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Paul Cooper Brown at his home in Vancouver. He started playing guitar six years ago.JIMMY JEONG/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

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“I retired at age 63 after a career in sales, working for large multinational companies like Xerox Holdings Corp., Motorola Inc. and VTech and some smaller startups,” says Paul Cooper Brown, in the latest Tales from the Golden Age, from his home in Vancouver. The last decade, adds the 74-year-old, was spent working as an investment advisor and stockbroker.

“In 2010, I had a bout of prostate cancer. I had it removed, and fortunately, it hasn’t spread,” he says. “Part of my decision to retire was due to that health issue. It was a bit scary, and I felt like there were many things I wanted to do in life that didn’t involve work, so there was no time like the present.” Cooper Brown also wasn’t really enjoying his second career as a stockbroker.

“Financially, I knew I was ready to retire because my wife and I had paid off the mortgage on our Vancouver home and had no debt,” he notes. “We also had various registered and non-registered investment accounts to rely on for retirement income. I was managing those investments myself until a couple of years ago.” Cooper Brown made the decision that he didn’t want to spend the time required to stay on top of the markets, so he hired an advisory firm to manage them. “Also, my eyes no longer want to look at a computer screen for four or five hours a day.

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.

Can Mona, 59, and Tony, 62, spend more than $10,000 per year on travel when they retire?

Mona and Tony know what they want to do when they retire from work next year: take the trip of a lifetime to the Mediterranean, then return home and travel down through the United States to Mexico in an RV.

Mona is 59 and works in health care. Tony is 62 and works as a tradesman. Together they earn $153,000 a year. Both have company pension plans. They have adult children, a mortgage-free home in small town British Columbia and a paid-off rental condo that nets them $8,400 a year before tax, to which they plan to retire at some point.

“Will we have enough to retire next year and maintain our standard of living?” Mona asks in an e-mail. “Will we be able to travel?”

Their retirement spending goal is $80,000 a year after tax.

In the latest Financial Facelift, Matthew Ardrey, a certified financial planner and vice-president at TriDelta Financial in Toronto, to look at Tony and Mona’s situation.

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail

In case you missed it

The end-of-life talk with my kids is as awkward as the sex-ed one – but I can’t wimp out

“So, have you had the Talk with your kids yet?”

“‘Not yet,’ I admitted sheepishly,” recounts Rita Scagnetti in this First Person essay, when her friend Barbara asked the question. “‘They’re so busy with their own lives, and right now that’s the last thing they want to think about.’”

Barbara, who spent her career as a psychologist, prodded Scagnetti. Gently. “You’ve already put the plan on the backburner for a few months and now it’s how you want it. This is a good time to broach the subject.”

Scagnetti’s kids are 36 and almost 40, she says, so the Talk she was avoiding wasn’t about the birds and the bees’ they’ve figured that one out. The topic she was in a tizzy about, though, was going to be equally awkward to discuss and the audience even less receptive: she needed to talk to her children about making health care decisions for her in the future.

Barbara had spent considerable time guiding Scagnetti through the process of mulling over and then committing to paper her end-of-life wishes – details about the type of health and personal care she’d want at a time when she may not be able to speak for herself. “And perhaps to spell out specific end-of-life choices. I had not yet done the hard part: making sure that my kids – and my husband of 40-plus years – knew the details of my advance care plan and understood my motivations.”

Read the full article here.

Does owning a home give you a retirement advantage over lifetime renters?

If you’re a millennial or member of Gen Z, writes personal finance columnist Rob Carrick, the biggest financial non-event of the decade is the housing market correction.

High mortgage rates cancelled out affordability gains from falling prices in the past year, and now prices are showing signs of growth again. It’s not too soon to revive the national dialogue on what it means to this country if young adults cannot afford to buy and own homes.

Retirement is a timely place to start the discussion. A recent study by the pension and HR consultants at Mercer Canada found that people who rent throughout their careers must save 50 per cent more than homeowners to have a sufficient retirement income. Renters need to save eight times their salaries and retire at 68 to be ready for retirement, while owners must save 5.25 times their salaries and can retire at 65.

A renewed rise in home prices would inflate the number of renters, which means more people needing to save extra hard for retirement. With rents soaring by double-digit amounts over last year, this task will be impossible for some. Consider that if you’re looking forward to a new housing boom and want governments to be hands-off on housing.

Read the full article here.

Retirement Q&A

Q: I have been told to delay my CPP until 70 by professional and lay people. But what if you are a widow who collects a survivor’s CPP benefit? A widow friend who is about to turn 60 told me that she is collecting her CPP right away, because there is no benefit to delaying when you collect a survivor’s CPP benefit because of the maximum. I am now wondering what to do. Is it also true that those who think that their CPP benefit will go to their spouse upon their death, that the amount will be reduced by the survivor’s own CPP?

We asked Doug Runchey of DR Pensions Consulting and in Comox, B.C., to answer this one.

Of the many myths about the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), one of the most persistent concerns is the CPP survivor’s pension. The myth is that if you’re receiving a CPP survivor’s pension, you should almost always apply for your CPP retirement pension before age 65, and certainly as soon as your retirement pension plus the survivor’s pension equals “the maximum.”

Why does this myth persist? Maybe the biggest reason is that Service Canada front-line agents and financial planners believe it’s true and routinely give this advice to clients.

The truth is that if you’re receiving a CPP survivor’s pension and you apply for your own CPP retirement pension, the survivor’s pension will always be reduced under the “combined benefit” formulas. You will never receive “the maximum” (at least never after age 65), if you take your CPP before age 65. That’s correct. Never.

Here are some more truths:

  • Taking your CPP earlier than age 65 at a reduced rate does not allow you more room to receive a higher survivor’s pension before you reach the maximum;
  • Taking your CPP later than age 65 at an increased rate does not mean that you have less room to receive a survivor’s pension before you reach the maximum.

Because the combined benefit rules are so complex, there’s no single answer as to when someone should apply. Sometimes it’s better to apply at age 60; sometimes it’s best to wait until age 70. My best advice is to know exactly what your true options are and make the best decision that you can based on these amounts.

The true combined benefit calculations are too complex to include within this article, but I’ve written a detailed article that you can read here.

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.

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