A WORD (OR TWO HUNDRED) FROM THE EDITOR
There are some advertising slogans that become part of our lexicon. They capture the essence of a thought so perfectly that we use them in contexts very different from the ones for which they were originally coined.
“If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand”, being one such. The iconic line for Harley-Davidson meant if you didn’t get the pull of a Harley, well, you wouldn’t. It described a whole way of being in a short, pithy line.
“Freedom 55” is another. It is, of course, the name of a company, Freedom 55 Financial, but it is also a magical combination of words that without actually spelling it out, made us believe we could retire at the age of 55. And not just retire, but retire gloriously. Travel the world, experience new cultures, do all the things we dreamt of doing while being chained to our mundane work life. Predicated on the assumption that people saw their working lives as a grind, that they were waiting to be free, it threw up tantalizing visions of a shackle-free life. A life of freedom. At 55.
Turns out many of us can’t afford to retire at 55. And not just because we are concerned about retirement plans and savings, but also because we are living longer, we have that many more years ahead to plan for.
Today, more Canadians retire around 65. And those are the lucky ones with pension plans. For those who are self-employed, retiring at 65 or thereabouts may remain a dream.
And that’s just the financial aspect of retirement. The mental and emotional aspects need to be given equal weightage.
Suddenly going from 100 to 0 in one day can be tough. A hard stop that one didn’t prepare for adequately can come with associated issues. What will occupy one’s waking hours? Hobbies? Volunteering? Gardening, walking, reading, listening to music – all the activities you thought you would indulge in more if only you had the time? Well, now you have the time, how much of this unstructured life can you handle before you go stir crazy?
A lady describes things after her husband took early retirement. “He would lie in wait for me to return from work,” she says with a rueful chuckle. “We’ve settled into a rhythm now, but it was stressful in the beginning. My career was going full tilt, I was not ready to retire. It seemed selfish to not want to participate in all that he wanted to do, but most evenings I would be too exhausted while he’d be drawing up a list of things he wanted us to do.”
Even shared interests become hard to follow through on if two spouses are on different time trajectories. Lovina D’Souza addresses some of these issues in our cover feature and provides tips from those who are enjoying freedom at 55, 65 or older.
Happy New Year!