Your Retirement Planning Toolkit

Aoife O’Reilly

Retiring from work is a significant moment in life and yet most of us don’t give it the time and attention that it deserves. What does life after work look like for you?

Retirement means different things to everyone – for some, it’s an opportunity to invest more time and energy into hobbies and loved ones. Others view retirement as the perfect opportunity to travel more and make memories in far-flung countries. Many people take their love of learning to the next level by returning to education. There is no right or wrong way to retire, once you know what works for you. The transition from employee to retiree brings a range of environmental, mental, financial and emotional shifts in our lives. This article will help you consider these changes in more detail so that you can be more prepared for when you reach retirement.

Environmental changes

Your daily routine likely involves balancing personal responsibilities with your work life, but there’s more to work than just the actual job you do. A key component of work is the social interactions that we have every day, even if most of those interactions are now online due to the pandemic! The relationships we cultivate at work are key for our wellbeing and when retirement occurs both your weekday routine and work relationships become disrupted. A common feeling that occurs for many retirees is a lack of purpose. What can you do to counteract this? Many people find that community or volunteer work is an excellent way to keep busy and meet new people. These types of activities allow you to give back to the community, but they also help you to find out more about what inspires or motivates you. What social causes would you like to support? Spending time with loved ones is also a great way to reclaim a sense of purpose, particularly if you have grandchildren. You will have more time to share precious life moments with them. If you’ve always wanted to work in a particular industry, why not take on a part-time role and see what unfolds? Life after retirement does not have to be at a standstill, once you’ve considered the type of environment that best suits you.

Mental changes

Research shows that shifting from a structured weekly routine can negatively impact our mental health. Some retirees experience health issues such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and memory impairment. Relationships may also become strained. For example, if one spouse worked in an office from Monday to Friday and now both spouses are home full-time, this significantly impacts the relationship dynamic. One or both partners may struggle with the change, and it takes time to process and work through. Think about ways that you can make this new adjustment easier. Can you strike the right balance between alone time and spending time with your partner? Is there an activity that brings you joy, that you can do more of during this time? It’s important to keep challenging your brain during retirement. Can you learn a new skill or do a daily puzzle, sport or quiz? Find creative ways to keep your brain mentally stimulated. There are lots of ways to help you and your loved ones adapt to your retirement, so it’s all about finding what works best for you.

Financial changes

Are you financially ready for retirement? Financial planners typically recommend saving 10% or more, early on in your career, for retirement. The exact amount looks different for everyone, but realistically the more you can save the better off you will be during your retirement years. When deciding how much you need once you retire, consider the lifestyle you want to have during that time. Is it likely that you’ll need to upgrade your home? Do you want to travel and take up new hobbies and activities? Do you have any health issues that could worsen with age? The cost of living in Canada is also a major factor to consider. Many Canadians are simply not earning enough to save properly for retirement. You may need to take on a part-time job to boost your income and give you a bit more security. At Open Access, we work with our members to help them reach their retirement goals. One strategy we recommend is looking for ways to reduce your investment fees.

Many people are unaware of the exact amount of fees they are paying. Money management services always include fees and if any provider tells you otherwise, this is a red flag! Investing in a group retirement plan is an excellent way to get lower and more competitive rates. It’s important too, to make sure that you are investing in a portfolio that meets your financial goals. We recommend updating your Investor Profile annually to reflect any changes in your circumstances.

Emotional changes

Every retiree feels differently about retirement. Some are excited about this new change and the extra time that it brings. If you had a job that was stressful, draining or very time consuming, it will feel like a very heavy burden has been lifted. Other people feel very defined by their career. They enjoyed their working life and got a very distinct purpose from it. These people may feel nervous, uncertain, or even annoyed about having to retire. Every emotion is normal and very common. Do you need to talk about your feelings with a trusted family member, friend, or therapist? It’s important to move into retirement with the right mindset so that you can get the most out of it. Every life stage brings change along with it, so the first step is to develop a sense of acceptance about shifting from working life to retirement. The emotional shifts may feel intense at first but retirement is a way of life and you will adapt to it. Think about what you are gaining as a retiree, rather than what has been lost. You may have had a lot of career goals, but why not make a list of retirement goals? Redefine your identity by setting goals that challenge and energize you. You may be surprised by how much you grow and develop by doing things that are outside of your comfort zone. Join a network of other retirees in your community – this is a great way to collectively share emotional changes and to normalize them. Networking with people who are going through something similar is very powerful and can help increase your resilience.

Retirement is something that most of us will experience in our lifetime but it does not have to cause unnecessary stress or worry. Planning as early as possible is the best way to retire well. If you need more information regarding your account or tools and resources that may be available to you, simply contact our Client Relations team at or alternatively
call +1 866-625-4777.