You probably already know that preparation is the key to success in many aspects of life. It’s even more apparent if you’ve ever been involved in a home-improvement project or been responsible for organising a large event such as a wedding or a family reunion.
Being prepared with a realistic budget, an achievable timeline, some room for adjustments, and planning for those ever-possible intangibles, can help reduce any stress or worries which inevitably come when you haven’t done any thinking ahead, research or homework.
The same goes for retirement planning.
Where to Start
The important thing to take note of is that planning for the day you retire is no different than planning for a social event or other large task such as those we mentioned above. Yes, it’s a much bigger responsibility, but the core process is much the same. A good place to start is by asking the following questions and considering the related tips. For personalized retirement advice, we recommend speaking to an advisor at your local credit union. Our partners Coastal Community Private Wealth Group, Coastal Community Credit Union and Interior Savings are all here to help.
1. Where Will the Money Come From Once You’re Retired?
Figure out how much money you’ll have in retirement and where it will come from. Possible sources include:
- Government: Canada or Quebec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) and Old Age Security (OAS)
- Workplace pension plans
- Personal savings: Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSPs), Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), and non registered accounts
- Other: rental income, real estate holdings, projected part-time employment in retirement and such like.
2. What’s Your Budget?
Make an estimate of your monthly expenses. Include all of your debts, loans and other financial commitments. For example: property taxes, utilities, mortgage or rent, childcare, alimony if it applies, medical expenses, club memberships, travel costs, and so on. This will help you identify any shortfall between your estimated (or real) income and your expenses.
3. Should You Top Up Your Investments?
If you can, yes. Make maximum annual contributions, or at the very minimum, contribute the most you can, to your RRSPs and TFSAs throughout your life and into retirement for as long as your age allows. These financial-planning tools can provide the opportunity to grow your savings on a tax-advantaged basis.
4. Consolidate Your Debts?
Paying off significant debts while you’re still working can help you ensure greater financial freedom in retirement, along with the added flexibility to handle emergencies, if they arise. Consider consolidating all of your debts into one account that charges a low rate of interest. Consolidating all of your investments with one financial advisor will also help provide a simplified picture of your financial health.
5. Review Wills, Powers of Attorney & Beneficiary Designations
On review, you may find previous choices need to be adjusted once you take your retirement. Have your lawyer or a notary look at your legal papers periodically and especially once you’re retired. You’ll want to ensure that you, your estate and your beneficiaries are protected in accordance with your wishes.
6. What About Insurance Coverage?
Be sure to review and if necessary, update any insurance policies on your life as well as your home and auto. You want to be sure they’re up to date and reflect your needs. Also be sure to purchase travel insurance on an as needed basis if you’re planning trips – whether retired or not.
7. Establish A Rainy Day Fund
No matter how well you budget, unexpected expenses can arise and undermine even the best-laid plans. Common practice is to set aside three to six months’ worth of living expenses, no matter what stage in life you’re at. This will help prevent you from dipping into your savings or, if retired, your regular retirement income during emergencies.
Prepare & Plan – You’ll Be Glad You Did
Frankly, there’s no big mystery when it comes to preparing for your retirement years. Being well prepared in advance means taking the time to plan while you’re still working. The younger you are when you start to put aside money and make investment plans for your future, the better off you’ll be in the long-term as time will be on your side.
If you have questions or need more advice to help you during the planning stages of your retirement, or even once you are retired, contact your financial advisor. As always, our credit union partners are available to lend expert guidance and help steer you towards a financially healthy retirement.