Figuring out how much is enough to save for retirement
The idea that saving for retirement is a good thing – a must, even – is repeatedly drilled into our collective heads.
But how much is enough, when it comes to retirement savings?
A recent article in the Toronto Star estimates that a Canadian making $65,000 a year would need to save “a nest egg of between $1 and $2 million for retirement, not including one’s house.”
That’s a big number!
The number, the article explains, “is higher than a few decades ago because we’re living longer in a more expensive Canada.” The article then goes on to provide some savings benchmarks – a list of what you should have saved at various age points in your life.
Those of us in our 20s “live paycheque to paycheque” and are unlikely to have any savings.
By your 30s, you should be putting away 15 per cent of what you make, the article explains. “You’ll need to bump that up by one per cent each year,” the article advises. The article advises signing up for any retirement program your workplace offers, whether it’s a pension plan, a group RRSP, or a TFSA. A couple should end their 30s with $250,000 as their retirement savings target, “not including their house,” the article warns.
By your 40s, “you and your partner are saving between 15 and 20 per cent of your gross earnings by making sure you follow healthy budgeting principles,” the article continues. This is the decade when many people have bought a home and are paying it down, the Star notes. You should have $500,000 in savings by the end of your 40s, the article proclaims.
The 50s is said to be the “burn your mortgage” era, but the cost of kids going off to university because a new stressor, the Star reports. You ought to have $700,000 in savings by the end of this decade.
Once you are in your 60s and mortgage free, the article suggests you put away half of your money (what you paid on the mortgage) towards your retirement savings, which will get you to $1 million by age 65. The article recommends that you make your investments less risky at this point, moving to “lower-risk, often ‘fixed income securities,’ which are investments that kick off a regular stream of income that you can use in retirement. You’ll also want to understand your pension, CPP, and OAS benefits.”
If you haven’t hit the million dollar plateau, the article concludes, “no problem – you can typically make up the shortfall by working a bit longer or downsizing your home.”
It’s interesting that this article makes no mention at all of any restrictors on savings, such as high personal debt. The implication is that, like when you are trying to lose weight and get fit, that you shouldn’t be coming up with excuses as to why you can’t do it.
The article gives a good guideline for savings. Many people choose not to join pension arrangements through work, a decision that saves them a bit of dough today but costs them a lot of money down the line. Be sure to take full advantage of what’s out there – don’t leave money on the table.
If you don’t have a workplace pension plan to join, or you are self-employed, you should set up your own savings plan. A great place to begin your savings journey is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, open to all Canadians. They have a great track record of turning savings into retirement income – check them out today!
|Written by Martin Biefer
|Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22|