Ask Sixty Five

Question:

We have three children, all adult homeowners with their own children: One has three kids, one had two kids and the third has one child. Since the arrival of grandchildren, we’ve altered our wills to bequeath 5 per cent of our estate to each grandchild. The dilemma has been whether to share the remainder amongst our three children or to divide our estate equally between the three family units. What are your thoughts.?

We asked Ian Calvert, a vice-president and certified financial planner at HighView Financial Group in Toronto, to weigh in on this one:

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This is a very sensitive and challenging component when drafting your estate plan. Should I leave an equal inheritance for my children and their family or should apply a more fair-based inheritance based on the number of grandchildren?

This question does come up a lot, not only on the number of grandchildren but the economic position and financial need for each family unit.

The equal inheritance route, although it may not seem fair in this case for the family with the most grandchildren, is likely the optimal option if their goal is to keep it simple and avoid family conflict and disputes amongst the adult children.

However, if the decision is based exclusively on the number of grandchildren and not the personal financial status of each family unit, there is a case for an uneven distribution at the family level. For instance, if the 5 per cent is used directly for the grandchildren, for education costs as an example, this still leaves an equal amount for the adult children. In this case, each adult child would receive about 23 per cent of the total estate.

Although the amount of each family unit is different, the funds directly for the adult children are identical. Thankfully, in this case, there is not a substantial difference amongst each family unit. Still, this can be a tricky issue as the family with one grandchild could feel penalized for only having one child.

When making this decision, a very important consideration should be the adult children’s relationships with each other. A family with strong ties and open communication would be an ideal candidate for the uneven distribution method. If the logic and motivation are well understood by each adult child, it can help prevent future conflicts.

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Interested in more stories about retirement? Sixty Five aims to inspire Canadians to live their best lives, confidently and securely.

The Globe and Mail

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors, or want to suggest a story idea for the Sixty Five series? Please email us at sixtyfive@globeandmail.com and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.

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