Let go of possessions

If you really believe that he or she who dies with the most toys wins, then maybe you haven’t thought much about whether that comes with an eternal storage locker.

The fact is that excess stuff will only weigh you down, especially if you want to travel or spend more time tending to your relationships (more on that in a bit).

Retirement marks an ideal time to take inventory. Just how many trinkets have you accumulated? Do you really need them? In most cases, probably not. What keeps you from parting with them — logistics, emotions or some combination?

Taking the first step to thin the herd of excess possessions, especially collectibles and big-ticket items, can also add to bottom line retirement savings. Once you have more cash in hand you can put it to work by investing it with a simple app.

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Find new ways to fill your time

Retiring means a welcome end to overachieving and borrowed identity. We are not our work selves, and getting back eight hours a day leaves many folks surprisingly stumped in terms of how to redeem it.

And no wonder. If you’ve worked practically your entire life to reach a career goal, win the awards, gain the status and reap the benefits, then chances are a good deal of your identity is tied up in your career. Plenty tied up. Letting go of a rewarding occupation is tough.

Further: Are you ready to give up the adrenaline rush of hard work? Or the recognition that comes with someone asking, “What do you do?” Or the fulfillment your job gave you?

If you’re not so sure, then you’re in good company. An Ageing in Canada Survey cited by Advisor's Edge found that 63% of Canadians aged 50 and older feel positive about aging. Additionally, 72% said they felt confident about their finances. Despite the financial confidence, 72% also said they would want to keep working.

Indeed, some people never retire in the traditional sense. Your desire to go back to work may not be tied to finances. Maybe you like the routine and mental development that working can provide. In that case, maybe learning new skills online with LinkedIn or Skillshare can be a substitute for getting back to the job search.

If money is a concern, then perhaps seeking out part-time work can help to fill the gap.

In figuring out what works for you, keep in mind that however you structure your golden years, immersing too much identity in your career will raise questions you won’t want to ignore.

Put your money to work

A top reason many retirees don’t want to give up work has to do with income security. What if you get sick? What if your partner loses their job? Or what if another emergency lands that means you need cash on hand? Having a job often takes the sting out of such scenarios.

Meeting with a financial advisor before retirement — decades before, if possible — is crucial. They can help you determine a dollar savings target to ensure the quality of life you want, and figure out a balance between checking off bucket list items and saving for emergencies.

At present, just under 44% of Canadians are confident that they'll have enough money to retire, according to BMO's annual retirement study. The figure is a 10% decrease from 2020. Worries about retirement have led Canadians to prioritize retirement savings, with national RRSP holdings increasing by 2% this year to $144,613. If you're worried about your savings, try switching to a bank that offers higher interest for your account.

While Canadians struggle with low savings, pensions (where applicable) and other financial assets can provide financial relief. On the other side, expenditures that escaped notice for years — true money wasters such as unused memberships and subscriptions, for example — are now ripe for a bit of culling.

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Cultivate relationships

New retirees who’ve hit their 60s often struggle with the belief that their best years are behind them. The idea of cutting ties with work, and its myriad distractions, can be terrifying. Why is this?

Consider for a moment the strong bonds we form with work colleagues, and what happens to those when we retire. This truth holds the key to a rewarding, exciting, happy retirement: You now have time to double and triple down on relationships.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development followed two groups of men over 80 years, making it one of the most remarkable longitudinal studies in history. Its most recent conclusion is irrefutable: The people most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.

Retirement is a time to give up the stress of work and instead stress relationships. If you spent your career hoping to strike it rich, but didn’t quite get there, this is the way to do it. Money can buy a quality of life, but not quality time.

If you’re financially secure, good for you. The race is run. Now you’re in an ideal position to reap investment rewards of a different kind.


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About the Author

Amy Legate-Wolfe

Amy Legate-Wolfe

Freelance Contributor

Amy Legate-Wolfe is an investment junkie, who aims to help others get hooked by providing well-researched advice. After receiving a masters in journalism from Western University, Amy worked for Huff Post and CTVNews.ca, while freelancing for organizations such as the CBC, Motley Fool Canada and Financial Post. Amy Legate-Wolfe is an experienced personal finance writer and freelance contributor working with Money.ca.

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