Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Book Review & Giveaway: Free at 45 by Tim Stobbs

I’ve known Tim Stobbs over at Canadian Dream for quite a number of years. In fact, I really looked up to him (along with Mike Holman, Kerry Taylor, and a few other Canadian bloggers) when I first started my journey out of debt – and I still do today. So, earlier this year when I found out that he had written a book, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

Truthfully, I don’t know much about Tim, other than the snippets of his life that he decides to share with his readers on his popular blog. But after reading his book, Free at 45, I really feel like I know him a lot better. First, he is hilarious (or maybe I just have a weird sense of humour). I found myself laughing out loud throughout the entire book. But most importantly? The guy knows his stuff. His writing style made it easy for me to understand what he was saying, and I felt like he was speaking directly to me. Also, he broke down the numbers and really helped me to see the math behind what he was talking about.

As someone who’s #1 personal finance goal is to retire early, I think it was something I needed to read. It put my goals into perspective and helped me understand why I want to retire early, and what I truly value out of life.

Here are the biggest lessons I learned from reading his blog:

  • Anyone can retire early. Tim talks about how you don’t need to win the lottery, or flip houses, or get lucky in the stock market, to leave your job and retire early. It’s about knowing what’s important in your life, what makes you happy, and a willingness to work hard and put in the effort.
  • When thinking about how much to save for retirement, don’t get caught up in a number. He explains that it’s not what you make, it’s what you spend that determines what you need. Such a logical way of thinking, yet somehow I never really grasped the concept until I read this book. He writes that we often times get sucked into thinking we need to replace a certain percentage of our income – when in reality we might need a lot less than we think we do.
  • How to be happy in the present. A huge thing for me was remembering that you can’t wait until you retire to do everything that you’ve wanted to do. Live your dreams today, and be happy with your life. I think that really rings true in my life right now. The past two months have been interesting and stressful, but I can’t recall a time where I’ve been happier.

Tim recently quit his job because he has been unhappy for so long. I think that’s amazing, and a true testament to how he lives his life and what he values.

I don’t do a lot of book reviews, and I certainly don’t endorse anything unless I truly believe in it – but this is a great book that I think everybody should read – even if your goal isn’t to retire early.

Now, the contest! You can enter to win your very own copy of Tim’s book! Here’s how:

There are TWO ways to enter [for a total of 3 entries]:

  1. For one entry: Comment on this blog post and tell me if you plan on retiring early – and if so, what age? If you are anonymous, please make sure you leave your e-mail address in your blog comments.
  2. For one entry [plus a bonus entry]: Tweet about the contest, linking back to this post. Add @krystalatwork to the tweet so I can count your entry on Twitter (mandatory). Throw Tim’s Twitter name (@canadiandream) in the tweet, and get a bonus entry!


  • Open to Canadian and U.S. residents only (please note that the author is Canadian).
  • Contest closes June 24, 2011 at 5pm PST.
  • The winners will be picked using

Good luck to everyone! :)

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Christy says:

    I am a teacher. My "official" retirement date is when I'm 54 years old. I'd like to try to retire at 50 though :)

  2. pennyfactory says:

    I plan to retire early – my goal age is 45. I'm working towards it basically by reducing unneeded spending, saving as much of my income as I can, and trying to invest wisely. The biggest thing is sorting out my spending – I want to discover what I truly need, which I think won't be a huge number. It's a work in progress.
    My recent post My Stufflessness

  3. kathryn says:

    I am a public servant with the Government and I work part time at Canada Post (quasi government) I am working really hard while i'm still young and have the energy for it. I will be allowed to retired at 54 with a full pension from the FT government job.
    I'm 28 now, I own a house in Toronto on the TTC line it will be paid off in 3 years with my current agressive payments ranging from 3100-5100/month. I only do RRSPs to avoid the tax man, so i put in about 10k in rrsps each year. My goal is to retire at 50. I plan to take lots of leave between 50-54 so as to not be penalized on my pension, and i plan to buy a second home once this is paid off, so that when I'm retired I'll also have a rental income- i may even be able to own 3 properties -making me a landlord of 2 properties, collecting rents and pension and some rrsp money. finally i intend to max out TFSA too which will help after 50. Im being very discplined now. I kid you not, i save all my receipts, infact this spring i found my last yr's receipt from Sheridan nurserys and returned my ivy vines that i bought last yr and spent 200 bucks because this year they are dead, so i found the recipet returned the dead plants and rec'vd my warranty protection, so this year i got to replace my garden greens for free.. thatt is how dilligent i am.
    If i want something specail now, becuase you're right life doesn't start at retirement and you can't gaurantee unfortunately that you'll live until then either,but i want something i will just kick up my earnings.. to do this I'll do Overtime whenever possible, I'll pick up extra hours at the post office (mind you not these days with the employer locking me out and all), I'll participate in market research focus groups for cash money- i tend to earn at least 100 /mth on that, this month alone i made 350 via focus groups though : ), I'll rent some bedrooms in my house out to international students who are here to learn english for short periods of time, I clip coupons to reduce spending and hold on to more earnings.. I am having a garage sale- i hope to sell enough stuff at the garage sale on the 25th to pay for our wonderland season's passes (theme park). My life is balanced this summer as I've taken leave from my FT job over the summer : ) hopefully Canada post will be sorted out favourably for postie's so i can work a bit more while off for the summer. otherwise I'll just be at the pool all day not spending my hard earned money. I want to read this book. i want to retire early – i'm willing to be creative to acheive my goals. I'm living proof of reaching goals that seem of out of reach.
    I'm 28, my T4/notice of assessment shows i earned 57k in 2009, 65k in 2010 and 70k in 2011, i am already at 78k for 2012, so i may crack 100k with both jobs.. I didn't study anything special in school, hence i never incurred that ugly debt load.
    I bought my house 1 yr ago.. i will have paid it off at this rate in a total of 4 yrs : )
    gimmie my 5 bucks back..errr.. gimmie that book… pls and thank you : )

  4. Amanda says:

    I would love to retire early and I am starting to take the steps to make that a possibility. I would like to retire by age 50.

  5. OCDaniela says:

    I'd like to retire sometime in my 50s, and maybe have some side work I can do on a part-time basis so I don't go crazy at home!

  6. Byrocat says:

    Well, I'm in my Fifties and am looking to keep going until I reach my retirement age (first of the month after my 65th birthday) or decide to finally chuck it in if I stay on at 65.

    Reading books like this is great, not only for the ideas that they contain (validation of what I'm doing) but also to pass along to my grand-children who are now starting out on their careers. My "Automatic Millionaire To Home Ownership" went to GK#1 last year, and the book will probably follow the same path. Not sure who's getting my "Wealthy Barber" yet…..
    My recent post Getting the Christmas Bonus

  7. Kristy says:

    Hello, I haven't really put much thought into when I plan to retire! I am still in school just about the start the last year of my masters and when I'm done, I hope to find a job that I like so much I won't have to worry about trying to retire early! 45 sounds great though :) haha

  8. Peanut and I figure we’ll retire around age 60. We both like our careers and imagine we’ll find them interesting for another 30 years or so. But we don’t want to have to keep going into work in our later years, either. Retiring early (or at least being able to) is a nice goal!

    Also tweeted with your handle and Tim’s!

  9. goalsinmoneyandlife says:

    I'd love to retire by the age of 50! Right now just working my way out of debt, while saving for the future!! Once this debt is gone, onto mega savings!!!!

  10. Mel C. says:

    I would love to retire early. I have a good pension plan through work and since I started at 25 my official retirement age is 55, but would like to retire at 50 if possible and move on to other possibly related work on a smaller scale. Right now debt repayment is bigger than savings, but in the next few years that will turn around. I definitly also believe is balancing living now and planning for later, living simply but still having lots of fun. Would love to read Tim's book!
    p.s. love the blog

  11. Melissa says:

    I don't plan on retiring early. Truthfully, even though I started putting money into an RRSP when I was only 23, I'm really terrified about the prospect of retirement. I work in an industry that pays so little, that I feel as if it might be a stretch just to retire on TIME. I'm kind of just taking a "hope for the best" attitude. When I'm more settled in a few years, I'll re-evaluate, but yeah, my long-term plan doesn't really stretch that far. But I also really like my work, and it's work that can easily be done on a part-time, freelance basis. So if I retire at 65, that'll be fine by me.
    My recent post Summer Mixtape- Keep On Keeping On

  12. Looby says:

    Ooh, sounds good. I'd ideally like to retire at 50, I'm probably looking at 55 though. My parent's both retired a little early, although they were helped by good government worker pensions, but I'm trying my hardest to get there too.

  13. Erin says:

    I would love to not have to work, which is maybe the same thing as retiring early. I don't have a great plan on how I will do that since right now I am focussed on saving up a down payment for my first place, since I just recently took time off to travel, had my eyes lasered and paid off my student loan debt. So retiring early is not a priority but I would still love to get this book!

  14. Natalie says:

    I plan to retire at the age of 45 years old. My pension allows for me to retire at the age of 51 with a full pension. I believe this can be accomplished by continung to max out my RRSPs every year, contribute to my TFSA and cut costs accordingly. I have been a saver since my teen years and purchased my first home at the age of 26 with a down payment of $ 40,000. I always pay myself first ie. save. I want this book. I need this book.

  15. Miriya says:

    45 would be nice – my daughter will be well out of high school by then – but 50 is probably more like it. 55 at the latest. We'll see. :)

  16. Vanessa says:

    I have absolutely no idea when I want to retire. Maybe that's something I should spend some time thinking about…

  17. Crystal says:

    We are aiming for age 55 – I am 29 now. My father passed away at an early age (49) and he always talked about retiring early – but never got to really enjoy his life "in the now" because he was working so hard for early retirement and that magic number to save. I think that the most important thing that you can do with your life is enjoy it!!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Not sure about flat out retirement, but I would like to be able to stay home with the kids when they are little. But we are aiming for my husband to be able to be in a job he loves and not be tied to something because of bills.

  19. Amy says:

    I am 23 years old right now, and my retirement date is preferably 54 or 55 years old if I can get back on track with retirement savings after paying down almost $20000 in debt in the past two years.

  20. Stephen L. says:

    I'm 21 and I'd like to retire as early as possible but my life isn't in place yet in terms of a career and whatnot so I don't even have a ballpark age. I have to fix my spending habit and to find more income. Probably get more shifts at work. the real challenge in the near future is saving enough in preparation for when the student loan guys coming knocking on my door in a 3 years.

  21. Renee says:

    I'd love to retire when I'm 60, but with 3 children and who knows what will be their circumstances in 20 years, I think I'll be working for a while longer. Who knows, but I'll look forward to it when I do!

  22. Sara says:

    I plan to have min-retirements in between employments/jobs – some people call it unemployment. A break here and there, so that I get to do things I want to do while I'm still young!

  23. psychsarah says:

    I actually don't plan on retiring til much later. I really love my job, and in my field, I can easily work part time or pick and choose the work I want to do well into my 70s or beyond (so long as I'm healthy and cognitively intact-fingers crossed!) My financial advisor laughed when I picked 70 as full retirement date. I told him that psychologists like me are bad at retiring. There is much demand and the work is rewarding, so why would I stop? I can imagine a 4 day or 3 day work week one day though. Plus, the reality is, I was in school and training until I was 31, so I didn't start my career until much later than some, so I figure working a bit longer than some makes sense.. That said, I'm saving at least 10% of my net pay (usually more) for retirement, so should I change my mind one day, I'm not stuck continuing to work if I don't want to.

    I like JJLC's point about all those years of life expectancy, I can't imagine sitting around not doing something productive. I know for many they change to volunteer work or enjoy hobbies, travel or grandchildren rather than work, but I figure I can do those things and work a schedule I like when I get older. Though I know many hate their job (DH is one of them) and can't wait to retire, I feel fortunate that I don't feel that way.

  24. Martina says:

    Looking to retire at 55. Maybe by reading this book I'll change my tune to 45:D! I'm a new reader to your blog and am a 20-something always looking for new money saving tips:). Keep up the fun entries!

  25. Loon says:

    I'm 26 and my partner and I were thinking of retiring around 40, if we still have other things in life we'd rather do than work. Maybe someone would pay us to do some of those things, but it'd nice to not have to take that into consideration. I love Tim's blog, and actually quit my job the same week he did (for similar reasons).

  26. Lisa Henderson says:

    I'd love to reture at 45 (but I'm thinking 55 might be more realistic!). I like my job, but I'd like to get to the point where I don't HAVE to go to work!
    My recent post Swagbucks

  27. Sherri says:

    I'd love to retire early but think that it's impossible right now… I'm still paying student debt, have a pricey car loan and a bit of consumer debt that I seem to never get rid of! I'd love to read how to make retiring possible – let alone retiring early! Please pick me… I need all the help I can get ;)

  28. Carly says:

    Retiring early sounds interesting. . . But I don't know if I'd be able to be retired long term. I think I could do it if I spent time volunteering or contributing some other way to society.

  29. I plan to "retire" (in the sense that I'll be financially free and independent from NEEDING a job) by age 50, although I would hope that I'm in a career I love enough to CHOOSE to keep working!
    My recent post Do More by … Doing More

  30. Lil says:

    I’m planning to retire at 55, but I’m aiming for age of 45! Hopefully this book will help me. There’s so much I want to do and experience, that I can’t because work takes up a lot of my spare time…

    Thanks for this giveaway!

  31. Be'en says:

    I am 56 and would like to retire now!!

  32. Liz says:

    Wow. I would love to retire early and never knew it was an option for me. I would love to retire at 50. Tim's book seems promising. So here is hoping I win and can get some of his great advice.

  33. Ok, this isn't an entry on the contest. Thanks the wonderful review Krystal! I'm glad you like the book.

    Just to address a theme in the comments, retirement doesn't mean you have to stop working. Actually I point out in the book that some work can actually be good for you in your retirement years, the trick is to do what you love and who cares about the pay. When you have enough that you don't need the pay, you have options and that is the point of 'early retirement'. In some regards the term retirement isn't a good one for what most people do. We don't stop when we get there we evolve to be more ourselves instead.

    My recent post How to Kill the File Beast

  34. jjgoga says:

    I would love to retire at 55, but this will be very hard. I come to this country at 36, and even hard working is not always the proper way. Trying to save as much as possible, investing in renting properties would help me on my way.

  35. gettingthere says:

    I am 35 and would like to retire within the next 10 years. My father passed away at age 36 and my mom passed away at 53 – neither of them reached retirement. I am always conscious of that and do not want my whole life to be about working. I did get a generous inheritance and we have a few real estate investments so I think early retirement can be do-able. I always read the Free at 45 blog and would love to win that book!!!

  36. kaidian says:

    I plan to retire from my career at age 55 (5 years earlier than my allowed age of 60 with full pension). I would like to work part-time in something I really enjoy from age 55-60ish, then simply focus on my hobbies, family, volunteering and travel. I plan to do this by living within my means and sticking to a budget that forces me to regularly contribute to my RRSP and make extrra mortgage payments. Whenever I come into 'extra' cash (by spending less than my budget, getting cash as a gift, or receiving an income tax refund) I split it 50/50 between retirement savings and mortgage extra payment. It's about staying focused on what you want the most, not what you want right now (e.g. fast food for lunch or drinks after work). It'll feel great it accomplish, better than any one piece of 'X' that I can buy from a store will!

  37. rtq says:

    My pension retirement age is 55. But I'm working hard to knock 10 years off that.

  38. brownvagabonder says:

    I don't want to wait for sometime in the future to retire, so I plan to have six months to a year breaks every few years. I am 27.

  39. Eric says:

    I'm a student right now, but hopefully I will enjoy work enough to work leisurely at 60 just to keep in profession… so I don't plan on retiring early.

  40. Jing says:

    I don't have a clear plan as when I want to retire, as I've been only in the workplace for a couple of years. But I want to retire early with financial freedom, 45 perhaps? I am still figuring out the ways to achieve it.

  41. Julie says:

    I would like to retire from full time work at 55. From there I would love to have the freedom to do part time work in areas I enjoy, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I hope to reach my goal by evaluating what I really value in life & not keeping up the Joneses. I aim to live a simple, frugal, meaniful & fullfilling life. I'm debt free now. I just need to keep saving.

  42. Shawna says:

    I have a freedom 35 plan – but I'll be helping manage my husband's specialized surgery practice. But we're not there yet so it's a good thing I love budgeting, number crunching and counting our pennies.

  43. Rachel says:

    So far I don't have a permanent plan in place to retire early but I am working on reading & learning as much as possible, so that I can develop a plan to retire early.

  44. @levittmike says:

    I plan on retiring earlier than most, but all will depend on what I'm doing along the way. I share Tim's sentiment of growing tired of what today's workplace looks like. It's up to us to change the environments we work with.
    My recent post Job Search Block

  45. Jeff says:

    I do plan to retire early… before 65… but that might just mean age 50. I'm currently 35.
    I plan to be debt free in approx 6 years.
    My children are 8 and 10, so we still have education and them growing up to fund….party by RESP's.
    It is definitely about the "It's not how much you make, but how much you spend" !!!!

  46. Jenny says:

    I would like to retire early… I haven't actually thought about the actual age. I always say 30 jokingly but I think it's a slightly impossible goal since I only have 4 more years lol.

  47. hithatsmybike says:

    I think I will be able to retire by 40, but I probably won't until 70. I like working, and it's hard to imagine not doing it

  48. Angeline says:

    I'm planning on retiring at 65, sadly I have a feeling this is going to be considered "early" by the time I reach 65.

  49. Cara S. says:

    I am 28, and am semi-retired now. LOL, not necessarily because i want to be, but because i have only found a part time job in quebec that allows me to speak english. So, semi-retired or semi-student learning french…. however you would like to look at it. However, our family living and sustaining on this lesser income (and not going into debt) makes me think of the vast possibilities when i can find a more full time job and will have just that much more income to put towards savings. This book would help me to be able to help me understand the vast amount of options out there with what we should do with our money now to make the most of it in the long run!! Although I do have to say i would be able to keep up the pace of this semi-retired life for a long a long time. At the very least, I hope to be able to join my spouse when he retires at 48 from the Canadian Military.

  50. I'm hoping to retire before 60 yrs old, 55 would be ideal — I've revisited my finances this year, and I'm thinking about picking up a part time job to be able to save more money and get closer to that goal.
    My recent post It pays the bills…

  51. Eric says:

    I will try to retire early. If things go well it should happen around 52.

  52. leanne says:

    am i the only person that loves my job? i don't want to retire early!!! my job is one of my favourite things in the world. i have great coworkers, i get to travel to great places and am constantly challenged and rewarded. i plan on taking more vacation time as i progress in my career (i'm 32) but i don't plan on retiring early… in fact, i'd love to work on contracts even after i'm eligible for my pension. i do love books like this though, whether you retire at 45 or 65 i think an understanding of retirement from different viewpoints and perspectives is important.

  53. @anardana says:

    I plan to retire at 60ish, I guess.. I've never thought about it! I need this book to inspire me!

  54. BcD says:

    I plan to retire fro my career as soon as I start having kids. Preferably 33. Doesn't mean I won't work again but I probably won't do what I'm doing now ever again.

  55. Dee says:

    I am aiming for age 48, but the plan is definitely at its beginning stage. I call it the "in 12 years for 12 years plans" — the in 12 years is probably self-explanatory but the "for 12 years" part refers to the length of time I would have to live off my savings before I would start getting a defined-benefit pension from my work at age 60. If I don't retire early and stick it out in the federal public service, I'll be looking at retiring at about age 58. Not bad, but I'd rather do it sooner.

  56. amy says:

    I would really love to retire by 45 but it might be closer to 50 when I retire.

  57. James says:

    Hope to be semi-retired by 50 and fully by 55.

  58. Thalia says:

    My dad retired early (at 54!), and he's a big inspiration to me.

  59. Susan says:

    I'd love to retire early! Maybe 50? No idea how to get there, so I've been reading up on financial articles, articles about investing, etc. which is how I ran across your blog!

  60. sandra says:

    I would have loved to retire early, but alas, life happened. So, it was at age 45 that I had to start all over again…….and hopefully not make the same mistakes, or even new ones! But, as I know have step-daughters leaving university, I would like to be able to share this book with them – after of course, I figure out how to fast-track rearly retirement – the sequel!

  61. Iris says:

    I'd be happy to retire at 45, but of course if I can find a way to retire earlier, all the better ;)

    I really want to get my life and finances in order so I can help my parents, who are both approaching 55, retire sooner. I know they would like a lot of things for themselves and I don't want to stand in their financial way for longer than I have to.

  62. Josephine says:

    I don't plan to ever retire. For a couple of reasons; a) (like Krystal), I have a Chinese Canadian background. My goal is to increase the financial standing of my entire family. b) My goal is not to retire but to gain a lifestyle where I can choose to work or not to work when I want. So the goal is to not be driven by money but by what job interests me.

    I'm not rich. But the way I've gotten there is a) I work in my passion. If I wasn't working, I'd still be in the industry in some way (I'm writing a book on the topic outside of work, and I'm involved in blogging, outside of work). b) I am lucky in that I am in consultancy. I hope to make a name for myself and a reliable source of clients so I can start my own company. I'd like to be in a place where I can work when I choose and take holidays when I choose.

    Overall, i've been very lucky. My parents are in banking so I've had a good education on retirement savings. I always make a contribution whenever I've worked, but I hadn't been working full time consistently. But even when I wasn't working consistently (and uneligible for RRSPs), I've been putting money away in my savings for my own retirement pension.

    Good work Krystal! I'm glad I found your blog!
    And I've tweeted as well!

  63. karl says:

    35. Two books I'd recommend are early retirement extreme and your money or your life

  64. Chrysta says:

    The book looks great! I hope my husband and I can retire around 50 or so. My husband wants to take on consulting/contract work at that age so he can work on and off. As for me…50 is a nice round number!

  65. Christina says:

    I am a realtor and would love to retire early (when the time comes!) or at least transition to a steady investment stream of income from properties.

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