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Carol Fysh at her home in Milton, Ont.Tijana Martin/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.

Carol Fysh, 64, Milton, Ont.

I retired at age 61 after a career that included being a host on The Shopping Channel, creating my own skincare line and launching a sexual wellness show called “Intimately You” that aired on Citytv and The Shopping Channel.

I decided it was time to retire while on a cruise off the coast of Sicily with my husband, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I just knew I was ready to make the change. My husband, a former radio host for more than 40 years, had retired three years earlier at age 64 after realizing there would only be a minor difference in his pension if he stayed until age 65. We both talked for a living and loved our jobs, but we felt it was time to enjoy some solitude and embark on new adventures. While we were both asked to return to our jobs part-time, we declined and never looked back.

Many people are nervous about retirement and ask, ‘What will you do all day?’ Our days are full. We try to stay healthy and fit. My husband plays pick-up hockey and he’ll be off to Iceland with his teammates later this year. I take Latin dance lessons twice a week. We walk almost every day and work out on home equipment. Our blended family includes four adult children and eight grandchildren ranging in age from 18 months to 21 years old. We keep very busy. We travel a few times a year and have many more places on our wish list; the next stop is South America. We also enjoy our quiet time together.

The financial markets can be a concern. There have been some worrisome days over the past few years, but we have medium-risk investments diversified between two financial companies, so we feel good about that. We’ve always had a financial plan. For instance, five years ago, we sold our home in Mississauga, invested a portion and bought a waterfront property in the Kawarthas, where we spend much of our summers. After much research, we decided to rent a townhome in Milton, Ont. We are debt-free. We budget $25,000 a year for travel because it was part of our long-term plan. We believe memories make life exciting.

We also spend less in retirement; we don’t drive to work every day, saving us money on gas, and we eat out less and love to cook Mediterranean food. We also take our Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits, and my husband is collecting his Old Age Security (OAS). I know some financial advisers suggest people wait until age 70 to take their CPP and OAS benefits, but we know of people who have passed away before they could take them and decided not to wait.

If you’re not ready to retire, then don’t. People who retire when they’re not ready are at higher risk of getting sick or depressed. It’s a huge decision. But don’t be afraid to take a chance because life goes by so quickly. You can always go back to work if you want or need to.

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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