A DIY Investor’s Guide to Determining Your Financial Independence Number and Sustainable Withdrawal Strategy

Jason Heath - A DIY Investor’s Guide to Determining Your Financial Independence Number and Sustainable Withdrawal Strategy

Today’s guest is Jason Heath, one of Canada’s best known fee-only financial planners that you’ve probably seen in all sorts of media here in Canada over the years. He’s a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), has been providing financial planning for over 20 years, and is currently a personal finance columnist for the Financial Post, MoneySense, and is also a regular contributor to RetireHappy.ca.

I’ve been reading his insightful financial planning articles for years, so it’s really great to have him on again, and in this episode, we get his perspectives on:

  1. How much do you actually need to be financially independent here in Canada and have the option of retiring? What is the process that should be undertaken to figure this out?

  2. Next, we get his take on how to live off your investment portfolio by withdrawing a sustainable amount every year, along with some alternatives to the 4% rule (which as you likely already know, has some limitations).

  3. We go through the process and calculations that he does annually with clients to ensure that they are withdrawing a sustainable amount from their portfolio every year, and we discuss how you can do it yourself in case you’re purely DIY and want to do it all yourself, and not have to meet with a financial planner every year.

  4. Also, since Jason has been doing fee-only financial planning for over 20 years, we talk about the patterns that he’s noticed between those that are successful financially and in life, long term, vs those that are not. From those, we hone in specifically on the things that you and I can actually control and do in our own lives, to help get us there too.

Enjoy the episode, it’s great having you here, thanks for tuning in, I hope you leave the show a rating on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and now let’s get into the interview.

A Big Thanks to Our Sponsors:


You can get your free Passiv account here.

You can also see my asset allocation and what ETFs I buy using Passiv here.

Passiv is literally the number one tool that I consistently use to manage all my investments. It automates all the calculations that you normally have to do to rebalance your portfolio, and lets you automatically rebalance your portfolio with just a few clicks. 

It also lets you see how your entire household’s portfolio is doing in seconds (instead of you having to manually log into both your and your partner’s accounts to see how much you actually have, and how your investments are doing as a whole).

Ultimately, you get the automation that a robo-advisor provides, without having to pay the fees that robo-advisors charge. 

Get your free Passiv account here.

BMO ETFs: ETF Market Insights

Catch the latest episodes on YouTube Here.

There are so many opinions on how to invest your money today, but it can be hard to find credible voices to rely on in the world of finance and investing.

One resource I turn to every week is the ETF Market Insights YouTube channel, led by today’s episode sponsor, BMO ETFs.

Market Insights brings in industry experts and their weekly episodes cover the hottest themes like inflation, infrastructure, healthcare, and more. Tuning in helps me stay up-to-date on what’s happening so I can be a smarter investor. You can also submit your own ETF questions, to be answered on the show.

Do yourself a favour and subscribe on YouTube to ETF Market Insights, or visit ETFMarketInsights.com so you can be notified when future episodes go live.

BMO Asset Allocation ETFs:

Asset allocation explains over 90 per cent of the variation in a portfolio’s quarterly returns, so it’s no wonder Canadian investors are turning to these ETFs!

Today’s sponsor, BMO ETFs, offers these innovative all-in-one solutions with the BMO All-Equity ETF (ZEQT), BMO Growth ETF (ZGRO), BMO Balanced ETF (ZBAL), BMO Conservative ETF (ZCON), and more. BMO developed these to help provide investors with ETFs that offer broad diversification and are also low-cost and simple to use.

These ETFs invest in a number of underlying index based ETFs and are rebalanced automatically back to your set asset allocation or mix of stocks and bonds. They offer a hands free approach to investing that is built on disciplined weights to provide exposure to different geographies and sectors all in one solution.

BMO actually offers eight asset allocation ETFs. Learn more at BMOETFs.com.

Resources from the Episode:

Jason’s Financial Planning Company: Objective Financial Partners

Jason’s Blog

Jason’s Writing at MoneySense

Jason’s Writing at Financial Post

Jason’s Writing at MoneySaver

Jason’s Writing at Retire Happy

Questions from the Episode:

  1. When somebody is trying to determine how much they need to be financially independent and have the option of retiring, what is the process that should be undertaken to figure this out?

  2. One strategy that has really peaked my interest and that I think can be highly relevant for those that have hit their financial independence number, is doing some sort of variable withdrawal strategy with a spending ceiling and floor.

    When a client comes to you and says that they don’t just want to use a fixed withdrawal strategy like the traditional 4% rule, and instead would like to be able to take out more when the markets are doing well, and are okay withdrawing less when the markets are not performing well, is there a certain variable percentage withdrawal strategy that you have found to work well, along with any particular rules for a spending ceiling and floor? or is there maybe something else entirely that you prefer recommending to clients?

  3. What is the process and calculations that you do annually with clients to ensure that they are withdrawing a sustainable amount from their portfolio every year?

    My understanding is that the ideal way to tackle this, is to work with a fee-for-service financial planner like yourself or somebody at your firm, where every year the numbers get updated in the financial planning software for that person’s particular situation. Then the expertise and analysis of the Financial Planner is used to determine what the withdrawal rate should be for that year. Is that the ideal way you’d recommend that it’s done?

  4. For those that are more on the DIY side and do not want to meet with someone annually, what approach or process do you recommend for them? For instance, maybe they just want to meet with a Financial Planner when there are significant life changes or financial events like an inheritance, the birth of a child, getting married, etc.

  5. You have been a Financial Planner for decades at this point and I’m sure with that level of experience you’ve noticed certain patterns when it comes to clients that are successful financially and in life, versus those that are not. Can you give us any insights in terms of the best practices or patterns that you’ve noticed from those that are financially successful and also appear to be happy and fulfilled in their day-to-day life?

  6. On the flip side, are there any common and/or major mistakes or regrets that you have seen clients have over the years that we can all learn from so that we do not repeat those mistakes in our own lives?

  7. In your practice, I’m sure you’ve helped clients of all different net worth sizes; from those struggling to very high net worth individuals. What have you noticed that the wealthy do that the poor or middle class do not?

  8. You have been in this industry for multiple decades. Would you be able to recommend some resources online that you find to be reliable and reputable sources of information, for those that like to continue to educate themselves when it comes to financial planning, retirement planning, and investing in Canada?

  9. Tell us more about where we can see your work and tell us more about your practice.


This podcast presentation is for informational purposes only. No part of this presentation may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of BMO Investments Inc. or BMO Asset Management Inc. (collectively, BMO GAM) ).

For greater certainty, no part of this presentation may be provided to investors and/or potential investors without the written permission of BMO GAM. The information contained herein is not, and should not be construed as, investment advice and or tax advice to any individual. Investments should be evaluated relative to the individual’s investment objectives and professional advice should be obtained with respect to any circumstance. This communication is intended for information purposes only. Any statement that necessarily depends on future events may be a forward-looking statement. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Although such statements are based on assumptions that are believed to be reasonable, there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially from expectations. Investors are cautioned not to rely unduly on any forward-looking statements. In connection with any forward-looking statements, investors should carefully consider the areas of risk described in the most recent simplified prospectus. BMO GAM undertakes no obligation to update publicly or otherwise revise any forward-looking statement or information whether as a result of new information, future events or other such factors which affect this information, except as required by law.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field