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Investment Tips

by Stephen Lautens


January 31, 2003

Sheepishly, our banks and financial institutions are beginning to remind us that RRSP season is upon us. I don't know if you've noticed, but there are far fewer commercials on TV this year reminding us to put something away for our old age. I think this is because most of the financial geniuses who sold them to us over the past few years are too embarrassed to stand up and ask us with a straight face to shell out again.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for retirement and putting a bit aside so we'll be able to enjoy something in our old age other than Little Friskies for Sunday dinner. I'm just tired of an investment strategy that amounts to spending half of my retirement savings on magic beans.

I keep getting cheery mailings from my RSP people about how the "real recovery" is right around the corner, and how we have all paid the price for unrealistic expectations and a bad economy. My bank certainly paid the price. Last year it was only able to report a 44% increase in profits over 2001, which means they'll have to serve non-vintage champagne at board meetings.

It would have done a lot better if it wasn't for the mountain of reports and statements it sends me every month to tell me my retirement fund investments are disappearing faster than Paul Martin's leadership rivals. By the time I've finished reading everything, it's RSP season again. I don't know why they don't just send me a postcard instead with a little note written on the back: "Please send us more money, or just eliminate the middleman this year by flushing half of it down the toilet."

My own little retirement fund isn't quite as healthy as the banks' rosy finances. Let me put it this way, at the current rate I'll be able to retire in 2096, provided I'm prepared to make a few sacrifices in the meantime - like eating.

So I'm thinking of setting up a few alternative RSP funds that ought to do at least as well as my current portfolio.

How about a Gun Registry RSP? Where else can you see a million dollars grow to more than a billion in just four years? I only wish I could have gotten in on the ground floor.

There should be a BC Premiers Fund, where you have the opportunity to throw away your future on off-shore liquid assets.

A Raelian CloneAid investment plan might be a good choice. Your investment would double every nine months. Just don't ask them to prove it or tell you where it is.

I'd invest in a Canadian Prime Minister RSP. It would be the only retirement plan where you never actually retire.

If you're not into "ethical funds", you could put your money into the Crazy Dictators Fund. The Iraqis would let you invest your retirement savings in their Weapons of Mass Destruction Portfolio. The only problem is not even the CIA can locate it. If you're interested in a slightly longer-term investment, you may want to consider their sister plan in North Korea. You've heard of "balanced funds"? Consider these unbalanced funds.

Maybe I'll have to just go back to my old standby - the Lottery Ticket Retirement Plan. Just think of how many chances to win big money a thousand bucks will buy. I figure that even if I sink half of my retirement fund into scratch n' win tickets and come up with nothing, I'll still doing as well as my other RSPs. And I'll at least feel like I've had a sporting chance to get something back for my old age.

© Stephen Lautens 2003

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