Top retirement tips

About 7 million Canadians will retire in the next two decades. About 1000 Baby Boomers a day are turning 65 in Canada. We hear too many doom and gloom scenarios about what retirement holds from so many sources. Here are some top retirement tips from folks who are already living the reality.

Take care of your health and make fitness a priority

Quality of life is directly related to how well you feel, how much energy you have, how many aches and pains you suffer, your sleep patterns, appetite, sex drive, and immune system. Exercise can improve each of these factors if done on a regular basis. Your health is the basement you build on and so it needs to be as solid as possible.

Related article: Health and Wellness are important in retirement

Prepare for the retirement process

Find out about sources of income, track your cash flow, get your team of advisors ready, be aware of your psychological and relationship issues, find your activity options, consider part time work, and educate yourself to avoid retirement shock. Take a course, talk candidly to a retired mentor, read some books and blogs on the subject. Get a heads-up on the possible problems because a whole new lifestyle is not just about the money.

Related article: 3 basic steps to plan for your retirement

Pay off debts while you are still working

This one is proving to be a challenge for many. According to a CIBC poll, about 59 per cent of retirees are in debt and for 19 per cent that debt has grown in the last year. This can turn into a black hole as a downward spiral pattern emerges. Lay off the credit cards unless you pay them off monthly and realize you may not have the same lifestyle as you had before retirement. Within months of my retirement, my car, fridge and washing machine had to be replaced. I had not created a what-if savings account. I have one now.

Related article: Retirement should be debt free

Start saving earlier and save more

The Pay Yourself First advice comes into play in hand with a structured plan put into place as early as possible. In a TD poll of retirees, 58 per cent suggested the start early idea as outliving your money is a real fear as 65 year olds live on average to 83 for males and 86 for females. A Harris-Decima poll says that immediate family needs are taking priority over long term planning. No wonder people are planning on working longer.

Related article: Principles of saving money

Work with a financial planner

This was suggested by 25 per cent in that TD poll. Those who work with a professional do better financially and have much less anxiety about their abilities to sustain themselves. Find someone you trust and who will keep you informed and educate you as well. Tax and estate planning come into the picture here too.

Related article: The online guide to working with a financial advisor

Don’t leave work too early

This is both for financial and psychological reasons. Health issues and pink slips happen but, if given the option, make sure you have written the last chapter of your career story. Have something to retire to and choose your timing carefully.

Related article: When is the best time to retire?

Travel while you can

Again health issues and pre-existing conditions put a real drag on those itchy feet. Insurance costs may become prohibitive or you may be denied insurance altogether. Travel is number 1 on many Bucket Lists and so do not wait. Get going. You may want to stay at the campground rather than a 5 Star but do not let a smaller travel budget keep you home.

Related article: Understand the three phases of retirement

Don’t be afraid to retire

In that TD poll, 11 per cent were very positive about retirement and 48 per cent were positive and 37 per cent were concerned about their futures as retirees. Often the anxiety that exists prior to retirement is greatly reduced after the first 2 years of retirement. Retirement is not a one size fits all concept. Make of it what you wish. It is a transition rather that an event and it is up to the individual what the next stage of life looks like.

Related article: How to cure retirement anxiety?

If you have tips for a positive retirement, please send them along!


  1. Mary

    I retried last year august 2017.between me and my husband total income after the retirement is $21,336.36 . my husband is 74 I am 66 yrs. we living day by day with credit card this total amount is not enough for us. I have locked in RRSP from my earlier company pension.Can you please advice for us to make our ends meet and debt free please thank you sara

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Mary – Are you both receiving CPP, OAS and GIS? What is your current monthly amount for each of CPP, OAS and GIS? What other income sources do you have and what are those amounts?

  2. Gregg

    I am planning on retiring this month. I am 65. Been with my company for 33 years. They will give me nothing when I leave, except my last pay cheque. They will be ecstatic that they won’t have to pay me any severance. ( would have been about $150,000+). We will be in a similar position as Mary. I received a letter from Service Canada this last Friday stating I will not qualify for GIS because I worked for part of the year last year. I also worked part of this year as well, meaning I will be denied next year also. So it will be at least July 2021 before we may get any even though I will have stopped working right now. Is that correct?

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Gregg – No, that is not correct. You have to let Service Canada know that you are no longer working, and if your income now excluding the employment earnings would qualify you for GIS, you can be paid GIS effective the month following when you last worked (or possibly after your EI ends if you’re eligible for EI).

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