Retirement Success Stories - Learning From Others So You Can Retire Better

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Fee-only Retirement Income Planning, Calgary

I recently sat down with a few different guys to discuss their transition into retirement. I first met with Bruce for a coffee and to discuss his transition into retirement. I met Bruce and his wife a few years ago when they attended one of our community workshops on understanding CPP & OAS. We helped him and his wife with a retirement transition plan and he reminded me as to how valuable that was for them. 

Bruce is turning 64 soon and retired 4 years ago at the age of 60. After spending many years with a large company in an HR executive role he was ready to retire, in fact, it was his plan to retire at age 55, but he was enjoying his work so he stayed a few years past his target date. He uses the analogy of a wall with a door in it - "you just don't know where the door is, or what's behind it," he says. Once you find the door, you can decide to open it or not. If you open the door and see a lion, you'll shut it pretty fast, but if you see that it's a lush green valley you'll want to go through that door and explore a whole new world. That's what retirement is like - a whole new world. He's happy he made the decision to retire and has made the transition rather easily. I also met with John, who has now been retired for 18 months. John worked for one of the railroads as an auditor and says his decision to retire was the best decision for him. He points out that he was able to plan his retirement date and that was important for him, rather than be forced out and given a package. That preparation time allowed him time to prepare financially, mentally and emotionally.

The big lessons: Bruce refers to the push/pull factors in deciding when to retire.

The push factors: After many years in the corporate world, you can become tired of the long days and ongoing stress. As long as work is fun and rewarding it's easy to stay focused on it and keep going, however, when the luster is wearing off and you have to decide to find a new role or move to another company, that can become a push factor for deciding to retire.

The pull factors: Bruce was realizing that many of his friends were falling ill or dying at young ages. If he was to fulfill some of the interests in his life and check off some of the items on his bucket list, he needs to get on with it - so he did. He reminded me of what I had written in his plan almost 4 years ago that retirement consists of 3 stages: Go-go years, Slow-go years and the No-go years, (not an original concept of mine, I read it somewhere)  and these are his go-go years and he intends to make the most of them.

There's plenty of things that keep him busy; from refereeing men's rec hockey, reading, walking, and month-long visits to warmer countries throughout the winter. John and his wife, Shirley, recently returned from 3 months in Mexico. They have been enjoying longer trips for the past 2 winters. John also took a flyer route as a way to get some exercise and make some coffee money. Shirley spends many hours per week at the gym and has been mentoring younger ladies at their church.

Financially speaking, Bruce says that he and his wife are spending less money than they anticipated. He has always been a strong proponent of planning and started saving early, which allowed him to easily retire at age 60. He would advise younger people to get educated early in life and make good choices about money and building wealth. John adds that he and Shirley realized that they can live comfortably on far less than they thought. 

One of the challenges of retirement that Bruce is still figuring out is this feeling that he still has a contribution to make, based on a successful career in upper management in some large companies, but doesn't want a big commitment that interferes with his retirement. As a retirement planner, I see this often, especially with individuals who have grown businesses.

John told me of several people he and his wife have had the privilege of meeting over the past year and a half. Because of their extra free time, they have been able to invest in relationships, especially with one widow they met in Mexico. 


Maslow's hierarchy of human needs places self-actualization at the top. Maslow's work was really the theory of motivation and the research was to confirm that we are all more motivated as our needs are met. The highest point of motivation is the point where we feel we are making a lasting contribution and the realization of our potential, self-fulfillment, personal growth, talents and abilities. It's similar to leaving a legacy, having a maximum impact or a desire to accomplish everything that one can. I do think there are many opportunities within the community for mentoring young leaders and volunteering on boards and foundations. I think one of our society's biggest needs is mentoring young leaders and business people.

One of the keys to retirement success is definitely living with purpose, and we must always keep that at the forefront of our lives, regardless of age. Endless leisure and 'happy hours' will not make one happy and will quickly get old, we were created for so much more. 

Learn more about our planning process and how to book an appointment by clicking here.

Fee-only Retirement Income, Investment, & Tax Planning,

Willis J Langford BA, MA, CFP

Nancy R Langford CRS

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