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According to an RBC study, 1 in 6 Canadians aged 55 or older hasn’t started saving for retirement. But we have good news: it’s never too early or too late to start. Having said that, it’s important to understand how saving for this milestone changes at every age. By adjusting your saving techniques at different times in your life, you can maximize your savings and successfully reach your retirement goal.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your retirement savings at every age.
Let’s face it – the last thing you’re thinking about in your twenties is your retirement. Your career is just taking off. You have decades to go before even considering retirement. So why think about it now?
Because your twenties are the best time to start saving for retirement. When it comes to investing, time is your best friend, and you’re in the best position to leverage time and grow your portfolio to the maximum.
Having said that, your twenties don’t always allow for sufficient disposable income to start saving. So, what can you do?
Start by always paying yourself first. As soon as you get your paycheck, save a certain fixed percentage of your salary. Set your goals, open an investment account for each one, and start putting away money – even if the amount is small.
Need more convincing? If you’re 25, earning $25,000 a year, and save 10% of your annual income on a regular basis, you’ll likely save over $1 million by the time you’re 65 (assuming your annual income goes up by 5% every year and your savings grow at 7% per year).
In your thirties, you might see your family start to grow, or enjoy other big life events. You may be tempted to shift your financial priorities, but make sure to keep your future-self center-stage and continue saving towards your retirement.
If you have kids, start saving for their education as soon as you can. Tuition is expensive and rising at a rate higher than inflation. You can make use of government grants by opening an RESP. Or, if you’re buying your first home, consider withdrawing some funds from your RRSP under the Home Buyers Plan. To protect a new home and your growing family, make sure you have basic insurance protection. The younger you are, the cheaper your premiums will be.
It can be difficult to save during this time. Remember to celebrate big moments and splurge occasionally, but always keep your retirement savings top priority.
You’re approximately half way through your career to retirement. It’s a good time to revisit your next 20-25-year time horizon and maximize your savings.
At this age, it’s important to look at your whole financial plan. Make sure you have sufficient insurance to protect you and your family in case of any unforeseen life events; you might consider topping up your coverage at this point, too. If you don’t have a will, create one, or update your existing will with any significant changes. If your children are in high school, make sure you’ve maximized the government grant in their RESP accounts.
You’re about a decade away from retirement, so now’s a good time to put a little more thought into the what, where, and when of your goals – when will you retire, what will you do after you retire, and where would you like to settle down?
Maybe you’re not confident that you’ll be able to retire at a certain age. And that’s okay. Knowing this and putting a plan in place is important in reaching your goal. Life expectancy is increasing over time, and it’s not necessary to retire at 65. You could keep going if your health permits and you enjoy your work. Plus, some government benefits like CPP and OAS are maximized the later you start.
It’s been a long journey, and you’re getting closer to when you can start enjoying your retired life! Planning is key, and it’s important to review your finances at this point and get a clear picture of what your retirement will realistically look like. Think about how much you can afford. Maybe you need to make some adjustments – perhaps work a couple more years, or travel once a year instead of twice. It’s wise to make these decisions before retiring rather than figuring it out later.
Whatever your retirement goals, you can reach them if you put in the work and adjust your strategies when appropriate. If you take some time every year of your working life to think about and plan for your retirement, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor once that sweet last day of work rolls around.