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Darlene Madott at her home in Etobicoke, Ont., on Nov. 10.Tijana Martin/The Globe and Mail

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Darlene Madott, 70, retired a couple of years ago from a career as a family lawyer, toiling in what she describes as the “vineyards of matrimonial misery” for 35 years.

“It was very emotional for me to surrender my law licence. It surprised me how much I cried. I hadn’t realized how much I had grown to value the role and how much the law had anchored me. But there’s a time in life when you know it no longer makes sense to continue what you’re doing,” she says in the latest Tales from the Golden Age feature

Ms. Madott prefers to refer to her retirement as a reinvention or transformation. “For me, it was an opportunity to do full-time what I’d been doing on the margins for years, which was writing,” says the author of eight fiction books. Her ninth book, Winners and Losers, is due to be published in the spring of 2023. She has also started mentoring young writers. “It’s something I would never have been able to find the time for when I was working,” she says.

Read more about her retirement here, including the transition during pandemic lockdowns.

Two mistakes people make when calculating when to start CPP based on life expectancy

In his latest “Charting Retirement” article, Frederick Vettese, former chief actuary of Morneau Shepell and author of Retirement Income for Life, looks what to consider when taking Canada Pension Plan benefits.

Check out his article here

Volatile markets got you down? Steps to take if you’re retiring soon

This is certainly not the ideal time to retire. With stock markets faltering, interest rates and inflation rising, and a good chance of a recession next year, macro conditions couldn’t be much worse. However, those planning to retire soon shouldn’t despair. There are steps you can take to make the best of the situation – which may not be as gloomy as it seems.

“Current conditions shouldn’t trigger the same level of fear or panic as in the past,” says Brianne Gardner, wealth manager and investment adviser at Raymond James in Vancouver.

When it comes to a possible recession, Ms. Gardner notes that for high-net-worth individuals, and retirees with a comfortable nest egg, a recession can actually be a good thing. “That renovation on the house you have put off will become less expensive, or that trip will become more affordable as others will be tightening their belts on discretionary spending,” she says.

Ms. Gardner believes a more serious problem for retirees is inflation. “Someone living on a fixed income has seen their monthly expenses rise substantially,” she says. “Coming up with an extra $500 per month might seem like an impossible task for some.” As well, rising prices can erode the assumptions laid out in a retirement plan.

Ms. Gardner’s advice for those planning to retire in these volatile times boils down to six fundamentals. Read the full article here.

Calling all retirees: Are you a retiree interested in discussing what life is like now that you’ve stopped working? How are higher inflation and volatile markets affecting your retirement? Globe Investor looking for people to participate in its Tales from the Golden Age feature, which looks at the realities of retirement living. We’ll also ask you to offer some advice for others in retirement, or those considering it. 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 a few details about your retirement life so far at: goldenageglobe@gmail.com

Can Ed and Lisa retire next year with an income at least the same as they have now?

Ed and Lisa would like to retire from work next year with income “at least the same or greater than they have now,” Ed writes in an e-mail. He is 62, she is 63.

Ed earns $95,550 a year working for the government and Lisa earns $45,000 as an administrator. Ed will be entitled to a pension of $50,150 a year at age 63 and Lisa – who came to the work force late – will get about $10,000 a year at age 65.

They live on a farm in rural Alberta and have raised four children, now in their late 20s and early 30s. The younger two are still living at home and going to university.

Ed’s plan is to transition from full to part-time employment, deferring government benefits to age 70 and drawing down his registered retirement savings plan in the meantime. He would “graduate” to full retirement some time between age 65 and 70, he writes. Short-term expenses include buying private health and dental insurance, replacing major appliances and doing some work on their house. They also need to replace their car and truck.

Longer term, they hope to take a couple of out-of-country trips each year. Their retirement spending goal is $106,000 a year after tax.

In the latest Financial Facelift article, Jason Heath, an advice-only financial planner at Objective Financial Partners in Markham, Ont., looked at Ed and Lisa’s situation.

In case you missed it:

‘You can’t play golf 365 days a year,’ says a 73-year-old helping seniors live better at home

Jean-François Pinsonnault, 73, retired at the end of 2011, at age 62, from a career as an organizational development practitioner.

“One of the first things I did in retirement was take a one-month trip to Mexico. It was the longest vacation I had ever taken until that point in my life,” he says in the latest Tales from the Golden Age feature. He also spent a lot more time working in his two-acre garden in Maxville, Ont.

In the early days of retirement, Mr. Pinsonnault thought a lot about how he would reinvent himself. Read what he came up with, including a crusade to help seniors age comfortably at home, and the rest of his story here

Retirement Q&A

Question: I’m retired, and not yet 72. I’ve heard a lot of my friends complain about having their Old Age Security (OAS) clawed back when they are forced to take their minimum registered retirement income fund (RRIF) payments. Is there anything I can do now to help protect my OAS pension?

We asked Mike Preto, a portfolio manager at Hillside Wealth Management, iA Private Wealth in Vancouver, to answer this one:

Great question. The short answer is yes, you can.

The year after you convert your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to a retirement income fund (RIF), you must start withdrawing a specified percentage of your RIF. The older you are, the larger the percentage. Any money withdrawn from your RIF is added to your taxable income for the year. If you are eligible to receive your OAS and make too much money, you start to have your OAS clawed back. For the 2022 tax year, the OAS threshold is $81,761.

By the end of the year in which you turn 71, you must convert your RRSP to a RIF. And by the end of the year you turn 72, you must draw income from your RRIF. If you don’t need the money, this can be rather annoying. Not only do you pay tax on income you don’t need, but you can also lose all or part of your OAS.

If you are not yet 72 and have an RRSP, then you can choose to convert all or part of your RRSP to a RIF and start to pull money out of your RRIF. You can simply move investments from your RIF into your non-registered or tax-free savings account (TFSA) account; you are just moving investments between accounts.

If you’re also receiving the OAS, you must be at least 65 to start receiving the benefit, the key is to only bring your income up to the OAS threshold level. If you take too much out of your RIF and surpass the threshold, you are voluntarily decreasing your OAS. This is not recommended!

If you are under the age of 71, you can have an RRSP and a RIF at the same time. To control how much you want to withdraw from your RIF, remember it’s a percentage depending on your age, then only transfer the amount of the RIF you want to pull out.

By being proactive on your RIF withdrawals, you will have less in your RRIF and more in your TFSA and non-registered accounts at the age of 72. By doing so, you won’t have to take out as much from your RIF, which will lower your taxable income and hopefully keep you below the OAS clawback.

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

Interested in more stories about retirement? Sixty Five aims to inspire Canadians to live their best lives, confidently and securely. Read more here and sign up for our weekly Retirement newsletter.