the joys of early retirement with friends

Opting for early retirement

Careful planning & facing up to her fears led to a surprising revelation

“Claire” retired early at the age of 58 when an opportunity arose to leave her organization. Despite her initial reluctance and a certain degree of anxiety, she is now completely satisfied she made the best decision for her and her family given the tumultuous and uncertain times we live in. Clearly not everyone will have the opportunity to retire early, but careful planning with the assistance of an Investment Advisor can help prepare you for many contingencies. Here is Claire’s journey in her own words.

As a taxation auditor in a senior role, I thoroughly enjoyed my job, was successful and earned a good salary. I valued the daily interaction with my colleagues and enjoyed their company as well as the social life that accompanied this. My greatest fear about retirement was losing the security of employment, the sense of self-worth, and the sense of validation from being employed.

Not having a career, I believed, would make me a “non-entity,” just a “retired person”. I didn’t think I could cope with what I imagined to be the boredom of long days without work. For 37 years I had been used to a structured life, defined by my hours of employment. To lose this would mean that I would have to think of and develop my own plans and make up my own life – foreign concepts to me!

Professional advice is critical

When I was about 51, I met with an Investment adviser. He assisted me in making changes to my retirement planning and investment strategies – things that were financially useful and, I came to realize, should have been done sooner. Most importantly, the advisor clarified my queries about my retirement income.

My decision to retire was a no brainer once the plan was laid out. Based on the calculations, my income on retirement would be about $5000 less than my net salary after considering the expenses of working (clothing, travel etc), taxation differentials and no retirement/pension plan contributions. In addition, I had come out of remission from an auto immune disease which had serious consequences for my health. The sensible option was to retire and jump into the unknown.

On the day I left work, I visited my 82-year-old parents and informed them that I could now be able to help them. They seemed incredulous as they said that they managed adequately. Within 6 months my mother became ill and needed assistance. I was able to help on a regular basis, which then became a daily basis. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to do this. It brought me closer to my parents and made me appreciate them much more than I ever had. I was able to holiday with them in the early months of retirement.

Finding your way in retirement

Retirement has been partly about giving. I have the time to help at a “Homework Club” each week. Tutors help school students, many of them refugees whose parents are unable to assist with schoolwork. I was able to volunteer at the nursing home where my parents eventually settled.

Retirement is also about downtime. I regard the most wonderful thing about retirement as not having to set the alarm for 6am each day. It’s a joy to wake up at whatever time. I think that the morning alarm is a symbol of the rigidity of work life. One needs to stick to schedules set by others. One’s time is governed by others. Now in the mornings, I can sit and read the news, maybe do the crossword puzzle and sudoku if I choose. If I have nothing planned, I can read a book.

Most importantly, retirement has been good for my health. About a year after I retired, I went into remission again and have stayed that way for several years. There are fewer stresses in retirement than in working life and I consider that this has had a positive effect on my health. All of these benefits I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy were a revelation of sorts as I defined my sense of success and fulfilment mostly by my professional role.

Importance of a healthy income & affordable housing

I have been fortunate to have had a good income in retirement. Having an adequate pension and investments has made my retired life easy. I think it is an essential aspect for a good retirement. Before the emergence of the coronavirus, it meant I could holiday when I choose, go to the theatre regularly, dine out – do whatever I want. While it is not the only factor, it is probably the most important one. Having secure and affordable housing is another major factor.

I know of individuals, particularly women, who have struggled post-retirement because they cannot manage on a smaller income. If they do not own their home, ever-increasing rental can be a major problem which can sometimes lead to homelessness.

For me, retirement now is enjoying the company of my husband who is also retired, helping with my grandchildren, working in the garden, catching up with friends and, in the main, having a great time.

Every journey is unique. Speak to an Investment Advisor to discuss your options and the most effective ways to achieve your retirement goals.

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