What’s it like working after retirement — and some general retirement learnings
December 15, 2022
We’ve reached that age — early 60s — where we have as many friends and family retired as working. The age-old question posed to us by our younger contacts is simple: what’s it like to be retired, and to not be working?
Well, first off, the only folks we know who are fully retired — meaning, living off a pension and/or retirement savings — tend to be a little older than us. We have an old friend, Bob, who was able to retire at 55 with a workplace pension and told me he has played lots of guitar, golfed, travelled, and apart from being a course marshal in return for discount rounds, has not worked a lick in retirement. He told me he took his Canada Pension Plan (CPP) the month he turned 60. “Why leave money on the table,” he asks.
A couple of golf buddies, who are around the same age as us, are still working away without plans to retire until their 70s. One has lots of savings so the transition won’t be that big a deal, the other doesn’t have savings but can collect a federal government pension and hopes to continue working as a consultant. So, no specific plan to exit the workforce in the here and now, but a general directional plan for five or six years out.
The eldest great-grandma in our tribe is living happily off her savings in a retirement apartment, and has taken up new hobbies and games, and met new friends, while rolling along in her early ‘90s. She is able to collect Old Age Security.
The folks we know around the ‘hood are largely retired government employees or teachers, either living on their own pension or on a survivor pension. Most are doing well and a number of them (enviably) are wintering in sunnier climes.
Apart from one dog-walking friend who retired, ran out of savings, and went back to work, no one we know complains about having a lack of retirement income. This is interesting, since this writer spent much time doing communications support on research about this particular topic.
We don’t find people complaining about their workplace arrangements or government pensions, other than to occasionally grumble that the inflation increase wasn’t very much.
Things fellow retirees have warned us about are coming true:
- Understand the rules about CPP survivor benefits — you won’t receive your partner’s full CPP entitlement upon their death, but may get topped up to what they were getting. Factor this reality into your income planning.
- The trickiest part of having multiple streams of income is taxes, and you won’t always be able to offset your tax bill through contributing to a retirement savings program. Figure out a plan for the taxes on your income, even if it is having more taken off at source.
- A good trick, if you have a registered retirement income fund and must withdraw from it, is to take any money you don’t need and contribute it to a Tax Free Savings Account. Many of our friends say their kids are using TFSAs as a primary retirement savings tool to avoid having their future retirement income taxed. Good for them!
- Our late Uncle Joe sold his house and then moved into a condo before his early 70s. He then downsized from the condo to a seniors’ apartment. When he went to his reward, there was no house to sell and the related problems, and all his belongings were relatively easy to pack up and distribute. Joe always lived on 90 per cent of what he made, which is also very good advice.
- If you aren’t doing something other than watching the news, you will have a short retirement. Join new things, meet new people, try something you haven’t, and good times may follow.
The final thing we’ve learned is that worrying about things doesn’t help anyone. On our local news recently, a 111-year-old veteran said his advice was to be happy, and that “if you have a problem, get it fixed” rather than worrying about it. We’ll take his word for it and try to live his example.
The CPP and OAS programs are great, in that they retire you with a basic retirement income, probably enough for core expenses. If you don’t have a workplace pension to augment that government layer, take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP). SPP has been building retirement futures since 1986, and can help you start saving for the days when work is a memory. Check them out today!
Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!
Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.