In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.
Greg Demuynck, 65, Sherwood Park, Alta.
I retired at the end of last year, at the age of 64, after working for the same company, the Alberta Motor Association, for just shy of 38 years. People often say: How could you work for the same company for so long? But I had 14 different jobs throughout that time, which kept it interesting.
In 2019, I had a heart attack, which started me thinking about retirement. It wasn’t genetic; it was related to stress and diet – things I could have controlled. I had planned to retire at 62, but then COVID-19 hit. Since I couldn’t travel, go to concerts, movies or the gym, I deferred my retirement. I was part of the team that implemented my company’s COVID plans, which was a new and exciting challenge, so I stayed. But then, after a couple of years, I got tired of the relentless pace.
I didn’t have any big plans when I retired. I just wanted to have no schedule for a while and see what it felt like. The problem with working that long at that level was that it was hard to relax and suddenly do less. I sometimes think: I have only so many years left on the planet; what am I contributing? So I have these mini-crises now and then where I feel like I should get a job. That doesn’t necessarily mean a job that pays. I’m a handy guy, and I have renovated our different homes over the years, so I’m looking to do something like volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
The best part about retirement is not having a set schedule. It’s the beauty of reading a book in the middle of the day or putting that down and going for a walk. I can also go to the gym in the middle of the day, which is nice because it’s less busy. I bought a piano 10 years ago and haven’t touched a key on it yet, but now I finally have the time. I also bought a new guitar and am trying to get back into that.
My wife is three years younger than me and still works. She loves her job, and there’s no discussion of her retiring soon. The only problem is that we can’t go away for a few months in the winter. I don’t know enough retired people to go somewhere with them. So that’s one disadvantage.
I have moments where I regret retiring; I miss the social interaction at work, but then I get over it. I tried going for lunch with former colleagues, but it brought back that nostalgia and I found it wasn’t healthy when you’re trying to separate yourself from the office. I guess I could go back to work somewhere, but being in my mid-60s, I wonder how many good years I have left to enjoy life. I understand why some people who really love their jobs keep working past 65, or maybe they need to for financial reasons.
I have a defined benefit pension as well as RRSPs and other investments. I have a certain amount of anxiety as I look at our investments in the market, given the drop this year, but we have the luxury of not needing those funds in the near term. Inflation is a concern, but I am also saving a lot of money by not having to go to work every day.
Somehow the days fly by in retirement. My friends and former co-workers often comment on how relaxed I am these days. I am enjoying retirement. I think I chose the right time to finish working.
As told to Brenda Bouw
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