Tag: retirement planning

Retire at 52? How This Retiree Did It Successfully

Retire at 52? How This Retiree Did It Successfully

Retire early or keep working?  How do you make the decision?  This happy retiree weighed both options early, and at key milestones during his 35-year career before making the plunge.  Here’s how he did it.


A Man with a Plan

I was struck by Bernard’s positive energy while working on a project with a volunteer board he leads.  He seemed to really enjoy retirement life, full of zest.  I was curious.  What was his story?

Bernard knew what he wanted to do with his life at age 17.  Join the military and make a full career of it.  Even at that young age, Bernard had a plan with retirement in it already.  How many 17-year-olds do that? He planned on a 35-year military career from day one. Knowing he would be young when retirement came along, he needed a careful approach to his finances. He didn’t want to rely solely on his military pension, and so started his RSP soon after he donned his air force uniform.

 “I started to plan financially for retirement early and knew I had to prepare carefully.”


Milestone Check and Retirement Journal

Fast forward 20 years.  Bernard asked himself, “what do I really want to do when I retire?”   He saw two paths.   “Retire fully or prepare myself to continue working.” He would jot ideas down as they came to him and regularly check his list over time. He was looking 15 years ahead, and he was looking at retiring to something, not from something.  That’s foresight!

“I knew I didn’t want to spend the day watching TV.  I wanted to be able to do things.” 


Contingency Plan

Bernard’s first choice was to fully retire after what became a rewarding and interesting career as an aerospace engineering officer.  But, he wasn’t sure this was wholly possible.  He went back to college and studied human resources management, to expand his civilian career options just in case.  “I diversified myself.”  He felt better prepared for both retire or work eventualities.

“My back-up plan had 3 purposes; one, build a financial buffer, two, have something to do if I was bored and three, give me options if I really liked the work.”


The True Retirement Picture Came Later

Bernard’s ideal retirement life started to crystallize four years before retirement.  The ideas in his retirement journal changed and evolved as he matured, and as his family dynamics changed.  “We have to accept that our plans might change.  Be open to change and new ideas.”

“At my 20-year milestone, I wanted to golf in retirement.  Now, golf is not even on my radar.”


His retirement canvas? “Really enjoy life. Take life to the fullest.”  That meant, retire fully, volunteer, travel, sports, and enjoy the great outdoors.

“I knew I wouldn’t be traveling or skiing everyday and wanted to do something in between.” 


Life of the Youngish Retiree

“Life is great now!” It took Bernard about 6 months to realize he was really retired.  It felt like a vacation at first. He still had some doubts but, in the end, his decision to retire youngish felt very rewarding.

“I was still nervous.  I wore a uniform for 35 years.  And one day I wouldn’t.  That’s a bit scary.  The military is like a huge family, your crutch.”


Having a plan helped ease Bernard’s doubts knowing he had already thought about things. Four years after retirement, he wouldn’t change anything.  The only surprise was how busy one can be in retirement. “You have to pace yourself.” He also realized the simple things in life bring happiness.  “Helping neighbours and just being friendly each day.”

“You need a lot less than you think. Life can be much simpler – take the time to enjoy it.”


He lives in a village outside Ottawa where he can walk into town.  He and his wife, who retires soon, share one car. (He has a sweet motorcycle for fair weather fun.)  He curls, treks in the alps with his military buddies, hikes with his wife and really is enjoying life. Volunteering for a museum and for a stewardship association gives him a sense of contribution to his community, new social circles and added meaning to his life. “Life is much better actually.”


Words of Wisdom

Bernard offers 3 tips:

  1. Early planning is truly important. Write it down, regularly review, and change as needed.   Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that your retirement dreams are changing.


  1. Don’t underestimate your skills and experience – especially military colleagues. You might be surprised how well your skills are transferable.


  1. Have the support of your spouse. This is most critical. Retiring early is a team decision and affects your spouse and family.


Thanks Bernard!

Care to share?

How Your Money Attitude Can Make or Break Your Retirement

How Your Money Attitude Can Make or Break Your Retirement

It is the strangest feeling. The realization that after decades of career, business and thus wealth growth, the reverse begins.  At least from the financial perspective.  The day you start drawing from your ‘nest egg’ instead of adding to it.  It’s unnerving. How do you make this transition without being totally stressed about your finances?  How do you cope with the unknown variables that can impact your retirement finances such as health issues, how long you’ll live and stock market volatility?

Mind Over Matter?

“You’re going to be OK” we are told by our financial advisor.  But it doesn’t sink in.  The numbers are run, different scenarios explored, assumptions manipulated.  Graphs are shown on the big screen.  Sums are written on the white board.  We still don’t believe it.  Three days prior, early retirement was handed to my hubby without choice.  We were still in shock over the sudden drop in household income.  We were in the scarcity mindset.

And therein lies the problem. Your belief system.  What is your attitude toward money?  A scarce resource? A taboo topic?  What did you learn about money from your parents?  We believed that our retirement funds to which we’ve contributed for 30 years were untouchable.  A finite, scarce resource for later in life, not now.  We believed we didn’t have enough, that we had to add more, not withdraw. The stress kept us awake at night.

Financial security is part peace of mind, part understanding of your financial position and part capability to meet your financial needs.


Part 2 and 3

Of financial security can be addressed with a good financial plan – understanding your financial position and determining how to meet your financial needs.  Having a solid plan and understanding its underlying assumptions gives you something real to work with. Knowledge is power. Find a qualified, competent and reputable financial advisor to help you develop financial security.  Nancy Graham of PWL Capital gives you tips on what to ask a prospective advisor in this video.

“The whole point of financial planning is so you won’t be worrying every day about your finances.”  Dr. Richard Johnson


How Much is Enough?

Is the number 1 google search topic on retirement.  The answer, my friend, may be in your hands.  Your financial plan is dependent on your retirement life plan.  Take the time to reflect on how you want to live your ‘next3rd’.  Consider hobbies, leisure, residence, health, personal development, travel, family and social activities, volunteerism, work and philanthropy. Separate wants from needs.  Tally it up, map it out and share it with your financial advisor.  Expect to make adjustments.

“If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.” – wise taxi driver


Know that You Have Options

No question, having sufficient finances to carry you through retirement is critical to a successful, happy and fulfilling ‘next third’. Financial security is a retirement success factor. While, we won’t really know what our future will bring, we can ease our anxiety and thus enjoy life’s third act by knowing that we could supplement our retirement income if needed.

44% of first retirees continue to work in some fashion, not necessarily for the funds but to remain active – Retirement Options


P-Y, shares tips on how he developed a thriving consulting gig in retirement in this post. Denise who shared her retirement wisdom in this post, took on a few “jobettes” when she first retired, including teaching sommelier classes.  Dave, a former engineer became a triathlon coach and Marlene left her project management career to become a people whisperer. Yep, a people whisperer using horses.  My recent Uber driver was a retiree with a clean, new car who liked meeting different people.

Retirement gives you the opportunity to do work you’ve wanted to do on your terms.


Be Mindful, Be Informed

When that anxiety feeling about money seeps in, check your thoughts at the door.  Reflect on your attitudes to money and how well these are serving you.  Replace your worries with solid information – your financial plan, and your realistic budget.  Take a breath, knowing that you have interesting choices in retirement. Om!

Care to share?