Economic realities are transforming the way we view retirement.
By Connie Proteau
Like many boomers, Carole Fawcett, of Vernon, B.C., isn’t counting on a work-free retirement lifestyle. At 65, she’s resigned herself to the reality that she is on what she calls the “Freedom 85 Plan”. She laughs. But seriously – she’s not alone. The recent Sun Life Canadian Unretirement Index confirms what Fawcett already knows: more than half of working Canadians between the ages of 30 and 65 expect to be working in some capacity at age 66.
For Fawcett, planning for her new retirement career began when she turned 60. Divorced since her 40s, she’s had a number of low-paying, sometimes physical and quite often unsatisfying jobs ever since migrating to B.C. from Manitoba – a move that brought her close to her aging mother. She isn’t a homeowner and doesn’t have a private pension plan but did begin collecting a reduced pension from CPP at age 60. Knowing she would have to keep working to survive, she capitalized on her background in social work, therapy and the wisdom gained through life experiences and made the decision to invest in herself. She took the brave step to go back to school at age 60 with the goal to be a self-employed practitioner in the psychology field. This, she says, is a job she can physically do into old age and is a profession she finds both interesting and rewarding.
Armed with a student loan, a line of credit plus credit cards to live on, she quit her job at a women’s transition house and, instead, immersed herself in an intensive year-long program to become a registered professional counsellor and clinical hypnotherapist. For her, freedom in her golden years has taken a different tack. Since building her own practice for the past three years, she’s not only improved her income, but she is free to set her own hours of work. Once her Old Age Security (OAS) kicks in and she’s paid off her debts in the next year and a half, she plans to reduce the amount of hours in her work week, leaving more time for leisure. Her only regret?
“I should have done it years ago,” says Fawcett.
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