Saturday, January 05, 2013
Terrorized by Old Age
I have several friends, all single, who are frantically planning for the time they will retire. I should add that they all work in the private sector and do not benefit from the enviable pensions paid to retired government-type employees. They frankly envision a future of tiny tins of catfood doled out carefully.
Interestingly enough, my married/partnered friends have no such fears.
The ALONE status of the singles has them planning to pay off mortgages and RRSP themselves into deprivation. For now. All this when they are over 60, some well over, and finding the speed of the on-the-job young 'uns nipping at their heels alarming.
Did I miss that gene? I occasionally worry about my vulnerable status (will I have no money in another 5 years?). But worry is useless energy so it doesn't last too long.
But I do rail against a system that keeps artists of all types in poverty and particularly makes it so difficult for single parents (mainly female) to stockpile savings of any magnitude during their working lives. The patriarchy along with childcare responsibilities has ensured very few women will make what men earn in their lifetimes. Statistics show that upon divorce, a father will improve his lifestyle dramatically, whereas the lifestyle of the now single mother and her family will deteriorate. I experienced that as a single mother with two kids.
The sadness of the afore-mentioned frantic planners is that the stress and strain can take an enormous toll on their health and sometimes they don't make it to that magic Canada Pension Plan age.
The only time, after all, that we have, is NOW. So why fret and worry as the song said?It is a form of madness and steals our days like nothing else.
I knew I could not survive financially in Toronto and that was an intrinsic part of my decision to move out here to the edge of the Atlantic. Cities are expensive places to live, especially for elders without pensions.
And I'm also extremely aware that we have a damn good safety net in Canada, such as OAS.
Do we all just want too much when we retire? Endless travel and bonbons and golf courses and spas?
What exactly do we need? Do we have it all and just don't know it?