Canadian Xennials* Feel the Retirement Savings Squeeze

February 1, 2018

For Canadian Xennials* (34-40), day-to-day life is getting in the way of saving for retirement. According to a recent survey from TD, three-quarters (74%) of this micro generation say they would like to contribute more than they currently do, but everyday financial obligations take precedence.

Seven in ten Canadian Xennials say they feel overwhelmed due to juggling other financial obligations with saving for retirement. These include common expenses such as monthly bills (cited by 60 %), paying off credit cards and personal loans (44%), mortgage payments (33%), childcare costs (24 %), home maintenance costs (22%), and repaying school loans (13%).

“We can all have the best of intentions when it comes to preparing for retirement, but then life gets in the way and we start to feel the retirement savings squeeze,” says Jennifer Diplock, associate vice president, personal savings and investing, TD Canada Trust. “Monthly bills fall due or we are faced with a loan repayment, and that can mean we end up contributing less than we should towards our retirement.”

When asked whether they agree they are too young to think about saving for retirement, there’s a notable shift between those 18 -34 (42%) and those 34 -40 (16%).

In fact, Statistics Canada identified that 72.2% of households with a major income earner aged 35 to 44 have a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), registered pension plan or tax-free savings account (TFSA) but many are not contributing as much as they would like, with more than three-quarters of Xennials surveyed by TD (77 per cent) saying they plan to start contributing or to contribute more to retirement savings in the next five years.

As a result, half of Xennials describe themselves as feeling uncertain (52%) or unprepared (49%) for their retirement. The survey also indicates that the stresses felt by Xennials are reflective of the experience of other Canadians. For instance, while three in five Xennials point to the savings barrier of monthly bills, 62% of Canadians share this concern.

“The reality is that we all have to juggle our financial commitments to find the right balance when it comes to preparing for retirement,” said Diplock. “There are simple steps we can take to ease the retirement savings squeeze.”

For those looking to get on with their busy lives no matter which life stage they are at, while also setting aside enough funds for retirement, here are some suggestions.

Work towards the retirement you want
It may seem a long way off, but it isn’t too soon to start by thinking about what you want to do in retirement. You might want to travel the world, spend time volunteering or begin a new career. Because everyone wants a different retirement, there is no one financial template to follow. Once you’ve set out your vision, the next step is to establish a retirement savings goal. A useful and detailed online tool is the Canada Retirement Income Calculator which can show you how much you may need to put into savings in order to live the life you want in your retirement years.

Save your way
While juggling financial obligations, many people find making smaller weekly, bi-weekly or monthly Saskatchewan Pension Plan, RRSP or TFSA contributions easier than paying a large lump sum at once. Setting up a pre-authorized payment plan means finding the right schedule and plan for you. Peace of mind comes from knowing that you are steadily moving towards your retirement savings goal. For example, if you receive a pay raise at work or start a new job, you can increase the amount you are saving.

Examine your expenses   
Whether it’s paying back your loans or scrutinizing your monthly bills to determine essential expenses, determine how much you should pay yourself too. These are small steps we can all take to maximize the amount we spend doing the things we like most, while still saving for retirement.

The earlier, the better
Whether or not you are a Xennial, there is no time like the present to start saving for your future. Keep in mind that the earlier you start, the more you can benefit from compound interest.  With compound interest, the interest you earn is added to your principal investment, so that the balance doesn’t merely grow, it grows at an increasing rate. Whether your retirement feels like a lifetime away or is just around the corner, it’s important to factor in your retirement savings when planning your monthly budget. Receiving financial advice early on can help you put a sustainable saving structure in place to help keep your financial priorities and goals in check.

*Defined as the generation born between 1982 and 2004, millennials are aged between 13 and 35. The generation before, Gen X, spanned another 20 years, beginning in 1961 and ending in 1981. With such a large cohort, it’s hard to imagine everyone in these demographics identifies with the perceived persona of these generations. Enter Xennials, the new term being used to describe people born between 1977 and 1983.

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Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.
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