There are a lot of risks that we face in retirement (including early retirement). When you enter retirement, there are lots of changes happening all at once. Along with big personal changes, and lifestyle changes, there are also big changes happening to your finances. After you enter retirement one of the biggest financial changes you’ll face is a shift from a regular income source (eg. employment) to an income source based entirely on your own savings and pension. Making this switch can create a few risks, one of those risks is the risk of running out of money.
One of the biggest risks facing retirees is something called sequence of returns risk. When a good portion of your retirement income comes from your own savings this is the biggest risk a retiree can face. But what does “sequence of returns risk” mean exactly?
Before we talk about sequence of returns risk it’s important to understand that most retirement plans are based on an assumed (and constant) investment return each year. This investment return is usually assumed to happen in a straight line with the same percentage return each year. An assumed return of return of 5% would be 5% per year starting on the day you retire, but in reality your investment return is going to fluctuate from year to year, and this is where the risk comes from.
Over the short-term you will probably see your investment return fluctuate greatly from year to year. Instead of seeing investment returns of +5%, +5%, +5%, +5%, +5%, you might see +20%, +2%, -10%, +15%, +1%. In this case the average return is still +5%, but there were some huge swings from year to year. “Sequence of returns risk” refers to this sequence, the actual investment returns you see year after year.
The big risk for retirees happens when the sequence is negative for a few years in a row. Even if average investment returns recover over the long-term, that short period of negative returns can have a devastating effect on a retiree’s portfolio.
It’s the new year! Time to kick start your finances!
This ten day routine will help you shift your finances into high gear. This routine is aggressive, ambitious, and a bit challenging. This routine will cover all the basics of a good financial routine. Having a routine for your money is one of the best ways to improve your finances this year.
If ten days seems like too much (and it probably is!) then consider spreading these steps over ten weeks or even ten months to make things a bit easier. The key is to find a pace that works for you. It’s better to take a bit more time if it means you’ll stick to your new routine.
If it seems daunting then consider pairing up with a friend, co-worker, or getting the help of a financial coach. At PlanEasy we offer custom financial coaching & advice for our clients. As a new client, we’ll create a 12-month program tailored specifically to you and your goals. If you struggle with your financial routine then a bit of coaching & advice might be exactly what you need to improve your finances this year.
There is never a bad time to start saving for retirement, but when is the BEST time to start planning? We’ve been told to start saving & investing for retirement from a very young age, the earlier the better, but when do you actually start planning for retirement itself? When do you start to think about income, expenses, taxes and government benefits during your retirement years?
Retirement can be very complex. When you reach retirement it’s pretty easy to have 6-10 different income sources, all with different tax treatments and claw back rules. One income source can be tax free while the other is fully taxed. Some retirement income is counted when calculating government benefit claw backs while others aren’t. These rules can make it difficult to estimate how much you can expect in retirement.
Retirees usually have their own source of retirement income from TFSAs, RRSPs, LIRAs, RRIFs, and non-registered accounts. Plus, they have government retirement programs like CPP, OAS and GIS. Then there are government benefits like the GST/HST credit and other senior’s benefits. And on top of that there are defined benefit pensions and annuities too.
With all these different income sources, it can get a little confusing. It can be difficult to know exactly how much can you expect in retirement income, how much will be lost to taxes, and how that matches up with retirement expenses.
As you get closer to retirement it can be extremely helpful to have a retirement plan in place. A plan that integrates all these different sources of income, calculates taxes and government benefits, and ensures you can reach your retirement spending goals. But can you reach a point where it’s too late to plan for retirement?
When is the best time to plan for retirement?
You may have noticed a new term starting to creep into the mainstream financial media, that term is FIRE, and you might be wondering, “What the heck is FIRE? And how is it related to personal finances?”.
FIRE is an acronym that stands for Financial Independence/Retire Early. The basic idea is that if you pursue FIRE you can eventually stop working for money. You can be financially independent. You can do anything, retire early, keep working, volunteer, basically you can have more freedom.
The idea is that with enough savings/investments you’ll eventually reach the point where you can live off your investment income indefinitely. Once you reach this point you’re considered financially independent, you no longer NEED to work for an income, and can retire to a life of leisure (although you may choose to continue to work, change roles/professions, start a business, or volunteer).
While the concept of early retirement sounds amazing, it does take quite a bit of focus and determination to get there. To reach FIRE it requires a high savings rate, very high. The typical financial advice given to the public is to save and investment approximately 20% of your net income (part of the simple 50/30/20 budget). But to reach financial independence retire early you need to save more, much more. To reach FIRE you need to have a savings rate somewhere in the 30%-70%+ range. The higher your savings rate the faster you can stop working for money.
FIRE is made easier with an above average income. With a high-income basic expenses are covered and it becomes more about managing lifestyle inflation. People who pursue FIRE limit their lifestyle inflation to maintain a high savings rate.
FIRE is also possible with a below average income, but requires a lot of creativity to reduce basic expenses. This may include house hacking, avoiding car ownership, and more extreme lifestyles. To reach financial independence retire early with a low-income you need to live an alternative lifestyle.
Reaching FIRE is one of those extreme personal finance goals, it’s a goal that isn’t for everyone.
Even though the end goal sounds appealing it requires a lot of hard work and dedication along the way. Reaching financial independence retire early means living way below your means for the rest of your life. It’s a lifestyle more than it is an end goal. It’s a lifestyle with a lot of freedom, but it’s also a lifestyle that requires a lot of control.
If you’re able to control your spending, and save a large % of your income, then reaching financial independence might only be a few years away.
To find out roughly how far away from FIRE you are you can download our FIRE calculator. It’ll help you estimate how many years from FIRE you are based on your net-income, current expenses, and existing savings.
We’ve used our FIRE calculator to create four examples of how to reach FIRE.
You need less for retirement than you think. Numbers are often thrown around for retirement, $1 million comes up often, probably because it’s an nice round number. Now they’re saying $1 million isn’t even enough. Now they’re saying you need more, maybe as much as $2 million.
The truth is…. that’s utterly ridiculous. The average Canadian won’t need $2 million to retire and if you’re targeting that amount (or even $1 million) you might be saving TOO MUCH for retirement.
Where are these lies coming from? My guess is from the financial services industry in general. In general, the financial services industry gets compensated for investments under management, products sold, and debt/mortgages. This leads to quite a bit of biased information coming from the financial services industry.
The sad truth is that the more money you save the more “they” get paid. They don’t want you to settle for $1,000,000 in savings when $2,000,000 could mean more in annual fees. How much more? About $23,500 more in annual fees.
That’s not a typo. You read that right. The average mutual fund fee in Canada is around 2.35%. Annual fees on a $2 million portfolio are $47,00 per year, PER YEAR, when it’s invested in the average mutual fund portfolio.
No wonder they keep telling us to save, the more we save the more they earn.
The crazy thing is that the fees on a $2 million mutual fund portfolio are enough to fund the average retirement. Imagine, the FEES ALONE are enough for the average retirement, and yet they continue to tell us we need to keep saving.
So how much do you actually need for the average retirement? How much should you have saved? What is the target retirement savings by age? It’s less than you think. But first, let’s cover a few assumptions.
When it comes to retirement there is a lot of focus put on the RRSP. The Registered Retirement Savings Plan seems like an obvious choice for retirement (it even has retirement in the name after all!). But for many of us an RRSP isn’t necessary, and it might even be counterproductive!
There’s a new retirement account on the block and it’s called the TFSA. Not even 10 years old, the TFSA is relatively new to the retirement savings game. Starting in 2009, it changed the way we look at retirement savings.
If you’re new to RRSP vs TFSA debate it’s important to know that there are pros and cons for each account. RRSP’s do have the advantage in a few different areas, especially if you have high income or have a family and receive child benefits (either the Canada Child Benefit or a provincial child benefit). TFSA’s also have their share of benefits too. For low and middle income households, the TFSA has a few big advantages.
When deciding which is the right one for you need to look at multiple factors. Factors like income taxes, government benefits, creditor protection, and even human behaviour.
When deciding between the TFSA or the RRSP the key thing to remember is that you don’t actually NEED an RRSP to retire. Someone can easily retire with only a TFSA.
There are four things you need to know if you’re going to avoid the RRSP and only use the TFSA for retirement…