Prep for Retirement: 4 Must-Do Steps!

Retirement means more time for the things you love, but many Canadians aren't sure where to start. Planning for your financial future is just as important as the decision to retire. In this blog post, we'll walk you through four essential steps to take before you retire. Let's make your retirement journey smooth and secure!
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Retirement is often associated with the idea of having unlimited time to do all the things that one couldn’t do while working. Although this sounds amazing, many Canadians are unsure about what they want to do during their retirement. It’s important to remember that having a financial plan for retirement is just as important as planning to retire. In this blog post, we will discuss the four things that you need to do before you retire.

We have all been taught the importance of saving for retirement from a young age. We were encouraged to invest in RRSPs and to aim for a job with a Defined Benefit plan. What used to be Freedom 55, these days, seems to be more like Freedom 65+. Canadians are living longer and are happy to keep themselves busy, even if that means working part-time – not because they have to, but because they want to.

The objective of retirement planning is to save up enough money to replace your income for a prolonged period. Most people concentrate on accumulating assets to achieve this. However, many Canadians fail to plan for their desired activities, hobbies, and recreational lifestyle during retirement, along with the associated costs. Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear roadmap of your financial retirement plan before embarking on this journey.

Here are four financial steps you must take before you retire.

Be Debt Free

Being debt-free means that all your hard assets, such as your home, vehicle, recreation property, trailer, boat, or other tangible assets, are paid in full. This will ensure that the money you live off each month goes towards your lifestyle and not to service debt. Although there will always be fixed and unfixed expenses such as property tax, insurance, utilities, food, fuel, etc., whether you’re sitting at home or on a beach, it’s crucial to have your hard assets paid off.

Diversify your Investments

Diversifying your investments means having options on how and where you are pulling money from to live during retirement. Depending on your personal situation, you might be drawing down your RRSPs, pulling money from your corporation, or using your Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security. Before retiring it’s important to have the appropriate accounts open to complement your retirement income. One of the most useful accounts to have is a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). TFSAs offer great flexibility when it comes to life events. Whether you need to purchase a vehicle, go on a trip, have a health scare, or need to make home repairs, a Tax-Free Savings Account can allow you to use after-tax dollars for these types of instances without paying tax on that money.

Take Care of Big-Ticket Items

As you approach retirement, make a conscious effort to have all your significant expenditures taken care of. Whether it’s purchasing a motorhome, the new roof, or the renovation you’ve been putting off for years, it’s crucial to have them completed before you retire. We want to avoid large expenses during retirement, as the next few years are spent on decumulation and not accumulation.

Take a Test Drive

Prior to retirement, it’s a good exercise to start living as though you are already retired. Most people believe that they can switch to a reduced budget easily, but this is often not the case. Take three months to start living within your retirement budget to get a sense of what to expect.

Following these four tips will put you on the right track towards a predictable yet flourishing retirement. It will also give you the power to make informed decisions in case things don’t go as planned. If you want to ensure that you’re on track for your retirement, feel free to reach out to one of our trusted advisors.

Picture of Written By Mike Erickson, Financial Advisor

Written By Mike Erickson, Financial Advisor

Mike has a passion for meeting people and assisting them with all their financial planning needs. Playing sport throughout his University career he has always valued the importance of goal setting. Mike works tirelessly to ensure his clients’ goals, dreams, and financial needs are met. Personal planning, retirement planning, and Tax Planning, are all areas where Mike finds value for his clients. He joined the team in 2013 after completing his Business Degree, LLQP, and Canadian Investments Funds course.

Connect Wealth is an independent financial planning firm that offers holistic advice to clients based on their current goals and future aspirations. We use well-established workflows and cutting-edge technology to maximize planning efficiencies while simplifying the process for clients. Learn how you can maximize your financial opportunities at

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Michelle Jones

Administrative Assistant

Michelle, an Administrative Assistant focusing on insurance products and services, aims to provide high-level customer support and build strong client relationships. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and has been working in the financial services industry since 1993. Outside of work, Michelle enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog, baking, reading, and enjoying nature.

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Melanie Tessarolo

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Lori Smigel

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Kathe Atkinson

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Eddy Choi

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Brittany Potter

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Suzanne Jacon

Financial Advisor

With a successful management career at New York Life and Canada Life, Suzanne transitioned to financial advising. Her 20 years in management have given her a deep understanding of the challenges and rewards of financial planning. Suzanne is passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals and securing the necessary safety nets. She is actively involved in her community, mentoring young entrepreneurs, and serving on the boards of several non-profit organizations. Suzanne enjoys the support of her spouse, Gaynal, and her four-legged friend, Sunny, who handles public relations. Suzanne believes it is never too late to start a conversation about your financial plan.

Corey Barker

CPA, Financial Advisor

Corey is a CPA with a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting from the University of Calgary. He began his career in 2018 at MNP LLP, where he completed his CPA articling and later became a tax specialist and manager. Corey has extensive experience in tax planning, reorganization engagements, and corporate finance. He joined MNP Corporate Finance Inc., serving as a financial advisor to clients in business sales and acquisitions. Committed to helping clients achieve their financial goals, Corey focuses on areas such as tax minimization, maximizing shareholder value, and implementing succession plans. Outside of work, he enjoys physical activities and spending time with his wife, continually seeking knowledge to benefit his clients.

Mark Smigel

Certified Financial Planner®, Elder Planning Counsellor

Mark is dedicated to educating clients and assisting with wealth creation and protection. He serves business owners, professionals, and young clients beginning their financial journey. Known for making complex financial concepts relatable, Mark is a valued resource within the accounting community. When not working, he enjoys volunteering, playing hockey, cooking, and reading. Mark resides with his family, serving on various volunteer boards.

Julia Friesen

BSc, CFP® – Certified Financial Planner®

Julia is a Certified Financial Planner with a background in actuarial science, providing her clients with valuable analytical and technical expertise. She holds a BSc in Physics, an LLQP designation, and a CFP® designation. Julia excels at helping clients develop plans that align with their values and achieve their goals. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends, playing and writing music, and connecting with her husband and three children. Julia looks forward to continuing to add value for her clients and supporting the team at Connect Wealth.

Joey San

Financial Advisor

Having been in the financial planning industry since 1990, Joey specializes in Risk Management and Estate Planning. He holds a Life and Segregated Funds License and has extensive field experience. Joey joined Connect Wealth in 2019 to work with his daughter Cassandra, creating the ultimate father/daughter team. Born in Fiji and relocated to Canada at 12, Joey is married to his high school sweetheart, Rita. They have three children and a grandson, Trysten. In his spare time, Joey enjoys golfing, fishing, and spending time with his grandson. Joey is passionate about providing clients with the best financial advice.

Vince Olfert

MBA, CIM, CFP® – Certified Financial Planner®

Vince specializes in helping business owners and their employees build and protect their wealth. With his years of experience, he understands the financial and emotional issues that come with managing wealth. He was highlighted in Advisors Edge magazine for his work with pensions and group retirement services. Vince continually strives to find new ways to communicate complex financial concepts so they are easy to understand for our clients.

He spends his spare time with his wife and kids, coaching community sports, and volunteering with local youth programs.

Cassandra San

Financial Advisor

Cassandra, a financial advisor at Connect Wealth, focuses on risk management planning. Cassandra started in the financial industry in 2016, when she joined her dad’s practice. Cassandra enjoys working with family and small businesses, appreciating the professional and supportive environment at Connect Wealth. She holds a Business degree from the University of Idaho and is pursuing her CFP designation. Recently, Cassandra became a new mom, and she and her husband Alvin spend most of their time chasing their son, Trysten.

Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson

Qualified Associate Financial Planner™

Mike, who joined Connect Wealth in 2013, has a natural ability to connect with clients on both professional and personal levels. He entered the financial planning industry to give clients the confidence they need for their financial futures. Mike oversees the Group Retirement Plan Division, working with companies of all sizes and assisting clients in both saving for retirement and managing decumulation. A graduate of Trinity Western University’s School of Business, Mike holds multiple designations including LLQP and QAFP®. Outside of work, he enjoys coaching his sons’ baseball teams, spending family days at the beach, and volunteering in his community. Mike resides in Abbotsford, BC, with his wife Amy and their two boys.

Vince Olfert

MBA, CIM, CFP® – Certified Financial Planner®

Vince specializes in helping business owners and their employees build and protect their wealth. With extensive experience, he understands the financial and emotional challenges of managing wealth. Vince has been highlighted in Advisor’s Edge magazine for his work with pensions and group retirement services. He continually strives to make complex financial concepts easy to understand for clients. In his spare time, Vince enjoys spending time with his family, coaching community sports, and volunteering with local youth programs.