Retirement Planning: Top 10 Learned Lessons

Dave and Colleen both retired early simultaneously from very high-stress careers and moved to the Gulf Islands. Through years of hard work, they have a good government pension and decent RRSP savings.

Top Ten Lessons Dave and Colleen Have Learned from Retirement

1. You can retire at the same time.

Many people recommend not retiring at the same time. Dave and Colleen found that being able to support each other and work on their new life together was very valuable.

2. Stress does not go away

Work stress of course goes away, but stress from other areas of life seems to fill in a fair bit of what was removed. The significant thing is that these items are actually important: health, family, and the like. These stressors are not meaningless work-related items but the important parts of life.

3. You should have your hobbies and projects setup and ready

Retirement planning isn’t only about the finances. You should have developed, or be developing, your interests outside of work, so you can start on these as soon as you retire. You do not need to have spent a lot of time on these (who has the time when working), but have identified what you want to spend your time doing. Dave took a woodworking course at night and now spends part of each day working on furniture projects. Colleen enjoyed jewelry design, now sells at the local farmer’s market.

4. Physical space from each other is important

You used to spend 8-10 hours away from each other 5 days a week, now you are together all the time. Develop a plan for some physical space away from each other. Heading to the gym at different times or a workshop is a great idea. Arrange so you have some time apart most days.

5. People at your old job really do not care you are gone.

The day you leave, life goes on at your old job, and it really is as if you were never there. Do not visit too much, they are busy, have made changes, and may not really want to hear how wonderful retirement is.


6. Take time to participate in volunteer work.

If you are already involved in some volunteer work, you can of course spend more time at that. For any new volunteer work, take some time and carefully review what you want to do. There are hundreds of opportunities out there, try a few to pick what you want to do.

7. Have a small nest egg for the first year outside of your budget.

If at all possible, try and have a few thousand saved away so you can start on your projects, go on a trip, or buy some things you have wanted. If this does not effect your first years budgeting, it will be easier.

8. A truly fixed income after years of increasing income takes getting use to

Most professional’s salaries increase over the years, so the idea that your income is now truly fixed can be daunting. Work with your financial advisor on a needs and wants budget. Make sure you can cover the needs and adjust the wants as time and conditions change, but do not be afraid to spend the “wants” if conditions are right. You are retired and you should enjoy it!

9. Take realistic life expectancy into account when planning.

One of them has usually long-lived relatives on all branches of their family tree. The other has some fairly short branches on their tree. While a bus can hit anyone tomorrow, they have planned their cash flow, pension choices and life insurance with these life expectancy issues in mind.

10. Retire as soon as you possibly can.

Retirement is wonderful! The chance to do what you want, when you want is invaluable to your own physical and mental health, as well as the health of your relationship.

Dave and Colleen retired the first day they could draw a pension, and would recommend that people work with their financial advisor to put together a realistic retirement plan, and making do with less is absolutely worth it to be retired.