Retirement: What Does it Mean to You?

Inspired by TD’s Redefining Retirement contest we caught up with several successful and forward-thinking young Canadian professionals to find out their thoughts on retirement.

Retirement? Yes, it seems a long way off for most of us at this point in our careers. Inevitably, it is something that most of us are going to have to start to think about and plan for, however, if we haven’t already. We admit, of our young professional friends, a select few have started saving for retirement and have RRSPs, while others struggle to save for a vacation and confuse RRSP with RSVP. We asked a few Toronto-based young professionals from varying career paths what retirement meant to them. Here’s what they had to say. 

“I don’t like the word retirement – to me it just sounds like the time when you are too old to work and still make a difference. Retirement sounds like being put out to pasture like an old cow that’s too old to milk and too tough to eat. To me, (what people refer to as) retirement means reaching a point in your life where you have true financial freedom. You have assets paid off and enough money to enjoy a quality of life that meets your expectations without needing to work anymore. I don’t plan to ever stop working. Hours may change as I get older but I never want to stop making a difference at whatever I’m doing – hopefully it will be a lot more philanthropy work later in life when I don’t need the paycheque.” – Peter Evans

Peter Evans is the co-owner and VP of Icon Digital Productions, co-owner of Gridcast Media Inc. and an actor, having just appeared in Sarah Polleys Stories We Tell, which screened earlier this month at TIFF.  An active philanthropist, Evans is a volunteer counselor at Camp Oochegeas and has been a member on the Look Good, Feel Better Committee for over 10 years.

“Retirement means being able to get up in the morning without hitting the snooze button a million times over and actually being able to enjoy a cup of coffee (in anything but a to-go cup!) all the while knowing you’re on the longest coffee break of your life. You’ve earned it, after all.” – Yvonne Koscielak 

Yvonne Koscielak is an art advisor, cultural worker and creative producer who has held curatorial and consulting positions throughout New York and Toronto. She is currently the Public Art Coordinator for the Culture Division at the City of Mississauga and was involved with teletalk, her own public art project this past summer. 

“Retirement seems a long way off at 30 years old.  I look to my parents for what it will be like and it looks good. I see freedom to do what I please, liberated of children (provided I have them) and a ton of travel to places I have always wanted to go but aren’t currently “top priority” due to my 4 weeks of vacation per year. Places like Nashville, Berlin, Malaysia and Utah…yes, Utah. While all of this sounds great, I know I will need the funds to go on all my adventures, which is where things get real. Saving is tough being one person living in a condo in North Toronto but I understand the importance and do what I can. I view my condo, which I hope to one day own outright and rent out, as a source of retirement income. It all seems very far off but then again so did having a “real job” when I was in university and things change fast. In summary, retirement is freedom but requires planning to do it right.” – Rob Beach

A University of Western Ontario grad, Rob Beach started in inside sales right out of a Humber College postgraduate program in Advertising Media Sales and worked his way up to Online Advertising Sales Manager for the Star Media Group over a six-year period.

“Retirement is reaching a financial stage in life that affords you the option to stop working and pursue other dreams that you may not otherwise have had time for. It means the freedom to come and go as you please and enjoy life on a different set of terms – your own!” – Lindsay Kostyk 

Toronto-based real estate agent Lindsay Kostyk is a University of Western Ontario graduate and is quickly making her mark on the luxury North Toronto real estate market as a part of Lindsay Kostyk & Mark Arnstein, Re/Max Hallmark Realty.

Other young professionals have similarly optimistic views. “Retirement means making art for art’s sake again, and not for money,” said Julia Bailey, “and gourmet food in the south of France.” For founder Julian Brass, retirement marks a time of reflection. “It will be a time we can truly celebrate our accomplishments, without being pre-occupied with the next great thing we want to accomplish.”

So, it looks like we expect ourselves to be at a stage where we can enjoy the rewards of the sacrifices made for our careers, the 18-hour workdays and limited vacation time that characterizes the working life for most of us. “In general, we’re remaining healthier and more active longer in life, which means that many people are spending more years in retirement. These young professionals have shared some great insight into what they hope their retirement will be like,” says Cynthia Caskey, VP, Portfolio Manager and Sales Manager, TD Waterhouse Private Investment Advice. “It’s really important for Canadians of all ages, not just those approaching retirement, to think about the lifestyle and activities they’ll want to be involved in – and then consider the finances that will be needed to support this,” adds Caskey. “The earlier you start thinking about your retirement dream, the sooner you can start saving and planning to make sure it comes true.

With so many of us opting to start our own business ventures, a tendency of YPs to dabble in multiple careers before settling on one, and decreasing prevalence of union protection and benefits, it’s safe to say that we are living financially riskier lives than our parents’ generation. Our uncertain job climate doesn’t help. If we want to enjoy retirement the way they do, it looks like we may have to begin planning and saving soon – no matter how small we start.

What’s your definition of retirement? With just one sentence you could win $1000 through TD’s Redefining Retirement contest