The latter stages of human life are sometimes termed the “twilight years”. It brings to mind the image of a sun dipping beneath the horizon, a blue-gray sky with the last streak of daylight before it fades into that quiet night.
But twilight doesn’t just refer to that half-light after sunset; it also applies to the brightening just before a new sunrise.
Retirement doesn’t have to be the final preparations for the end, to spend out the rest of your life in a rocking chair admiring the stars. In fact, many retirees have a rejuvenated levity, a position of financial security where they can work for the pleasure of their own achievements, and not because they have to scrounge for corks to plug the holes in the boat that is their life.
Of course, that aforementioned relief-resulting retirement renaissance is predicated on your lifeboat (pun unintentional) not being weighed down by the anchor that is debt.
Canadians these days are much more conscious about debt. According to a 2017 report by the CBC, 65% of Canadians were saving for retirement, regardless of age bracket, in what was termed a “surprising display of responsible saving”.
The thing is, just because you’re saving doesn’t mean you’re planning efficiently for retirement. Saving money with a specific financial plan to ensure comfortable longevity is different from just hoping you can amass enough cash before reaching the arbitrarily-significant retirement-age of 65. To continue the boat analogy, the latter is akin to hoarding bottle stoppers in the hopes that you can keep from sinking. The former is figuring out how to ditch the ballast dragging you down and effectively using the debt-anchor until you can finally get rid of it.
When it comes to retirement, it’s never too early to start planning for your future. Not just preparing, but actively forming a strategy. And the best way is to get a financial plan, custom-made to your exact situation.
That extra bit of forethought could help define your twilight years. Will it be spent emptying buckets and frantically trying to plug every leak before night falls? Or will you stand tall, unfurl the sails, and chase the sunrise?