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There’s a pattern when readers ask me for thoughts on their retirement readiness - it’s all about numbers and not people.

One such e-mail was sent earlier this month by a reader who is entering early retirement while his spouse continues to work. All the facts he offered about his situation are in number form — his age, the amount in his registered retirement savings plan, the amount in his tax-free savings account and his percentage split between stocks and bonds. “What can I do to better prepare for an awesome retirement experience?” he asked.

Here are four thoughts on an awesome retirement experience that focus on combining numbers with human needs and emotions.

Advice: No matter how good you are at planning your retirement, there will be times when a second opinion is helpful. A financial planner or an accountant might spot a flaw in your strategy, or point out a better way based on serving other retirees over the years. There’s a cost to using these experts, but also some value in building confidence in your retirement strategy.

Budgeting: Map out your expected spending in retirement not only as a financial exercise but also as a way of figuring out how you want to live your life. Want to travel? Decide how often and see if you can afford it. Want to improve your physical fitness? See if you can afford to join a gym. Want to eat out more often? Figure out how affordable that is on your retirement income.

Hobbies, interests and socializing: Your finances can be locked down tight, but you won’t be happy unless you feel productive and energized in your daily routine. How will you fill the 10 or so hours per day that you previously spent on the job and travelling to it.

Kids and parents: Consider what support your adult children and elderly parents might need from you once you’re retired. Financial help might be part of this, but there’s also a time aspect. For example, it’s common for retirees to help their adult kids with periodic daycare. You can lock in time with your grandkids — or not.

-Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist

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Stocks to ponder

Three Canadian stocks you've probably never heard of that analysts adore

Investing in stocks outside of major indexes is a little like shopping at a dollar store – while you need to be picky, you can find comparable quality at steep discounts, writes Tim Shufelt (for subscribers). In Canada, the stocks in the S&P/TSX Composite Index get the vast majority of investor attention. Mr. Shufelt talks to Peter Imhof, portfolio manager at AGF Investments Inc., about three stocks that investors may be overlooking — all of which are in the resources sector.

Viemed Healthcare Inc. (VMD-T). Viemed is a provider of home respiratory care medical services with operations in 27 U.S. states. Its core business is focused on providing non-invasive ventilation (NIV) therapy and home treatment for individuals with respiratory conditions, primarily targeting individuals suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The company generates revenue through recurring monthly fees with the average monthly cost of US$950. This monthly rental fee is reimbursed through insurance and covered by Medicare. The stock graduated to the Toronto Stock Exchange from the TSX Venture Exchange in May and management aims at also being listed on a U.S. Exchange within the next two years. This stock may be best suited for consideration by investors with a high-risk tolerance within a diversified portfolio as the share price can be volatile at times, writes Jennifer Dowty (for subscribers).

The Rundown

Is Canada ready for the next recession?

It has been a full decade since the last recession, which accompanied the 2008-09 financial crisis. The global and domestic economies are at a mature stage of the economic cycle, and numerous excesses are evident. Not surprisingly, there is a recurring buzz from international and a few domestic commentators on recession risk and who will be affected. Accurately predicting is tricky but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned, writes Glen Hodgson, a senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute, in this opinion piece.

Some pension funds growing comfortable with cannabis stocks, despite recent turmoil

Some Canadian pension funds have bought into the volatile cannabis sector, for better or worse, writes David Milstead (for subscribers). Mr. Milstead says two major Canadian pension funds – Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP) and British Columbia Investment Management Corp. (BCI) – invested in the stock of CannTrust Holdings Inc. in the first quarter of the year and may well have held the shares as the stock plummeted once investors learned the company ran afoul of Health Canada for unlicensed growing. The small investments may have been less a show of faith than a desire to maintain exposure to the broad Canadian market – CannTrust, as it happens, was added to the S&P/TSX Composite Index at the end of March, meaning any investor invested in the Composite has experienced the CannTrust losses.

Where the father of Modern Portfolio Theory, Harry Markowitz, is invested

Harry Markowitz won a Nobel Prize in Economics and became known as the father of Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) in the years following the publication of his seminal 1952 paper, Portfolio Selection. Now nearly 92 years old, Mr. Markowitz is as busy as ever writing books on portfolio management, providing consulting services to the investment industry and looking after his multimillion-dollar portfolio. In his Me and My Money column, Globe and Mail contributor Larry Macdonald talked to the legendary Mr. Markowitz about his contributions to the investment field, how he is investing his own portfolio and his top recommendations to investors (for subscribers).

The bolder and adviser's predictions, the more cautious prospective investors should be

Certainty-loving humans embrace firm predictions. “Give me a one-handed economist,” was a saying former U.S. president Harry Truman was known for – complaining that “all my economists say, ‘on the one hand … on the other.’” People favour simplicity over complexity, and certainty over the unknown. Yet, only by incorporating these two elements – complexity and uncertainty – are predictions more likely to come true, writes Leslie Cliff, a founding partner of independent investment management Genus Capital, writes in this opinion piece.

Others (for subscribers)

This week's most oversold and overbought stocks on the TSX

J.P. Morgan says U.S. bond yields could go negative, and Canada's would be close behind

How a stake in the cannabis sector can pay dividends

Oil price could move to US$30, but experts can't agree on which direction

Thursday’s Insider Report: CEO adds to stake despite stock’s 934% year-to-date gain

Trying to diversify your portfolio? Check out these 15 U.S. small-cap stocks

Market movers: Stocks seeing action Friday — and why

Friday's analyst upgrades and downgrades

Thursday's analyst upgrades and downgrades

Others (for everyone)

Even if a Fed cut is a given, Powell is seen as wild card for stock market

Month of milestones: bond borrowing rates evaporate in July heat

Taking stock of your stocks amid record highs and an unprecedented economic run

Don't fight the tide, just ride it: World market themes for the week ahead

Globe Advisor

Five ways to handle a short-term absence from your practice

Prospecting for clients takes more practice, creativity than ever

Financial firms focussed on investors' behavioural tendencies

Grey divorce presents a unique set of challenges

Are you a financial advisor? Register to Globe Advisor (www.globeadvisor.com) for free daily and weekly newsletters, in-depth industry coverage and analysis, and access to ProStation – a powerful tool to help you manage your clients’ portfolios.

Ask Globe Investor

Question: My husband and I would like your advice. We invested in the stock market in 2008 when we were in our late 20s and make a little money. Then, about four years ago, we rolled some of that money into buying a small four-unit apartment building that has been working out well for us. The apartment building covers its costs and is starting to make a small income. Our five-year mortgage term is up next year on it and our financial planner has suggested we take out our initial investment ($30, 000) and put it towards something else.

We are wondering what our smartest course is:

1. Leave it in the building and try and pay down the mortgage faster so we can have more income.

2. Take out the $30,000 and put on our home mortgage (we have about $120,000 left on our mortgage – currently making regular small extra payments on principal).

3. Take the $30,000 and look to invest it in something else that would generate a passive income.

We are in our late 30s with two young children. We have no debt besides mortgages, have built up RRSPs, will have two defined benefit pensions and have relatively healthy RESPs set up for our girls. We have worked hard to get to this position and don’t want to miss an opportunity but also don’t want to make a misstep! Any advice would be appreciated!

-Allison M.

Answer: For starters, make sure the financial planner does not have a vested interest in your decision. If he’s a fee-for-service advisor, no problem. But if he sells products, like stocks and mutual funds, he may be looking to add to his commissions. Ask the question.

The safest route is paying down the mortgage. Whether it’s on your home or the apartment building depends in part on the rate you are being charged for each. But you should keep in mind that interest on the rental loan is tax-deductible whereas interest on your residence is not. All things being more-or-less equal, I would pay down the home mortgage first.

Investing the money may earn you a better return but it raises your risk exposure considerably. Only you can decide if that’s a gamble worth taking. Bottom line, I’d opt for a mortgage paydown. But then I’m a very conservative person.

— Gordon Pape

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Compiled by Brenda Bouw

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