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When should I ACTUALLY start saving for retirement?

Whether it’s sunny beaches, cruising the open road, traveling the globe or just relaxing and taking time to enjoy your life – retirement looks different for everyone. No matter what it may look like for you, the one thing we all have in common is that one day we’d like to retire and we need money to make it happen. Whether you’re just starting your career, counting down the days, or somewhere in the middle, there are things you can do to ensure your retirement is exactly what you want it to be.


“What do you mean retirement? I just started working!” That may be true, but ideally, you’ll want to start saving for retirement as early as possible. We know that’s not always possible, so wherever you are in life’s journey, the best time to start saving for retirement is RIGHT NOW!!!

Here are some tips for you, wherever you are on your retirement journey:

Start early and contribute often

The earlier you start saving, the more interest you will earn and the more money you will have when you’re ready to retire. For example:

Age 20 years old 40 years old
Monthly investment $200 $800
Interest rate 6.5% 6.5%
Retirement age 65 65
Total invested $108K $240K
Interest earned $522K $362K
Total retirement savings $630,000 $602,000

Although both people ended up with a similar amount, the person who began saving at 20 years old, put in less than half of their own money – it mostly came from interest (i.e not your pocket).

Make it automatic

The easiest way to reach a savings goal is to set up automatic transfers to your retirement accounts. That way, it is coming out at a consistent rate and you don’t have to bid an emotional farewell to your money every month as it will be automatically transferred or deducted from your pay cheque.

Don’t touch your retirement fund. View it as money that is not at all accessible

There are lots of different types of accounts you can use to save for retirement, but the best ones are those you can’t touch. For example, there are TFSAs and RRSPs, and other special savings account you can use to meet your different retirement savings goals. The best thing to do if you’re not sure what accounts work best for you is to talk to a Financial Advisor. You can also check out our investment terminology blog to find out more information about different options and what those acronyms mean. By locking in these inaccessible accounts, it removes the temptation to pull from these savings accounts when you just NEED that new pair of shoes and sets you up for success when you retire.

Get rid of debt before retirement

Simply put, you don’t want to owe money when you are no longer making money.

Annually review your retirement plan to see how you’re doing and if it will still meet your needs

Just like a doctor’s check-up, a financial check-up is important to do every year. Work with  your financial advisor to make sure you’re on track and make any changes to your plan as you need. A great tool you can use to see how much you may need to be set up for retirement is our Retirement Planner Calculator.

Make sure you understand at tax time what your RRSP and TFSA contribution limits are

Every year, Revenue Canada will send you a Notice of Assessment after you’ve filed your taxes. On there, you can see how much you can contribute for the next year, based on your previous year’s income, plus any unused amounts from previous years. There is also a limit as to how much you can contribute to your TFSA, starting from the age of 18. A great tool for understanding your TFSA limit is this calculator.

No matter where retirement fits into your plans, it’s going to be a great time and being financially prepared will help ensure you can enjoy your golden years. So when is the right time to start saving? There is no better time like the present and it will save you down the road!

income tax form

Smart ways to spend your income tax refund

It may be tempting to spend your income tax refund on a new pair of shoes or a fancy dinner, but that good feeling of splurging is only temporary. Consider spending your income tax refund using one of these options.


According to the Canada Revenue Agency, close to 90% of Canadians who have filed their 2017 income taxes received a refund, with the average refund being $1676. Do you anticipate receiving a refund this year? If so, how do you plan on spending it?

It may be tempting to use all of this money to splurge on yourself but that good feeling you get from splurging is only temporary. Here are a few smart ways to spend your income tax refund – helping you feel financially-well now and in the future.

Pay off debt

Have a balance on your credit card or line of credit? Working to pay off your student loan or car loan? Consider using your tax refund to reduce or eliminate this debt. Putting towards your debt will not only reduce the amount of debt you have but also decrease/eliminate the interest you’re paying on this debt.

Emergency savings fund

Are you prepared for an unexpected emergency such as job loss, injury or illness? If your car engine went on you tomorrow, do you have money set aside to have it fixed? An emergency savings fund ensures you’re prepared for life’s unexpected curveballs. Use your refund to start or contribute to an emergency savings fund. Unsure how much you may need? Check out our Importance of having an emergency savings fund blog to help you out.

Extra payment on your mortgage

Some mortgages have the option to make extra payments allowing you to pay down your mortgage faster – check your mortgage agreement to see what extra payment options you may have. Consider using your refund to make an extra payment on your mortgage, which will be applied directly to the principal amount. This will not only reduce this debt faster but also reduce the amount of time you’ll be paying off your mortgage.

Put into an RRSP

Retirement may seem far away, but it will be here before you know it. Help reach your retirement goals quicker by putting your refund into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Check out our Retirement Planner Calculator to see if you’re on track for your retirement goals.

Put towards your child’s education

Post-secondary education costs for your child can add up quickly – will you be ready? Consider putting your refund into a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to help pay for the costs of this education. Our RESP Calculator can help you figure out the cost of your child’s post-secondary education and map out the savings required – through individual contributions and government grants.

Save the money in a Tax-Free Savings Account

Tax-free savings accounts (TFSA) allow you to save money in an investment tax-free, with a maximum yearly contribution limit of $5,500. These accounts are great tools for saving money for short and long-term goals and give you the flexibility to withdraw the money you save at any time. Saving for a family vacation or a new car – consider using a TFSA to get you started. Check out our TFSA Calculator to see your potential benefits to investing your tax refund into a TFSA.

However you choose to spend your tax refund, be sure to do so wisely. A new pair of shoes may be nice, but your return on investment would not compare to using one of the options above. We’d love to chat and see which option may be best for you. Contact us today!

Variety of icons related to finances

#FinLit: understanding common financial terms

Being financially literate means you understand all things money. Here are a few #FinLit terms to get you started feeling confident about your money.


Financial literacy is a critical life skill and is just as important in life as any other basic life skill. Being financially literate means, you understand all things money – how it works, how it’s generated, how to manage it and how to invest it. It also means having the knowledge and confidence that allows you to make smart, responsible decisions about your money.

A poll by Angus Reid Institute shows that Canadians are lacking this confidence when it comes to understanding common financial terms. RRSP vs TSFA. Simple interest vs compound interest. Do you know what these terms mean?

It’s time to get confident about your money and we’re here to help. Below are a few terms to get you started. Understanding these terms will not only increase your financial knowledge but will also help you start feeling confident about your money and the decisions you make.

Savings account vs. chequing account

Savings accounts are a place where your money is meant to grow and shouldn’t be used for everyday spending. Many savings accounts earn interest, helping your money grow faster and making them a great tool to use for your saving goals.

Chequing accounts are a place to deposit your money, such as your pay cheque, and use for your everyday spending. The money you want to save should be moved from this account into another account, such as your savings account, to take away the temptation of spending elsewhere.

Simple interest vs. compound interest

Simple interest is calculated on the original amount, or what we like to call the principal. For example, if you were to deposit $1,000 into an account with an annual interest return rate of 3%, you’d receive $30 in interest each year. After 10 years, you’ll have earned $300 in interest and have a total of $1300.

Compound interest is calculated on the principal amount AND on the accumulated interest of previous years. For example, if we used the same example as above, after the first year you’d receive $30 interest. In year two, the interest would be calculated on the principal amount and on the interest you previous incurred. ($1030 x 3% = $1060.90). After ten years, you’ll have earned $343.92 in interest and have a total of $1,343.92.

Note: Compound interest is the type of interest applied most often when it comes to accounts, investments, loans, credit cards, etc.

RRSP vs. TFSA

RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) allows you to contribute money into an investment that you can use as a tax deductible. This money will be taxed when you withdraw it. RRSPs can be invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. and typically are locked in for a period amount of time.

RRSPs should be left until retirement, if not you can be charged a penalty. There are a few ways you can borrow money from your RRSP such as buying your first home, but you will have to pay back this amount by a certain time to not be penalized. More information can be found here.

TFSAs (tax-free savings accounts) allow you to contribute money to an investment but is not tax deductible. The positive with this type of account is that you aren’t taxed when you withdraw the amount or on the earnings. Each year there is a maximum amount you can contribute to a TFSA – find the yearly contribution limits here.

There is a bit more flexibility when it comes to TFSAs as you can take the money out whenever you’d like. This flexibility though can be a negative though as it can cause the temptation to spend vs. using as a long-term saving tool.

Variable vs. fixed

A variable rate means your interest rate changes as interest rates change and can go up or down. If you have a variable rate on a loan, your payments will be the same but the amount you pay towards your principal may vary. In other words, if the variable rate decreases, you’ll put more money directly towards your principal. If the variable rate increases, less money will go towards your principal and more will be applied to the interest.

Fixed rates stay the same and won’t change even if the other interest rates change. A fixed rate will stay the same for the length of time you have set.  The benefit of a fixed interest rate is that it protects you against any increases in interest rates.

Having knowledge of these eight common financial terms can have a huge impact on your financial well-being and allow you to make informed decisions when it comes to your money.

Are there other financial terms you wish you knew more about? Tell us in the comments below and we’ll do a blog about it!

retired couple hiking in field

Retirement: will you have enough?

Retirement – whether far away or just around the corner, it will require some planning in advance. Are you prepared?


We all dream of the day we’ll retire. No more alarm clock and having to get up early to go to work. Being able to take a nap whenever we like. And doing the things we want, whenever we want – a golf game at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, why not?

Being able to do all the things we want when we retire though will require some planning in advance. It’s recommended to start early and if you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late. When planning for your retirement, here are a few things you should consider.

How much money will I need?

The amount of money you’ll need to retire will depend on what you plan on doing and the expenses you’ll incur. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • At what age do I want to retire?
  • What types of expenses will I have when I retire such as housing, bills, etc.?
  • What type of health insurance will I need? Will I need extra coverage as I get older?
  • What types of activities/hobbies do I plan on doing such as traveling, etc.?
  • Will I move into a senior’s complex and what expenses will I have?
  • Do I want to leave an inheritance for my family?

Considering all factors, what yearly income would you need and feel comfortable living off of? Take this amount and divide by 12 to get your monthly income. Is this still an amount you’re comfortable with? If not, you may need to relook at the things you may want to do or think about increasing your yearly income to make an amount that you’re happy with.

I know how much money I’ll need, but now what?

Now that you have an amount in mind that you want to retire with, you need to put together a plan on how to start saving money to reach this goal. Starting early is key as it allows you to save more over a longer period of time. Starting later is still possible, but you may have to put more money away in a shorter amount of time to reach your goals.

A retirement calculator helps you figure out the amount of savings you’ll need each year to meet your retirement needs. It takes into account any money you’ve already saved, retirement income you may receive from the government or an employer and rate of returns. It also helps show if you’re on track and provides advice on adjusting your savings if you have a shortfall.

Through the calculator, you’ll be able to see what yearly contributions you should be making. To find a monthly amount, take the yearly contributions and divide by 12. Does this amount fit your budget? If not, consider adjusting your retirement goal or putting away smaller amounts that fit your budget now with a plan to reevaluate and increase contributions over the next several years.

When creating a plan, it’s great to have an understanding of what your goals are and what is needed from you now in order to reach your long-term goals. It’s also important to know that things change in life and you may need to adjust your plan along the way. This is why it’s also important to speak with a financial advisor when creating a plan as they can provide guidance and advice based on your needs and things that may change over time. A financial advisor can also help determine what products would be in your best interest and help reach your goals.

Where should I invest my money?

Everyone’s situation and goals are unique as should be the products to best meet your goals and needs.  There are many different ways you can save and invest money for retirement such as RRSPs, TFSAs, etc. Talking with a financial advisor will help determine what products work best for you. Prior to discussing, become familiar with the different options available and jot down any questions you may have.  Your financial advisor can help answer these questions and set you up with any products identified in your personalized plan.

When planning your retirement, there are many factors to consider and starting as early as possible is key. First, understand what you want when you retire and factor in all related expenses. Talk to a financial advisor to help determine where you want to be and how to get there. And then start investing today. Putting as little as $20 every couple of weeks now can make a big difference later on. There’s no better investment than in yourself and your future… so what are you waiting for?