In recent surveys, almost half of those who answered had never put money in a Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP). Two-thirds had not sat down to write a formal retirement plan. Yet, over 85% said that saving for retirement was an important goal!
Unfortunately, they could pay a big price for that delay when they reach age 65 and find they don’t have enough to live comfortably.
Tips to balance saving for retirement with other financial goals
In your 20s:
When you start working, it makes sense to pay off student loans as fast as you can. Then start saving for long-term goals like retirement.
If you have a Group RRSP or company pension plan, check if your employer will match your contributions. This can be an easy way to grow your savings even faster.
Avoid running up your credit card.
In your 30s:
You may have started saving for retirement, but now have a mortgage. If your mortgage allows extra payments, do you focus on paying it off more quickly? Do you contribute to your RRSP so that it can grow over time? Or do you do both?
For example, you can contribute to your RRSP. Then, you take the tax refund you get and apply it to your mortgage. Or, you can put the refund into a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) if your child's education is more of a priority.
To learn more, read Pay down or save up? Jasmine’s story.
In your 40s:
This is the time to accelerate your retirement savings program.
Have you paid off your mortgage? Continue to save some or all of what you used to pay there in an RRSP.
Do you have a lot of debt? Try to consolidate your loans so that you can pay less interest and free up some cash for your retirement savings.
In your 50s or early 60s:
Keep checking your progress as you head toward retirement.
Speed up your savings and cut spending if needed.
If you are worried you are falling short of your goals, you may need to get expert advice.
Remember: Look at the big picture when you plan for retirement.
As well as saving, you will have other important goals, like paying down debt, saving for your kids’ education, and taking care of aging parents. It’s a question of finding the balance that makes sense for you.
Watch this video of Malcolm Hamilton, a Principal at Mercer Human Resource Consulting Ltd. discussing saving for retirement. Malcolm also discusses saving priorities in this video.