Canadians think they need savings of $1.7 million to retire according to a recent BMO survey. With a large majority of people struggling to make ends meet, saving for retirement seems out of reach.
Realistically, how much do you need to retire? And what happens if you don’t have enough money saved? How much longer will you have to keep working before you can retire?
Licensed Insolvency Trustee, Matthew Fader talks about what Canadians are doing to prepare and how you can budget for your retirement. Other topics covered are:
- Why slowing down may be the new version of retirement
- Shifting perception and retirement trends
- Saving while in debt
- Options to get you back on track
- Free or cost effective resources available
Licensed Insolvency Trustees are federally regulated and approved by the Canadian government. They are the ones that will give you unbiased advice about your finances and options for managing your debt.
Read the Transcript
Wayne Kay 00:00
Welcome to the Debt Matters podcast, where we help Canadians find solutions to their debts with Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across Canada.
I’m Wayne Kay, and coming up in today’s show, we’re going to be talking about how to budget and save for retirement. So when do you get to retire? That’s the big question. That can keep a lot of people awake at night stressing over it.
What will it cost to survive? I’ve heard some people say they can’t afford to live right now on 100% of their income, never mind a percentage that’s way less. So where should you put your money before you retire? And can you save when you have debt? Is retirement even an option?
We’re going to discuss this and more with Matt Fader today. From Allan Marshall and Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee with offices in Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia. Matt, thanks very much for being here today.
Matthew Fader 01:03
Thank you for having me.
Wayne Kay 01:04
We’re going to have an interesting discussion. I don’t know about you, but for some reason, even though I have all this youth on my side and I look so young, a question I always get is, hey, are you retired yet?
Matthew Fader 01:19
Not one I get, but I must have bigger bags under my eyes or look a little bit more weathered. I don’t know.
Wayne Kay 01:26
I don’t know. For some reason, this seems to be something that we’re all looking forward to at some point – when we’ll be able to retire. So I think this is – maybe it’s because I’ve been here for a while and so it’s just this question we seem to get. But what is retirement these days?
Matthew Fader 01:46
That really is a loaded question. I think it depends mostly on well, there’s a lot of factors. I mean, people are clearly living longer. So either retirement needs to be delayed until you get a little bit older, or you’ve got a long time of being retired ahead of you compared to what retirement used to be considered. The concept in and of itself didn’t really exist up until the 20th century. And really there’s only been about three generations that will be able to take advantage of it.
Farmers and factory workers and people like that never got to retire. They just worked pretty much until they dropped. And with the advent of pension plans and your CPP, your OAS and government assisted plans, they’ve certainly come in. They’ve helped people to be able to say, okay, there is a point where I can stop working and start enjoying life.
And that was great based on the original tables, but I think both you and I know that 67 isn’t old anymore. There’s going to be a lot of – if there’s any 67 year old plus out there, they’re going to be nodding their heads quite the same because both you and I know we’re very different at our ‘advanced ages’ than our parents were at the same.
Wayne Kay 03:29
Yes, absolutely. But when you talk about those great pension plans out there – here where I live, I know there’s a certain company where kind of everybody shoots to retire at about 58, 59. And so for them, that’s kind of normal.
And then I have a lot of teacher friends who are also in that 58, 60 range, but for most Canadians, I would think it’s going to be 65, 67 somewhere in there, like you’re mentioning.
Matthew Fader 03:59
Yes. Or later, as people continue to age more slowly and medical and science and things like that advance and we start to live longer. People are being, I don’t want to say, they remain useful for longer.
If you’re working in a coal mine, there is a point where your back and your legs are going to give out. But Canada especially is a service driven industry where somebody like myself, who sits at a desk and uses their voice all day, I can do this forever. I don’t want to do it forever. But I think the reality of it is that unless I’m super fiscally responsible and if I was fortunate enough to have a pension plan through my employer or could make aggressive RSP and other types of investment – retirement is just not really in the cards for a lot of people.
And that’s unfortunate, but it’s kind of where we are because that model of being retired at 67 or 65 really has gone out the window. I mean, my father retired at, I want to say, 60 from his position with the government, and he’s going to be celebrating his 80th birthday next year, right. And he’s still going strong.
So it’s a very difficult question to answer because people, like I said, remain useful, they remain in those positions for longer periods of time. It is difficult to sort of plot out that course to say, what do I do now?
That being said, whether it’s in your cards or not doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be looking to say, am I able to save? Am I able to put money aside so that when the day comes that I can stop working, or at least that I can slow down?
And I think that will be the new retirement, will be that it will be. People are just slowing down, maybe not working full time, but making part time to subsidize their income. I think that’s the trend we’re going to run into, and we certainly see it a lot right now with an aging workforce.
Wayne Kay 06:32
One thing, though, is the numbers that they come up with and they say, oh, you need to have this many millions of dollars saved before you can retire. And I look at those numbers and I just start cold sweating and freaking out, and I think, well, that’s never going to happen. So how do you figure out what’s going to cost for you to actually survive in retirement?
Matthew Fader 06:58
Well, and again, that’s such a hard question to answer because when we look and we say, well, Wayne, you and I, if we would have had this conversation two years ago, what was the price of gas? How much have things like inflation, the pandemic, driving shortages and supply and all these other factors that have come into play have just blown the tables out of?
We’re in a world right now where there is a whole lot of unpredictability to say, well, how do I calculate? How do I determine how much I need to survive? Because that’s ultimately what you need to look at.
You need to be able to take a look at your income and your expenses and you need to be able to say, well, I need X amount of dollars per month to be able to maintain the quality of life that I want to be able to live. And that number that you have today will be different 20 years down the road because housing may plateau, it may drop, but it’s very unpredictable out there.
I mean, heaven forbid you should want to try and buy a new car right around now, or even a second hand car. It’s a very difficult thing to be able to plan for and it’s become problematic for younger people, millennials and whatnot, because they view this as an impossible task. So they’re not saving anything statistically. Higher debt levels, no savings. And they say, well, what’s the point? I’m on this treadmill forever, which is discouraging.
We need to find sort of a happy medium there to say, well, again, like I said, it might be the fact of shifting that perception of what retirement is rather than saying, okay, I get to go, like the commercials would show you. Well, I’m going to go get on my boat now, and I’m going to sail down south at 55, and I’m going to just live my best life.
You could say, well, that would be great if you were planning to live till 60, because if you want to bank up 5 million and say, okay, I’m going to be dead in five years, then yeah, you’re going to have a great old time. But if they’re going to live till they’re 90, that’s 35 years of being retired. You really got to stretch your money out pretty far.
And that’s when you need to say, okay, now my fiscal responsibility really needs to get strict. Now I really have to start tightening the belt. Now I really have to start living a more restrictive lifestyle because it’s absolutely terrifying to say if that’s what your vision is of being able to essentially do nothing because you’ve worked all those years. It’s going to take a lot of aggressive planning and a lot of diligence and awareness not only and that starts now.
If somebody says, I want to start that plan. It starts now. If you’re not saving today, you’re not saving tomorrow. So it has to start now.
Wayne Kay 10:19
And just start with as much as you can. Is this something in your industry, you’re helping people who are financially in trouble? And is this something that you look at and say, well, here’s maybe some options on places where you can actually put your money?
Matthew Fader 10:34
Well, I’m a Licensed Insolvency Trustee and not a financial advisor, so we will always defer to the experts. But the core of being able to do any of this work is, in my opinion, and of course this is just me, I don’t think you can save when you have debt. Or it’s sort of counterproductive if you say, well, I’m going to put $500 a month into my savings or my RSP while I’m carrying a $30,000 debt load. I can say, okay, well, what’s the point?
Because that should be money that’s used to service your debt. Because if you continue to put that $500 away, great, it’s excellent. But if all you’re doing is making interest only payments on that $30,000 in debt, we know that debt doesn’t move. Now, yes, you’re building up the savings, you’re building up the stuff for retirement.
But when you retire, what are you doing? You’re drawing against your retirement to do what? To then pay this debt that you have not been able to address. Where if we would have focused a little heavier on addressing the debt at the time that it was there. Yes, we’re sacrificing those months or those years of being able to invest money into our retirement.
But when the debt is satisfied, then we can take those funds that we’re using to satisfy the debt plus the base that we said, this is what we want to be able to invest in our retirement anyway and sort of really catapult our retirement. Because I see it constantly where we have people that have worked their whole lives. They’ve built up their RSPs, they’ve sold their house, they’ve done all the things that they were supposed to do. But because the debt load was out of control, they were withdrawing on these funds which were used to help supplement their income. But they’re using that to service debt. And that’s where we really have to be careful.
Sometimes we do need to adjust that mindset to say, how much do I need? Am I saving too aggressively? Am I digging myself in deeper? Is the fact that I’m putting this $500 into a savings account, forcing me to rely more on the credit card to be able to buy groceries and things like that? Because then you’re not saving money. You’re generating debt, you’re not saving money.
So we need to change that focus because what happens when you get to the end, when you say, okay, I’m out of room on my credit card, I’m out of room on my line of credit. I don’t have the borrowing capacity. Then we have to look and say, well, how do you shift your quality of life, how you live? Then you have to make real adjustments, and that could be scary too.
Wayne Kay 13:15
Well, it’s very difficult too, because I like seeing growth. I like seeing $1 become $2 and $2 become $4, and I get more and more excited about that, which helps me then keep my debt under control. I don’t like to spend unless I save up for it. And it would be very difficult, I think, to have both sides. You can’t have, oh, I love seeing all the growth, but I also like seeing the debt growing.
It really doesn’t work together. So what is your advice to Canadians who may have been doing great at saving money, and then all of a sudden, some life circumstances change, and now they are in financial trouble? How do you address that? Or is that too vague of a question?
Matthew Fader 14:07
Well, no, life gets lifey, and that’s sort of the problem. It’s the best that we can do to prepare for it. We’re always going to be caught unprepared because things happen when things happen.
Probably the best advice that I can give to anyone is that when your car starts making funny noises, you don’t go to your plumber, right? You go to a mechanic. You know, so you really want to be able to say, well, are there resources out there that can help me to either review my budget to help me get on track, or just to find out what options are available?
People will call me regularly with these issues, and my job is, of course, to go through it and to say, okay, here’s what you can do to solve these problems. Put a solution in place, and it doesn’t have to be me doing something for them. I mean, truthfully, my job is to sort of talk you out of using my services, because doing a Bankruptcy or a proposal is very much your last resort.
We work very hard in just making sure that anybody that’s coming to us with these issues that we’re saying, okay, have we gone down the route? Have we looked at your budget? Have we looked at what resources you have? Are we identifying areas of waste within your budget that you can say, well, changes made here or there can really pay off and pay off in dividends through some small changes because there’s always slight adjustments that can be made.
People don’t really see them as being significant when it’s $5, $10 here or there, but it’s, of course, the quantity of those subtle changes that you can make. You know what I mean? Like, if you’re like, okay, well, I can adjust my cell phone data plan to save myself $25 a month. Okay, that’s wonderful. $25.
Is that going to make much of a difference? Well, not really, but you start to then go through some of the other areas where you might be spending the money and saying, okay, well, can adjustments be made here? Can something be done here? Are there subscriptions that I’m paying for every month that I’m not using and I’m just too lazy to cancel them?
The real apathy towards spending can sometimes be a problem too, and that people get lazy and they’re just like, oh, well, whatever, yeah, I haven’t watched the movie channels in eight months since I have Netflix, but for whatever reason, I’m still paying for them on the cable, right? It’s like, well, why are you doing that? That’s just kind of wasting money.
And that then becomes another one of those changes that we can sort of navigate that path with in saying, here are immediate, effective changes that can go into your budget that can either help you tackle the debt or can free up a little bit more cash to then be invested towards that retirement or the vacation or whatever your long term goals are.
Wayne Kay 17:17
And it’s funny you bring that up because there’s actually a lot of people that have fees going on their credit cards that they don’t even know what they are. And when they check, they’re like, oh yeah, I forgot. I totally forgot I had this.
And I haven’t used it for months and months and months and just get charged every month, every month. And all those make a big difference. So I guess that would be part of your homework for us after this podcast is to jump in and start looking at where all that money is going.
Matthew Fader 17:47
Yes, absolutely right. I mean, that always should be somebody’s first thing when they say, jeez, I’m running out of money. Take that look and say where’s it going? And of course, that ultimate realization that it’s not the dollars, it’s the cents that affect you. I often have people that will say, well, I don’t make big purchases, I don’t buy myself clothes, and I don’t do this and I don’t do that. And then you’re like, yeah, but you do make those three trips to the coffee place every day, and that’s coming with $7 a day expense, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but if I do seven times five days a week, we know that’s 35, and then if I take 52 weeks, that’s $1,820, right?
So that can be significant. But that’s where you can get sort of those concrete examples to people to say, these are those small and subtle changes that, if made, can actually have very quick effects on rebalancing your income and expense or your cost of living calculation.
Wayne Kay 19:01
And can give you the hope that one day you can actually retire. So I think that’s a perfect way to end. Now, are there some final words of advice that you wanted to share? Anything else you wanted to pass along regarding budgeting and saving for retirement?
Matthew Fader 19:18
There are resources that are out there. You can speak to a Trustee about debt. You have financial planners, you have estate planners, especially when somebody’s going into retirement, don’t just think about retiring, enjoying your retirement. That’s a good time for you to maybe speak to an estate planner to say, okay, what about my stuff? How’s that getting handled as my age is advancing? Because it’s really hard to get somebody to sign a piece of paper when you’re dead. So take care of some of that stuff while you’re still around.
But yes, I mean, the resources are there, a lot of them are free. It’s free to talk to somebody like me, you don’t pay me, a Trustee in Bankruptcy. If they’re charging you for their free consultation, then you have to say, well, that’s not really a free consultation, but you know what I mean.
There’s a lot of services out there that are free or that are very cost effective that can have a very positive impact on your budget. Along with things other resources like your podcast or other types of money management.
Podcasting. There’s even twelve step groups that are available for people that are in debt. So there’s a lot of resources out there. You just have to look well.
Wayne Kay 20:38
Terrific. I really appreciate all you share with me on this podcast, Matt. Thanks very much. It’s always a pleasure.
Matthew Fader 20:44
My pleasure, Wayne, thanks for having me.
Wayne Kay 20:47
Well, my guest today, Matt Fader, you can learn more or schedule that free consultation with Allan Marshall & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee at wecanhelp.ca. That’s the website www.wecanhelp.ca.
And that is it for today’s Debt Matters podcast. Make sure you subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcast from. And of course for more information you can always check out debtmatters.ca. Thanks for listening,
About Matthew Fader
Licensed Insolvency Trustee Matthew Fader has worked in the insolvency field since 2005 and joined Allan Marshall and Associates in 2017. His positive outlook helps reassure his clients with any financial insecurities they may have. Matt’s goal is to ensure that everyone has the best possible experience and is treated with respect.