Category Archives: Retirement

A Day of Work

So the other day I actually went to a workplace and did manual work for almost 8 hours. Did I fall on my head? Nope. Did I run out of money? Nope. I actually did it because I wanted to and I didn’t even bother asking how much I would be paid.

The job in question was actually a casual position with a local brewery. They occasionally need help with canning the beer depending on what they are doing and they put out the word a while back to the beer club I belong to. So I put my name on the list and then as they need help they just work their way down the list to find someone who can come in that day.

So I got the call at shortly after 8am and I was ‘working’ around 8:30am. The job was totally easy to learn as it was basically just manual labour for the day. My primary job was collecting beer cans off the end of the line and snapping plastic six pack holders onto them and then loading them on to pallets. I also would pull unlabelled cans off the line in the event the label marker was down but they didn’t want to stop the entire beer canning production line. During this I learned that the canning equipment occasionally has issues so dented cans or under filled ones are put aside as rejects.

Overall it was dead easy work but I sort of enjoyed it for two reasons. First off, it was nice to actually try to do something new and learn a bit more about the brewery. For example, I didn’t know they did contract brewing where they will brew and can other brewery’s beer. The second reason was a bit more obvious I was told to go through the rejects and take some home at the end of the day. The beer is fine they just can’t sell it since it is under filled. So I got 16 cans of craft beer for a day of work which at the retails price makes a bloody good bonus for the day.

Now I wouldn’t want to do this as a full time job. It’s just too much physical work for my taste but as an occasional thing I don’t mind it in the slightest. Heck, I would even be willing to do it up to once a week. Which leads me to believe that most work would actually be okay for just about anyone on a shorter term basis. The issue is far too much work is full time positions which can drive people nuts. Some people don’t want to do boring repetitive work such as data entry, or manual packing of goods for eight hours a day for five days a week. But once in while, it can be just fine.

I think the trick for work in retirement is to find things you don’t mind doing where the benefits make it worthwhile for you personally. For example, I won’t want to do manual work for most things but I love beer so if I get some as a bonus for a job I’m okay with the work. The pay is really secondary to getting to learn a bit more about breweries and the free beer. Which by the way I was $13/hour at the brewery so I got just under $100 for the day. The benefits out weigh the pay for me. Or for another example, my volunteer time at the local school library. I do it because I enjoy the work and the fact it helps the students and yes the occasional thank you gift of a book or bookstore gift card also helps. Again the benefits out weigh any pay issues for me personally. And as a added bonus I now have gotten to try two of my ‘dream’ jobs in retirement which I’m grateful for.

Now obviously everyone will have different ideas of what they are okay doing for work and what benefits matter most for you. Yet the reality is I think work can be a useful thing to a retiree as long as it doesn’t take up too much of your time. I don’t think I would be okay doing either of those jobs more than half time.

So do you see doing some work in retirement?  If so, do you have any ‘dream’ jobs you want try out?

The New Book – What Do You Want to See?

So when I previously wrote my first book, Free at 45, I did plan to write a follow up book.  The trouble was I wasn’t entirely sure what form that should take for a number of years and therefore I started and stopped a few times on the project.  That was until I retired last year and realized that despite there being a LOT of books on planning for retirement there were very few on what happens after you retire.  So that was my plan…write a book that mainly deals with life after retirement (and yes some of the things leading up to it as well). I want to write a book that is useful for anyone regardless of what age they retire at.

The book doesn’t have a final title yet but I do have a draft table of contents and the book is about half written right now.  I’m still finishing some research for the book so everything isn’t totally firmed up yet.  So dear reader here is  your chance to provide some input on what you want to see.  Feel free to suggest a book title and/or chapters or sections you want to see in the book.  I’m also asking most retirees I meet a single question that I would like you to answer as well: what did you wish you knew prior to your retirement?

And as a bonus to anyone is provides me a title for the book that I love so much that I use it…I will mention your contribution in the acknowledgements and send you an advanced ebook copy of the book prior to its publication date which will occur sometime in 2019.

Thank you in advance for your ideas and input.

Table of contents – Draft

Introduction – An overview of my story and what the book is about.

Part 1 – The Vision

Chapter 1: So what does retirement look like to you?

Chapter 2: What if you don’t know what you want to do in retirement?

Chapter 3: Retire Life is Not as Advertised – A summary of how just about everyone has the wrong idea on what retirement looks like from the media.

Part 2 – The Money

Chapter 4: Money Matters – The basics of you need to know prior to being able to retire like what is your spending, what are you invested in, etc.

Chapter 5: How much money do you need to retire anyways? The 4% rule explained and other considerations.

Chapter 6: Managing Your Retirement Money.  How managing you money changes after you leave work the shift from growth to income investing.

Part 3 – The Happy Factors (Health, Hobbies and Social)

Chapter 7: The Science of Happiness. Overview of research on happiness and its impact on your retirement.

Chapter 8: Get Happy Now (Before Retirement). How to get started on being happier now before you even retire.

Chapter 9: Getting and Staying Healthy. Highlights of relevant research on being healthy and its contribution to your happiness.

Chapter 10: New and Old Friends. How friendships can change with retirement.

Part 4 – Pre-retirment Count Down

Chapter 11: How exactly do you retire anyways? An overview of giving notice, getting paperwork prepared and using up your benefits prior to leaving.

Part 5 – Retired At Last, Now What?

Chapter 12: The Detox or Adjustment Period.  An overview of the initial retirement phase and adjustments.

Chapter 13: The Toxic Workplace Recovery Plan. A chapter devoted to those that are leaving a toxic work environment and special considerations to your first few months off.

Chapter 14: The Play Structure. How you need some structure in your retirement.

Chapter 15: Retirement Productivity. How lazy is too lazy and adjusting your expectations of yourself.

Chapter 16: All the Time in the World. How to actually use all this time in your week to do things.

Chapter 17: Staying Married in Retirement. Dealing with suddenly spending much more time with your spouse.

Chapter 18: Shades of Work. How work in retirement isn’t a bad thing depending on how you do it.

Chapter 19: Past the Detox Phase. After hitting a good routine for retirement what happens next.

Chapter 20: The Early Retiree Problem. When your retirement is longer than your working career and how do you deal with that.

The Stock Market Melted, Now What?

Well that was interesting.  I generally ignore the stock markets most of the time except for my monthly net worth posts where I login to my accounts and check the balances.  Yet even the current media coverage on the stock market decline managed to pierce my fog of ignorance a bit earlier in the month than I’m used to.  So yes, the TSX index is down like 10% or more from its recent peak.

First off, I don’t panic. In fact, I go back to my previous notes about my emergency plans and what the trigger is.  You know that plan you wrote down when things were going well and you were calm and rational…unlike now where your mind seems to be moving like a squirrel on a double espresso.  And there is black and write is my trigger point which is 10% decline in our portfolio, so while my TSX index is down over 10% I will need to check if my portfolio is down that far yet.  Given my bonds I doubt that the damage will be that bad but I will confirm that tomorrow.

Yet the timing of this does suck.  I was supposed to be re-balancing my portfolio next week and selling some investments to provide cash for next year.  So what do I do?  Well looking at my emergency plan the answer is simple: nothing.

Pardon?!? Yep, the answer is I’m doing nothing.  I’ll just sit back and wait until the US mid-term elections are done and the world just calms down a bit.  In the meanwhile I still have lots of cash in my savings account to live on in the short term and that gives me time to push off pulling money out of my investments until later on in November.  Of course the delay is more psychological than real as I will be pulling money out the bond part of my RRSP.  What I’m really delaying is the re-balancing of my RRSP accounts as I don’t want to re-balance to a stock market blip that will put my off my planned percentage split of investments five minutes after I finish the transactions.

So I might be “missing a buying opportunity” or “trying to time the market” by delaying my re-balancing but the fact is I wrote out a plan back when I was much more calm which said this: when your portfolio goes down 10% or more than you trigger the emergency plan.  Don’t sell investments.  Sit down, take a deep breath. Cut back on optional expenses (if you feel the need to do ‘something’).  Use your slush fund to pay expenses in the short term (if required).  Keep the long view and consider your options: perhaps pick up some part time work or a contract position and consider using debt as a medium term measure if the decline goes on a for an extended period of time.  Keep in mind, you are in this for the long run so don’t do anything stupid in the short term.  Sit on your hands if you have to but DO NOT touch that ‘sell’ button.

See “rational past me” knows “stupid panic current me” very well and wrote out just what I needed to hear: don’t do anything.  Sit tight and if you need to do something work on something to give you some income or perhaps look at your spending in the short term to give yourself a sense of control in a chaotic time.

That is the real value of writing out an investment plan.  It doesn’t have to be long or complex but it should be your ‘go to’ document when things hit the fan and you don’t know what to do.    So what does your investment plan say to do right now?  Or how are you reacting or not to this stock market decline?