Skip to main content

Barbra Fischer, relaxes in her home in Toronto, April 1.Tijana Martin/The Globe and Mail

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

Barbra Fischer, 66, Toronto

I worked for 40 years in the financial services industry before retiring in January at age 65. The first two-thirds of my career was with three of Canada’s Big Five banks and the final third at the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

I thought I would retire at age 60, but I loved my job as a director at OSFI. I found my calling there, and I was very good at financial supervision.

It was a very difficult decision to retire. I went back and forth on it a lot. My kids used to laugh at me over it because I kept changing my mind. I wanted to leave when I felt that I was at the top of my game. That was important to me. I also wanted to leave on my own terms.

Working at home during the pandemic helped me decide to retire. I realized that I liked being at home. I was rarely there before that because I worked downtown – a 90-minute commute each way – and I was always out doing different things on weekends.

I always said that once I retire, I’m not going part-time or working on contracts. I know myself very well, and that I wanted to do something completely different.

I knew I would be fine financially but wasn’t sure if I would be fine personally and how it would impact my mental health because I was always so busy with work. I didn’t have many hobbies or interests outside of my job and working out, so I really had to think about what I would do.

Surprisingly, retirement is better than I expected. I think that’s because I planned ahead, with the help of a retirement coach. For instance, I started doing volunteer work before I retired and continue to do that with a few organizations today. Those organizations thank me for what I do, but I also thank them for the fulfilment they give me in this chapter of my life.

I also took a writing course and am writing my memoir. It’s difficult, but it’s going well. It’s not something I plan to publish, but I want to leave it for my two sons, grandchildren, and future generations. If nobody wants to read it, that’s fine; it’s also something I wanted to do for myself.

I believe self-care is important. I work out regularly. I don’t hang around the house in my pyjamas. I want to look and feel good and stay healthy. I’m very independent and plan to stay that way.

I’m probably in one of my best places now, personally. I didn’t realize how stressed I was when I was working. I have this calmness about me, which is really nice. I’ve had people say to me, ‘Barbra, when I retire, I’m calling you, and you’re going tell me what the secret is.’

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.