In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.
Jean-Marc Filiatrault, 59, Laval, Que.
I retired at age 55 after a career in management. I thought about retiring earlier, at age 53, but I wasn’t mentally prepared. I was having fun at work. Then, just before I turned 55, my company was taken over by another firm. I saw that as a good time to go, but I agreed to stay on for about a year to help with the transition. In the end, I retired at age 55 and 51 weeks. My wife retired a year later when she turned 55.
Obviously, the pandemic altered our retirement plan, which was focused on travelling abroad, especially during the winter months. But this year, my wife and I travelled to Costa Rica for three months and stayed in 18 different villages. What we found is that three months away from your community is a long time. Now I understand why people like my parents go to Florida every year in retirement: It’s for the socialization. So, what we want to do next year is go to Florida and start looking at communities where we might want to buy a place, so we can have that social piece that we missed in Costa Rica. As we age, we’re going to need more of it for sure.
What I love most about retirement is the freedom to do what I want. My wife and I don’t want to have any constraints other than helping friends and family, which we’re always happy to do. I don’t bore easily. I don’t need work to stay busy. My wife and I travel. And we read a lot, we’re like sponges.
People have to decide what’s fun for them, but for me, why would I work for 50 or 60 years? For money? My dad, an engineer who retired at age 50, told me a long time ago that making money can’t be the only goal in life. Instead, he said, ‘Figure out what you need and once you have it, stop there.’ I’ve never forgotten that. My sister, a doctor, retired at age 50, after receiving similar advice. At some point, you have to decide: When do I have enough money? When is it time to do something else?
As told to Brenda Bouw
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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