How ‘Freedom 55’ retirement didn’t happen for me

Surface interval between dives. Not going to enjoy this lifestyle full-time for a while yet.

There I was seated in my money coach’s office with a binder in front of me. Was hoping to open it up to a page that read:

“FREEDOM 55*. IT’S HAPPENING! ENJOY EARLY RETIREMENT.”

No such luck.

According to the binder, retiring at 55 isn’t in the cards. Neither is retiring at 60.

So, off to work I go.

The plan – whenever I get there – is five months a year scuba diving in Mexico. Whether I can achieve it is still up in the air. Might have to settle for three months or even less. How I move forward financially will determine what retirement looks like.

I did everything right, so why not?

I’ve never had a concrete retirement objective before now, but I’ve always saved for retirement. I began putting money in a retirement savings plan (RSP) at age 20. I worked as a teller at the Royal Bank of Canada and was encouraged to set up an RSP. In the beginning, I could only afford $15 a month. But, I increased the amount over time. Now, I always max out my annual RSP allowance. Always.

It’s a good thing I never believed those charts illustrating how retirement savings can compound and double-triple-whatever over future decades. For me, not even close. Hence, no Freedom 55.

I’ve got defined benefit pensions though my jobs. The kind employers are eliminating in favour of the inferior defined ‘contribution’ plans, aka company RSPs. Defined benefit plans pay you for life. The others don’t. They stop when the money runs out. I’m too young to access these. Hence, no Freedom 55.

Short of a lottery win, I’m going to have to stay put.

What now?

Focusing on the future. My money coach and I are working on my priorities and spending habits. Every purchase I make is being examined. I’m purging and selling things I no longer want. Getting rid of the stupid purchases, stupid for me, that is. Lots of people sell on eBay, so progress is very slow.

So, there you have it. I’ll keep you posted.

*Freedom 55 was a successful advertising campaign created by London Life, a Canadian financial company. my generation will remember the TV ads featuring beautiful people enjoying a glamorous retirement life. Great marketing.

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