Big thanks to TD for sponsoring this post and giving me the kick in the butt to start thinking about retirement that I needed.
I’m going to be completely honest. As a work-from-home, self-employed mother, planning for my retirement is the last thing on my mind. I’m not ready to retire at all! I worry about making mortgage payments, paying the kids’ camp fees, planning family vacations and managing my taxes instead. I know I’m not alone.
But retirement should be on our minds. Because we could very well be the most ill-prepared generation ever.
Okay, so maybe not ever.
But I do see a lot of families that look like mine. We’re taking work-life balance into our own hands by opting out of a traditional dual full-time income situation. You know what I mean. We’ve quit our regular jobs in order to start our own businesses or to take on freelance or contract gigs and be able to work from home. This gives us the freedom to be there for school pickups, sick days and school holidays. We make our own schedules and figure out how to juggle work and family responsibilities in a way that makes the most sense for us.
I had been working a lower-rung job for a big telecommunications company when I had my first baby. I took my one-year maternity leave, mulled over the prospect of a long commute and longer work day, crunched some numbers, and decided to stay home for a few more months. My husband’s salary and benefits could (just barely) support us in the short term. When my son was about 18-months old I naively wheeled his stroller into a posh local daycare and wondered about their part-time rates. I thought I’d like to start working again, maybe three days a week. They laughed me out of the building. Part-time? They didn’t even offer that. Besides, there was a two-year wait list for full-time spots and the rates would cost me nearly all of my salary.
So I wound up picking up a couple evening and weekend shifts at a busy downtown restaurant instead, and found a daycare spot for my son just in time for me to clock enough employment hours working for a temp agency to take my second maternity leave. There I was, at home with a toddler and a newborn, my meager mat leave payments a ticking time bomb pressuring me to figure out some way to make it all work. Restaurant shift work and temp gigs were increasingly more difficult to arrange and, what’s more, they weren’t getting me anywhere.
So I started writing. I mean, I’ve always been writing, for as long as I can remember. But I had published a few freelance articles before I had kids, so I thought if I could make just enough money to make ends meet, I could have the best of both worlds. I started blogging, pitching story ideas, networking, and found just enough income to make it work. We bought a house and had a third baby. I worked harder, earned more, and had somehow — against all odds — carved out a career path for myself.
My early work-from-home days.
Not once did I seriously consider opening up an RRSP. I didn’t even consider how to be ready to retire at all.
This is how we do it. We hit pause on retirement savings while we’re coping with diapers and daycare. (We actually use our retirement savings as down payments on a house, don’t we?) But then daycare fees turn into hockey tournaments and summer camps and university applications, and we’ve forgotten to plan for our own futures at all.
It’s now been over a decade since I’ve had a job that paid into any sort of retirement plan, not even the Canadian Pension Plan. My husband does have a job with all the good perks: dental benefits, a drug plan, and a pension. But is that enough? What if something happens? What about me?
The good news is that it’s not too late. Even if you’re ten or 15 years older than me, it’s still not too late. With the right strategies, you can prepare for the retirement you want even just 15 years before retiring. Of course, what we want to do with our retirement is just as different as what we did before we got there. Do you dream of escaping from the city and settling down somewhere quiet? I know I want to be able to travel as much as possible.
The first step for me (and you, too, I hope) is to sit down with a TD advisor for a free TD goals-based assessment. They will listen to what is most important to me, and look beyond the numbers to figure out how to make that happen. You can even get started by going over your retirement goals with a TD advisor over the phone.
And when I really stop to think about it, being prepared for my retirement will be a gift for my children down the road anyway.
Disclosure: This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and TD #RetireReady sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.