Skip to main content

Shan Robertson opted to retire at 56 after a cancer diagnosis.LEAH HENNEL/The Globe and Mail

Content from The Globe’s weekly Retirement newsletter. To subscribe click here.

A cancer diagnosis triggered Shan Robertson, 57, to retire last year.

“I made a deal with God that, if I got through it, I would retire,” the Calgary resident says in the latest Tales from the Golden Age feature. “I had surgery and once I was cancer-free, I began planning for retirement with my husband, who is the same age.”

People told her she was too young to retire. Her response? “No, I’m not; I have lots of plans. Life is too short to keep working if you don’t have to,” she says.

Read the full interview here, which outlines how she’s enjoying retirement, including reconnecting with her husband.

When it comes to saving for retirement, better late than never

Many older millennials are waking up on the other side of 40 and realizing their chance to “start early” when it comes to investing has already passed, writes Globe contributor Bridget Casey. Others are picking up the pieces after divorce, illness or a long-term layoff that decimated any assets they had managed to accrue.

While it’s true the sooner you begin, the easier it is to build wealth, all hope is not lost if your portfolio is a late bloomer. If you’re beginning before age 45, you still have two decades for your investments to compound if you retire at age 65 or later. That means you also have two decades to continue to increase your income, reduce your debts and otherwise prepare your finances for retirement. The bad news is early retirement is probably off the table, but you likely knew that already. Read her full article here

A 66-year-old B.C. woman worries about the impact of inflation and volatile stock markets on her future

Rekindled inflation and jittery stock markets have Kathleen – who left the work force a year or so ago – feeling a bit nervous about her financial future. She is age 66, with solid investments and a mortgage-free condo in pricey British Columbia.

“I thought I was in excellent shape when I retired, but with the events recently, including the inflation rate and drop in the stock market, I am no longer so sure,” Kathleen writes in an e-mail. She has yet to decide what to do with about $150,000 in registered savings in her employer’s group plan. She has four years of laddered GICs worth $175,000 that she plans to collapse as they come due and take into income. “The remainder of the RRSPs I plan to leave until I’m 71, when they have to be turned into a registered retirement income fund,” or RRIF, Kathleen writes.

Travelling is an important goal for her, and she hopes to budget at least $24,000 a year for it on top of her basic living expenses. She has lent her two children $100,000 each for a down payment on their first home. For now, they are paying her $600 a month combined, but she hopes one day to forgive the balance outstanding – provided she can afford to. Her retirement spending goal is $66,000 a year after tax, including travel.

In the latest Financial Facelift feature, Linson Chen, a financial planner and portfolio manager at RGF Integrated Wealth Management in Vancouver, looks at Kathleen’s situation.

In case you missed it:

Why boomer activism is on the rise

When Nick De Carlo retired it wasn’t the life of leisure that beckoned, but a return to the frontlines of activism from his younger days.

“I was involved in the anti-war movement and anti-racist and the civil rights movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s. That’s what first got me started,” says Mr. De Carlo, 75.

Today, the climate crisis has the former union employee’s attention.

“I felt the need to take up this issue because it’s so urgent,” says Mr. De Carlo, co-chairperson of Ontario-based Seniors for Climate Action Now (SCAN). “Governments, not just in Canada but around the world, are not taking the type of action that’s needed. There’s going to have to be a movement similar to the movements that happened in the ‘60s and similar to other movements that have happened since to force that change and we see ourselves as part of that movement.”

Founded in January, 2021, SCAN has grown to 175 members who range in age from their 50s to 80s. It is one of the dozens of climate action groups for seniors that have sprung up across the country.

These groups make up just some of the army of seniors dedicating their retirement years to social causes, including the climate crisis, reducing homelessness, food-bank support and myriad others. Boomer activism, whether on the frontlines of the climate protests or combatting homelessness, has the potential to be quite impactful. Dene Moore reports

Ask Sixty Five

Question: Is there a limit on how much I can gift my kids or grandkids? Are there any taxes involved?

We asked Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Private Wealth in Toronto, to answer this one:

Unlike the United States, which has a gift tax, Canada imposes no such limits. Consequently, you can give as much money as you want to your kids or grandkids, at any time. The gifts are tax-free to the recipients.

That being said, there can be a potential capital-gains tax on gifts that you make to children, grandchildren or other relatives, depending on what you give away. When you make a gift of assets “in-kind,” you will generally pay tax on 50 per cent of capital gains for securities such as shares held in non-registered accounts, or assets such as real estate (think a cottage or vacation home). There is an exception for in-kind gifts to your spouse or common-law partner, which are automatically non-taxable, although future income and capital gains will be attributed back to you.

If you choose to gift funds from your RRSP or RRIF, the withdrawals will first be subject to tax as income in your hands and taxed at your marginal rate. A withdrawal from your TFSA will be tax-free and the amount withdrawn will be added back to your TFSA contribution room for the following calendar year.

The recipient of your gift, whether it be in the form of cash or securities, will generally pay tax on any future income that is earned on the gifted funds. There are, however, some exceptions (such as minor children or grandchildren) in which the income on those gifts could be attributed back to you.

Be sure to seek professional tax advice before pursuing any significant gifting strategy.

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors? Please e-mail us your question at and we’ll try to find an expert to answer it in a future newsletter. We can’t answer every question, but we’ll do our best. Note: questions may be edited for length and clarity.