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retirement

Randy Dutka at his home in Oakville, Ont., on March 25.Peter Power/Peter Power

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

Randy Dutka, 75, of Oakville, Ont.

I retired for the first time in my mid-50s from my job as an actuary at a large consulting firm, and then again in my early 60s after a few years of consulting work, including short- and long-term contracts.

My advice for when you retire – especially if you retire early – is to make sure you keep the door open. Always leave a job on good terms because you never know if you’ll be working with the same people again.

Consulting work in retirement was fun. It’s great when you’re retired from a long career and get into a situation where somebody thinks you can help them out for a few months. You don’t have the same engagement as a full-time position, but I found working for different organizations interesting.

If you can’t consult, consider working part-time before fully retiring. Leaving work is like getting off a drug. There’s the adrenalin, and it can be difficult to stop cold turkey.

Your social life is something else to think about when you retire. You’ll have to make a bit of effort to make sure that you stay in touch with your work friends. If you sit by the phone waiting for those friends to call you, you might be waiting a while – and don’t forget your other friends, too.

When planning for retirement, the first thing you should think about is health, and the second thing is money – and how to maintain each one. I’ve been going to the gym for decades, and my wife and I (we just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last month) are into ballroom dancing. It’s good exercise and a good social activity.

My wife and I are also financially conservative, especially after raising three kids. My car is nine years old, and my wife just got rid of a 14-year-old car. We don’t feel like we were limiting ourselves; we just like to spend money on different things, like travel.

My wife and I have driven across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. However, cruising is our passion. All told, we have visited more than 100 countries. The past two years have been challenging with not being able to travel because of the pandemic. We’ve done a lot of online activities instead, including playing bridge. There are online tournaments that we’ve participated in, for example. I also read a lot. We’ve stayed pretty busy.

Now that things are opening up, we’re planning to go on three cruises this year – hopefully. To me, two or three big trips a year is a lot. You need a good travel agent, too, to get the most for your money. You may only make the trip once, so do it well, so you have good memories.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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