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Debbie Kerr at her home in Edmonton.Megan Albu/The Globe and Mail

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In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.

Debbie Kerr, 71, Edmonton

I retired in 2019 at age 67 after working in the real estate industry for about 40 years. I loved my work – it was fun, challenging and constantly changing. However, it was important to me to leave while I was still on top of my game and before I was referred to as the ‘old broad’ by my much younger colleagues.

Retirement was a huge adjustment. After having a super busy and successful career, it was very humbling to find out no one missed me when I left and to see the business carry on smoothly without me. The phone stopped ringing, e-mails stopped coming and I remember thinking, ‘What do I do with all this extra time? What was I going to do with the next 25 years of my life?’ Longevity runs in my family, and I questioned whether it’s as good a deal as I once thought.

I decided to run the next chapter of my life like I did my former business – with goals and a purpose. I made an effort to stay in contact with my friends and rekindle relationships with old friends by setting up coffee meetings, lunches and dinners. I started to golf for fun with the girls, volunteer for community boards and do things that filled in all this spare time I have now. Travelling became a priority because I could do it on my own time, not when the business allowed it to happen.

I worked hard and I’m smart with my money, so I was in a better financial position entering retirement than some people are. Inflation hasn’t hit me as hard as it could have.

I look at life differently now that I’m retired. Some of my friends are dying or have serious health issues. It makes you realize tomorrow may not happen, so you need to plan on living each day to the fullest.

The best part of retirement is the freedom to do what I want when I want. I have had a life where I’ve met some amazing people and been to some memorable places with family and friends, and I will continue to do that.

My advice for those looking at retiring is to make sure you have a plan to keep busy and entertained. I find retirement is the hardest job I’ve ever had, and the last thing I want to end up as is one of those people who doesn’t have a life and just exists day-to-day. None of us know if tomorrow will come, so live a great life every day.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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.

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