The retirement calculator was not complicated, but detailed.
My friend Dino had sent it to me.
Conversations among the folks that I hung out with at the club seemed to always drift towards retirement planning.
No one was getting any younger.
I had met Peter, my financial advisor, at the club. And then there was Alan, an Engineer turned financial advisor, always reminding us that we needed to save more.
“How much money do you need to retire?” The official term in the calculator was “Annual Retirement Income Goal.”
Everyone had a number, but nobody knew for sure that it was the right one.
The general consensus seemed to range between five and eight thousand dollars a month. “Your expenses go down when you retire,” the folks with the lower retirement income goal would argue.
So, I decided to plug in seven thousand and see what the calculator had in store for me.
For a moment, my thoughts drifted back to the first full year of working in Canada, twenty-four years ago. Our annual family income was a whopping thirty-two thousand dollars. I wasn’t all that young, I was thirty-seven. We were happy. Now, taxes alone added up to more than what we jointly made that first year!
Canada had been good to us. We weren’t hurting.
Working in the ever-evolving technology space came with its challenges and uncertainties. I had survived many rounds of optimization, restructuring, rationalization, and integration. Been to the edge and back a few times. The retirement conversation was timely; no harm being prepared, in case I get blindsided.
I took a quick mental stock of all the things that I will have to worry about if I did not have a paycheck coming in every two weeks.
Thankfully, my wife had a job, for now.
Selling the house and moving to a condominium was a good move.
I patted myself on the back for the foresight there.
There were the car leases. Good thing I went with the larger down payment; the payments were manageable. Prescription drugs would be an issue. For a second, I wished I was older, old enough to get prescription coverage from the Government.
I quickly banished that thought. I was in reasonable shape – still playing squash and tennis a couple of times a week. Moreover, my wife’s insurance would probably cover me.
I could find some part-time work if things got bad. I had kept up with the technology.
“When can I retire?” It was my wife asking from across the hallway.
“The calculator says that you need to work till you are sixty,” she didn’t appear very happy with my reply.
I may have to rethink that African safari next year. Maybe not, it was a gift from my daughter and son-in-law.
I cursed myself once again for having voluntarily left the company’s Defined Benefits pension plan in favour of the Defined Contribution Plan.
Biggest mistake ever!
“Can we still do the river cruise?” It was my wife again.
I went back to the calculator. “Yes, we can,” I sounded like President Obama. “All I have to do is lower my life expectancy from ninety-two to eighty-nine,” I added.
She seemed content with that.
I didn’t blame her…