October 23, 2023

These four strategies can help you retire early

A recent CNBC article, asks Certified Financial Planner Michael Powers to offer up some savings strategies that he says — if they are followed — can help make your retirement an early one.

The first one, Powers tells CNBC, is one we hear quite often — pay yourself first.

“Paying yourself first is a strategy where you save a portion of your income before you spend anything, rather than spending first and then saving what’s left over,” the article explains.

We love this advice. If you think of your savings as a bill that must be paid each month, you’ll be regularly putting away money for the future without really thinking about it.

And that leads to the second strategy endorsed by Powers — automated savings.

“When you spend first and only save what’s leftover, you run the risk of overspending and not leaving much room to save,” the article warns. If you are able to, instead, automatically contribute to a savings arrangement (the article cites an employer retirement savings program as an example) on pay day, it becomes “much easier to put aside 10 per cent to 20 per cent of your (paycheque) before you even have the chance to spend it.”

Some employer retirement programs will match the money you contribute, the article adds.

If you don’t have a workplace retirement program, you can save money in your own registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), Tax Free Savings Account, Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) account, or other non-registered savings vehicle. (The article is written for a U.S. audience and discusses similar U.S. savings vehicles for individuals.)

Power’s third point is one folks often overlook — “knowing your retirement number,” the article notes. The retirement number “is the amount of money you’ll need to keep yourself afloat when you’re no long working,” the article continues.

The majority of people don’t know what this number is, the article adds.

“A 2019 report from the Department of Labor explained that only 40 per cent of Americans have calculated how much money they’ll need for retirement. And when you don’t know how much money you’ll need, you may not save enough and run the risk of outliving your retirement funds,” the article warns.

So how to figure out this number?

Powers tells CNBC “you can calculate this number by estimating what your total yearly expenses in retirement would be, then subtracting how much you think you’ll receive through sources of income you expect to earn in retirement, like (government retirement benefits) and income from rental property. What’s left over is the amount of money you’ll need to withdraw from your savings and investments each year in order to cover all your expenses. Multiply this number by 25 (or you can divide it by 0.04) and you’ll be left with the amount of money you need to have saved before you’re able to comfortably retire.”

Powers’ last strategy, the article says, is that you should start saving for retirement early.

“The sooner the better,” Powers tells CNBC. “You want the magic of compound interest to be on your side, so the sooner you can start saving something, the easier it will be down the road. If your account balance grows at a rate of seven per cent per year on average, it will double roughly every 10 years thanks to compound interest.”

So, to recap — pay yourself first. Make it automatic. Know your retirement savings “number.” And start early.

If, as the article suggests, there’s a retirement savings program available at your work, be sure to join it and contribute to the max. If you don’t have such a program, have a look at what SPP can do. You can start as early as age 18. You can make savings automatic, either through pre-authorized contributions or by setting SPP up as a bill and making automatic contributions that way. You can figure out what your SPP savings will provide with our Wealth Calculator. That calculation will help you figure out your Retirement Number (along with tallying up your other sources of future retirement income).

SPP has been helping Canadians build a secure retirement for over 35 years. Check out SPP today!

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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 and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


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