It’s time to do some myth busting

Did you know that most of us spend more time planning for a two-week vacation than we do for retirement – a phase of life that could last 30+ years?

If you’ve been putting off planning for your retirement, you’re in good company. A HSBC study released last week says nearly half of Canadians do not have a financial plan for saving for retirement. Never mind one that will help them with the many life changes they will experience when they leave the workforce.

I think part of the reason for this is people are subscribing to some common myths around retirement. Let’s take a look at five of the most popular and do a little myth-busting:

1. As long as I’ve got enough money, life will be great

Even if we’re not currently doing it, most of us understand the importance of saving for retirement to ensure we have sufficient funds to support ourselves in the 30 or more years we won’t be collecting a pay cheque. It is the first requirement of a successful retirement – if you don’t have the funds, your retirement lifestyle likely won’t have much style at all!

Deciding how much is ‘enough’ is a complicated formula that each retiree needs to figure out for themselves and will be dependent on the type of lifestyle they want. Working with a financial planner can help.

Financial security is a critical part of any retirement plan, but it is still only one part. Understanding what personal success and meaning is for you outside of work and building a plan to achieve it can lead to a happier and healthier retirement.

2. I will determine when I am going to retire

Nearly 1,000 Canadians become eligible to retire every day, but that doesn’t mean we are actually leaving the workforce. Many are working longer than they expected to for financial reasons. According to Statistics Canada, the average retirement age has climbed to 63.2 years of age for men and 61.4 for women. If you’ve got a post-secondary degree, you’re probably working even longer as the average retirement age is 64.6 years old.

Even though Baby Boomers are more likely than previous generations to choose to retire later, nearly half of all Canadian retirees are forced out involuntarily due to factors out of their control; e.g. lay-offs, illness, having to care for a family member, or other reasons.

Having a flexible retirement plan in place if you must work longer or leave the workforce before you anticipated, will provide some solid ground on which to begin this next phase of your life.

3. I’ll just wing it and it will all work out

The idea of being able to just relax and do nothing sounds wonderful to those of us in the twilight of our careers. Instead of waking to an alarm clock every morning, making that daily commute, and spending every minute on someone else’s time clock, the freedom that comes with doing nothing and being responsible to no one is pretty alluring. Who needs a plan?

The reality is the novelty of being on a ‘permanent vacation’ wears off quickly and we often resort to filling our days with idle busyness like watching TV, gaming or cyberloafing. Activity without purpose eventually causes boredom and a feeling that we are drifting aimlessly. A significant proportion of retirees (41% in a multi-country study conducted by the Institute of Economic Affairs) who did not have a well-developed plan for their life said they were unhappy, and even diagnosed as clinically depressed within two years after they retired.

4. It will be easier to just follow the crowd

While traveling the world, getting a part-time job, or moving to a retirement community may be great for your neighbour or brother-in-law, retirement is an individual journey. It is one of the most complex periods of change you will experience in your lifetime, and like previous life transitions such as picking a career, getting married, or starting a new job, it’s risky to follow someone else’s path.

If you want to achieve your retirement dreams and live this phase of your life to the fullest, you need to first figure out what is truly important to you. Taking the time to determine what you value most and developing your unique retirement plan will not only impact where, when and how you retire, but how happy and satisfied you will be in that next 30 years of your life.

5. Having more together time with my spouse will be awesome

Approximately one third of couples disagree on their ideal vision for and the lifestyle they expect to live during retirement, according to a 2013 Fidelity Study. Understanding each other’s expectations and assumptions about what life will look like in retirement is key for couples. Do you share common interests or hobbies? How much time will you spend together? … Apart? … With the grandkids or in-laws? Do you want to travel? …Move? … Start a business? There are many things to consider and if you don’t make the time to have these critical conversations before you retire, one or both of you could end up feeling unfulfilled, bored or even resentful.

Finding common ground and planning for ways to deal with any differences about how you want to live in retirement gives you an opportunity to ensure you both enjoy your future years together.

To learn how you can plan for and live your ideal retirement, visit www.youridealretirement.ca or email info@youridealretirement.ca.  We offer a variety of coaching programs and workshops for individuals, couples and groups to help you assess your readiness to retire and how you can create a smooth transition from the workforce or enhance your current retirement lifestyle.

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