Important retirement questions to think about

One question that I get asked, probably more than any other question, from people I meet on a day to day basis is “How much money do I need to fund my retirement?” It is an interesting question. First off, the amount of money that each person needs is entirely different. It really is on a case by case basis. Some people will spend very little in retirement because they do not travel much. Instead, they stay close to home and in turn spend very little. Others want to travel a lot or maybe live abroad and therefore will need a lot more money. As much as having some money is important to retirement, money is not everything. A big part of retirementis about what you see yourself during that period of your life. I feel the most important question to answer is “How do I see myself in my retirement years?”. Here’s some retirement questions to ponder:

Will you work in retirement?

Before you can figure out how much money you need for retirement, you need to think about your retirement goals. You should ask yourself if you see yourself working in some form during retirement? Baby boomers are expected to live longer than any generation before. Living to 95 or 100 will be more common than it is today. Will full or part time work be part of the plan? Starting a new business? Contracting out to your former Employer? Remember, it is an expensive world and it will not get cheaper to live in it.

How is your health?

Another thing to think about is your health. What if your health changes? What plans have you in place to protect yourself, your family and your income from any negative impact that illness may have. We use to get sick and die; now we get sick and live with illness but there is a medical cost to be paid. Where is that money going to come from if you need it?

Where do you think you will live?

Where is your family ( children and grandchildren ) going to reside? That plays a big role on retirees and where they end up living. Most parents want to be close to children and grandchildren. Will downsizing play a role in the plan?

What hobbies do you partake in?

What do you do now and what will you do later to keep yourself physically and mentally fit during your retirement years? My neighbour is 81 years old. She goes to Yoga four times per week, takes public transit everywhere, goes for 1-2 hour walks at least 2-3 per week (weather permitting) and likes to have the odd beer. Plus, she is involved heavily with her grandkids, takes in the arts and other activities throughout the city. She might be 81; she looks 60 and acts 40. She is an amazing person.

Are you mentally ready to retire?

Last but not the least important question to ask yourself is “How do you really feel about retiring?” Honestly, some people have no interest in stopping work. Some will work as long as they can full time. Others love their job but want some flexibility in their work day and work week. Still others can’t wait to retire to spend more time with their families, on their hobbies and volunteering.

These are just some of the retirement questions people need to ask themselves before they try to figure out how much they need for retirement. The answers to these retirement questions will go a long way to determining the amount of money a person needs to retire.


  1. C.K. Moffett

    Hello and happy new year, Scott. I have a question regarding CPP which Service Canada is unable to answer. I will be 65 in two years. I currently collect a CPP survivor’s benefit in the amount of 475.00. When I turn 65 my CPP will pay about 700.00, making my combined CPP payments close to the maximum allowable CPP, if I choose to take it. I know that I cannot collect more than the single, allowable maximum CPP benefit. My question is this. I intend to continue to work to at least age 70. Given the fact that my CPP is effectively capped at 65, does the provision wherein CPP payments increase if you choose to postpone receipt of CPP (42% more I believe) affect me? Thank you.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi C.K. – These are very complex calculations, but there is no reason why Service Canada shouldn’t be able to give you accurate information, although I know they struggle mightily to give accurate numbers. First of all, your survivors pension will change when you turn 65 regardless whether take your own CPP then or not. In your case, it will decrease by approx. $25 to approx. $450. If you do take your own CPP at age 65, the survivor’s pension will decrease further by approx. $180, down to approx. $270., so that your combined retirement/survivor’s benefit would be approx. $970 ($700 retirement plus $270 survivor’s). If you postpone taking your CPP until you turn 70, you will receive your $450 survivor’s pension between age 65 and 70. At age 70, your retirement pension will have increased by at least 42% (possibly more, depending on your earnings between age 65 and 70) to approx. $995 and at that time your survivor’s would reduce by the $180, so that your combined retirement/survivor’s benefit would be approx. $1,265 ($995 retirement plus $270 survivor’s).

      Read this article to better understand the calculations:

      • Doug Runchey

        Hi C.K. – I tried to keep my original answer simple, but I should also mention that if you do take your CPP at age 65 and keep working, you would then have the option to keep contributing and earn a PRB for each additional year that you work, or you could opt out of making further CPP contributions and save some money that way.

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