In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.
Chester Fedoruk, 69, of Toronto
I retired in 2015 at the age of 63. I wasn’t planning to retire at that time, but my position at CIBC was eliminated and I was offered a retirement package. Although I enjoyed my work and had the opportunity to continue with similar roles, I decided to get off the treadmill – to use the sports analogy.
I was excited to enter a new phase although my wife, Jill, worried at first that I didn’t have any hobbies or pastimes to keep me busy (which would potentially be a problem for her, someone who has a lot on the go). I was able to ease her concerns relatively quickly. My non-work life has been busy with family and friends, reading, movies, restaurants, concerts and theatre. I also took a German-language course after rediscovering a fascination with Berlin that began when I was a student backpacker in the divided city in 1976.
Many volunteer activities have provided me with purpose and structure, including job mentoring for newcomers to Canada and older Canadians seeking work, as a classroom assistant in a Toronto high school. I also spent two years on a team developing a program that trained 70 Syrian refugees to be community leaders. While these activities were about giving back to my community, I also benefited greatly from meeting new people and being challenged in new ways.
For additional variety, I have done occasional paid contract work and spent an intense month as a poll operations manager in the 2021 federal election.
My advice for retirees is to find a worthwhile cause that builds on your past experience, expertise and interests but that allows you to develop new skills and knowledge. Keep an open mind. Think of retirement as a new career; don’t specialize too early before you explore the volunteer marketplace and how you might fit in it. Also, be adaptable and assume that any volunteer position may not last.
When you retire, you lose your membership in an important community. Although I still meet with many ex-colleagues, day-to-day work bonds understandably weaken. It’s vital to prevent your world from getting smaller. Fill it with activities, learning and people. Relationships built around collaboration on shared volunteer goals can deepen very quickly.
Also, if you’re married – as I have been for 37 years – communicate regularly with your spouse about your retirement plans. They don’t have to have the same interests or hobbies as you, and you may not do everything together, but your spouse should be supportive. My time and focus volunteering wouldn’t have been possible without a wife who’s not only supportive but also independent and active (in her case with pottery, music, friends and part-time work). Her activities inspired me, and her busy schedule gave me the guilt-free time to pursue my own plans.
As told to Brenda Bouw
This article has been edited and condensed
Calling all retirees
Are you a retiree interested in discussing what life is like now that you’ve stopped working? What are the highs and lows of leaving the so-called rat race? How has retirement evolved for you? As part of its expanded coverage, Globe Investor is launching a new feature called Tales from the Golden Age, which looks at the realities of retirement living. We’ll also ask you to offer some advice for others in retirement, or those considering it. If you’re interested in being interviewed for this feature, please e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org with “Golden Age” in the subject line
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