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U.S. personal finance expert Suze Orman is adamant that you shouldn’t retire until you’re 70. She has a point -- we’re living longer, so it does makes sense to work a few more years to stay active and build your retirement savings.

Here’s a sensible rebuttal from another personal finance writer. His argument is that one-size-fits-all advice doesn’t reflect the actual lives people are leading. People who have rewarding, stimulating jobs may even enjoy working to 70. But what if you’ve got a job involving physical labour, or one that’s soul-destroyingly boring? It’s pointless to tell people in these positions to work longer, because they won’t or can’t.

What’s clear is that people are living longer and retiring later. The average retirement age in Canada is around 63, up from 61 a decade earlier. As I noted in a recent column, life expectancy is also rising steadily. A 65-year old man today can expect to live to 84 on average, while a woman of that age will on average live to 87. The latest census numbers say that the number of people aged 85 and older grew by 19.4 per cent from 2011 to 2016, nearly four times the rate for the overall Canadian population. The number of people aged 100 and older grew by 41.3 per cent, making it the fastest-growing age group during that period.

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Between the ages of 50 and 55 is an ideal time to start visualizing your retirement. Decide how long you ideally want to continue working, how long you’ll actually be able to continue working based on your health and workplace, and whether you have the retirement savings to meet your goal. Working to age 70 makes good sense in a lot of ways, but it may not be possible or necessary.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

The common first-job mistake that costs you for a lifetime

The mistake is underemployment, or taking a job totally unrelated to your field. Research shows that even a low level job related to your field of study is better than flipping burgers.

‘Stocks are a huge distraction, believe me’

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Dan Bortolotti of the Canadian Couch Potato blog did an Ask Me Anything on the online discussion forum Reddit recently, and he covered questions about TFSAs, RRSPs, ETFs, tax-efficient investing and more. Here’s a transcript of Part One of the AMA, and here’s Part Two. Mr. Bortolloti is a believer in index investing through ETFs – that’s why he describes individual stocks as a distraction in one particular exchange.

How to explore a new city on the cheap

Budget travel expert Barry Choi offers some useful tips on how to save money when you’re travelling in an unfamiliar city.

What’s the deal with Brim?

A company called Brim Financial is introducing a new MasterCard that looks pretty good for a few reasons, including the fact that no foreign transaction fees will be charged. But people applying for the Brim card are still waiting to hear from the company.

Today’s featured financial tool

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Compare different retirement savings strategies by using the Tale of Two RRSPs Calculator.

Ask Rob

Q: “I just turned 65. I have stocks in my portfolio that pay dependable dividends (banks, utilities). I am trying to increase my fixed income. Are bond and preferred-share ETFs considered fixed income or are they equity? Are laddered GICs considered cash or fixed income? I have heard that GICs maturing within a year are considered cash, but longer, they are fixed income?”

A: Bond ETFs are traded like stocks, but they’re fixed income for sure. Some investing experts view preferred shares as fixed income, others see them as stocks or equities. I’m in the latter group because of the potential for preferred shares to swing sharply in price at times. GICs are fixed income, including those with a one-year term. You can’t cash a GIC before maturity without paying a penalty. For an investment to be considered cash, it has to be liquid.

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

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