Best Financial Decision Ever ?

in Nortel, Pensions

Whilst wandering through my massive archive of older articles, I tripped across Take the Money or Leave It? I wrote it a month after I got laid off from Nortel. Somehow, this ended up showing the Best Financial Decision I ever made ? Well it certainly looks to be the case. I have a retirement, path to victory.

best decision
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In that article I mused the following interesting question (remember this was 2008 during the great crash):

The options I have are:

  • Leave the money in my former (or soon to be) employer’s pension scheme and start drawing from it at either age 55 or later.
  • Take the money out and put it into a Locked In Retirement Account (LIRA), or at least the portion that the government allows.

As background my current employers pension plan is under funded, by a fairly large amount. I also have passed a point, so that I can draw from the pension when I am 55.

Thanks to Mrs. C8j, Michael James and a little common sense on my part I ended up doing the second option and it was the best financial decision (read luckiest)  I ever made due to the fact that:

  1. Nortel’s Pension plan was even more under funded than anyone knew and it had serious issues and effectively collapsed. I kept hearing that the Ontario Government had “insurance” to back up the pension, but given the money I took out that “insurance” would not have covered the amount I should have been paid. “There is no way the government would let Nortel and/or its pension fail”? I think we know what happened there as well.
  2. The money I received went into an LIRA in December 2008. This was when stock prices were the lowest, and it grew a great deal, until I took it out to buy into my current employer’s pension plan. Blind luck and no great “market timing” strategy on my part. It was simply me needing to buy, luckily when the market is lowest.

Best Financial Decision Ever?

Many financial decisions cannot be evaluated immediately. Sometimes it takes a while to realize it was the best decision, or a massive blunder.


  • Neil Murphy March 25, 2015, 9:51 AM

    I had a neighbour who retired from Nortel as an executive and was a millionaire holding only Nortel stock. I tried to advise him at the time that this was highly risky but apparently he was so convinced in Nortel that he would never sell it. He moved before the crash. I often wondered what happened to him.

    circa. 2000

    • bigcajunman March 25, 2015, 10:01 AM

      I had a similar story about a High Level Exec who “retired” in 1998 or so, on his options (he exercised them, and HELD the stock, instead of selling, to live on the Dividends). This chap sent a fairly pointed, “Good bye and thanks for all the fishes” retirement e-mail, but was back “working” in 2002, after the first major stock failure of Nortel.

      Potential money, while nice, is not real money.


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