Redefining retirement: What does it mean to you?

When you picture your dream retirement are you jet-setting around the world? On permanent vacation in Florida? At home enjoying time with grandkids? These are just three of countless options on how to spend your retirement years. It's important to take the time to define what retirement means for you so you can get started on planning your finances to ensure your retirement dreams become a reality.

Canadians redefine retirement

TD recently asked Canadians to submit their personal definition of retirement and found that for most Canadians, it isn't just about withdrawing from work. It means freedom, financial security and the ability to travel. While many submissions shared common elements, each entry was unique and personal. Everyone's idea of retirement is different, because everyone is looking forward to personal and specific things.

[More: How to stay focused on your retirement savings in an uncertain market]

More than half (52%) of Canadians said retirement isn't about stopping or slowing down. It's about freedom and flexibility. Here are some examples:

  • "The absence of 'I have to...'" - Sharon, Trail, British Columbia
  • "Being able to resume my childish ways, (but with more freedom), because my allowance is a grownup size" - Bernice, Ottawa, Ontario
  • "Retirement is to be able to think imaginatively and freely, to allow myself luxuries of thought and time, dreams and realities, the future and friendships." - Cynthia, St. Thomas, Ontario
  • "An RV, the love of my life, a GPS, a full tank of gas ... coffee and an open road to travel ... throughout the country!!!" - Crystal, Fort McMurray, Alberta

[More: Rebranding retirement savings: The ‘sweet life savings plan’ that could change your life]

    Other recurring themes from submitted definitions included financial security (27%), the ability to travel (25%), escape from the 'nine-to-five grind' (21%) and spending time with friends and family (14%).

    Making your retirement dreams a reality

    To ensure your finances are in good shape when you reach your golden years, it's important to have a financial plan in place. With the recent volatility in the markets, you can help protect your portfolio by having a variety of investments and savings products.

    [Got a financial question? Experts respond to your pressing money dilemmas]

    To help maximize your retirement savings, consider having a balance of conservative and growth investments, based on your comfort level and the number of years you have until retirement. Start by reviewing your current financial situation and your plans for the future. With the help of an advisor, you can create a formal financial plan to ensure you save enough to pay for all of your expected expenses in retirement (for instance: travel costs), when you likely won't generate as much income.

    [Read more from Kim Parlee on GoldenGirlFinance.com ]

    So what does retirement mean to you?

    After reviewing the submitted definitions to the Redefine Retirement contest, it became clear that there's no 'best' definition of retirement; it's highly personal. The earlier you start thinking about your retirement dream, the sooner you can start saving and planning to help ensure it comes true.

    What is your idea of a dream retirement?

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