From boardroom to boredom

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Did you see the 2015 movie “The Intern” featuring Robert De Niro? Well, if not, let me sum it up for you and I will get to my point.

Seventy-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (played by Robert De Niro), a retired executive from a phone directory company, applies to a senior citizen intern program after retirement has become too boring for him. The company in Brooklyn he applies to is a fast-growing e-commerce fashion startup, whose founder and CEO has agreed to a community outreach program through which seniors would be hired. Ben impresses everyone and is one of four hired.

So De Niro in the film went back to the corporate setting seeking fulfillment in his retirement years. Does that mean you should do the same? Not necessarily, although mandatory retirement in Ontario no longer exists. However, you may wish to set up office at home and start that business on the side that you never had the time to before.

In an earlier blog post I talked about my penchant for home renovation. Through my renovation projects I have developed an interest in pursuing a second career in home inspection.

Of course, to do this, will require a home office set up. Here are some things to consider if you want to set up a home office too:

  • Find a suitable space at home for the office—ideally this should be a dedicated space or room cut off from the noise of your household. However, if a separate room is not possible, consider a room divider that will at least allow a degree of separation and privacy.

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  • Decide the needs of your business and your office. Consider the technology requirements (computer, printer, scanner, ergonomically correct chair, desk, filing cabinet…). Will you be meeting clients in your office? If so, that will require more space, seating and possibly another table.
  • Consider your home office budget. It may be more appropriate to lease office items than purchase them, or buy them second hand.
  • Decorate your office to suit your taste and reflect a professional, polished appearance. You may consider hanging your diplomas or degrees on the wall. Consider a bookcase for all the books and reference materials. Add some plants, an area rug and some art for flair.
  • Set up a storage system for your files. Scanning information will reduce your need for hard copies, but be sure to back up your system.
  • Let your family members know the rules of the office and when/when not to approach the space, cause noise or interrupt your office time.

If you work out of your home, you may be able to deduct a portion of your home office expenses. However, there are a number of rules, and the rules differ depending on whether you’re self-employed or an employee.

 

 

 

 

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Getting your home retirement ready

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If your home is your castle, just imagine how important it will be to you in retirement when you are spending a lot more time there. That’s the thought I had the other day when I took a good look around my humble abode and wondered whether it would suit me heading into my golden years.

Heaven knows I have spent a lot of time, energy and money fixing up my current home. Is it Casa Loma? Well no, but the closest thing I will probably come to a castle on my budget. At any rate, I haven’t really had much time to spend there thanks to my busy work schedule and other demands.

For the last 15 years I have tackled a variety of renovation projects making my 1950s circa house the perfect shelter from the storm. A place I could escape to — retreat from life for a brief while.

But did I do the right renovations that will properly see me into retirement?

Like most people, you don’t want to be hit with heavy duty renovations and expenses in your retirement. I am happy to share my “to do” list of home renovation considerations with you, so that you can tackle them now to ensure that you wind up with a comfortable, liveable and relatively worry-free nest into your retirement years.

Deborah’s retirement reno checklist:

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  • Need a new roof? Notice any leaks or water damage to your home’s ceilings? Are your soffits, fascia and eavestroughs in working order? I know that’s my new project to tackle this spring.
  • Is the grading on your property sloped away from your house as it should be, or is it running towards your home? This is important because you don’t want a leaky basement.
  • Have you had a home energy assessment done? This is a professional evaluation of your home’s heating, hot water and ventilation systems, insulation and air leakage. Your home energy assessment report will highlight how your home can be improved to reduce energy costs and improve comfort.
  • Have you had your furnace “red-tagged” recently or do you want to avoid this headache by having it repaired or replaced?
  • Do you currently live in a house with many stairs and wonder how you will negotiate those stairs if you have arthritis? You may want to consider bungalow or condo living, with everything on one level.

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  • Take a good look at your kitchen and bathroom. You may wish to consider assistive devices that will make it easier to function in the house and do things that you enjoy.
  • Or you may consider remodelling, like putting in a no-step or sit-in shower or creating a more open floor plan in case you need to move around in a wheelchair or walker.

Take stock of the common hazards around your home. It’s important to identify items that will lower your future costs and in turn promote your independence and wellbeing.

 

 

 

Peter Pan at heart

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Okay, I admit it – I subscribe to the Peter Pan view of aging. That wonderful character conceived by Scottish novelist and playwright James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan is a boy who refuses to grow up, spends his everlasting childhood in fictional Neverland, and teaches young Wendy and her brothers how to fly (escape).

In today’s pop psychology the notion of someone with “Peter Pan Syndrome” has a negative connotation — a person who is socially immature and who shuns responsibility.

Yet, who really wants to grow old or be perceived as old? Who doesn’t want to be carefree and without responsibility? Who wants to be at the age or stage when retirement is no longer a far-off notion, but a very imminent reality?

I still remember my grandparents who lived in California taking me to the beach there when I was a kid and goofing around on surfboards. Didn’t someone forget to tell them they were too old for that?

Yet the signs that age is catching up with me are everywhere.

The other day my husband and I went to the movie theatre and we were asked whether we are seniors entitled to the seniors’ discount. Perhaps I should have been happy at the prospect of saving a little money. Instead I felt a combination of indignation, shock and anger at being asked. Neither my husband nor I have reached that golden 65 years of age to officially be considered a senior. Do we look older? Have the ravages of time caught up with us?

Similarly, on the subway, I absolutely hate when someone offers me their seat. It’s happening with recurring frequency lately. I don’t need a seat! I am not frail!

And, of course, there are the newbies at work – you know the ones who remind you how old you are by complaining that they are having the milestone birthday — turning 30. LOL!

Does anyone really want to be part of the aging club and accept that time is catching up with them?

Turns out, I am not alone in my feelings. The article “How to Market to an Aging Boomer: Flattery, Subterfuge and Euphemism” describes how companies these days have changed the ways in which they market their products and services to the baby boomer consumer. Their approach begins with the premise never to remind boomers that they are getting older. This has had a significant effect on the way in which they market the likes of diapers, shower grab bars, medic-alert alarms, food and more…

Would being identified as an older person offend you? Do you have a story to share?

 

 

 

The bucket list

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What are your goals and aspirations for your “golden years”? Personally speaking, I have been too busy working a full week and then taking care of my household and parents before they passed to really give it some serious thought. Until lately…

It should come as no surprise that we all have different views of what constitutes a happy retirement. What is concerning, however, is that people don’t seem to be talking to their spouses or partners about their retirement plans – what they want from their retirement lifestyles – to occupy the time that used to be filled up by their nine to five routines.

That is what a poll by RBC found, entitled “Silent Partners: Majority of Canadian boomers have not discussed retirement with their spouses or partners”.

It finds that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Canadians aged 50 and older who have not yet retired have not discussed their ideas with their spouses or partners. Canadians’ reluctance to talk about the subject is right up there with talking about how to manage if a partner encounters health issues or if a partner passes away prematurely.

Furthermore, men and women apparently have very different ideas of how they want to spend their post-career years, according to the poll. So, while we are good at having conversations about what we want to do for our vacations, planning for the longer term is not a discussion most of us have. Of course, that could lead to no end of discord, when you are finally spending many more hours with your mate in your later years.

I suppose talking about the retirement lifestyle that we want is a dilemma of riches. After all, many people in North America can’t afford to retire, let alone those in the undeveloped nations. Still others want to keep working to remain active, maintain their connections to others that they have in their work environments, and of course, maintain their sense of self-worth and identity.

But for those of us who are in the enviable position of being able to afford and who want to retire, what do we do for inspiration?

Do you have a bucket list – a list of things you want to do before you die?

Ask yourself some questions, such as:

  • What have you always wanted to do that you haven’t done before?
  • What are your personal goals and dreams?
  • Are there any countries you want to visit?
  • Are there any new skills you want to acquire?
  • What do you want to achieve? Consider your social/love life, family, health, financial goals, and (second) career.

Let me get you started by sharing with you my own personal bucket list – a work in progress.

Deborah’s bucket list:

  • Learn to speak another language.
  • Do a cross-Canada trip by rail.

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  • Take a trip to Italy.
  • Become a foster parent or a Big Sister to help children in need.
  • Help my younger brother get back on his feet.
  • Find a place for two in Florida and become a snowbird with my husband.
  • Spend more time with friends.
  • Take out memberships at the museum and the art gallery.
  • Attend more cultural exhibits and functions (opera, ballet, theatre).
  • Become a Zumba regular to realize a healthier, fitter me!

What will make you happy and you give your life more meaning?

Share your own bucket list plans and inspire the rest of us.

 

Climbing the stairway to heaven

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If you’re a baby boomer chances are you are probably thinking more and more about your plans for retirement for a variety of reasons, if you haven’t retired already. Maybe you have lost a loved one. In my case, I lost both parents recently. These life events remind us that we’re not eternal and make us yearn for something more in our own “golden years”.

At major life crossroads I believe it’s normal to feel some disillusionment with life as you’ve known it. You reach a stage and an age when you ask yourself “is that all there is?” — just like the title of that immortal song that Peggy Lee popularized in 1969 and that Bette Midler reprised.

The lyrics of the song talk about disillusionment with events in life that are supposed to be unique experiences. The first event is sung from the perspective of a child witnessing her family’s house on fire. The second event is the same young girl going to see the circus with her father, and the third event is her falling in love for the first time. She expresses her profound disappointment after each experience as she sings:

Is that all there is?

Is that all there is?

If that’s all there is my friends

Then let’s keep dancing

Let’s break out the booze and have a ball

If that’s all there is…

Similarly, the whole idea of traditional retirement – permanently leaving the workforce in old age and sailing off into the sunset – in of itself can be a disappointment and is not what many of us envision for ourselves anymore in this day and age.

So many of us talk about retirement, dream about it when we’ve had a bad day at work, and to varying degrees of success plan for our financial future – but when finally faced with the prospect of retiring have really no idea how to mentally/emotionally prepare for this new chapter in our lives.

Do the things that give us pleasure and purpose in our younger years really have to change that drastically?

What does it say that from the time I first started to work, my father – my role model — drilled into me the concept of planning for my retirement? He meant planning for my financial future, of course. Yet, in his own final years my father continued to work and carry on as if he hadn’t heard the five o’clock quitting whistle.

He never took the opportunity to explore life beyond the confines of his routines, his work and what was familiar to him. Never really retired. Did he shortchange himself or did he know something that the rest of us don’t?

In the coming weeks I look forward to sharing my thoughts, as well as information and tips about retirement planning and how to get emotionally ready. I am not an expert on the subject, but rather a person wondering and researching what lies in store for me and my husband  in the years to come. That’s where you come in…I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

How do you envision retirement? What are your plans?