How are baby boomers adapting to the rising cost of living?

Would canceling Disney+ help your bottom line?

Our Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland recently made some wise suggestions on how Canadians can save money during these challenging economic times. In her own household, she took the brave step of canceling her children’s Disney+ streaming service, suggesting her children are too old for it anyway, which helps soften the blow. That Marie-Antoinette-inspired gesture alone saved her $13.99 per month.

As seniors on a fixed income (from our savings) and with no cushy pension plans, we have had to make some adjustments as well. We already do not subscribe to Disney+ which helps but we’re considering our other options. Like most seniors, we avoid using Highway 407’s usurious tolls by opting for the free but gridlocked Highways 401 and 400. If we stay home altogether we can save gas money and still have enough to buy a few groceries each week. Nothing too extravagant but we still like butter and fresh fruit, so it all adds up. We still want to enjoy the life we’ve worked all our lives for.

Paying down credit card debt is always step one in getting our financial house in order.

Even Suzette Mayr, author of The Sleeping Car Porter and the latest winner of the $100,000.00 Giller Prize acknowledges the pinch. When asked what she would do with her winnings, she replied “Pay down my Visa”.

I can certainly relate to that as that’s exactly what I used to do with my annual bonus during my working days. Using found money to pay down our Visa bills is a common choice for working people who are burdened by debt and trying to keep their heads above water. Mayr will also keep her day job teaching university courses as we all know most authors can never make a living writing. We all do what we have to do to make ends meet.

At our age, we don’t have that many years left to enjoy life’s pleasures so we’re not depriving ourselves of much. We’ve cut back on cable tv and we try to optimize hydro usage by only doing laundry or running the dishwasher during off-peak hours. That leaves us more money for wine and other essentials.

I’m thankful I am no longer commuting to work and having to fill up my gas tank twice a week. I’m thankful I am not a single mother trying to decide between milk for my children or paying the hydro bill in order to survive on working wages.

Imagine if we managed our household budgets the way politicians manage our tax dollars. Scary!

We’re enjoying our retired lifestyle but we sense the politicians with their fat expense accounts and guaranteed lifetime pensions after only six years on the job are really not in a position to understand what the average person is up against.  You can be sure I will not be sympathetic to what any politician has to say about lowering our cost of living while they live in a vastly different and privileged world.

My answer to all this strife is to mostly avoid watching the news on television. It’s beyond my ability to affect major change. If I watched CNN or any of the network news channels I’d be tempted to slit my wrists. My goal now is to not let anything disrupt or spoil my retirement years, the years that we worked so hard for to reach the best years of our lives.

I also strongly resent the implication that boomers are living fat and high on the shoulders of the working class. We spent four or five decades of our lives working hard and contributing to the Canadian economy. Our paycheques were tapped for contributions from that earned income toward social services and the Canada Pension Plan. That was money directly from our pockets that has since been tapped and diverted by politicians to fund other services.

In our retirement, we are drawing from our savings for money to live on. These RIF payments are double-taxed as we already paid tax once on the original income earned during our working years and the government taxes us again on the same after-tax earned money. Don’t tell me we do not pay our share!

Those of us without children or long-ago raised children paid and still pay school taxes. When we were working, our taxes supported seniors and we did not complain. The generations who came before us also worked hard and deserved a comfortable old age. Anyone, particularly any politician who dares to suggest our generation is undeserving should be ashamed.

Boomers didn’t have the option of “working from home”.

Sorry, Chrystia, you really do not understand what real working people are up against. You could retire tomorrow and enjoy life with a nice, fat government pension that guarantees you will never have to visit your local food bank or pay your bills in installments. Some workers today even get to enjoy golfing, running a load of laundry, or picking up groceries during office hours as they “work from home”. Boomers never enjoyed that option.

As our government continues to spend recklessly and ring up our Visa/debt bill, it makes me glad I’m too old to have to worry about how younger generations are going to pay it off. Eventually, that fiscal foolishness will have to be reckoned with, as will our climate and environmental challenges. I hope future generations are a lot smarter than we are. We worked hard for decades for a comfortable retirement and we’ve earned it. Don’t let anyone suggest otherwise!

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Gail Czopka
Gail Czopka
4 months ago

Well written….. Government spending is not free money….. It comes from the working class & many retirees. A fiscally irresponsible government cannot be sustained without putting added pressure on this source of income. Time for government change. Don’t get me going on the failing health care and educational systems! And someone please bring back common sense!