Oooh, stances.  Not going to write much here today, but I thought I’d discuss stances.

I’m a right-hander, so I should be fighting orthodox.  It puts my strongest side back, lets me hit hard with my right fist / kick and allows me to block with my left.

However, due to years of fencing and some Tai Chi work, I actually automatically assume southpaw.  I move more fluidly in southpaw, I block faster, I hit faster and chain combinations more smoothly in that stance.  However, my left side is weaker, so my stronger side is forward.

It’s weird too because I know my left side can grow stronger.  I just haven’t gotten the iterations up.  It’s mostly due to practise – I practised a lot of strikes & kicks in orthodox while learning (Karate, etc) in the beginning and just continued practising in that stance.

However, because I fight southpaw normally, I just don’t have the muscle memory to turn on the power on my left side as much.  With practise though, I’m hitting harder and more smoothly and soon should be able to ramp it up – though I think I’ll always be weaker.

Still, all these changes do mean that I shift quite fluidly between the stances, striking from either without hesitation when I am sparring.  I often don’t even think about stances, just hitting and moving when I am in the groove. Not as good for training specific responses, but great for sparring…

Canada Pension Plan – increasing contributions

Let’s talk about the Canada Pension Plan or the CPP.

What is it?

It’s a government backed retirement plan that provides funds after 65 (or 60 at a lower rate) if you have worked in Canada.  The amount you get is dependent on the amount you contributed through your lifetime, and is a 4.95% deduction off your paycheck along with an equal contribution by your employer.

What You Should Know

CPP maxes out at $1,038.33 currently (2014) and is indexed to the Consumer Price Index, so theoretically it will give you that amount (or it’s inflation adjusted equivalent) when you retire.

However, the CPP is not seperately financed.  All funds currently generated for the CPP goes into general financing for the government and is then used to pay out to current pension earners.  That is, the money you pay in now isn’t set aside for you specifically, it goes into a general pool.

In addition, the CPP is not fully funded though it supposedly is sufficiently funded till 2085.

How Much Do I Get?

25% of your average earnings.   Service Canada (who run the CPP) looks at your average earnings from 18 to 65, dropping out up to 7.5 years of your lowest earning years to calculate your CPP payout.

The maximum ‘allowable’ / calculated earnings was $51,100 in 2013 – if you earned more than that, it wasn’t counted towards the CPP (nor was funds taken for the CPP above that amount) but it did count towards the amount you’d get.

So, most people will definitely get significantly less than the maximum of $1,038.33.

Is Raising the CPP Good Then?

Depends on your point of view.  They’ll take more money from your paycheck now (raising it to 12% total or from 4.95% to 6% off your paycheck), in return for up to a 35% increase in the final payout.

Theoretically then, you could get more when you retire; but the question then is this retroactive? That is, do people who only paid in 9% through their life get 35% payouts? My guess is (and this is political); yes – so that Baby Boomers/etc who never saved get ‘saved’ by the government.  That I don’t agree with…

If not, maybe it’s good.  I still prefer to save money myself, but for a lot of people that might not be what they want.

Is It Going Away?

The important part to note is that while the CPP is theoretically funded sufficiently, there isn’t a separate pool where all CPP contributions are locked away.  It’s just a giant pool of cash which the government pulls from.  So, it’s possible if the government overspends that there just won’t be any money there when it’s needed.

Again, this is a possibility – not a certainty and really depends on numerous factors. However, it’s worth knowing and adding to your own considerations.

Emergency Funds

It’s strange, the question of an emergency fund rises up a lot.  If you don’t know what an Emergency Fund is, it’s a pool of cash you set aside for emergencies.  Most financial advisors recommend between $1,000 to $5,000.

The reasons for an emergency fund basically boil down to – don’t get into debt! Sometimes, expenses outside of your budget happen – a blown tire, an accident, sick days that aren’t compensated.

Having a fund that you can call on to help ease fluctuations in expenses and income keeps you from dipping into debt to cover it, removing you from the spiral of indebtness and poverty.  It’s also comforting to have some money around that you could just use…

Of course, there’s another train of thought that says – don’t bother with an emergency fund; especially when rates are so low.  You can get a much better return investing it and so long as you have a good credit rating and multiple forms of credit (Line-of-Credit or credit cards); you can use those as emergency funds.  With a LOC especially, you only pay for what you use and the rates are often very decent.

This way, the money you’ve invested will ‘work’ for you and you can dump it if and when an emergency happens.   It’s not necessarily a bad idea especially with the TFSA accounts these days.  The bad part of course is that you just don’t have that mental cushion anymore.

Myself, I lean towards the investing side – but I’m pretty comfortable and confident with investing.  For others, pure cash might be the better option.  It’s all about your risk tolerance…


Training while sick

I am sick a lot.  It’s just a part and parcel of my lack of luck with my immune system being shitty. Lots of cold, lots of flu symptoms.  These days I get a lot less muscle strains / aches and damage, but that’s mostly because I’ve slowly gotten pass the ‘I am a weakling stage’/

So, should you train while sick? From what I’ve read – it seems to be a case of – it’s mild sure.  If it’s a flu – no.  If it’s below the neck; no.

My problem is that a lot of the time, I have a cough / cold addition.  That sucks because it’s hard to do anything because your cardio is out and doing a major routine like the MMA training requires a lot more energy / oxygen than I can handle.

It’s weird, but being an adult sometimes means staying away from things even when you want to do it.  Bah!