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Elaine Gamble didn’t want to put off retiring. She wanted to enjoy activities such as travel, scuba diving, photography and others she has yet to discover. The Globe and Mail/ Geoff RobinsGeoff Robins/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.

Elaine Gamble, 56, London, Ont.

I retired in January 2023, at 55, from an all-consuming career in corporate communications. I lost both my parents at an early age – my dad was 64 when he died and my mom was 69 – and I didn’t want to put off retiring. Life is short, and I have so many things I want to enjoy, such as travel, scuba diving, photography and other activities I’ve yet to discover. When I realized I could afford to retire I thought, ‘There’s no time to lose.’

The transition to retirement has been a challenge. As a single person with no kids, my career defined me. It was hard to let go of everything I was part of in my work. I felt a loss of identity and purpose. I also missed my former colleagues, many of whom were like family. Retiring early is also hard because most of my friends are still working. I try to stay connected to friends and family while also making new connections. Now that I’ve been retired for more than a year, I’ve developed new routines and activities.

Travel has been a big part of my retirement plan. In the past year, I’ve travelled to the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, the British Virgin Islands, Honduras, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mexico. I also document my travel experiences with photography and through my travel blog. When I’m home, I focus on health and fitness activities, including yoga, pickleball, walking and strength training. I’m also taking online courses and improving my photography and photo-editing skills.

I feel financially secure in retirement. I have a defined-benefit pension plan, which I took at a reduced rate because I retired early, plus my investments. I have a financial advisor who helps monitor my spending and investments to ensure my money will last as long as I do. I also want to travel a lot early in my retirement, so my advisor has prepared several projections that include this goal. We meet every three months to review those projections and check in on my overall financial health. The rising cost of living over the past few years has made me more cautious with my spending, especially given the increased travel costs. I’ve picked up some part-time work as an exam proctor for a little extra spending money.

My advice for others is to read books and articles about planning for retirement, not just from a financial perspective, but also how to develop a new identity and a sense of purpose in your life. Think about how you’re going to spend your time. Make sure you follow your passions and take advantage of every opportunity while you can. I still have more work to do to make my life meaningful, but I’m finally enjoying the freedom of not having to work and living a more stress-free life.

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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