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Living Single in Retirement: A Planning Guide



Lifestyle planning in retirement may be a bit easier when there is only one of you. It’s very simple to create a bucket list for exactly what you’d like to do during retirement. There are no arguments if you decide that travel just isn’t for you – or if travel means a month in Italy or six months in a Winnebago. Although decision making when living single in retirement is easier, financing it without a partner may be a bit more of a challenge. It’s a different retirement planning strategy.

Fixed or Basic Expenses

Whether single or coupled, we all have pretty much the same fixed or basic expenses in our working years and in retirement-mortgage/rent, utilities, insurance, taxes, food, personal hygiene and other debt repayment.

When you have that constant pay cheque coming in presumably we have learned to keep these essential costs within our means. As you creep closer to your retirement years, we should be aiming to reduce or eliminate some of these fixed costs (such as our mortgage and other debt repayments).

By the time you hit whatever ever age you decide to call “retirement” you should have reduced your overhead sufficiently enough to be fully covered by our incoming pension income (assuming you have some of course!). Whatever shortfall there is, your savings will have to cover. This is all a heck of a lot easier to finance if there are two of you versus one!

When there are two of you, there may well have been many years of dual income which also might mean there are dual streams of future pension income. If this is the case, you may be able to continue to sufficiently cover your basic fixed expenses in retirement without too much costs cutting or downsizing.

Even if there is only one source of incoming company pension income there still may be dual government pension income (twice the CPP & OAS). Some reduction in overhead will be a must but you might still be able to cover your fixed expenses

Living Single in Retirement

However, if there is only one of you then having a company pension is extremely important. If you qualified for the highest level of pension income from the Government plans, this may only bring you in around $1,400 a month before taxes.

Unless your basic costs are under about $1,100 a month you might be in financial trouble if you have no savings or other sources of income. You may qualify for a Government supplement for being a low income earner but that still doesn’t add too much to the overall picture.

Building a nest egg is much easier if there is dual income coming in. Particularly, in your mid to late empty nesting, mortgage free 50’s. Even if you have not done any retirement planning or savings before this you can aggressively start now.

One salary can hopefully cover the majority of expenses and the other can be used for savings. Funds once meant to cover the mortgage can now be directed towards your RRSP’s without missing it too much. However, when it’s just you, saving becomes a bit more of a challenge even in your high income, mortgage free days. However, it is a must and especially important if you have no company pension.

Start Saving Earlier in Life. Saving earlier in life versus later is even more paramount if you’re single. A health issue or job loss at any point can greatly impact your ability to invest in your later years. So starting small and early on is advisable versus assuming you will be employable and working in your 60s and can easily be contributing to your retirement. Look for employment that not only offers good health benefits but also a liveable pension plan. Disability insurance and insurance on your debt is also a must for singles.

Have a Detailed Retirement Plan. Retirement planning is essential for everyone. Whether you want to buy a house, fund a child’s education or plan for your retirement. You need a plan. If you’re single, planning is even more crucial for a successful and worry-free retirement. Even if you are in your 30’s or 40’s and still envision marriage in the future, financially plan for a one person retirement. If there happens to be another income source in the meantime then all the better! If there isn’t you will not be any worse off.

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