Friday, June 18, 2010

Reflections on Retirement

old-man-1-1000x1500 father-time

Our Pension Plan is very rich and everyone’s retirement is guaranteed no matter what happens to the company. The fund is not controlled by or held by Telus but is controlled by elected Union Trustees and appointed Company Trustees. Retirement age is determined with a a formula allowing retirement when you reach age 55 with a minimum of 25 years service. Sort of an “80” formula. This was all gained by decades of successful bargaining and lots of work convincing our members to have part of negotiated increases put into the Pension Plan instead of pay raises in their pockets. I took advantage of this on the day before my 55th birthday with 34 years service and retired with about 75% of my exit wages. There have been a couple of small increases since then to try to keep up with inflation.

Our Union put on seminars for everyone as they approached the “magic age”. There are about twenty choices you have to make when you retire determining if you get more now and less later when the Government pensions cut in. You also have to declare what percentage you leave your spouse. All this controls what your pension cheque will be. It is all a little overwhelming to face these decisions at the same time as all the other life changing things are happening. It is important to get good advice and these seminars are valuable as one step in this process.

At the end of the two day seminar they asked the question: “What do you most fear about retirement”? Most people chose “money problems”, a couple of single people chose “loneliness” but one fellow I worked with was the only one in the room to choose “boredom”. I can understand the first two concerns but boredom? Man, that is the last thing that concerned me! Actually I found it impossible to answer this question. I had thought it out and planned to the point that I had answered all these concerns myself. I had my finances in order, the house was paid for and I had a sizeable “rainy day fund” hidden away. I knew I was going to be doing lots of travel and splitting my time between Canada and a warm climate. I had paid cash for our “starter” motorhome.

If I had a concern it was the fact that this would be the first time I would be spending extensive periods of time with my wife. All through my career with the phone company, I travelled extensively and was seldom around during the week. Norma was the same with her job working for the local Member of Parliament and her work with the New Democratic party. These jobs kept her away as much as me and our only real time together was during vacations. When we moved to Vancouver Island, my job was in Campbell River and hers was hundreds of miles away in Vancouver and then Victoria. We only saw each other on weekends, and not all of them. This was going to be a great lifestyle change for both of us!

That was ten years ago and we are both still alive so it worked out. The “rainy day fund” is still waiting for some rain although it took one hit when Norma needed extensive dental work and another when we dipped into it to buy the new motorhome. All in all my decision over which of the twenty some pension choices to take is proving to be smart. I got a raise at 60 when I took the Canada Pension Plan payments early and then another raise at 65 when the Old Age Pension started. Our income is enough to live and travel on and the fund is building itself up again. Life is good.


  1. Years ago I had a friend who travelled all the time as a salesman. Finally he got 2 weeks off and he and his wife drove from Chicago to Texas for a vacation. After two days so close together they couldn't stand it, so he put her on a plane and drove the rest of the way alone.

  2. The number of choices the pension plan now gives you is up to 28. Ask me how I know :)
    Rod W