Friday, November 27, 2009

What does it mean to Retire Happy?

Happiness is one of those things that is hard to describe.  It's hard to quantify.  You can't touch it.  You can't tuck it into your back pocket and save it for later.  And yet, it's something so important in our lives.

Sometimes happiness is a state of mind where you can be happy in general and the state of happiness can happen for a long time.  In other words, some people are just generally happy people.  I think my wife Liz is one of these people.  It does not take much for her to be happy.

Sometimes we can use macro thoughts to describe what makes us happy like kids, family, work, religion, etc.  And other times, happiness is simply a moment in time because of something that happened or something you did like eating an ice cream cone or a great round of golf or a watching a beautiful sunset or just going for a walk with someone you love.

Happiness comes and goes.  Sometimes we can be happy but not even know we are happy.  I remember just yesterday Liz asked me if I had a good day and if anything good happened.  I had to really think about it and when I did, I thought of a few things that made me happy.  But I may not have realized it if Liz did not make me think about what made me happy that day.  Happiness can be such a general thought or topic that we can take it for granted.

Sometimes we say happiness is simple or it's the simple things that make us happy.  Ask my kids and they will say lollipops make them happy.

Unfortunately, sometimes happiness is really hard to find.  Sometimes we have tough days, weeks, years or even a perpetual string of bad luck.  But even then, happiness is still present just sometimes hard to find.

Retire Happy with Jim

For quite sometime now, I have used the tag line "RETIRE HAPPY" for the work that I do.  So what does it mean to retire happy?

I think about this lots as it is what I do for a living but I am in the process of putting together my new website and audio program so lately this question has been top of mind.

Here's what I think it means to retire happy

1.  Firstly, I believe retirement can be the best years of our lives and I think we are all capable of making it happen.  To make this happen, I think we all need to plan for the future by simply thinking about what makes us happy today.  In retirement planning people often ask "What do you plan to do when you retire?"  The trouble, of course, is that can be a tough question to answer because retirement can be a long ways out and we have so much that we need to deal with and take care of in our lives that we don't give this question enough proper thought.  So I think we need to change the question.  To make it more relevant, we need to think about what makes us happy today or yesterday or even this past week or weekend.  Recognizing things that made you happy in the past or make you happy in the present will help you to recognize what might make you happy in the future.  Unfortunately for most we don't devote enough time in our days to this issue.

I think for most happiness is planned and requires some effort.  Some people like Liz are naturally happy people.  It comes easy to them.  For the rest of us, it might require that conscious effort and awareness.

2.  Secondly, I believe that having more money does not necessarily make us happier.  That may sound odd coming from a money guy but being a money guy has actually helped me to understand this reality.  OK, so don't get me wrong, I think money is important.  And my industry goes to great lengths to tell people that more money is better.  I believe money gives you choice, control, security and freedom but money also causes people to do really funny things.  Anyhow, I could go on but what I have seen in my work as a retirement expert, is that there are a lot of people out there without millions and millions of dollars who are still incredibly happy people.  I also know and have seen lots of people who have millions and millions of dollars but can't seem to find happiness.  Sometimes lots of wealth makes life more complicated and complex and even more stressful.  No matter how much money we have, I think we always want more.  I believe our happiness comes from recognizing what is important and making sure our money helps us get more of it in our lives.

3.  I think the best way to retire happy is to be as happy as we can long before retirement comes.  It's about living your life today to it's fullest and finding things that make you smile, make you happy and makes life fun.  And most importantly, recognizing these moments of fun and happiness so that we know what is important to us each and every day.  That doesn't' mean you shouldn't plan for the future or save for the future because you need to do that too.

Happiness is an elusive thing but it does not have to be that way.  Take time to recognize moments every day where you are happy and why.  This is the best way to prepare to retire happy.  So here's the important question . . . what makes you happy?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on happiness.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today I turn 40

Well, it finally came. I'm 40. what happens when you turn 40? All day, I've downpayed my day and to be very honest it was much like every other day. I woke up, took my boys to school. Spent some time in the office. Came back in to have lunch with my kids. Worked some more and then played outside on this gorgeous November day as it was plus 15 outside.

That being said, my birthday was significant not because it was the day I was born, but becuase of the people in my life. I am truly amazed at the number of people that took even a few seconds out of their day to send me a simple birthday wish. Social media sites like Facebook really enhance relationships and connections in strange ways because I heard from wonderful people that I may not have heard from before the creation of Facebook. For that, I am glad and more importantly, I am glad I took a little time to finally use facebook and connect with others.

I really appreciate those that took the time to use 'old' technology and pick up the phone and make a call. Some, like my nieces and nehpews in Salt Lake City even sang me a birthday wish.

But what would a birthday be without my family. If there is one thing I am truly grateful for at 40 it's the fact that I have the most amazing wife and 4 perfect little boys. What would life at 40 be without them.

40 is a time of reflection

My birthday is my opportunity to let the cat out of the bag. I am working on a new software program called My Legacy Organizer which out of all the products I have created in the past, I am most excited about. It's a program that help people to diarize and share the stories, memories and details of life to create a legacy that is meaningful to the people that love you. In conjunction with this, I have taken the opportunity as a time to reflect back on my life and write a quasi autobiography on my life. Although some might find it interesting, I know that many won't. And truthfully that's OK. Why? Because I did not write it for others. I wrote it for my family and especially my kids. I am proud of my accomplishments especially when it comes to my family. I think we all have things to be proud of and it is those things that need to be diarized and shared.

The best thing about reflecting at 40 is it has allowed me to think about the future in a different light. It has helped me to recognize what is really important.

Thanks again for sharing in my day and my sincere wish is that your birthday, whether it is 40, 33, 51 or whatever age is a time to reflect on what is important!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

I noticed some advertising on my Facebook page for some FREE Rich Dad Educational Seminars. Robert Kiyosaki has built quite an empire with his Rich Dad, Poor Dad philosophies, products and services. In fact, I happen to be in Calgary earlier this month and decided to take in one of his FREE workshops on Stock trading. I was a little disappointed in the evening and wrote an article on the topic.

If you are considering attending one of these upcoming workshops, I would highly encourage you to read my article before you attend.

I feel it is important to state my intentions. I am not trying to bad mouth
Robert Kiyosaki, The Rich Dad, Poor Dad book or any of his other products. I'm not trying to convince you not to go. I just want to make sure people make sound decisions based on fact as opposed to sales pressure. I want people to know what they are getting into before they spend their hard earned dollars. My late mother always said, "When in doubt, err on the side of caution." If you don;t really understand what you are buying, then don't. There will always be an opportunity in the future.

This upcoming workshop in Edmonton appears to be different than the last one on stock trading. In fact, they appear to have a tour going across the country (Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Calgary, Scarborough, Markham) and into the US but remember this. It's a business and when they are spending all this money on advertising, there will be a pitch at the end, the beginning and in the middle. I just want you to make your decision wisely.

If anyone has paid for any of their extensive educational workshops, I would love to hear what you think. You opinions will help many other people trying to make smart decisions about their money.

Be Smart, Be Careful and Be True to yourself. You probably know more about how to get rich than you might think. It's simple but not easy to do! If you know someone planning to attend, make sure you pass this along so they are prepared to make an informed decisions as opposed to a quick one as a result of a pitch.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My first Blog

I've been writing a weekly financial column for the past 10 years but took a year off recently. I used the year productively but now it's time to ramp up my business again and I am very excited to get going. So what am I up to these days?

Since selling my client practice in 2007, I've lived a life of leisure and freedom spending a lot of time with my wife and 4 boys. Some called it retirement but I think it was more like a long period of transition. In some respects it was like the "New Retirement" I teach people about from the perspective that I had a lot of time freedom, I was in a good financial position to transition from full time work to part time work and I was very happy living life making my own choices. The only unusual part of it was the fact that I was not even 40 at the time and have 4 children under the age of 6.

What am I up to now?

Without question, that is the most popular question I get these days. So I'll try to keep it as to the point as possible. I continue to do all the things you would expect a financial expert to do except maintain a client base managing people's money. When my kids ask me what I do for work, I simply tell them "I help people when they do not know what to do with their money."

I do that through my life as a professional speaker delivering 1 and 2 day workshops to employees of corporations, organizations and government departments. They hire me and we deliver exceptional workshops without any pitches (which often happens at the end of retirement and financial workshops). People walk away from the workshop filled with light bulb moments inspired to make changes to their lives to become better, smarter, richer people. My big project and focus moving forward is to bring more financial education into the workplace to help both employers and employees enhance their traditional benefit programs with more financial education.

I have also delivered more keynote presentations for conferences and multi-speaker venues. I've got some great topics. I am speaking about 80 days of the year and looking to do more so if you know anyone that wants to hire a seasoned financial speaker let me know. You can find more information at or

In addition to the speaking, I continue to write articles, books and develop tools to help people make better decisions with their money. As you can see, I have started to blog and I am committed to financial education and helping as many people as I can to become better, smarter, and richer people. This can be seen with my website which has attracted a lot of attention. In fact, had over 3,000,000 visits since inception of the site. If I include the first version of the site we've had hundreds of thousands of unique visitors. That just floors me. So it is only proper thank everyone that has used the site. On this site, you can get FREE download like my first best selling book MUTUAL FUNDAMENTALS. You can also find my online store where you can find some of my product tools and resources including my software program My Estate Organizer and my other two books Seven Strategies to Guarantee Your Investments and Smart Tips for Estate Planning.

Why did I sell my client practice?

I had a great business with fantastic clients. The business provided me and my family a wonderful lifestyle and there is no question I miss aspects of the business. But if I had to do it over again, would still do what I did? the answer is yes. There were a few reasons I felt it was important to sell the business:

First was for lifestyle reasons. My business was a full time commitment. In addition to that, I had my other 'part-time' jobs like writing my column, writing books and my speaking gigs. Something had to suffer and it was my health and my family. With four young boys and a supportive wife as my priorities in life, selling the business was the opportunity to spend more quality time with my family. There is a old saying that "Children do not want presents as much as they want your presence."

The second reason is I became disillusioned with the investment industry because of the regulators. The regulators have handcuffed financial advisors and institutions with process, paperwork and red tape (with the right intentions I might add). Unfortunately, I was spending more time and money on paperwork, compliance and policies that I was on things that my clients would think are important. In fact, it was becoming more difficult to write my column, books and do my speaking because the regulators look at financial advisors as mutual fund sales peopleas opposed to planning professionals. Instead of looking at my role as a financial educator through writing and seminars, they felt it detracted from my role as a salesperson. I could go on but it was time to re-evaluate my professional life and focus on the tasks that gave me the most enjoyment. The thing I miss most is working with my clients.

Where do I go from here?

As much as I have enjoyed my kids and family, I am looking to spend more time working and building my new business the THINK BOX. In doing so I continue to develop new products and write more books. I am currently working on a retirement book with my colleagues Rein Selles and Tricia French called "10 Things I wish someone told me before I retired."

I'm also excited about developing my latest software project My Legacy Organizer, which is the follow up to My Estate Organizer. My Legacy Organizer is a tool to help people diarize their life story and share it with the people they love. I believe everyone has a story to tell and far too often the great stories and experiences are lost when people die. I believe we all have an obligation to teach other though our experiences, values, and past. I believe this so passionately that I have committed to writing my legacy in a book not because I think I am important but to serve as a sample of why it is important to diarize our legacy. My intention is to use this book solely for the the purpose of raising money for charity. My ulterior motive, of course, is to teach my kids about what I think is important.

I will continue to write my articles and post them on but will look to distribute them in various media publications. I also plan to continue to blog from time to time through this blog but soon, I plan to be blogging through my revamped website I'm also committed to twittering (@jimyih) and updating facebook on a more regular basis. Someone once told me if you have good information that will help others, then share it with as many people as you can. That's something I will commit to and with new technology, there is no excuse. Lastly, with all the upcoming changes, if you would like to stay up to date with great information, financial tips and updates on what is happening with me, then you can sign up for my Bright Ideas Online Newlsetter.

Working in retirement is not unusual. In fact, it is becoming the norm. The key to my work as I teach it to others is to make sure you are having fun and doing what you want. I plan to work harder in the future but only doing the things that give me personal satisfaction. Freedom is about choice and being able to make the the right personal choices.

Thanks for getting re-aquainted with my professional life. I hope we will keep in touch one way or another