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David Davidson spoke to the Globe and Mail about his retirement and how it improved his relationship with his wife and brought them closer to their grandchildren.

In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings, lifestyles and whether life after work is what they expected.

David Davidson, 68, Oakville, Ont.

I retired at the age of 61 from a career in IT and my wife, Lesley, who worked as a secretary at a high school, retired about six weeks later at the end of the school year. She was also 61. We planned to retire at 60, but it’s hard to pull the plug on your career.

It was my mother-in-law in England, who died of cancer at 86, that got us thinking about finally retiring. My wife would regularly fly back and forth to visit her, and on one visit her mother said: “Have you retired yet? Because it goes by in the blink of an eye.”

We spent about a year working up to retirement. We had the financial security with some pretty good-sized RRSPs, but it’s a huge lifestyle change. What would we do all day?

Retirement is busier than you might imagine – if you have a plan. We do a lot of gardening, travel and I belong to a hiking club. I think it’s the people who say, “Let’s just see what life brings,” who get frustrated and bored in retirement. I understand how it can happen: You spent your career with people telling you what to do and now there’s nobody to tell you. The downside is you have to figure it out for yourself. The upside is that it can be whatever you want – whatever brings you the most joy in life.

I get bored sometimes, but not often. For me, the worst is November to the middle of December, just before Christmas. It’s grey and cold and the garden work is done, so there’s not much to do.

After Christmas, we usually head down to Mexico. For the first five years of retirement we rented a place, and then we bought a place of our own in 2019, just before the pandemic. It wasn’t great timing, but we were able to spend most of this winter down there.

We also have plans to travel to Europe once travel seems safe again. We want to see the sights we didn’t see when we were working because we were too busy saving all of our money. We find we have more money to spend in retirement than we did when we were working. I think that’s primarily because we’re not socking away 18 per cent of our income into an RRSP each year and I am now in a much lower income tax bracket.

After being savers for decades, it’s also hard to all of a sudden start spending. But I keep telling myself, if I didn’t save it so I could spend it, why did I save it?

We did delay taking our CPP and OAS to the age of 70, so we’ll get more out of those benefits, which helps give us a little more confidence to spend more now. Also, the markets have done well since we retired.

I didn’t worry when the markets crashed in March, 2020, at the start of the pandemic, but I went through the 2008 crash. That worried me. Here I was in my 50s and my RRSP was cut in half. But it recovered. I even kept putting in new money at the time, which was hard to do. I have a financial adviser who kept me on track.

Retirement is the best job I’ve ever had. Without the pressures of work, the relationship I have with my wife is the best it’s ever been and we’re close with our two children, and now our grandchildren, who live nearby.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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