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Kay Brenders in Naples, Fla.Handout

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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.

Kay Brenders, 59, Ouvry, Ont.

I retired in 2020 after working for many years as a senior executive for the provincial and federal governments and, toward the end of my career, in the non-profit sector. My husband Tony and I were looking to do the Freedom 55 thing, although we did it a bit later – me at age 56 and him at age 57. We both had successful careers but wanted to break away from the rat race and do things that brought us greater fulfilment.

Luckily, we were financially able to retire by 2020. We each had pensions and some savings and investments. My dad was in finance and encouraged me to start saving at a young age. My husband and I also work with a financial planner who has helped us figure out how to retire comfortably. Tony and I have lived by the motto of working to live, not living to work. Too often, work is about accumulating more things. We realized some time ago that life is more about relationships and the experiences you share.

In early 2020, we sold our condo on Toronto’s waterfront and moved to a home we bought a few months earlier in Ouvry, Ont. on the north shore of Lake Erie. I expected to miss big-city life, but that hasn’t happened. The pandemic lockdowns helped with the transition because we couldn’t do the things we used to do in the city such as go to restaurants and events. It also forced us to find new interests. We’ve developed daily routines that we love, like catching up on the news, going for nature walks, photography, kayaking, gardening, cooking elaborate gourmet meals and meditation. We don’t have kids, but we adopted two rescue puppies that, along with our 14-year-old cat, also keep us active and entertained.

We also retired and moved to be closer to our parents. Mine, who are in their early 90s. moved in with us at the end of 2020. My husband’s parents, who are in their late 80s, are about an hour’s drive away in Port Stanley, Ont. We thought we could work another year or so to make a little more money, but how much will that impact our life? Instead, we could spend more time with our parents in their later years because we’ll never get that time back. We also bought a home in Naples, Fla., 12 years ago, and now that we’re retired, we can spend about six months a year there during winter. We try to have my parents with us for the majority of that time.

Many friends and former colleagues will never retire because they’re tied to their work identity. That was a worry for me, but I’ve discovered that I have more to give and do than just having a title somewhere and drawing a salary. I feel lucky to have been able to disengage from work and give back by serving on volunteer boards. Retirement opened up a whole new life for us.

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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