Smoke and Mirrors: Financial Myths That Will Ruin Your Retirement Dreams. 2nd ed.


168 pages
ISBN 1-55180-594-4
DDC 332.024'01





Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual.


David Trahair is a chartered accountant and regular contributor to the
online business magazine In this book, written
specifically for people with financial challenges ranging from student
loans to credit card debt to onerous mortgage payments, he seeks to
“give you the ammunition you need to fight back against the scare
tactics and ‘rule of thumb’ selling methods used to suck the money
out of your pockets every day of your life.”

The six chapters in Part 1 are devoted to debunking what the author
calls “the five big myths of financial planning”: namely, you’ll
need at least 70 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your
standard of living after you retire; RRSPs are the Holy Grail of
retirement; and investing in the stock market, focusing on minimizing
taxes, and buying life insurance are all essential pre-retirement
strategies. The five chapters in Part 2 demonstrate, among other things,
how to finance your retirement years with a modest RRSP and how to save
money with your mortgage.

Trahair uses case studies, facts and figures, and common sense to
refute the five financial planning myths. For example, in discussing
RRSPs, he asks, “does it make sense for a 22-year-old to be worried
about retirement?” He reminds investors who hung on to Nortel at $120
that paying taxes is a lesser evil than suffering a massive erosion of
net worth. And he urges debt-laden consumers to “switch from a credit
card to a debit card.”

Updated Microsoft Excel spreadsheets—included in the Windows-based
CD-ROM that accompanies the book—provide a personal rate of return
calculator, a cash flow projector, and a net worth calculator, among
other financial planning tools. Smoke and Mirrors has much to offer the
financially challenged individual who is motivated to put those tools to
good use.


Trahair, David., “Smoke and Mirrors: Financial Myths That Will Ruin Your Retirement Dreams. 2nd ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,