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Sara Shadbolt cuts some wood in her yard in Mount Lehman, B.C.Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

“I retired at age 66 after a long career with the Correctional Service of Canada,” says Sara Shadbolt in the latest Tales from the Golden Age. The 82-year-old who lives in Mount Lehman, B.C., held several positions there, starting as a secretary, briefly as a guard, and then different administrative and project management roles. “It was an interesting career,” she adds.

An advisor in the correctional service told Shadbolt she needed to have the ‘magic 85’ to retire with a full pension, which is a combination of your age and years of service. “So, when I hit my magic 85, I said, ‘that’s it.’” But it wasn’t just about the math, she says. Shadbolt had a skiing accident about 20 years earlier that damaged her spine and knee. Her knee got better, but her spine got worse, and she wasn’t very happy sitting at a desk all day.

Around Shadbolt’s retirement date, she tripped and ruptured a disc in her back, which made it worse. “I was already planning on getting back surgery, but this moved that date up several weeks.” While she was recuperating, she hired someone to pull the weeds out of her garden. Unfortunately, they pulled out half of her plants along the way. That’s when Shadbolt realized there must be a niche for experienced gardeners who can help seniors or anyone with limited mobility. So, she started her own gardening business.

Read the full article here.

Are you a Canadian retiree interested in discussing what life is like now that you’ve stopped working? The Globe is looking for people to participate in its Tales from the Golden Age feature, which examines the personal and financial realities of retirement. If you’re interested in being interviewed for this feature, and agree to use your full name and have a photo taken, please e-mail us at: Please include a few details about how you saved and invested for retirement and what your life is like now.

How I helped one family say goodbye to their loved one with tears and laughter

“Golden, my 97-year-old parishioner, was ready to die,” says Dr. John Pentland, who serves Hillhurst United Church in Calgary, in this First Person essay. “She invited me for a visit last summer to explain her rationale. Then shared many memories of her long life. She concluded, ‘I have done all I came to do, John. It’s time.’ Tears rolled down my cheeks as I wondered if she was asking me for permission.

“When I walked into the hospital on the day of her death, I paused in the hallway and I said aloud the four words I often speak in difficult times, ‘God be with me.’ I then pushed open the hospital room door.

“Golden looked at peace as she sat dressed in her favourite red dress. Her hair was freshly combed. She had had a manicure that week. Her necklace shone brightly around her neck. She looked radiant.

“Her family and a few close friends gathered around her chair. She sat like an honoured guest at a party. People took turns sharing stories and memories. There was both laughter and tears.”

Dr. Pentland shares more of his personal story here.

Calculate when to take your CPP Benefits

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a cornerstone of many Canadians’ retirement plans. It is payable for life and indexed for inflation. While full retirement benefits are payable at age 65, you can opt to collect CPP at age 60 and take a reduced payment. Or you can defer payments until age 70 and receive a larger payment. This is when the concept of longevity or “break-even” age takes effect – where you determine if by waiting you can collect payments long enough to make up for what could be years of foregone payments.

You can access The Globe’s CPP Benefits – Take Early or Later calculator here. It can help you determine whether you should start collecting CPP earlier or consider deferring payments until later.

In case you missed it:

Tips to better understand registered savings accounts – and when to use them

Canadians have seen their investing choices multiply over the decades, both in terms of products and services and types of accounts.

In 1957, the registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) was born and gave individuals a way to create their own pension to help carry them through retirement. In 1974, the government introduced the registered education savings plan (RESP) to help families save for their children’s education. In 2009, we were introduced to the tax-free savings account (TFSA), another registered option.

Even though these accounts have been in existence for a long time, there is still some confusion around them.

Read the full article here.

Recent health care deal is a win for retirees. The finances of younger Canadians are collateral damage

Federal and provincial leaders just agreed Ottawa would increase its spending on medical care by $196-billion over the next decade. No mention was made of a plan to pay for this new investment, writes Paul Kershaw, nor was there any consideration of its financial implications for different generations.

So Kershaw ran calculations from his lab in UBC’s School of Population Health. Here are his main take-aways: The new health money is a win for the personal finances of retirees. But it’s a different story for younger residents, who must pay an ever-growing amount in taxes for the medical needs of our aging population by comparison with what baby boomers paid for retirees when they were younger.

These divergent generational impacts require more attention from elected officials – something more likely to be forthcoming if governments appoint high-ranking officials responsible for generational fairness.

But, Kershaw adds, Canadian retirees should be worried.

Read the full article here.

Retirement Q&A

Q: I’m in my late 50s, and I have a mortgage on my home. Can I still afford to retire?

We asked Bob Gore, managing partner of Robert Gore & Associates, a CPA firm in Toronto, to answer this one:

Yes, you can, if the interest rate and payments are within your budget. Typically, the drop in income at retirement means that mortgage and other debt costs can become a financial burden.

If you still have time in your working career, try to accelerate debt pay down, starting with the highest interest rate first and working your way down. Often forced savings by way of debt reduction is easier to stick to than trying to invest while keeping the debt.

If you’re retiring and you find mortgage payments are going to be a problem, consider:

  • creating a rental flat in your home if its layout permits it.
  • the use of a personal line of credit or reverse mortgage to provide monthly funds to cover costs. These require a careful, long term planning exercise as you and your lender need to know that the rate of your borrowing will never rise to too high a proportion of the value of your home. A good accountant or financial advisor can assist you with this exercise.
  • downsizing your home to pay off debt or even consider selling, investing the surplus funds and renting to avoid being house rich and income poor.

Other factors to consider as you move into retirement can include joint and last to die life insurance to pay any taxes on investments or secondary properties. This is a possible solution to the family cottage that grows in value as these insurance policies are comparatively inexpensive and can even be paid for by your children if the plan is for their benefit.

Also consider making gifts to dependents or charities while you are still around to see the funds put to good work, rather than waiting until you pass away or the bequests to be made.

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors? E-mail us at and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.