These comments, suggestions and shared wisdom about retirement planning and living were gathered from active members and retired members who were kind enough to complete our online questionnaire.
“Be sure to visit the dentist regularly. Teeth are meant to last a lifetime and nothing would be more challenging than tackling a good steak with dentures!” retired member and former senior manager, 73
“Eat healthy, exercise and find a compatible companionship that will share some of your interests. Friends are an important part of fulfilling retirement and don't depend on the younger generation to fulfil your needs.” Peggy, retired member and former Public Health Nurse.
“Know your body and take care of it. If anything seems not right – see you health care provider as soon as possible. Don't panic, but don't put it off either. Just be active. Don't sit around and think about things too long.” Sharon, 66, retired member and former HR Officer.
"If you need to lose weight, do so. Get into a regular exercise regime. Local community associations have all sorts of programs, use them!" Mary, 61, retired member and former School Administration Assistant
"Have an annual physical. Be knowledgeable about your own body and ask questions." Patricia, 74, retired member and former Committee Secretary
"Annual check-ups at your doctor, exercise and healthy foods." Leo, 62, retired member and former Chief Design Engineer
"Keep going to your grandchildren's and play with them – they will keep you young. Do not sleep too long each day. Take part in every activity you get invited to as long as you can." Ernie, 59, retired member and former Bus Operator
"Take responsibility for your own health and wellness. It's better – and easier – to keep and enhance the level of wellness you currently have rather than wait until you are diagnosed with an illness and try to recover. Prevention is the key to optimal health and longevity." Wayne, 51, retired member and former Engineering Technologist
"Be aware of your [insurance] coverage; look for charge cards that provide travel and health insurance." Philip, 60, retired member and former Chaplain
"Be afraid of becoming a ‘retired couch potato.' Have decisive goals for keeping physically active, perhaps even more so since more time is now available." Richard, 53, retired member and former Director of Administration
"Don't ever say ‘I wish I had . . .' In other words, don't go there. Keep a healthy lookout for the moment – all the time. Good mental health and a happy lookout are needed to enjoy retirement and life." Jean, 57, retired member and former Manager
“Never take money out of OMERS, other than as a pension. If you quit a municipal job, become “deferred”. That way, your employer's contributions will continue to benefit you and not just the overall fund.” David, 65, retired member and former director
“Set up a budget for your monthly household expenses, and another for your monthly personal expenses.” Bruce, 55, retired member and former Constable
“Get out of debt and stay out of debt. Be realistic about what you can afford once you retire. Do [your] research and don't rely on hearsay. Saying you want to travel upon retirement is realistic, if you know the exact costs involved.” Donna, 50, Police Officer.
“Putting as much money as possible, regardless of the amount, into an RRSP, and leave it there.” Gordon, 68, retired member and former Supervisor.
"Pay off your mortgage as soon as possible. Live within your means and don't use credit." Phil, 45, Police Officer
"Use spousal RRSPs to reduce your tax hit now and increase your spouse's retirement income. Also check with CPP about the Child Rearing Drop-Out Provision, it could increase your spouse's CPP entitlement." Earl, 54, retired Police Sargeant
"Don't forget the taxman will be waiting for his cut." Ev, 70, retired member
"Start early in your preparation, then keep learning and updating your plans and records. Pick a good financial planner who meets your own (family) needs. Include your spouse/partner/dependent in your ‘learning' about your financial situation. Your ‘partner' will be living with you during retirement and maybe even after, so they need to know all about your pension benefits, especially Survivor Benefits from OMERS, CPP, OAS, etc. You should also remember about estate planning and making a will, and both powers of attorney (for your finances and health care decisions (a living will). Remember that the "R" in RRSP means ‘Retirement' and that the money, which was so hard to save – the time has now come to use and enjoy. . . (albeit wisely...but use it...you may not be able to use it tomorrow for any number of reasons)." David, 63, retired School Custodian
"Have a professional financial planner go over your plans. PICK ONE WHO HAS NOTHING TO SELL! Some planners work for investment companies and their advice is usually tailored to getting a chunk of your money." Will, 50, retired Police Officer
"Live on what you would receive from your pension for one or two years before retirement. Invest the residual by having it automatically go in an RRSP or other savings plan. This will take away the concern of having enough to live on or not." Ron, 57, retired Firefighter
“Downsize as you get older, and [only] purchase what you require for your lifestyle.” Nanette, 61, Caise Aide
“Do things you can afford to do but don't scrimp. Enjoy retirement. Believe me, it's great.” John, 62, retired member and former lineman for hydro
“Act early – travel when you are healthy and plan to do what you are really passionate about.” Sue, 53, retired member and former Firefighter.
“Take it slowly. Don't jump right into buying that big RV to go south for the winter. Be sure that what you want, you really like in the long haul.” Jim, 72, retired member and former Assistant Superintendent.
"Try a lot of activities, curling, working out, travelling and just enjoying your retirement. Take on little part time jobs, do whatever makes you happy." Earl, 54, retired Police Sargeant
"Prepare for the huge change in lifestyle once you are lucky enough to retire, don't be caught off guard. Find other interests to make your brain ready, don't get caught in the trench of the 'job is my life.' Spend more time with your family and let them know your thoughts as you approach that lucky day when you can say goodbye to work." William, 46, Police Constable
"Keep fit, keep in touch with family, stay involved with old friends and make new ones." Mags, 62, retired member and former Police Officer
"Take at least a year after retiring and rediscover yourself, family and friends and try to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life." Barry, 56, retired member and former Manager
"Leave work while you still like it. [It's] harder to do, but important in later years to have fond memories about your co-workers and workplace." Brian, 58, retired member and former Police Superintendent
"Get real with yourself. Know what kind of person you are. Talk to your partner and your friends and your doctor. Really try to get an honest picture of your lifestyle. This will help you to figure out if you can afford to retire and if you could be happy without the routine that employment imposes on your life. Think about all the things you really like about working, and all the things you like about being at home. Then think about the things you don't like in either place. How do you handle your free time? What hobbies have you developed over the years? What interests do you have? How would you incorporate them into your life if you were retired?" Ruth, 58, retired member and former Early Childhood Educator
"Be aware that retirement means redefining much of who you are. Learn to define yourself in ways other than by your employment skills, training or status. If you weren't working for your employer, who would you be? Also, plan to join clubs, volunteer your time or take part in other activities to provide social interaction outside your home." Wayne, 51, retired member and former Engineering Technologist
“My spouse is the same age as me. That means we'll retire together. With somewhat different interests, we challenge one another to join respective interests, and don't get too disappointed if it doesn't work out.” William, 63, retired member and former mechanic
“We sat down with our financial planner over the years to plan our future goals and objectives for when we retire.” Margaret, 52, Public Health Nurse
“My spouse and I are relatively [the] same age; we have set goals to ensure household items and repairs of the house will be done before retirement. [Also, we've arranged] that other registered and non-registered financial goals per year are being met.” Loretta, 49, Social Services.
“My wife decided to join me. We plan to travel to Europe at least once each year and take day trips or whatever meets our desire.” Ed, 62, retired member and former Waste Management Coordinator.
"My husband also has a company pension and is contributing to RRSPs. We are both looking forward to our retirement and have been making a list of things we want to do for several years now. Our children encourage us to go for it!" Deb, 55, Supervisor
"My spouse was very involved in our planning and continues to work part time. Her wages supplement our income and help provide us with a comfortable lifestyle. In some ways there is a little role reversal - I prepare meals for when she returns from work." Steve, 49, retired Police Officer
"My wife was fully involved in the planning of my retirement, and the investments I made prior too." Earl, 54, retired Police Sargeant
"They supported me through the whole process. My retirement was a family matter." Irwin, 56, former Chief Administration Officer
"Every step of the way. In fact, he actually paved the way by retiring two years before me. It gave him a chance to get involved in the community and outside the house. When I retired we were not constantly in each other's way." Mary, 61, retired member and former School Administration Assistant
"My spouse retired a year ahead of me and developed her own interests and routines." John, 59, retired member and former Technician
"We talked about it to be sure we were on the same wavelength." Ted, 61, retired member and former Police Officer
“Being wise with my money, maintaining friendships, and staying as active as I can.” Elizabeth, 62, retired member and former Manager.
“I attended the OMERS retirement seminars and meet with my financial planner.” Tom, 62, retired member and former Reference Librarian.
“Obtaining employment in an organization that offers a solid pension plan.” Gordon, 68, retired member and former Supervisor.
“Planning where I wanted to live. I bought a condo in Collingwood and got to know the people and community before I moved in.” Peggy, retired member and former Public Health Nurse.
"Increased my mortgage payments in order to have it retire with me." Virginia, 52, Caseworker
"Besides contributing to OMERS, I am contributing to RRSPs and paying off all my debts." Deb, 55, Supervisor
"My husband retired two years earlier so that we both were not adjusting at the same time." Mary, 61, retired member and former School Administration Assistant
I knew what my pension income would be from all sources and benefits I was entitled to from my employer as an early retiree." Cora, 61, Supervisor
"I began to think things out five and eight years in advance, and did not expect OMERS to be my only funding. Plan ahead!" Ernie, 59, retired member and former Bus Operator
"I purchased past service to add to my pension." Georgie, 62, retired member and former Personnel Officer
"I contributed to my RRSP as early as possible in each current year and to my maximum." Jean, 57, retired member and former Manager
“When you feel in your heart that it's time to retire, take your pension – don't put it off. If you do, you will become unhappy, affect your co-workers and be counterproductive.” Joseph, 59, retired member and former Community Services Officer
“Embrace it and don't look back.” Stan, 66, retired member and former Chief Mechanic
“Retire while [you're] on a high note. Enjoy and appreciate the freedom of each day and what each day has to offer.” Lois, 68, retired member and former School Secretary.
“Realize you do not need the same amount of income that you need when [you're] working.” Ed, 62, retired member and former Waste Management Coordinator.
"Retire debt free and try living on what you expect your retirement income to be for about a year before retiring." Deb, 55, Supervisor
"Plan, prepare and find other interests other than your work. Plan for, before and after retirement. Prepare yourself emotionally for the proposed date." George, 61, retired member and former Platoon Chief Fire Fighter
"Sometimes it is best that a husband and wife not both retire at the same time. Take turns adjusting and developing own interests and activities." Barry, 62, retired member and former Firefighter
"Don't quit your job unless you have some concrete plans for what you will do with your time." Lisa, 52, retired member and former Administrative Assistant
"Make sure you continue to be active. It is important to have activities (volunteer, sports, clubs, consulting, etc.) to keep you active and busy." Gary, 56, retired member and former School Superintendent
"Take your time and think each [retirement] step through. Don't be rushed. It's a big step in your life." Will, 50, retired member and former Police Officer
"Set clear goals for the lifestyle you want to enjoy. Establish a retirement budget early." David, 63, retired member and former School Custodian
“How busy I would be doing the things I always wanted to do, but never had the time for.” Jim, 72, retired member and former Assistant Supervisor.
“About the reduction in pensions for leaving before the right age. Also, wish I had known that the leaving allowances would more than double the year after I retired.” Gordon, 69, retired member and former Supervisor.
“More about financial planning.” Faye, 58, retired member and former Secretary.
"How much fun it is to be retired, sooner." Irwin, 56, retired Chief Administrative Officer
"The extent of the impact it [retirement] would have on my spouse." Wayne, 51, retired member and former Engineering Technologist
"Impacts of no longer being part of the working world." Richard, 53, retired member and former Director of Administration
"What to do with lump sum payments received from my company; I should have rolled it into an RRSP to avoid tax payment." Robert, 54, retired member and former Police Officer
"How to prepare mentally for retirement. You simply cannot spend the way you did when you were making a full salary, and there is definitely mental preparation for this." Mary, 59, retired member and former Head Secretary
"[The] opportunity to remain in my employer's Health Insurance Plan as a retiree. I did not receive this information until six months after I retired. [However], it was necessary to join within 60 days of retirement." Marilyn, 64, retired member and former Secretary
"When we were young and poor, I cashed in five years worth of service when changing positions to purchase a car for the next job. The value after taxes came to about half the price of a compact car. In buying back the past service 15 years later, it is costing approximately 12 times that amount and making a huge dent in our current finances. I wish I knew then what I know now." George, 50, active member
“How you want to fill your days. What will you do to occupy your time?” Christine, 58, HR Director.
“If you are both healthy and are able to retire with financial comfort, I strongly suggest [doing] so. Life is amazing in retirement.” Peter, 62, retired member and former Firefighter.
“Medical coverage after age 65.” Gary, 64, retired member and former Police Constable.
“Self-learning – we can only take responsibility for our own retirements and the quality of life we wish to live. It takes little time to attend free seminars or pick up a book on retirement.” Loretta, 49, Social Services.
"Where you want to be living...what kind of lifestyle...travelling, camping, Florida, etc. You need to know what you expect of retirement and how you are going to pay for it." Patricia, 74, retired member and committee Secretary
"Early retirement if at all possible. Enjoy it as long as you possibly can." Mary, 61, retired member and former School Administration Assistant
"All members should make the effort to know and understand their pension plan benefits as well as what else is available to them." David, 63, retired member and former School Custodian
"Unless you're single, you'd better remember that what you might be planning for your retirement might not be what your partner will want to do. Talk extensively with your partner so that you won't be disappointed when you find out that going to Timbuktu isn't his or her cup of tea." Ruth, 58, retired member and former Early Childhood Educator
"Attend Financial Planning seminars, including preparation for [your] actual lifestyle as a pensioner." Richard, 53, retired member and former Director of Administration
"[Understand] how the CPP deduction will affect [you] when [you] reach 65." Yvonne, 61, retired member
“The OMERS pension has allowed my wife and me to live in relative comfort. Every month, I thank the people at OMERS for all they have done and continue to do. Knowing that my wife will have a pension if something were to happen to me is very comforting. Thanks again, I will be indebted to you for the remainder of my life.” David, retired member
“Providing pension estimates. It's a starting point for our plans.” Donna, 50, Police Officer.
“Preparing for my retirement. OMERS sent me all the information I needed before I retired.” Wayne, 65, retired member and former Custodian.
"Peace of mind, the confidence in knowing that my pension cheque will always be there and not be eaten away by inflation." Steve, 49, retired Police Officer
"Attended a retirement seminar going over all aspects of retirement. Showing me that it is not going to be a financial nightmare as I thought." Mark, 52, Financial Officer
"Pre-retirement seminars. I attended more than once, more information sunk in as the date of my retirement came nearer." Cora, 61
"The pension quotations (3 at least) which made my decision easier to take the early retirement package." Barry, 56, retired member and former Manager
"An estimate of what I would receive per month upon retirement." Ruth, 58, retired member and former Early Childhood Educator
"My past service purchase. Staff at OMERS were great in helping me." Georgie, 62, retired member and former Personnel Officer
"Providing useful information on my options and ultimately applying for my pension." Richard, 53, retired member and former Director of Administration
"Estimating what my pension would be with the ‘Estimator' [OMERS online pension estimating tool]." Bill, 55, Police Staff Sergeant
“I take oil painting lessons. Continued learning is important to stimulate your brain after retiring.” Barb, retired member
“My wife and I have taken up boating. We took a CPS (Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons) course over 16 weeks. Besides the knowledge gained, we both enjoyed the mental challenge.” Rick, 55, retired member and former police officer
“I've taken art courses – something as an ex-soldier, policeman, and firefighter, I thought I would never be interested in. I meet so many people through these activities, I often say ‘Where did I find the time before?'”. Paul, retired member and former firefighter
“I took up playing the guitar. It's great for the memory and keeping your fingers nimble.” Gary, 59, retired member and former police sergeant
“I went back to university to earn a Master of Theology degree.” Jim, 73, retired member and former Assistant Superintendent
“We started a home business for the challenge and to keep up our technical skills. Now it is making money and offsets our regular expenses.” Ed, 63, retired member and former waste management coordinator
"I did not stop, merely changed direction and it was my observation that my colleagues who kept busy, lived longer." John
"Needed the money and was not ready to retire." Robert
"Part of my early retirement plan." Wayne
"For financial reasons and an interest in my old job." Ingrid
"Getting back to work, doing something different but something that I really like. I was fortunate to find two part time jobs that keep me hopping and interested." Ron, 59
“A little extra pocket money is always welcome, but only short-term temporary work that way it doesn't interfere with fun times.” Lois, 68, retired member and former School Secretary.
“I was so used to working, I was getting depressed. Working part-time is great for your mental health and your pocket book.” Faye, 58, retired member and former Secretary.
“Going back to school! I want to take course that will interest me and keep my mind active.” Christine, 58, HR Director.
“Living in a warmer climate, perhaps Florida.” Sabine, 62.
“International travel, photography, writing, investment property, cooking and learning.” Guy, 55, retired member and former Police Sergeant.
"Living in several different provinces so I can get to know the people and places across the country." Deb, 55, Supervisor
"Being ok financially so my life does not change too much, so I can still golf and enjoy my life." Mark, 52, Financial Officer
"Maintain a regular exercise routine, register in general interest courses that I wasn't able to do when I was working, have time to relax whenever I want to, volunteer my time to a children's organization." Cora, 61
"Contributing my time to things I care about without having to worry about making money." Margaret, 54, Librarian
"Going south for at least three months a year to play golf." John, 50, Foreman
"Remaining healthy and not having any major financial concerns . . . and then there's my boat!" Iain, 54, Manager
"Enjoying all my hard work by using my time in more volunteer work, continuing to enjoy my life with my husband, watching my grandchild grow." Gail, 59, Administrative Assistant
“Always ask for senior discounts. Do house swaps for vacations. Get rid of your SUV. Walk or bike to appointments – you're no longer in a hurry.” David, 65, retired member and former director
“I do rigorous budget and expense tracking using an Excel spreadsheet. I set aside monthly funds for large annual expenditures, so the money is available when I need it. I also set a sum aside each month for unexpected items. Through tracking I am able to make sure we spend within our means.” Gary, 64, retired member and former superintendent of business
“Don't use credit cards if you know you are not going to have the money in the bank to pay up at the end of the month. If you cannot control your spending via credit cards, cut them up!” Jean, 79, retired member and former nurse
“Consider retirement as the end of one chapter and the awesome start to chapter two.” Dave, 56, retired member and former police sergeant
“Life is short. You don't realize it until you reach your 60s and see people you grew up with or worked with pass away. It hits you that you may only have 20 or 30 years left.” Sharon, 66, retired member and former HR Officer.
“Give yourself permission to do whatever you want, even if it's doing nothing.” Dorothy, 64, retired member and former Administrative Assistant.
“[It's important that] you maintain a positive attitude. [Retirement] is just another phase [where] you'll have more time to do the things you enjoy.” Sandra, 63, retired member and former Public Health Nurse.
“Don't rush into too many commitments too soon. Sit back and relax. The first year for me was the hardest as I had gone to work everyday for forty-one years, but after that, I became more aware of how I wanted to spend my time.” Sharon, 66, retired member and former HR Officer.
"You don't really realize how much stress and pressure you were under while you were at work until you've left. I think that it is important to realize that your retirement is something you've earned and wasn't simply given to you. You don't have to feel guilty when someone asks you what you do since you've retired. I'm busy every day and yet I do nothing. It's amazing how fast time flies by. The worst day being retired is better than the best day at work." Steve, 49, retired Police Officer
"You should think of retirement as a reward, an extended, well-earned vacation." Sara, 56
"Enjoy [retirement]. Learn about your options and how others have made a successful transition. There is no need to re-invent the wheel or repeat the same mistakes." David, 63, retired member and former School Custodian
"Learning remains a LIFELONG pursuit . . . A sense of humour and a positive outlook aren't retired after you leave the active workforce. Keep smiling. Enjoy." Bern, 69, retired member and former Electronic Maintenance Worker
"It is time to be very busy at the things you like to do. Don't use the excuse that you don't have enough money, etc. There is a way to do a lot of things without having a lot of money. It is time to be creative." Ruth, 58, retired member and former Early Childhood Educator
"It is a wonderful feeling to not have to work, and still have a cheque coming in." Yvonne, 61, retired member
“Cooking! I do almost all of the cooking in our house and I thoroughly enjoy it.” Gary, 65, retired member and former Police Constable.
“Being in control of my time and not having to commute in bad weather or heavy traffic.” Ed, 62, retired member and former Waste Management Coordinator.
“The freedom, time to learn something new, and the cheque at the beginning of the month makes me smile.” Lois, 68, retired member and former School Secretary.
“Being able to get outdoors in good weather, and sleeping as long as I like.” Robert, 61, retired member and former Statistical Clerk.
“My work in the charity field. I volunteer to assist an organization who's mission is to support people who are mentally challenged.” Jim, 72, retired member and former Assistant Superintendent.
"I enjoy sewing and have taken courses to learn quilt making. I bowl and have tried to take up golf. I am learning to play bridge. I do a bit of balcony gardening and go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. I would love to travel more, but because of the single supplement, I find it expensive." Thelma
"My life with a routine, sleeping all night, no night shifts, no phone calls. Meals at the proper time. Being able to attend family functions instead of work." Earl, 54, retired member and former police sergeant
"All the things I enjoy before but at a more leisurely pace. I can enjoy activities on weekdays when [it's] less crowded and be more selective about the weather in which I enjoy outdoor activities." Babs, 66, retired member and former Secretary
"The freedom to do what I really enjoy and to have the ability to opt out or not be involved in activities that are either too stressful or unrewarding." David, 63, retired member and former School Custodian
"That nothing I do is predicated on having to go to work." Brian, 58, retired member and former Police Superintendent
"Being able to shop, golf and travel during the week when it is not busy. Avoiding the weekend madness is fantastic." Gary, 56, retired member and former School Superintendent
"Travelling and devoting my time to my hobbies, which are music and photography." Leo, 62, retired member and former Chief Design Engineer