You’ve made it!

The day has come. The one you have been dreaming of for so many years. We all have to do it sometime; why not now?

You’ve thought about it. Read about it, dreamed about it with anticipation—similar to the way a six-year-old dreams about the man in the big red suit. Right now, you may be filled with surprise, fear, joy, and maybe even a little trepidation. For most of us, this day will only happen once. Of all the days you will live out of the 29,601 average in Canada, this is the ONE!

The day I’m talking about is the day you RETIRE! How can this one be more special, especially considering the birthdays, wedding day, anniversaries, holidays, travel days, happy days, and sad days that we experience during our lifetime?

An End and a Beginning

Your retirement day is an end and a beginning. It is yours alone. It may or may not be celebrated with others, likely no flags will fly at half mast, and it will come and go with the rising and setting of the sun just as any other. It most likely will never become a national holiday either.

But for you, it is momentous.

I can think of no other DAY that holds such significance, because when it comes to retirement, you have little time to correct your course or take different options. The sheer magnitude of this day can be life-altering. Tom Hegna, world-renowned author and presenter, once penned it this way:

“On what day of the week do you spend the most money right now? What day of the week do you go to Home Depot, go to the Spa, and go shopping? For most of us, that day would be Saturday – and remember when you retire, every single day is Saturday!”

Merriam-Webster defines retirement as “withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life.” This reference seems to suggest an event rather than a process; yes, the day you retire is an event, but each of us should look at it as something more—as an exciting midpoint, or transition. This is the DAY you begin actively living life…permanently!

I say that retirement is a process because the actual day you quit working is just the beginning—the beginning of the last and most important stage of your life. You’ve spent 55, 60, 65 or more years waiting for this day. It was the reason you went to school and then worked in an office, factory, farm, or ranch.

Preparing for Retirement

Think back to when you went to high school or college for a minute. You spent years figuring out what you wanted to be and how to achieve it, constantly adapting to and learning new ideas, concepts, and technologies. Then your graduation happened, when all that hard work finally paid off.

Why not look at retirement the same way? If you still have precious time left to prepare, wouldn’t it be reasonable to put the same level of effort into learning what to do when your DAY comes?

Mitch Anthony wrote in his book The New Retirementality that you need at least 6-8 hobbies when you retire because you need things to fill up the 8-10 hours a day you spent preparing, working, and commuting. Seems like common sense, but I too used to overlook the idea.

When every day is Saturday you will have to know what activities to do and figure out how much you need to pay for them. Guessing how much money you will need in retirement is tricky at the best of times, so this idea of hobbies is something I have started asking of all my clients within 10 years of retirement. Only when you know how much they will cost can you make better predictions on your income needs.

Hobbies are true passions that belong to only you. You may share some of these passions with other people—your neighbor, friend(s), children, or spouse—or they may be solo efforts that you cannot resist. They might involve learning to fly a glider, climbing a mountain, walking/exercising, or joining the tennis club. Some of these hobbies and endeavors may be part of your life now, but some may not. This list can be extensive and needs to be discussed as it doesn’t just happen overnight.

Just as it takes time to finish school, train for a new job, and practice to get good at it, it takes time to learn how to retire. Too often people focus on the dollars alone, which can leave a large gap in your planning. It may even cause financial hardship if not prepared. From my experience in the last 8 years as an advisor, it takes at least 12-24 months to have your list of 6-8. You should have different hobbies for each season since golf, tennis, skiing, and other outdoor activities are not all-year-round sports in our southern Alberta climate, and if you want to make it so by travelling, you have to add up the total costs. This is the way to truly plan your life.

Importance of a Plan

Too many people take a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach. One instance hit really close to home for me: My dad, who is my best friend, worked extremely hard on our family business right up until his health failed and he could no longer work. In his earlier days, he was a pilot, a skier, and a sailor. He played the occasional round of golf as well. Aside from these passions, he never took the time to find many hobbies he was interested in.

Since he left work in the office he has been working on rehabilitation for his back. He has found it really tough to find things he is both able to do and feels passionate about. As for flying, he can no longer pass the medicals needed, so that is one hobby down. His beautiful sailboat requires a good deal of physical stamina, and with its larger size he needs help to launch the boat and sail it. My mum is not passionate about the boat, so it never gets used. Hobby #2 has now bitten the dust.

A third hobby was downhill skiing; this too is now off the table as the physical nature of skiing means my dad won’t be able to get off the chair for a few days afterwards. The same goes with golf. We are limited to nine holes now, because if we do a full round he is in too much pain the next day and it’s not worth the extra hour or two chasing the little white ball. He has managed to find things he is interested in, such as fixing cars if the damage is not too extensive, helping mum in the garden, or visiting the guys at the coffee shop. But it is not the same.

This situation happens all too often. Several clients and friends have lost the ability to follow their old passions due to poor health. Our health is something I consider precious, which is why it is imperative that we have a list of things to do. When your DAY comes, and you pull the pin from your working life, a whole world of possibilities opens up. You can do anything you can dream of (well, maybe not an astronaut or a fireman for obvious reasons), but you need to have a plan.

My Duty as Your Financial Advisor

As your financial advisor, I actively encourage new endeavors. Once we put a retirement plan in place for your money, we need to work out what you’re going to do with your money.

The Internet has many resources that you can use to learn about hobbies, because in addition to savings, taxes, and insurance, retirement planning is about more than money. Think of it like college, but without the midterms this time—lots of financial, mental, and emotional efforts to reach your “graduation”.

Emotions impact many parts of our lives, and the early phase of retirement is not an exception. Many people experience an emotional rollercoaster when they progress from “happy they don’t have to go” to “lost as they have nowhere to go”, as one of my clients told me. This typically happens within 90 days of retirement. The stress can be much more than expected and can even cause strain on relationships. But this doesn’t have to happen if you anticipate, prepare, and do all that you can to make sure you are ready when your day comes.

The Frost Group would be happy to help you in your journey.

“Oh what a difference a day made…and the difference is you!” 
- Dinah Washington