Am I on track …

… to retire at age 50?



From the February 2011 issue of the magazine.



The goal
Lynn Gueutal wants to save $2 million by the time she’s 50 so she can retire.

The current situation
“I became a single mom in my 20s so I’ve always had to live within my means,” says Gueutal, 41, of Calgary. “In fact, I’ve never lived on more than $50,000 a year in all my life.” Seven years ago, Gueutal got her dream job—a sales person with a top paying manufacturing company. Her base salary is still $50,000 but her commissions and bonuses total $100,000 or more annually, and that’s the money she invests.

Her assets include $459,400 in non-registered stocks as well as $232,500 in RRSPs and $9,000 in TFSAs, which are invested in GICs and mutual funds. She also owns a duplex and two townhouses that she rents out, as well as her own home. “I get a few thousand dollars in rental income from them and I’m on track to have them completely paid off by 50,” says Gueutal.

Her secret? Even though her annual income has increased substantially, she has never spent more than $50,000 annually. “Am I on track to Freedom 50?” she asks.

View the stats on where she stands

The verdict
According to Jim Otar, a financial planner and author, Gueutal is definitely on track to retire at 50. Otar ran the numbers on his retirement calculator at, factoring in Gueutal’s annual savings of $100,000, and projects that she will have between $925,000 and $1.25 million total in her RRSP, TFSA and non-registered accounts in nine years. So while Gueutal may not quite reach her goal of having $2 million by age 50, she’ll have enough to maintain her current standard of living throughout her lifetime.

To be conservative, Otar didn’t even factor in her real estate holdings. But as she pays those mortgages off, it will add another big chunk to her nest egg. “I did, however, assume that she will continue receiving a rental income of $20,000 annually for the rest of her life, plus full CPP and OAS benefits starting at 65,” he says, before adding a note of caution: As a single mom, Gueutal should buy disability and critical illness insurance policies so her income is never interrupted by an illness or accident.

Do you want MoneySense to see if you’re on track to meet your own financial goal? If so, drop us a line at

54 comments on “Am I on track …

  1. Congrats to Lynn! This proves you dont have to be making a large salary to build financial security. You can do it by living within or bit below your means and making smart choices along the way. Not increasing your standard of living even if and when you can financially is not a new concept and has been around for ages. All of those I know who have achieved similar or higher levels of financial wealth followed the same concept. My partner finally woke up to this as well a few years ago. We may not have as much 'stuff'' as others but we do have peace of mind. My hats are off to any and all single parents who do it successfully. What a great role model she is being to her kids.


  2. I love these stories but honestly……….
    The numbers are great on paper but how does one save $100,000 a year when her income is that ?
    You do pay taxes do you not ?
    That would be well over 30% Tax so takehome actually about $2500.00 a month on $50,000.

    She states she lives on this ………Frugal YES! because she banks her commission totally ?

    Also , single since 20's and saved over $650,000 in well under 20 years……….WOW!

    So this means she saved over $50,000 a year ? and will save over $100,000 a year …..
    I assume she had decent returns on investment but did she make $100,000 20 years ago(NO!) so accounting for inflation she would have to save EVERY PENNY !

    I would love to see a monthly Budget plan ..

    If she never drove , never went out, never went on vacation , never bought anything ………………
    Still does not make sense… Even with compounding Interest (not 2% we get now )

    I need to see a monthly Budget ……………Hard to believe the numbers …


  3. I just read the part where she got her dream job LESS THAN 7 Years ago…….

    So before that she made $50,000 a year and took home less than $2500.00 a month and raised kids and saved $650,000 and bought 4 houses ……..

    Come on ?

    That is all I can say …………Just Basic Bills and Taxes would eat up at least $600.00 or so a month and Food for a family would be at the VERY least about $600.00 a month .
    She had a mortage also ona house she owns did she not ? She only has about $1200.00 month left after bills and still has not paid Car , Insurance or Fuel ..Did she walk everywhere…
    Kids never went to school ? Never had a vacation ?

    She banks over $50,000 for the last 7 years OK ! But that is Taxable ……….You have RRSP room for some .
    But the Government wants some…
    You have investment income tax now outside RRSP…….

    Where did the Downpayments come from ???? She had no extra until 7 years ago ?


  4. I have to question the math with this article…

    Lynn Gueutal presently has $700,900 in liquid investments (RRSPs:$232.5k, Non-registered, $459.4k, TFSA: $9k) and is adding a $100k/year to this in annual savings. In 9 years, even if she earned 0% return on her investment over this time, she should have $1,600,900 ($700,900+$900,000).

    If the financial planner is projecting a balance of between $925,000 and $1.25M 9 years from now, Lynn would be far better off keeping the money under her mattress (and firing the planner!)

    Something doesn’t seem right with the math in the article, does it?


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  6. Three lines into this story and I knew it was just another bogus financial dream. Obviously the requirements to have a finanacial plan done on this website requires nothing more than a 'WOW" factor minus, of course, the reality of the facts. Good to see many more commenting on this story are also aware of this.


  7. The math on this is horribly hallucinogenic -I think that you forgot to mention the $500,000 lump sum and $250,000 in annual alimony and child support that she is getting…

    Also look that the rental property values = the debt – 0 equity – but they cash flow somehow? Where do you get properties like that? Rising interest rates and possible drop in property values forecast possible disaster – but seems to be glossed over.


  8. The magazine did gloss over some details. I never received alimony or child support payment ever and I do travel every year. Next trip France this year. My RRSP investments are like everyone else with the bank. What you fail to realize is the publication says I make $100 K or more annually. I actually make well over that annually. But I have only made that type of wage within the past 7 yrs. Our company is employee owned and offers shares which are expensive to buy. Every yr we are offered a returns on these shares as the share value itself increases. So essentially we make money both in the value of the share as well as when we get returns on the shares. While these seems really nice now it wasn't at first and the first 4-5 yrs you are pretty well paying for shares and any line of credit you own to pay for those shares. My luck is buying a house 16 years ago, making weeky payments to pay the house off in 15 yrs. Once that was paid off I started buying property which had renters to pay an income and what I use to pay for a mortgage I would also contribute. While the math doesn't seem right because of the hidden truths, the value that is noted is absolutely correct.


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  51. Why is everyone questioning the numbers? Divorsee


  52. I'm wonder how you can retire at 50 and get full CPP at 65??


  53. Lynn has done very well for herself. Seems people are reading the text too quickly, and then reacting too quickly. It does say for the last 7 years, Lynn was making a base salary of 50K, and with bonuses and commisions another 100K. Of course Lynn has been living on 50K, but it does not say that was what she was making all this time for the first part of her career.

    This is definitely not your average employee. It is quite amazing that Lynn has been able to remain frugal even though her income has continued to increase.

    If she continues to rent those properties when she retires, she can claim an income for maintaining them, and then make CPP payments to continue to build her time contributing to her pension.

    Well done!


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