Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What does retirement look like for you?

Yesterday, my French teacher at work asked the members of our class to describe their mental image of retirement. Answers ranged from the funny (bathing daily in a pool of cash) to the traditional (traveling the world while stopping long enough to visit with grown kids) to the brutally honest (worrying what they'll do with their spouse every day). Luckily, before it was my time to answer, my teacher flashed an image of a couple walking along a tropical beach. With the visual clue in mind, I told Pierre that I pictured myself and my wife holding hands while lounging on a beach. It drew 'awwwws' from the female students in my class, but it was simply the only answer I could come up with at the time.

Reality is that I have very little of an idea of what my retirement will be like. There are so many factors that are yet to be determined (when I'll retire, where we'll retire to, how many kids we'll have, advances in technology, etc.) that it's an extremely blurry picture right now. Since I'm 35, retirement seems like a long way off. That said, most of the investment and career decisions I've made center on how they'll impact my retirement. The fact I've chosen to invest in companies that regularly increase their dividends gives me peace of mind knowing that I won't have to rely on a work pension plan or the Canada Pension Plan, both of which could prove unsustainable given current demographic and investment return trends.

There are certain aspects that I can picture as part of my retirement. I love travelling, especially doing house exchanges with other couples, as I feel this gives me a chance to truly experience the culture of another country. Additionally, I find being close to water relaxing, and can picture myself on a lounge chair, reading a good novel. Staying physically active is something I've focused on, and plan to continue in the future, be it through running, swimming, or a yet to be discovered activity. Of course I'll continue investing, as it's something I enjoy, and benefit from in multiple ways. Spending time with my wife and children, is perhaps the activity I look forward to the most of all.

The main thought I associate with retirement is freedom. Imagine waking up in the morning and having the freedom to do whatever it is that you want to do that makes you happy. It's that thought of having the ability to determine the direction of each day that drives me to work hard now and invest successfully.

I'm curious, what does retirement look like for you?

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