Ready to get real about re­tire­ment?

Waterloo Region Record - - Arts & Life - CHUCK BROWN Chuck Brown can be reached at

It’s time to get real. Are you with me?

You are? Wow. That was easy. I thought you might want to know what we’re get­ting real about be­fore jump­ing on board so quickly.

It could be time to get real about get­ting in shape. Would it kill us to go for a brisk walk once in a while? Could we think about mov­ing the col­lec­tion of shirts and tow­els off the Nordic Track, dust­ing off our old Thigh Master or tak­ing up pole danc­ing?

Well, yes, these are all good ideas. Over the sum­mer I set aside a cor­ner of my base­ment and made it a home gym. I put down a rub­ber floor and set up a bench. Pound it, bruh!

I made a pledge to use it — and I do use it al­most ev­ery day. I should have been more spe­cific, though. Be­fore I did one set or even a rep, a laun­dry bas­ket ap­peared on the bench. And once a piece of gym equip­ment be­comes a laun­dry ac­ces­sory, it is tough to go back.

But I am not get­ting real about ex­er­cise this week.

What about eat­ing bet­ter? That’s a great idea. It’s 8 p.m. and I just ate a full-on left­over turkey sand­wich with but­ter and mayo and dress­ing and cran­berry sauce. I chased it down with a lit­tle more turkey, straight up, dipped in mayo. It was like a sick twist on chicken nuggets.

Maybe it’s the turkey talk­ing, but I do need more green in my life. I feel slow. If zom­bies at­tacked, I would have a hard time get­ting off the couch. I might just say, eh, what­ever. The zom­bies can have me. What are you gonna do?

But healthy eat­ing is go­ing to have to wait. I can only get real about one se­ri­ous life is­sue at a time and this week it’s re­tire­ment. Yes! I am get­ting real about re­tire­ment.

I am fi­nally feel­ing mor­tal enough to con­sider what my life will be like as an old guy, and it scares me.

I’ve taken a few runs at re­tire­ment plan­ning be­fore. In the early 2000s, I played the same lottery num­bers for years and never man­aged to re­tire. I fi­nally gave up and I have never looked at the lotto num­bers again, just in case mine come up.

An­other re­tire­ment plan is to fi­nally sell all the cards and toys and stuff that I saved from my child­hood. You al­ways see these sto­ries about a guy who sold an old base­ball card or hockey card at auc­tion and made mil­lions.

Or there are the sto­ries about an ac­tion fig­ure or comic book sell­ing for more than I could make in 10 years of work.

I have all kinds of col­lectible gems and, once in a while, I drag some of them out and search on­line to find out they are worth about half what I paid for them 30 or 40 years ago. What the heck?

This time is dif­fer­ent. This time, I’m get­ting real. I know I’m get­ting real be­cause I just met with an in­vest­ment guy. I have “a guy” now. When you have “a guy,” it means you are se­ri­ous about re­tire­ment sav­ing.

And my guy is good. I know he’s good be­cause he was wear­ing a loud suit. It was a bright blue colour with a checked pat­tern, and it looked two sizes too small. It’s a se­ri­ous in­vest­ment-guy suit.

When we met, he ex­plained a lot about in­vest­ments and he was all like, “Mu­tual funds, GICs, Tax-Free Sav­ings, RRSPs, growth, bal­ance, pre­mium, di­ver­si­fied, al­lo­ca­tions, stocks and bonds.”

He knew all the words and I was like, nod and try to look like you un­der­stand some­thing.

The only time I felt even a lit­tle smart was when he showed me a list that was some sort of “fund,” and it showed some of the com­pa­nies that are in this fund and one of them was Etsy, and in my head, I was like, “I know that one! Buy, buy, buy!”

I don’t have any bet­ter sense of when I might be able to re­tire and whether, when I do re­tire, I will be able to af­ford lux­u­ries like meat. But this was a first step. Get­ting real with in­vest­ments and cap­i­tal gains and div­i­dend pay­ments, and all that other stuff that I don’t un­der­stand, will take some time.

I’ll get it sorted out. I’m get­ting real. And I al­ready have suits that are too small.

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