It’s not too late to start fighting (even if you might not win)

It’s not too late to start fighting (even if you might not win)

I’ve never found the delivering ‘hard truth’ part of this job easy. I’m not really a tough love kind of guy.

But it’s important. 

And there’s nothing more difficult for me than sitting across from someone who’s just been hit with a heavy dose of financial truth… and who honestly believes it’s too late to do anything about it.

“I’m almost 70, there’s nothing I can do about this now…”

“I’ve made so many mistakes, the damage is done…”

“I am so screwed.”

It’s hard because they’re not necessarily wrong.

The cold hard truth of the numbers

One of the big questions people have when they come to talk to a financial planner is about retirement.

Do I have enough? Am I doing okay? Am I on track?

So, you go through their numbers, and see how much they’ll probably need to fund the lifestyle they want in retirement. Then you see what resources they have available – governmental and personal.

And even though that’s a pretty simplistic way to look at the problem, it gives you a good overview of whether they’re in the ballpark or not.

But let’s imagine you’re in your late 60s and have a potential need for over a million dollars in your retirement, but only have 50,000 saved … what are you supposed to do?

What if you’re also staring in the face of some pretty serious health concerns?

Without the benefit of years of income coming in, or time for COMPOUND INTEREST to help you… it’s hard not to agree that it’s actually too late to do anything that will fix everything.

It’s worth fighting even if it’s too late to win

We always want things to be simpler, to divide the world into a series of yes or no questions.

Can I fund my retirement?

Yes or no.

But if the answer ends up being ‘no’… what then? What next?

The common sense answer is that you adjust expectations. You change your needs in the future. You make the formula balance.

But I’m not talking about the people that can make that work.

I’m talking about the people that feel like they can’t. I’m talking about the ones who see a retirement ratio (needs : available resources) and who feel like making those two sides meet is a fairy tale.

I’m talking about the people who won’t even go talk to a financial planner because they’re convinced that their future is set. That they’ve made too many mistakes. That’s it’s absolutely too late.

To those people I say:

Maybe you’re right. Maybe it is too late to win this financial fight.

Fight anyway.

Fight because inevitability can go %$#& itself

I am only 32.

But when I look back at the last 10 years there are many things that happened and that I did that would have seemed absolutely impossible to my younger self.

Clearly the word ‘impossible’ (or at least things that ‘feel’ impossible) isn’t as absolute as I used to think.

But let’s say you aren’t in the mood for any of that ‘anything can happen’ nonsense.

You should fight anyway.

You should fight because there are never just two choices.

You should fight because your finances are so much more complex and run deeper than just answering the question: will I have a funded retirement or non-funded retirement?

There are so many little things that can be changed.

And I’m sure that those changes will be accompanied by the constant chorus of “if only I would have done this X years ago”. That’s fine. But don’t let it stop you.

Don’t let the feeling that the future is set stop you from trying to change it.

Because then it’ll really be set in stone.

How to start fighting … when the war might be lost…

If the new goal is to jettison inevitability … where do you start?

Well, anywhere is fine.

There’s no perfect beginning because you’ve completely rejected the end.

My friend Kate recently wrote about how CLARITY COMES FROM ACTION NOT THOUGHT, and even though her post isn’t directly related to what we’re talking about, the core statement is bang on.

Fight first. Direction later.

As another friend so often puts it:

“Just do the next good thing.”

Because sometimes the big picture is so insanely overwhelming, any remotely positive outcome so impossible, that that kind of focus becomes counterproductive.

It can’t be about the end anymore.

Honestly, I don’t know if the future is inevitable or not. Poets have been arguing about that for hundreds of years. But I can’t believe that it is. I won’t believe that it is. And I’ll leave you with the last words of one of my favourite poems by Edna St Vincent Millay (she’s talking about another kind of inevitable end (death), but it still rings true to me).

“I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”

I know the numbers.

I see the facts.

I understand the hopelessness.

But I do not approve.

And I am not resigned.

Emily Nixon

Emily Nixon

Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator

Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.

She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.

Email Emily at

Want to start getting control of your money? How can I help?

What I learned about money from eating a thousand peaches

What I learned about money from eating a thousand peaches

Who it’s for: Everyone (but especially peach lovers)
What it’s about: Saving is about prolonging enjoyment of something you love, and sometimes things that look like money…. aren’t money. 
What you get: TWO FREE WORKSHEETS – one to help you start saving, and one to get you saving better than you already are.

I love peach season.

And this year has been a pleasure pandemonium (#fancywords).

The last few weeks I’ve been gorging myself on fresh peaches at nearly every meal.

And because my mind has no ability to structure itself, my peach fanaticism and my constant money thoughts have melded into two peach-related money metaphors I thought I’d share with y’all.

I hope you enjoy both of them, and the end of peach season. (more…)

RRSP’s 101: How RRSP’s work and whether it’s the right tool for you?

RRSP’s 101: How RRSP’s work and whether it’s the right tool for you?

RRSP Basics - From Rags to Reasonable

If you’ve been in Canada over the last month you’ve probably seen a ton of ads and ‘reminders’ (they’re also ads) to put money into your RRSP.




That’s because we’ve just come to the end of what wonderful finance nerds the country over call ‘RRSP season’. It’s the time of year when lots of people are making contributions, topping up accounts, and looking to get their tax efficiencies in order.

But most of us… we’re just trying to get through another Canadian winter.

Actually, I think a lot of us just don’t really understand what an RRSP is… yet.

I sure didn’t.

I thought I did… but if I’d been asked to explain it… it would have probably sounded like this…

“Oh ya, an RRSP… um.. You just get one, and it’s for retirement… and you should really have one… but I don’t have one… I guess I should do that.”

I mean… why would you even need to read the rest of this post?? I think that definition is pretty clear.

But in case it’s not, today we’re going to break it down, and I mean really break it down. We’re going to talk about what an RRSP actually is, how it works, and whether it’s the right tool for YOU and your life.

Because let’s be honest… RRSP’s are great, they’re an amazing and pretty powerful tool for long term savings, but after I learned how they worked… I stopped contributing to mine.

It wasn’t the best tool for me, and it might not be the best tool for you either! (more…)