April 11, 2024

Despite focusing on slaying debt, Canadians still plan to retire at 60

Writing in the Financial Post, Victoria Wells reports that “more than half of Canadian investors say they’re concentrating on getting their bills paid over saving for the future.”

Yet, her article notes, despite the focus on debt reduction – brought on by higher interest rates – a CIBC study suggests “most still expect to retire around 60.”

OK, saving less, reducing debt, and still jumping over the wall of work at 60. Let’s hear more.

The focus on paying down debt, Wells reports, is “leading many to look past traditional long-term savings vehicles, such as the registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) instead. Indeed, 53 per cent of investors with both an RRSP and TFSA said they preferred putting their money into the latter so they could access their savings tax-free at any time. RRSPs, in contrast, may be locked-in, meaning withdrawals, which are taxable, can only be made at a future date.”

In fact, the article continues, again citing CIBC research, “one third of people with RRSPs don’t intend to make any contributions” by the annual deadline.

The fact that people seem to be preoccupied, in the present, with defeating debt seems to be impacting how they are investing generally, the article notes.

“The shift to a more conservative financial focus is also showing up in people’s investing strategies, and 42 per cent said they’re looking for predictable returns over outsized growth amid an uncertain economic environment,” the article notes.

“The preference for short-term liquidity and stable returns suggests many Canadians are focused on today and less so on long-term accumulation of wealth or retirement,” Carissa Lucreziana of CIBC states in the article.

OK, more interest on liquidity – having money available to use soon – than long-term growth. What’s driving that?

The article says anxiety may be the reason behind the switch in investment thinking.

“Inflation, higher interest rates and concerns the economy may tip into a recession have left many Canadians anxious about their finances. Worriers are spending an average of 17.7 more hours fretting about money than they were last year, according to separate research from the Bank of Nova Scotia,” the Post reports.

And some of those anxieties extend to retirement, the article adds.

Citing more data from CIBC, the Post notes that “more than half admit they either can’t afford to save for retirement or aren’t sure they’re saving enough. Another 57 per cent harbour fears they’ll run out of money in their old age, while higher inflation has forced one-third to push back their expected retirement date.”

The solution, the article concludes, is a balanced approach – focusing on debt while not overlooking long-term savings needs completely.

“Planning for both short and longer-term ambitions can help individuals move beyond their immediate needs and envision how they can live for today (and) save for the future, accumulating wealth over time to support their retirement years,” states CIBC’s Lucreziana in the article.

The article makes a great point. Of course, you should get rid of personal debt – the less you have of it in retirement, when you will probably have less income, the better. But it’s probably not a great idea to completely stop saving for retirement while battling debt. Maybe, one should consider retirement saving to be like any other bill you have to pay each month.

Members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan can save as though they are paying bills – just set up SPP as a “bill” on your online banking, and you’re off to the races. You can also set up a “pay yourself first” pre-authorized contribution, and SPP also accepts credit card contributions. That’s one of the great features about SPP – flexibility.

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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