We all know it is important to save for retirement, but do we really do it? Can we do it?
I recently read a Canadian survey that stated Canadian taxpayers have accumulated about $625 billion in “unused” RRSP contribution room — money that obviously has not been saved for retirement. I was actually shocked to further read in this study that six of 10 non-retirees expected to live a lifestyle in retirement that is “less” or “much less” comfortable than their current lifestyle. Is this because we do not want to plan; or could it be, we just don’t have the means to save more money to have a plan?
It can be hard to imagine events in the near future, let alone 30 years from now, and many people find it difficult to sacrifice things today for that uncertain future. Typically, there are three variables that strongly influence the ability to save for those people between the ages of 35 and 45 — age, children and income.
While many in this age group recognize the value of planning, it is not their priority and when the annual household incomes come in under $80,000, this group is not likely to be able to save. Most people nowadays, (under age 48) are still consumed by other priorities, including debt reduction and managing current expenses. So, what will happen to these Canadians that are still struggling? Well, what has always happened in the past for every generation before us.
Many will look to how their parents have fared over the years and model their views toward budgeting and saving based on their parent’s behaviour. This is a natural occurrence. Saving and planning habits are usually always influenced by their parents, either by a desire to avoid making the same mistakes or by wanting to create the same saving habits. While many people think that the school system should do a better job in teaching our children about personal finances it is nonetheless still seen to be a parental responsibility.
Whether your children are young or now adults with their own children, we as parents play a role in teaching our kids the basics of money management skills and should encourage them to develop good budgeting and saving habits. Parents must remember that their own financial behaviours have an immense influence on their children. Being a good role model allows our children to develop healthy financial routines.
In the end, however, our children will need to take charge of their own retirement on their own terms. We as parents should remind them that the decisions that they make before retirement will affect their lifestyles for a period that could potentially last longer than their entire working careers. Remind them that it is never too late to start planning and saving. They will listen to you.
— Christine Ibbotson has written four finance books, including the bestseller How to Retire Debt Free & Wealthy. She also writes the Moneylady column. askthemoneylady.ca