Sep 25: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE
September 25, 2023
Are you — and your partner — on the same page about what you’ll do in retirement?
While saving money is certainly a key component of retirement, it’s just as important to understand — in advance — what you and your partner are planning to do with all that spare time.
Writing in the Victoria Times-Colonist columnist Kevin Greenard shares some key insights on what retirement can look like for people, and the need for being on the same page.
Years ago, he notes, he set up a seminar that “had nothing to do with the financial aspects of retirement.” Fifty couples, he writes, who were within three years of retirement were gathered to hear Barry LaValley of the Retirement Lifestyle Centre speak.
“The presentation highlighted that many people entering retirement don’t really have a clear understanding of what they are retiring to,” he writes.
Greenard notes that LaValley has these key retirement questions — none of which are money-related — posted on his website:
- Why are you retiring?
- What is it that you will miss most about your job?
- How will you replace the things that you liked most about your work?
- What are you looking forward to the most about your retirement?
- What areas of your retirement life need a plan?
- What are the opportunities that you see in your retirement?
Even with some advance “homework,” the couples at the retirement seminar seemed to be in different places when it came to how they saw life after work, Greenard writes.
“When we ask couples what they want to do in retirement, they are often together and not 100 per cent prepared for the question,” he writes. The answer to this question, he continues, directly impacts their wealth planning and future retirement cash flow needs. “What we have learned over the years is that many couples have vastly different thoughts about what retirement looks like to them,” he notes.
He gives some examples (not using real names) of this lack of same-pagedness. “Mr. Smith was interested in buying a sailboat and going on adventures,” while Mrs. Smith didn’t like sailing, didn’t want a boat, and hoped to “spend time volunteering with charities that she is passionate about.”
“Mr. Jones was thinking of getting a motor home and driving across Canada, and making extended trips to the U.S.,” while Mrs. Jones “wanted to stay close to home and spend time with her grandchildren.”
Mr. Wilson wanted to spend money on getting the kids established in housing, but Mrs. Wilson “didn’t mention helping the children out at all, either financially or with her time.” Instead, she wanted to be “spending more time on the golf course and fully utilizing their memberships.”
“In speaking with couples afterward, we explained that without them having meaningful conversations with each other, it was difficult to have a meaningful conversation with us,” Greenard writes.
They were able to help the couples by getting into specifics — how much would Mr. Smith’s boat cost, and how long did he hope to make use of it? The same questions were posed to Mr. Jones, who relieved his spouse by saying he only hoped to have a motor home for a couple of years — and that she could fly home for holidays with the grandbabies.
All such retirement expenses need to be written into the couple’s Total Wealth Plan, he concludes, so it is important for both spouses to be on the same page with future retirement activities and expenses.
“The entire exercise of reaching a consensus with respect to what retirement will look like is one of the primary objectives that we try to help clients achieve when doing a Total Wealth Plan. In many ways, we are the facilitators of these conversations that are often avoided. Communication and planning in advance help us create a more meaningful and relevant Total Wealth Plan,” he concludes.
This is a great article, and the approach taken with the retirement seminar was both creative and valuable.
Whether your retirement involves loading up a Winnebago, or baking cookies with your granddaughter, a little extra money for your future self will always help. If you are lucky enough to have a retirement program through work, be sure you are contributing as much as you can to it, and paying your future self first. If you don’t have such a program at work, check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Through SPP you can set up “pay yourself first” savings via pre-authorized contributions from your bank account. Alternatively, you can pay SPP via your online banking bill payment service. Or even via a credit card. The money you set aside via SPP is professionally invested, at a low cost, and grown to provide future retirement income. It’s a made-in-Saskatchewan retirement security solution!
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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.