Monthly Reads: Strong Job Numbers and Putting the “RE” in FIRE

Welcome to my favourite “Monthly Reads” for January 2022! These are articles, podcasts, or videos from the personal finance community and elsewhere that I found especially illuminating, entertaining, or beneficial for anyone on the path the financial independence.

If you missed it, feel free to check out my last edition of monthly reads.

In this edition, I share some of my commentary on Canada’s latest job numbers. I also share a great series on financial independence from Chrissy over at Eat Sleep Breathe FI, a post from Handful of Thoughts blogger Maria breaking down her recent home gym purchase, and an insightful article from The Atlantic on motherhood during the pandemic.

Canada’s Job Market is Resilient

To the chagrin of Canada’s central bank, the Canadian economy added 104,000 jobs in December. Overall, there were 20 times more jobs added than forecast. This continues a now multi-year trend towards lower and lower unemployment.

Employed Canadians from CBC

This is bad news if you were hoping for interest rates to start to decline. If anything, we’re likely to see the Bank of Canada keep its foot on the gas and continue raising rates into early 2023.

Contrast these job numbers with recent inflation numbers showing that we’re starting to see a meaningful decline from the lofty inflation rates of 2022.

Inflation November from CBC

However, with the job market still red hot, the Bank of Canada may be worrying that inflation won’t continue to decline trend and make their 2% policy goal unattainable. They are also worried about a wage-inflation spiral which could further drive overall inflation.

One Year of Fire

I’ve been following a great series on what the first year of FIRE has been like for Chrissy and her family. As a fellow Canadian, I identify a lot with Chrissy’s journey and have been even more interested than ever now that she’s embracing the “RE” (retired) phase of her FIRE journey.

In the 3 part series (so far!), she answers questions from her family and the personal finance community. Some of my favourite questions include:

  1. How do your real expenses after FIREing compare to what you had projected?
  2. What have you found to be the most challenging but unexpected adjustment that you’ve had to make in your transition to a FIRE’d life? 
  3. Are you going to withdraw from your investments? Is there a strategy that you put in place? 

Chrissy’s series on her first year of FIRE is a must-read for anyone on the path towards financial independence, retire early. Or even those of us who are FI-curious, and interested to see what life after early retirement looks like.

Investing in a Home Gym

Another personal finance blogger that I’ve been keeping up with is Maria from Handful of Thoughts. I found her recent post “We Bought a Home Gym – 3 Money Lessons” to be especially insightful.

My wife and I made some investments in our own home gym during COVID, and it was probably one of the best decisions we made over the course of the pandemic. A lot of the benefits we’ve seen are reflected in Maria’s own experience: saving time and making exercise even more convenient has paid dividends (though, not in cash!)

It’s also interesting to see her break down the cost of her home gym and how she compares it to the alternatives. She spent about $3,5000 with a break-even point projected to be just 3 to 7 years in the future—not a bad investment, I say.

The Married-Mom Advantage

This month I read an article from The Atlantic on “The Married-Mom Advantage.” What I enjoyed about this article is that it used recent survey data to try and paint a more objective picture of how mothers fared during the pandemic.

But was all of this negative commentary about marriage and motherhood, primarily written by and for left-leaning, affluent, educated mothers, an accurate reflection of reality?

It compared how mothers of different financial means struggled during COVID. For example, it shared that 22% of poor single mothers reported feeling isolated from others during the pandemic, while only 2% of well-off married mothers reported loneliness.

Thanks for Reading!

I hope you enjoyed this little look back at my favourite reads for the month of January. Was there anything great I missed? Any new blogs I should be following or YouTube channels to subscribe to? I’m always looking for recommendations, so don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments below.

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