The Penniless Pensioner: The Bad

Header-image-StephenBy Robert K. Stephen

(TORONTO, ON) – Being a simple person, I like to slice and dice retirement into the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, life is a bit more complex than that and what is good for a penniless pensioner can be bad for another. And what is ugly can be good.

For me, simple is a good starting point. However, I often think of my good friend JdS being a true Euro gentleman when he says about many things, “It’s a bit complicated but…..” He retired and, three years later, died of cancer.

What possibly could be bad about retirement? I think that bad is the step before ugly.

Anger, Bitterness, and Frustration

Considering that 44% of Canadians retire because of ill health, or forced termination, it hardly sets an initial foundation for a happy retirement. You worked for 22 years for your employer and one morning a security guard escorts you out of the building.

Your belongings will be sent to you by courier.

Many will be bitter and angry and stew over the injustice of it all. Others will smile getting that package that will help launch them into retirement.

Hey folks. It is what it is.

You had a stroke and you just can’t work anymore? And your disability plan has expired? Are you just going to stress out over and over about what you can’t change?

My friend, a recent retiree by the name of Mr B, says that, “Pulling the plug is often better than having it pulled for you.”

Having health issues and finding the stress affecting your eating, sleeping, or your relationship with your friends, family or significant other. Don’t be the frog in the water that doesn’t know he is being boiled until it is too late.

Confusion and not knowing what to do

You may be so work wired, once the plug is pulled, you’ll go into a mental stall and, if you’re not careful, wash up on the rocks of depression.

If you have been wise and planned that one day you would have to retire, you would have developed and brought to fruition a passion before hand. Whether that passion is dance, writing, golf, painting, acting, or community involvement, you’ll be fine and physically and mentally active with a good reason to get up in the morning.

You’ll also live longer.

If you have no passion to pursue, you might be a very bored and unfulfilled person. Of course, you may be able to watch television 16 hours a day and be delighted. Television is a legitimate passion.

Relationship Problems

If you have been forced into retirement by ill health or termination, the chances are that you’ll be unhappy to start with. Unhappy people are not easy to co-exist with.

Often their frustration causes them to either withdraw or to strike out in anger. This is particularly unhealthy in a spousal relationship where the newly retired is now doing face time 24/7 with a spouse.

Not to be nasty, but this is one reason you need a personal passion to get out of the 24/7. Get out of the house. Get a life. It just might save your relationship.

Now, the spare time you now have may also permit you to evaluate that relationship and the picture may not be all that pleasant. Perhaps you realize you have been suffering, as a human being, with your spouse too long and decide to make the move. What that move is I’ll leave to your imagination.

Financial Distress

This perhaps the greatest fear.

Your retirement launches you into possible penniless pensioner status. For whatever reason, and I am not here to chastise you, you didn’t save or simply were unable to save enough to ensure some degree of comfort in your retirement.

Of course, the longer you work, and that paycheque keeps coming in, the better off financially you’ll be. Yes, the old eating cat food cliché comes to mind.

Job stress now is replaced by survival stress. Darwinian indeed.

You come to appreciate those employer provided health and dental benefits and, if lucky enough to be in a pension plan, those pension plan contributions.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen
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