Ready For Retirement
You are ready for retirement, so you think. You have planned for some time, attended retirement seminars put on by your company, got everything ready and taken care of, right?
Well think again, be ready for the small hidden things. Financial institutions may provide help with the financial planning after you retire. Your company may not be as helpful and may have hidden policies that are not well known or advertised.
My point here is not to get you to be a less than ideal employee, but to look after number one during the early days and throughout employment. Think about retirement early in the game, for your loyality and a companies loyality may be on different tracks at closing time.
Most of us are aware that when a company provides accumulated sick time, it is a benefit that the company chooses to give in case of sickness or emergency so that income continues. It is not to be treated as vacation and abused throughout one's career.
On the other hand if you are an employee that shows loyality and works for many years taking minimal or no sick time, when retirement comes around you have effectively given that employer thousands of dollars. You probably went to work because no one was readily available to fill your shoes, or so you thought. You may have gone to work during snow storms or hurricanes when most of your fellow workers didn't show up.
The accumulated time you have is probably lost with no compensation given. You would get the same treatment and benefits as a person who used up most of their sick time whether through abuse or legitimate means.
I am not suggesting anyone should abuse their sick benefits. However I am saying if you are part way through your career you should look carefully at your ethics and work patterns.
You are not doing yourself any favours if you go to work when you are not feeling well, whether it be just a common cold, or you are feeling ill in some other manner and not up to par. My recommendation, if you are not feeling 100%, then take advantage of the benefit your company chooses to provide.
Pay particular attention if you work for a company that has changed names during your career, or has changed control from one governing body to another.
For example, pay periods or processes may have been adjusted and passed over quickly and lightly, with the pretense you received uninterrupted pay during the change over process, or got paid twice. In essence, things like this are done for their convenience not yours, if they were done at all.
If the amalgamation or company change took place at mid career ten or fifteen years ago, you are not likely to remember it. You are likely to find out about it a few days prior to retirement being finalized when you are advised you owe them hundreds of dollars and they intend to deduct it from your final pay.
You may find conflicting information, and likely individual pay records will no longer exist if it happened years ago, and they will insist that they are right because of policy - their policy, not yours.
This is usually at a time when you want cash flow to be uninterrupted during the transition from normal pay days to pension income.
Be sure to ask to see records proving this extra money was actually paid to you. Companies do not accept anything verbally from you regarding financial matters, and neither should you. Any reliable company would have pay records showing calculations and amounts you paid and how those percentages were determined.
Pay records should be available from the day you started to the day you finish work. Often they are not.
If you have worked for a company for a certain number of years, some of them offer pre-retirement leave in the form of so many days per year times the number of years you have worked for them.
In reality, are they in fact giving you anything? If you lose sick time as stated above, they are not, for an employee who has used all their sick time will get the same amount of days as one who didn't use any.
If you have to pay back an amount of money because of a corporate change in procedure, and you need to save up those pre-retirement leave days to compensate the difference for money they say you owe, then it is not really a given benefit is it?
Remember also that should you choose to use pre-retirement time in any form of monetary value, it is taxable, and you lose again. If it can be transfered to RRSP or some sort of delayed plan, you have limitations on when you can spend your money, and it will be taxed at the time of withdrawal so you still do not get full value.
Pension Plans & Statements
These statements are usually sent out annually. Do you really look at them closely? A lot of people don't. Double check the dates, of employment and plan contribution. Even a difference of a couple of months could have impact on your pension pay cheque. Check year, month and day. Be exact.
We all get the advice to seek financial counciling and plan our retirement in advance. We are bombarded with media announcements to plan for retirement income such as RRSPs.
Some even manage to put a little away in the form of savings or investments. But the little hidden things may change your attitude at the last minute, when throughout the years you were loyal to your company and proud to be a part of them, and thought they valued you. Quite often this affects your financial well being. Watch taxes paid as money is exchanged back and forth. It is easy for individuals to be taxed twice on the same funds.
All that can change quickly. It is not so much the money, but more in the way things are done. "Look After #1" may bring on a new meaning - too late.