I’m not sure everyone can picture themselves retired because we base it on what we think we know and what we want to believe will happen during the supposed best years of our lives.
Planning for retirement almost seems as if you are writing a guide about a future time and what your life will potentially be like.
Don’t be envious of others’ success create your own but that starts with a plan of action and a will to want something that suits your own needs and not those of others.
For some people their book is so big they struggle to get hold of it without the help of others, some don’t care and others take minimal interest in life after working for a living.
I don’t know how much I agree with it being the best years but I’m certainly not one to judge because I’m not retired. In fact, I’m quite a few years away from retirement. Although I may be able to retire early I still struggle with what I will do when I no longer have to get up to wanting to throw my old cell phone from the UK which doubles as an alarm across the bedroom.
The only way I can try to picture myself retired is by aging myself into my 50’s and 60’s and hope that I’m still in good health. Sometimes it’s nice to dream about all the fun things you will do when you retire but we forget about the possible health complications that can hamper our so-called golden years of retirement.
I’m sure many of us have a sense of what early retirement feels like based on what we know of life today but not everyone wants it. We can talk to all the retired folks that we want but unless they are around the same age their review of the retired life might be different from you actually envision.
If you are talking to your grandparents about retirement to grasp a sense of whether it was what they expected you might get a visual about what life was like far before you were born. You can easily relate to life as it is today but you can’t put yourself in their shoes to get a feel for what they had to go through. The same will hold true for your children and grandchildren and so on.
Not everyone will retire the same either.
Retired financial freedom
One thing that hasn’t changed besides retirement savings accounts is retirement planning. Just like today not everyone has a defined pension plan that they can rely on to carry them through retirement years. Not even myself but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m not far off making that a reality.
Today we have the tax-free savings account (TFSA) and we also have the registered retirement savings account (RRSP) something that many people didn’t even know about back when they were introduced in 1957.
This was a time when my wife’s parents were brought into the world so it would have started with their parents. I’m not surprised when I asked her parents about RRSP’s and whether they saved money. They said no they didn’t have the money to save and now they feel it’s too late due to their age although they should be fine during their retirement years based on how they see themselves retired. They aren’t the flashy, splash your cash type and they will have no debt.
They also lived through the time where mortgage rates went through the roof in the 80’s but for them keeping the roof on their heads and food on the table was what living pay to pay meant.
It’s probably why they are frugal-minded and taught money management to their daughter from a young age. The problem is you can’t invest what you don’t have and times were tough. They were married and had kids when they were very young which is not so common these days and struggled through the times along with the best of people. “Nothing in life is ever easy“, they said.
Today they rely heavily on potentially selling their home in retirement if they need to in order to downsize which would be easy as they have a decent home size and plot of land. Houses where they live are reasonably priced. It’s not something I would recommend relying on but the reality is many people do.
They are also better off according to their financial advisor to put money into a TFSA as retired life will also mean relying on the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) benefits, savings and pensions from her husband’s work.
If you’re not sure how much you will get from the government there is a nifty OAS and CPP benefit calculator or what is called a Canadian Retirement Income Calculator which will give you a better idea of where you might stand financially when the time comes.
Keep in mind it’s only an estimate though depending on many factors including what you plan to do when you retire and how much debt you have. Continuing to save and invest over the years is still a better option though.
Her parents could have socked away more money but they just didn’t have the money to invest as they ran a tight budget. I suppose it’s no different from today but I feel that more people are becoming educated on retirement and financial planning so they are one step ahead of their parents and grandparents. At least we hope they are.
It’s important for all parents and educators to make sure that the generations of children are up to speed on what the real financial world will be like for them once they are out on their own. Saying that, it doesn’t mean they will be any better off either.
Even today just because you have money in an RRSP or other investments doesn’t mean you are safe either. I can’t tell you how many people email me asking if it’s safe to pay their debts by removing investments in their RRSP.
Money is tight and even if people are contributing many are having to bite the bullet and cash in RRSP investments to pay debt in order to stay afloat financially. Sad but that is reality.
We know a single mom of three that had to do that every month just to pay her bills plus she worked for the government. She had no child support from her ex as he left the country nor did she want to give up her house so she decided to give up her retirement funds to not have to move to an apartment. At the time she was only a contract government worker but now is full-time with a decent pension plan.
Again, it’s not about how much money you make, it’s how you save it. Ah, that message will always be in the back of my head.
When I spoke to my parents before they walked the retired path they told me that they had to mentally prepare themselves to retire. Sure they have friends who are retired and sit around playing cards, go dancing and travelling but it’s a big change from having to raise children and working non-stop for many years of their lives.
It seems as if life had become an institution of sorts where it was going to be tough for them to stop and smell the roses. Even though we should kick-back once in a while many people fail to do this because life takes us by storm, blink and you’ll miss it though.
It’s taken them a couple of years to enjoy the stress-free life but not without disappointment at times with dad having health issues. They told me to enjoy life every step of the way and even though retirement sounds like the “good life” don’t train your brain to believe it’s all going to be peaches and cream.
Don’t wait to enjoy life when you are retired either because that time may never come. Live life to the fullest every single day. We hear that all the time but how many of us actually appreciate waking up in the morning?
What they did was they eased into retirement but they can honestly say they still haven’t arrived at the bus stop yet. They were far from being those early retirement extreme vacationers who travelled the world but it’s still something they consider. I know they want to come to Canada and travel for about 6 months so they get a chance to see all they can while coming over to visit us.
Retired but working
Calling yourself retired but you still work sounds a bit odd but it’s not. Many people decide to retire from full-time work and opt to work casual shifts or even volunteer their time.
In our city many retired seniors spend their spare time volunteering in retail second-hand shops that are not-for-profit or work for the church or other community services. Others they continue to work to make some spare change or they use their skills to work from home and make cash like our neighbour who enjoys fixing small engines such as lawn mowers and weed trimmers.
My parents are still working part-time because they struggle to find things to do every day. Sure they travel and hang out with their friends but hobbies they once enjoyed seem to be too much for them.
Mum and dad are now considering selling their rental homes that bring in cash for them every month since they are mortgage-free but it’s not about the money.
They are to the point where they can’t move as fast as they used to nor can they handle the workload like they used to. Even though they still work what they do is not considered work to many people as it’s mere babysitting and taking care of very rich people’s homes. Quite a bit different than owning rental homes when it’s not your own property to deal with.
They feel they are living the life without having to pay for it so I guess I can see why they enjoy it so much. Sometimes I get a bit jealous hearing all about the posh living quarters they get to hang out in for a month.
It’s not about the money either because they don’t need it. Most retired folks who continue to work do so in order to keep busy and to interact with people on a daily basis.
If you are left alone to retire because your spouse has passed on or you’ve never been married life can get lonely and you don’t need to envision that either as it’s something we’ve all felt at one point in our lives. Being alone is not fun.
We can only assume what inflation will be according to stats but we don’t know for sure just how much anything will cost. What we do know is that if we have debt whether you consider debt good or bad it’s a good idea to have it paid in full by the time you retire. If you don’t pay that debt off you may struggle to keep the boat afloat, have to downsize or be forced to continue working to make ends meet.
A family relative on the other hand is well into his 70’s and is still working and not because of the money it’s because he started his career over as a lawyer like I did later in life.
It wasn’t his time for retired life to kick in just 20 years after graduation so he keeps on going but I get the feeling he’s walking down the path of a phased retirement where he stops working as much to the point where he’s fully retired. I’m pretty sure his time is coming because his wife thinks he should put his practice to rest and be happy with what he’s accomplished.
I think maybe he could write a book or find other ways to use his experience and expertise so he feels as if he’s not retired but still contributing to society. Sometimes it’s hard to let go.
What to do when you retire?
Good question and I’ve just asked myself what I might want to do and I made a list below. I’m pretty sure this list will change over the duration of my working life but it’s not a bad thing to think about what retirement means to you early on in life.
- Travel is something both my wife and I want to do extensively as long as our health is still good
- Volunteer our time in areas that we enjoy or are helping others
- Learn to do something new every month just because we can
- Continue to garden
- Read and spend as much time together as we can
- Spend time with the family and hopefully grandkids
- Continue to write for Canadian Budget Binder (hehe… you never know)
- Stay fit and healthy living an active lifestyle
The list is not as easy as it sounds to put together and although my retirement dreams don’t sound fancy to many they are just some of the things that popped into my head.
I think travelling like mum and dad do will open up a new world to us both which may lead us into directions we’ve never dreamed of. Overall, we just want to be happy and live a happy, healthy, fulfilled, debt-free, stress-free life together in love. That’s not too much to ask for now is it?
Can you see yourself retired? What would you do and how can you plan for that today so you can make your dreams a reality in the future?
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