In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.
Tom Scanlan, 71, Toronto
I retired three years ago, at age 68, after running my own communications company that did work for non-profit organizations. My wife, Sharon, is a designer who worked mostly with my clients.
Retirement was on my mind for a while. I sold my company a few years earlier and worked part-time for the new owners. It was still interesting but I felt there were other things I wanted to do. I had more grandkids coming on the scene, and it was a good time financially, physically and mentally for me to stop working.
I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I would do in retirement. I remember hearing a quote from Bruce Springsteen a few years ago where he said what he misses about getting older is the beauty of the blank page. That’s how I’ve decided to approach retirement, as a blank canvas that needs filling.
My wife and I have taken on a few rewarding activities since retirement, despite the pandemic restrictions. We started a podcast called Hidden Gems Toronto. We had no idea what we were getting into but thought there were some great stories out there that weren’t being told. It has taken off and gives us a monthly project to focus on. Someone recently asked me how I like doing the podcast and I replied, ‘hard work, no pay; best job I ever had.’
I was part of the group that helped create what would become the blue box program back in the 1970s, and that same core group came together recently to start a new group called Pivot Green, where we encourage people to fight climate change. The podcast and Pivot Green keep me very engaged.
One of my tricks in retirement has been not leaving the day wide open. I started walking for about an hour and another hour every afternoon. Not only have I lost weight, but it’s a great time to think. I also started setting aside 90 minutes every afternoon to read a book. I was always too busy to read when I was working. I rediscovered the library and, in the first year, I read 52 books in 52 weeks. I never realized there would be so much enjoyment in reading books regularly – something I know a lot of people discovered long before me.
As for finances, we have no private pension, but we saved well over our lifetime. We let an investment company handle our main investments. It focuses heavily on dividend-paying stocks. I hold back about 10 per cent of our savings to play with more risky options, including green funds. I have fun with that.
We are big travellers and have been to more than 60 countries. Now that COVID is getting under control, we’ll be dusting off our well-used luggage again soon.
When people ask me what’s on my retirement bucket list, I say, ‘the only thing is to stay healthy and avoid the bucket as long as I can.’
As told to Brenda Bouw
This interview has been edited and condensed
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