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Spotlight: Retirement Planning 101

Everyone's needs for life after work are as unique as they are. What things should you consider when designing your retirement strategy?
171019 RetirementPlanning101

I won’t lie to you—there are no easy answers when it comes to planning for retirement. Everyone is different, which means their needs for life after work will be every bit as unique. But before you open a new window and start combing through YouTube videos, I’ve broken down a quick list of the major factors you can consider when it’s time to start developing a solid strategy for your retirement.

AGE: I’m referring to when you should start planning for your retirement, and when you plan to retire. These ages will depend on what your goals are and how much you’ll need to live the life you want after the curtain falls on your nine-to-five life.

INFLATION: How much does it cost for you to live? This will change based on inflation rates. Remember, your monthly expenses will be quite different today than what they’ll be 10 years down the road. 

INTEREST: From your savings account and investments to how much you’re paying on your mortgage, it all affects your bottom line and timeline for retirement.

INCOME: For your retirement, figure out how much money you’ll need every year. A number to keep in mind is that you should have approximately 70% of what your peak salary was.

PENSION: Many people supplement their retirement with their pension. You can get more details on what you can expect to add to your nest egg here.

INVESTMENTS: This is a big one, and hopefully you started investing in things like GICs, RRSPs, RRIFs and TFSAs. There are a lot of options to consider when investing your money, so doing your homework is essential.

There you have it. As I mentioned, your retirement plan is distinct, so I won’t bother hitting you with a cookie cutter plan. I think it’s more helpful to give you a blue-sky view of what to expect and consider. And if you want to get a more solid understanding of just how much you’ll need, check out this Retirement Calculator

I also recommend you speak to an advisor at your financial institution. They’ll take the time to consider your situation, and help you create a plan that’s based on your particular circumstances, goals, etc.

Here are some things we may want to consider asking before you meet with a financial advisor or personal banking representative.  Beyond the basic living expenses for retirement, you may be in a position during your working years to do more things than you currently do now.  If you’re young and not thinking about retirement, it’s easy to live paycheck to paycheck and not consider the future. 

Here are some important factors when building your vision of retirement:

  1. Create a vision of your retirement (some suggestions below)
  2. A savings discipline is crucial
  3. Put your plan in writing
  4. Planning to work in retirement is NOT a retirement plan
  5. Don’t assume your living expenses will be significantly lower in retirement
  6. Your home in NOT a retirement savings account

Make a list of all the things you’d like to do once you have more time:

  • What new contributions can you make?
  • What passions can you develop?
  • Where would you like to volunteer?
  • What new things would you like to learn about?
  • What new places would you like to see?
  • Where would you like to live?
  • Where do you spend your free time now?
  • Where do you spend your extra money?
  • What are your strengths that might be fun to develop?
  • What weaknesses would you like to overcome?


Discussion Question

What are three things you want to accomplish before you retire, or if you are already retired, what are some of the things you would like to accomplish now?

Share your financial tips and tricks in the comments section and you could win a $50 Tim Hortons gift card. We’ll select one lucky winner a month. Be sure to check out our other financial columns and find more information at For full contest details, click here.


About the Author

Deborah Robertson has been in the Financial Services industry for over 20 years and has worked with some of the most notable financial institutions in Canada. Her career has been focused on Personal Financial Planning to help her customers/members realize their personal financial goals, whatever they might be.