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Financial planner David Field wants to help people who are approaching retirement or already retired and worried about their finances. And why wouldn’t they worry? Stock markets have plunged in recent weeks, and interest rates are falling. On top of that, there’s an expectation of a recession to come.

Mr. Field, a certified financial planner (CFP) with Papyrus Planning, has come up with a list of six ways to reduce your financial anxiety about retirement:

Create or maintain a cash reserve: Mr. Field recommends that his clients keep enough cash on hand to cover three years of retirement expenses. “This is ready, accessible cash that is not based on whether stocks or bonds are going up or down.” Having a cash reserve means you don’t have to sell your stocks or equity funds at a low point to cover living expenses. For parking cash, he uses high interest savings accounts and savings account ETFs.

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Sell bonds, not stocks: If you do need to sell investments, give your stocks time to recover and instead sell your bond holdings. Mr. Field says government bonds are the ones to target because they’ve held up the best in the recent stock market turmoil.

Postpone your retirement date: If you’re looking ahead to retirement in the months ahead, Mr. Field suggests you delay where possible. “Retiring in such uncertainty just adds way more stress and reduces your options,” he said. “Not everyone has the luxury, but if you do, then I would postpone until the future is a little clearer.”

Cut spending: If you reduce your household need for cash, you can withdraw less from your retirement savings. Mr. Field suggested it may be easier than usual to lower spending because we’re supposed to be self-isolating to halt the spread of the virus.

Get your 2019 tax refund as soon as possible: Need cash? File your taxes if possible and collect your refund.

And, finally, remember that the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security are solid. Payments from these government programs do not rise or fall with financial markets.

Subscribe to Carrick on Money

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

What about the other 35 per cent?

A poll finds that 65 per cent of Canadians are worried about how the coronavirus will affect their personal finances. Uh, guys? We’re all going to be affected at some point. Falling stocks, low interest rates, a recession likely, plus massive government spending to fight the virus and rescue the economy. Tax increases might be in our future to help pay for all of this. Here’s my realist’s personal finance guide to the recession ahead.

How some big companies broke a basic rule of personal finance

These companies spent money on stock buybacks and dividends and didn’t maintain the cash reserves they now find themselves needing to weather the economic storm at hand. A basic rule of personal finance is to have an emergency fund to help cover expenses in tough times.

Saving for retirement is a form of self-care

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A woman writes about how she saw retirement savings in her 20′s as a sacrifice and how she changed her mind after hearing her stepmom recast retirement saving as something you do for your future self.

A profile of high-income Canadians

A blogger uses Statistics Canada data to document how much big earners make. For example, the top 1 per cent had an income of at least $237,000 in 2017.

Ask Rob

Q: What is your opinion of credit unions? With their small size, are they safe for nonregistered savings during an economic shock? Am I limited to using one in my local area or would I be required to close my account if I have to move to another city or province?

A: I would not worry about using a credit union. Credit unions are part of provincial deposit insurance plans, so money sitting in savings and chequing accounts plus GICs is safe. Credit unions offer online banking and are part of the AccuLink and The Exchange ATM networks, so you can access your account from anywhere. As for rates on savings, mortgages and so forth, some credit unions offer very good rates and others are closer to what banks offer. Don’t assume a credit union offers a much better deal.

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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 and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

Check out MoneyGuide.ca for a thorough comparison of interest rates on savings accounts and guaranteed investment certificates.

Video of the week

My personal finance tips amidst coronavirus.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

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  • Fixed or variable? The coronavirus crisis has made one the better pick for people who must renew a mortgage.
  • Making the best of a drop in income after sick leave
  • What the lessons of 9/11 say about how investors should be positioning right now (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

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