Unrealized dream: Freedom 55 retirement

Vancouver Stanley Park water and mountains
A slow journey to late retirement!

I’ve enjoyed reading the Facebook comments from those of you in my age group who recall the Freedom 55 (retirement) TV ad campaign. That so many remember it, long after the ads have stopped running, is remarkable. It certainly left an imprint on Canadians of a certain age.

London Life was selling a dream. They never guaranteed any of us would achieve Freedom 55. Still, it was nice to dream.

I’ve always been employed with a decent salary, but never been in the income bracket that would deliver on the age 55 retirement promise. It dawned on me the Freedom 55-ers depicted in the TV ads were CEOs, the medical-dental-legal professionals and the like. The high income earners. Folks that could afford cosmetic surgery, sailboats and cottages.

Not me.

It’s not delusional to be in your 20s and 30s and imagine yourself as a high earner someday. Be the person who’s spectacularly successful and can afford to retire at 55. It isn’t until years later that it finally occurs to you the brass ring isn’t within your reach. And, never will be.

Did I ever really believe Freedom 55 was possible? Nope. I’ve always seen age 65 as the earliest and only if the dollars were there. My mother worked until age 65 and would’ve continued had the laws of the land, at the time, allowed it. As a pension expert I know once said, “it’s not about the age you want to leave work. It’s about the income you want to leave with.”

The reality is this. There will be no Freedom 55 for many of us. Or 60 or 65. Our retirement savings and pensions just won’t cover our needs, with a few modest wants thrown in.

My plan, in the coming years, is to give careful consideration to how I spend. To enjoy life now with a focus on experiences (not things), but not at the expense of my retirement.

I’ll keep you posted on my journey. In the meantime, my purging for retirement campaign is going badly! Time to add a few more items and hope someone bites.


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