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Howard Mednick, photographed on Jan. 17, combined his computer background and love for classical music to become a ‘classical music DJ’ and develop a music program for the residents at Baycrest in Toronto. He also plays retirement homes, social clubs, churches and synagogues. Any modest fees he gets from this work are usually donated to charity in memory of his wife, who passed away in 2018. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.

Howard Mednick, 74, Toronto

I officially retired in December 2018, at age 69, after a career in the computer industry, mostly as a consultant. I had been cutting back on work for about four years before I retired while dealing with my wife’s illness. She had a condition called Parkinsonism after suffering a bad fall 10 years ago, which left her incapacitated. That changed my life. I was still able to work after making a lot of adjustments, but her condition got worse and she ended up living at the Baycrest Apotex facility in Toronto. She passed away in October 2018. I tried to keep working after she died, but I lost focus. I also made one big mistake, which I promptly corrected, but then decided I was done after that. I didn’t want to risk my reputation or my clients’ reputation.

While visiting my wife at Baycrest, I combined my computer background and love for classical music to develop a music program for the residents there. I continue doing it for Baycrest and other places, including retirement homes, social clubs, churches and synagogues. I call myself a ‘classical music DJ’ and have a website. It’s like my full-time job now – and is a lot of fun. Any modest fees I get from my work are usually donated to charity in my wife’s memory.

From a financial perspective, I diligently put money into a registered retirement savings plan during my working years and have other investments. My wife and I also owned a home for 33 years, which we sold after downsizing into a condo after she became ill. I eventually sold the condo in January 2022, luckily just before the real estate market dropped, and am now renting an apartment. I’ve also worked with a good financial advisor over the years who invests my money. He also convinced me and my wife to take out a life insurance policy several years back, which will become an important part of the inheritance for my children and grandchildren. My three adult children, who I’ve helped out a bit over the years, are financially stable.

My advisor keeps telling me I won’t run out of money, which is nice to hear. Still, it can be hard to spend it. I’m starting to take some trips with my girlfriend. We travelled to Jamaica recently, went to Morocco last fall, and we plan to go to Florida for a few weeks in March. I often think of the saying, ‘You can’t take it with you,’ so we take advantage of our ability to travel and the time we have left.

To me, retirement is about keeping your mind busy and exploring new things. I also keep physically active, going to the gym and swimming several times a week, which I’ve done for decades. These activities are good for your physical health and can relieve stress. My advice to others approaching retirement is to consider what you’ll do to keep busy and satisfied. Do what you like, and be prepared to learn new skills or activities. Also, be prepared for changes. Life might not turn out as planned, but you need to keep living.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Are you a Canadian retiree interested in discussing what life is like now that you’ve stopped working? The Globe is looking for people to participate in its Tales from the Golden Age feature, which examines the personal and financial realities of retirement. If you’re interested in being interviewed for this feature and agree to use your full name and have a photo taken, please e-mail us at: [email protected]. Please include a few details about how you saved and invested for retirement and what your life is like now.

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