Money Matters

#MoneyMasterClass Recap-Week 48

This week Gail continued to answer Money Master Class participant questions. She also touched on topics of helping others and building community.


Relationships can be tricky. Adding money talks into relationships can be even trickier.

Helping Others

This topic is a hard one, but it is an important reminder. Helping people is a wonderful thing, but if offering financial help puts you at risk, it is better to find an alternative way to help. This can be anything from giving time to helping search for resources that will assist the person in need.


The all important reminder: credit is not your money!


I love the idea of building community and being able to share items that are only used occasionally. I have seen a number of posts in local zero waste Facebook groups from people asking to borrow items. It makes so much sense! It is more sustainable financially and also for the environment to buy less.

November Questions

Gail continued answering questions this week from Money Master Class participants. I’ve typed out the Q & A’s below each tweet so that they are easier to read.


My husband and I have three kids, ages 20, 18, 16. The eldest is in college and lives away. The second has just started online college but lives at home. The youngest is in high school. We have no consumer debt. My husband is self-employed and I have a position as a faculty member at a university college and will have a reasonable pension. We have a fair amount of RESP money saved, a reasonable amount of RRSP and retirement funds, but still have a fairly substantial mortgage. This is because we re-mortgaged several times to access services, etc., for our youngest child, who has autism (he’s doing really well by the way, and we fully expect him to go on to college with support, and live independently, etc).

As a result of the large mortgage, I have been focusing on putting extra $ against it every chance I get (which admittedly has been less frequent since the pandemic, but we are still doing fine, thankfully). My husband thinks that given the ages of the kids, we should stop contributing to the RESP fund, and move that payment to RRSP for our retirement. I’m not sure about this. While it doesn’t seem likely any of our kids will go onto expensive professional school (like medicine or dentistry, etc), I worry that the cost of post secondary education will skyrocket. If we were to stop contributing to the RESP, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be a better idea to contribute to extra payments on the mortgage instead.

Gail’s Answer:

Working to get the mortgage paid off makes more sense to me too. Being debt-free will reward you in retirement by allowing your saved retirement funds to go further (since you no longer have mortgage payments). And paying off that mortgage will give you more flexibility to deal with whatever comes at you. I believe your husband is right about the ages of the kids and the RESPs. But throwing it into a retirement plan will be less “balanced” than getting that debt gone.


We currently have our RRSP investments with TD bank, they do not offer a sustainable investment option and so I am looking for a new mutual fund group, which I am finding difficult because I don’t know who to trust. Do you have any tips?

Gail’s Answer:

I am so very happy to see more an more people looking for socially responsible and sustainable investment options, so thanks for popping me this Q. Here’s a list (not mine) that will get you started.

Click HERE to go to the tweet with the mentioned table of information.


I am a 63-year old single high-school teacher living just outside Vancouver and when I retire I’ll have a teacher pension (about $2300 per month.) Right now I have $11,000 owing on my mortgage which I plan to pay off by the end of June 2021. I have around $100,000 in RRSP and TFS, only $5000 in my emergency fund. I’m thinking about retiring at the end of January. My teacher pension will give me a temporary annuity of $1180 per month until I turn 65 in March 2022 – roughly $14,000 for the 12 months I am eligible. If I take this annuity it lowers my pension by $59 per month for the rest of my life. Although I love my job, I’m physically exhausted and very afraid of contracting COVID in the school. Pre-COVID I was planning to work until at least 65 so that I could do some renovations to my condo and save a lot more. I drive a 16-year old corolla and I have a bicycle. The cost of everything is going up every year and I’m nervous. It is always an option for me to go back as an on-call substitute teacher so…
Do you have any suggestions to help me gain some much-needed perspective?

Gail’s Answer:

I completely understand why you’d want out of the game at this point; it can feel pretty scary with all the stories we hear about the spread of COVID.

Let’s say you do retire in Jan, and live another 21 years, the “cost” to your pension because of the $59/mo reduction would be $14,868, just over what they actually pay out to you if you retire early. So it’s almost a wash in terms of the $$ and now we have to think about the “convenience.” Remember, inflation will, over time, reduce the buying power of your pension. That’s a fact. You have to weigh being miserable for the next two years as you stay in the game against that reduction in income over the long term if you get out in January.

I’m not going to tell you what to do. But I will say what I would do: I’d stop being miserable now. You can find ways of making up the difference in income (particularly in early years) by tutoring or doing some other form of part-time work. If you do save (big IF, right?) put it in your TFSA.


I’ve been using the Gail Way since 2014, debt-free since 2016. I’m planning to take what I’m calling a ‘sabbatical from my life’ come January 1 when a work contract ends so I can devote some time to myself and care of my family. Based on my calculations, I think I’ve socked away about 6 months’ worth of savings to cover all my day-to-day bills. I’m going to assume I won’t have any government assistance and will coast on those savings and some dividends. What haven’t I thought of? Am I missing anything? I need the break for my mental health an am hoping not to have to dip into my “real” savings.

Gail’s Answer:

I am so pleased that you did what it takes to have the money in the bank so you have options. This is exactly what I’m talking about when I tell people $$ = OPTIONS. You’ve done what you need to in preparing for your sabbatical. And it’s actually a sabbatical FOR your life, because it is exactly what your life needs right now. Happy Days on your sabbatical.

I am wondering about RRSP vs TFSA and how do I know if I’m saving enough for retirement. I do have a pension through work however I didn’t start contributing until I was 39 (2010) (that’s when I got the job). Prior to that I had been putting money into an RRSP but likely not enough.

As well, I am currently separated but I will be entitled to half of my ex’s pension for the 26 years we were together. He had a Ford pension from 2005-2010, and since 2010 has a pension which will be almost equal to mine. We also contributed to an RRSP in his name for the time we were together. The current combined amounts in our personal RRSPs is approx. $200,000.

Gail’s Answer:

The only way to know if you will have enough is to add up all your income from the various sources you have (don’t forget your gvmt pensions) and then do a budget for what it’ll cost to live in retirement. Guessing doesn’t work. And since every individual approaches retirement differently, it is what works for YOU that matters. Go borrow a copy of Never Too Late from the library. It’s old, I know, but there’s still really good stuff in it.

Missed last week? Check out my recap here:  Week 47

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Start here with the Money Master Class Intro and Week One Recap

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Money Rules
Debt Free Forever
CEO of Everything
Money Smart Kids


  • A in Tx

    Being in the USA & not having any type of retirement fund except Social Security– if that’s going to be around in 15 years– I wish Gail had info for us USA citizens or someone like her here. I really appreciate her honesty and that she’s bold and doesn’t dance around what needs to be said. Thank you again for posting these.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!