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Retirement Planning

Things to Consider When Thinking About Retirement

March 30, 2006

With the oldest baby boomers now approaching 60, many of us are contemplating retirement. Every generation has four issues and concerns they deal with:

  • Family issues
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Health issues
  • Financial concerns

Consider Bob. Bob and his wife Mary are 55-year old baby boomers with three adult children. One is married with a child (their first grandchild!) due any day, one has just moved back in after spending time traveling in Europe, and the youngest has just graduated from high school and is trying out the job market. Bob’s parents are 80 and have just sold their home and moved into a seniors’ complex. Mary’s widowed mother has just given up her driver’s license and requires some assistance in running errands. Bob’s employer, a large Canadian company, has a history of providing packages to employees with over 25 years experience and are over age 50. Bob’s brother has just had heart bypass surgery.

It is apparent that Bob and his wife Mary are impacted by all of the concerns listed.

Here are some suggestions that Bob and Mary can use to make the transition from working to a ’successful retirement’.

1. Have a clear vision of the future

As Christians we realize that we are not in control of our future. We can, however, consider what we want to do with the next phase of life. Many prospective retirees know what they are retiring from but haven’t really thought about what they are retiring to. What would an ideal week in retirement look like? Successful retirees have created a structure for their retirement life that replaces the structure that they left in the workplace.

2. Be healthy

The challenge is not only being physically active, but also mentally healthy. Retirees have to find ways to keep themselves mentally stimulated at all ages of their lives.

3. Maintain a positive view of work

Retirement has always been defined as ‘not working’. In fact, many retirees will generate some of their retirement income from a job. Some opt for graduated retirement, while others start their own businesses. Yet others find volunteering their time for causes to be fulfilling. Rather than viewing retirement as freedom from work, it may be better to view it as ’freedom to work’.

4. Take a balanced approach to leisure

Leisure is the opportunity to do what you want, when you want.We like leisure because it is a break from what we do…here’s the paradox…if you have leisure all the time, what is your break? Retirees soon realize that a 30-year weekend isn’t for them. A balanced approach to leisure includes elements of a variety of activities including creative expression, spectator appreciation, physical activity, solitary contemplation, social interaction and intellectual engagement.

5. Fulfilling and supporting personal relationships

Retirement is a time to enjoy family and friends. If married, it’s important that you and your spouse are on the same page. Often grandchildren are a source of much joy. The challenge for retirees such as widows and widowers is to maintain social networks and avoid isolation.

6. Finding financial comfort

Finding financial comfort is different for all of us. The key to financial comfort is having a plan for retirement and a clear understanding of the financial resources you have. You want to avoid having your financial situation provide you with unnecessary stress during this exciting time of life.

These ideas are derived from a seminar in March 2006 led by Barry Lavalley, CSA, The Retirement Lifestyle Center.

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