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Case study: Newly self-employed single woman forges a new path to financial wellness

This is the third post of a five-part series on retirement planning and financial wellness for different life stages and family circumstances.

Trish* is a planner and had a really good idea of what her life would look like up to and after retirement – or so she thought. Being downsized due to an industry downturn at the age of 50 was the last thing she thought would happen to her.

Trish had worked as a marketing and promotions manager for years at the same company in Toronto and the job loss hit her hard, professionally and personally. Although she loved her job, the hours were long and there was little time to pursue other passions. She had figured, with her solid employment record, frequent promotions and good savings habits, she was on track to retire early at 55. She had envisioned a quiet place in the country and lots of time to travel.

But all of that changed when she lost her job. After taking a month or two to adjust to her new predicament (thankfully her parents had instilled in her the need to always have an emergency fund!) and explore other employment opportunities, she revisited a long-ago dream of running her own business as a marketing and promotions consultant.

She was not alone. According to Statistics Canada, self-employment has been steadily on the rise for decades and now accounts for about 15% of total employment in the country. She had a pretty good business plan, but the main concern was financing to launch the business and keep it afloat before she could gain profitability – and protect the next egg she had built. Luckily, she got a good buyout package that amounted to a year’s worth of salary, and so she figured she could go at least a year without pay while she grew her business. If the business was successful before then, she’d put as much that remained of the buyout package – which was sitting in a high-interest savings account – into her RRSPs.

The first order of business was to secure financing. The mortgage on her Toronto home was fully paid off and she knew she could tap into that equity. So she talked with her broker and set up a home equity line of credit, because the rates are lower than many conventional loans.

Remember, Trish is a planner, so her thinking was going far beyond just starting the business. She needed to have a plan for what to do after establishing and, hopefully, growing it. She has adjusted her retirement goal from 55 to 65 – and assumed that wouldn’t be a hardship because she’d like working for herself better. So, even if she didn’t add to her RRSPs until 65, she was getting 10 more years of interest growth without having to draw on those funds.

When she does retire, Trish’s plan is to sell the business. One of her former colleagues, Marina, said she was keen to take it over, and so she and Marina have a deal to work together on an eventual succession plan. With the sale of the business, more years to accumulate retirement savings and an eventual move to the country, Trish figures her retirement years can be just as promising as she had originally planned.

Trish has learned that life can throw you curveballs when you least expect it. But she has also learned that forging a new path can be exciting as well.

Next in our series: George is a single dad who needs to secure a future for himself and his two boys.

*Trish is not an actual person, but her story is indicative of what many professionals face following downsizing. It should not be construed as financial advice. Reach out to a financial advisor to discuss your situation and try out the Canadian Retirement Income Calculator to help determine what you need to achieve your retirement goals. ;Jaspreet and Matt

This post is one of a five-part series on retirement. Visit the rest of the posts in the series: Dustin and Anna; Jaspreet and Matt; George; Francesca and Angelo

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