In their own words: ‘I Am scared to death of the cost of living as a senior’

Far from sailing off into retired bliss, some elderly Canadians are nearing their golden years with a combination of worry and dread. And while some of them are approaching retirement or have ceased working with ease, others point to a lack of money as a significant reason for delaying or foregoing retirement.

The shows that more people are working, at least part-time, after the traditional retirement age of 65. The Statistics Canada report doesn’t make it clear whether these Canadians are working longer for health reasons, to reinforce their finances or because they would like to.

An internet poll conducted by the Globe amp; Mail last month indicates Canadians have unrealistic expectations about when they’ll have the ability to retire. The average expected age of retirement among the 3,296 respondents was 62, a response that was consistent among Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials.

The comments we sent us, however, painted a very mixed picture. For some seniors, healthful retirement plans, effective investing and houses bought at low costs have afforded them a comfortable retirement.

Many more are doubtful in their ability to totally quit functioning, citing poor stock returns, too much debt, fear of outliving their money, an unexpected divorce or illness, increasing living expenses and the need to extend financial assistance to adult children.

“I am scared to death of the cost of living as a senior,” says a 61-year-old girl from Montreal, who says she will have to move to a smaller, cheaper city to make ends meet.

“Although I planned my post-retirement financial affairs with fantastic thought, I’m still surprised how much more costly it is,” says a man, 70, from Goderich, Ont.

A girl from Bowmanville, Ont., says she lost her job after being diagnosed with cancer at age 52. She says she’s still struggling to find work. “This was supposed to be the last 10-year drive. Retirement is looking much different today.”

“The strategy was to retire at 55. A project layoff and defined benefit retirement reduction has influenced the date,” says a girl, 51, from Richmond Hill.

A 53-year-old Kamloops, B.C. girl says the fallout from a divorce has set her retirement programs back 20 years.

The price of providing for mature children was another significant financial barrier cited by many elderly Canadians.

“University prices for our kids have affected our retirement,” says a woman from Toronto, aged 56. “Our kids … can’t afford to rent or buy homes and are with us.”

This 55-year-old woman from Newmarket writes: “I am fearful that one of my kids may come to me for financial aid in the future. Both of them are educated and have good jobs but … there isn’t any way I could co signing on a $300,000-plus mortgag”

Pensions — or a lack of — have been cited repeatedly by people who shared their stories with the planet.

“A teacher’s retirement and normal RRSP contributions has made my retirement a fantasy. Not a millionaire, but very comfortable,” says this Toronto girl, 68.

“I don’t have any private pension and haven’t been able to contribute enough to my RRSP, so will do the job as long as I’m physically able,” says a Toronto woman born in 1960.

“No pension is placing enormous pressure on me since I have a large yearly income to substitute,” says a Calgary man, 60.

A 66-year-old girl from Niagara Falls says insufficient retirement income has her wondering whether to postpone retirement until age 70. “I can’t determine what cost of living is going to be 20-30 years from now. It is a worry.”

“I retired with an indexed defined benefit pension and have done consulting because,” said this Port Perry, Ont. Guy, aged 74. “I am cash-flow positive monthly.”

For many, working more is the solution.

A 71-year-old guy from Edmonton says “working from 65 to 71 has considerably increased my net worth such that I don’t need to worry too much about finances.”

“I went back to work part time post-retirement from fear I’d never have the ability to make money again,” said a Vancouver girl born in 1951.

Meanwhile, this Vancouver man, aged 90, said he worked well into his 80’s, “solely because I liked it.”

“I could have retired at age 65 with few financial concerns. But by postponing retirement to age 75, I will have the ability to do everything that I ever wanted to do,” states a Kitchener, Ont., guy, 73.

An Ottawa man, now 71, says he retired and then worked part time for another 16 years. The money he earned helped cover expenses and financed travel plans. “As my wife retired at 64 and I became fully retired at 70, cash is tight.”

A 68-year-old guy from Grimsby, Ont. Says his greatest success has been managing his own retirement investments.

“I’ve exceeded my fiscal targets. . .by going independent (with training) and managing our own portfolios. The reward was 24 percent returns this past year. This year will not be as great, but it’ll be damn much better than what the lender can provide (or I should say take from me).”

Meanwhile, a 52-year-old Mississauga man says “low rates of returns on investments are delaying my retirement.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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