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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


Do you dream of retiring with $1 million in the bank? You’re probably not alone. A new poll by RBC reveals non-retired Canadians have big savings goals in mind for a comfortable future, but almost half don’t have a plan in place to get there.

Leading the pack for the most lofty goals were those living in B.C., who, on average, hope to save $1.07 million for their golden years. Quebec respondents trailed at $427,000, while Ontarians hope to save $872,000.

But to me, the most important statistic of the whole survey is the number of respondents who don’t have a plan. Fifty-four per cent of those surveyed have a plan, 32 per cent have one but it is in their head, and 46 per cent have no plan at all.  

Having your own plan will kick up your confidence, help you to drill down on savings strategies, and allow you to be realistic in your assumptions and expectations around retirement. A plan makes all the other data points more meaningful.

It’s one thing to dream of building a decent retirement nest egg, and another to actually do it. Respondents’ confidence in their ability to achieve these goals vary, with Ontarians having the highest level of confidence at 19 per cent – which is still not a great number. The least confident respondents were from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, at 12 per cent.

The top motivators to achieve retirement savings goals according to the survey include being debt free (66 per cent), followed by having the things you want to make your life more comfortable (47 per cent), taking part in experiences (39 per cent) and having the money to travel where and when you want (36 per cent).

But the question remains: how are we going to save the money? Respondents said they will spend less on non-essentials, eat out less, postpone major purchases, and even cut back on travel.

But retirement planning is not one size fits all and there is not a cookie-cutter approach to it. No one is going to live your retirement but you.

If you don’t have your own plan, how can you realistically figure out the number you need to save for retirement — and if the accumulation strategies you have in place will even work?