Chapter Six
Changing Roads

 

Chapters - Click on the numbers ===>

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3

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5

6

7

 

January 3rd, 2016 - I was reminded by Albert Allen, probably to only guy to read these pages, that I hadn't updated my Road to 50 pages in a while. He was right and I realized that I started writing these chapters on the train going to work at the time that I was pondering turning 50 in January 2006. Exactly 10 years ago, turning 50 was less than 5 months away. I had just started doing annual checkups at a doctor that I just seen for the first time. I was scheduled for my first colonoscopy, albeit 9 months away.

Now it's 10 years later, and I can hardly believe it. To road to 50 is now the road to 60 and it's approaching fast. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge. I have been retired for 6 years and 3 days but who's counting. I read some of the things I wrote 10 years ago in these chapters and a lot has changed but somehow a lot is the same. I complained about being out of shape for hockey. Now I play 2 to 4 times a week and I am in the same shape as 10 years ago which is bad because I am playing close to 100 games a year. The good thing is that my golf game is improving with my best season ever in 2015 with an average score of 80.7 and my best game ever at 3 under par. I hope I can say this again in 10 more years.

Although it's 10 years on, on most days, I don't feel that much older than I did back in 2006. The one consistent thing is that time seems to be going by a lot faster. During this particular holiday season, the days went by in a flurry. I am not sure what caused it this year but Christmas and New Years Day felt like they were a couple of days apart. It seems we just put up the Christmas tree and we will be taking down soon. I personally like to leave until the day after Epiphany. For you less than Catholic folks, that is January 6 and it's the day that the 3 wise men brought gifts to baby Jesus. Hey, I don't write these things, I just report them. The wise men are Kings and on that day also called Little Christmas, my mother used to bake a cake with a pea in it. If you got the pea in your piece, you were king for the day. I got the pea, once in my life when I was around 4 or 5 and I still remember how I felt that day. That's why, the tree doesn't go down before the 7th, unless it comes down by itself but that another story. The picture on the right, is probably from 1961. That's the year that I was king and my late brother George probably had to pass it on to me because he still; has his crown from the year before.

All that to say that back then, Christmas used to take an eternity to come. Now, it comes and goes in a blink. What's happening? I hope it's only because we didn't have snow this year.

If you read any of the previous chapters, which I just did to remember what I was thinking back then, you will see that I was trying to learn something new every day. I think I have done that but the only problem is I don't remember most of the things I learn. I have always had a terrible memory with names but it's getting really bad now. My problem, is that if I meet someone new, I sometimes assign them a name before I find out their real name. After that, the original name stays in my mind. I am also having a hard time remember the names of places we have visited. That one, I am attributing to the fact that we have been to many foreign places in the past 10 years and some of the names are hard to read never mind remember. As we travel while we can in the next few years, this will only get worse.

The other thing I realized after reading what I wrote in January 2006 was the fact that my previous colonoscopy was in September 2006. Back then, I was supposed to get another one in 5 years because of our family's history. My brother George (in the picture with me), 15 years my elder, passed away from colon cancer at a much too young age of 57. I should have been more vigilant in following the 5 year cycle but I kept putting it off until two months ago which was over 9 years. I passed with flying colours and was told to have another in 6 years. I am happy that no one will be probing me from behind until I collect my federal pension, God willing.

One thing I have given up in writing these chapters, are the road signs that used to say that I was on a detour. If I have any style of writing at all, it is much like my verbal communication. Many tangents to the point that I forget where I was going. It's annoying both in person and in print but what can I say?

January 19, 2016 - 4 months to being sexagenarian. I started writing this page on January 3rd but had to stop because it was getting very late. Now I realize that more than 2 weeks have passed and time hasn't really slowed down that much. There are other things that I have realized in the past 2 weeks. For one, we are planning a trip to Newfoundland this summer for a family reunion (Myrna's family). It will be my 6th visit to the 'rock' and the first one driving instead or flying there. As I was planning the places to stay and looking at prices for the ferries back and forth, I realized that many places offer a senior citizen rate. Hotels consider 60 to get a senior discount, so we will save a few dollars on some accommodations. The ferry to NL says 65+ is considered for the senior rate so we are out of luck there.

The other perk of turning 60 is the possibility of collecting the Quebec pension. In the last couple of years however, the rules have changed a bit and the penalty for asking for it at 60 are higher. It used to be that every year you claimed before 65 would reduce the amount by 6%. In other words, taking your Quebec pension at 60, you would get 70% of the amount you would get at 65, at 61 it was 76%  and so on. If you actually waited past 65 you would increase the amount by 6% every year until 70 where you were forced to claim it. Now, at 60 you get 64%, at 61 you get 72% and only at 62 does it come back to the way it was. The government is trying to get people to delay taking the money as they want you to die so they don't have to pay anything. When I took some preretirement courses years ago, most instructors were saying to take it as soon as you qualified as the break even point was around 76 years old. With the new rules, the break even point is earlier. By breaking point, I mean the number years it will take to catch up on the money that would have already paid out to you. The chart below is from the QPP website:

(Without considering indexing) Using the chart above, if you only start taking QPP payments at 62, it means that you could have received $13,084 had you started at 60. Although, you will be taking in $1,383 more every year from 62, it means that it will take you 9.5 years to recover that amount. That makes the break even 71 and half year old. Waiting until 65 would that you would have missed out on $32,710 meaning it would take 9.45 years which means you would be 74.5 years old to break even. Waiting until 70, it would take 8.54 years meaning the break even age is now 78.5.

It's obvious that the government wants you to delay collecting this money as if you are no longer around to collect it, they save a lot of money. It's a very personal decision on when to collect from the provincial pension plans. I am still debating on when to take it but I am reminded of the old saying: A bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush.

Planning for retirement is not an easy process. The one factor that can affect all your calculations is how long you will be retired. In other words, if we knew when the end was we could easy calculate how much to plan for. It's like trying to figure out how much money you need for a vacation without knowing when you are coming back home.

I will keep updating this senior blog periodically. Of course, if the past is any indication of how often I will come back to update these pages, I may be a 'real' senior citizen by then. Take care.....to be continued