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Reality cheques: pay and play

Jerry Heartz, who left his job with the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown after 34 years, is now content with a new working arrangement and is “having a great time.”
Jerry Heartz, who left his job with the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown after 34 years, is now content with a new working arrangement and is “having a great time.” - Terrence McEachern

Working life and retirement can co-exist in harmony

When Jerry Heartz started working at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, he thought he’d only be there for one summer. 

But like other Islanders who worked at the centre, that one summer turned into a decades-long career. 

“I grew up there,” said Heartz, who spent 34 years at the centre. “It was a fantastic place to work.”

Four years ago, Heartz took a buyout with his pension. 

Only 53 years old at the time, Heartz felt he was too young to retire. 

He got a job with a Petro-Canada in Charlottetown, and then landed his current job in motor vehicle sales at Fair Isle Ford.

Now 57, Heartz works five days a week and is “having a great time.”

It isn’t uncommon to see people continuing to work after retirement. 

“They’re just completely exhausted of it. So, some people are heading into retirement but also looking for that next lens or picture, and doing something part time and something they’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “Just do something fun – completely off the wall.”

Melanie Johannink
Melanie Johannink

Statistics Canada’s labour force survey for July shows that 3.8 per cent more people, 55 and over, were employed compared to a year earlier (July 2017), and fewer people in that age category were unemployed (2.5 per cent). 

Also, a Statistics Canada report released in July – Workers Looking for a New Job – notes 16 per cent of people 55 years and over surveyed in 2014 were unemployed and looking for a job.

Melanie Johannink, an Ontario-based advisor with Sun Life Financial, has clients that choose to work after retirement, perhaps due to boredom or because they’re young enough to keep working, as well as those that have to keep working because they don’t have enough savings to keep up with costs. 

Johannink says she sees clients who continue to work after retirement because they want to try something new. They have worked for a company for a very long time, and were frustrated with doing the same thing. 

“They’re just completely exhausted of it. So, some people are heading into retirement but also looking for that next lens or picture, and doing something part time and something they’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “Just do something fun – completely off the wall.”

When seeing clients, Johannink goes through the financial in terms of what they have for retirement and what they need. If clients are short of what they need, or if they have just enough and the cost of living goes up, then they have to find a way to fill the gap. 

Johannink says she’s seeing a lot more clients concerned about retirement in their late 40s and early 50s, which is better than someone who is 58 and could have been doing more to save for retirement, for example over the previous eight to 10 years.  

“They are very surprised because the roof replacement doesn’t go away, the car still breaks down, the refrigerator is still going to break every 10 years. Those things just don’t go away. You might still have kids that rely on you,” she explained.

The one thing she’d like to see more of is people finding the right advisor for them, to start talking about their financial situation.

“People don’t like to talk about money. And it bothers me because that is something they should be talking about because there is so much demand on the consumer pocket, that they need to get a really good compass to find out what that picture is going to look like, so there are no surprises.”

Corry Collins, a financial advisor and partner with Maritime Wealth Management in Halifax, says retirement is “likely one of the most important financial decisions people make, yet they often spend more time planning a Christmas party than planning retirement.”

He explains the company’s strategy with clients is to plan two retirement cheques – a “pay cheque” to cover the basic requirements, and a “play cheque” for the “extras they can afford.”

“It helps the budget and expectations,” Collins explained.

A trend Collins is seeing is for people to retire with a pension, and then take a less stressful, lower-paying job to top up their income.

“This has so many advantages including extra income, getting out of the rut, and access to an extended health benefit plan, if needed,” he said.

Heartz’s motivation for going back to work was more about being active and trying new things than it was for financial reasons.

In addition to the pension plan from the Confederation Centre of the Arts, Heartz is paying into a pension plan with Fair Isle Ford. 

His wife also works full time, and the couple have paid off their mortgage. 

Heartz doesn’t plan on working past 61 or 62. He has a financial advisor that is helping plan for the future and a proper retirement. In the meantime, he’s enjoying his new career in sales.

“Life is all about having fun,” he said.

terrence.mceachern@theguardian.pe.ca

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