It’s official. We’re anxious about retirement. Even those with decades left before starting to grow roses are fretting that they’re not saving enough.

A recent TD Waterhouse survey shows that 67 per cent of Canadians over age 45 are worried they’re not on financial track for retirement. Only 15 per cent were content with their retirement preparations.

So what’s a retirement nail-biter to do? First thing is to analyze your own situation. Financial planners commonly throw out 70 per cent of pre-retirement income as the amount people need after leaving the workplace.

That number is a one-size-fits-all approach. A high income earning couple might easily get by with 50 per cent or less. Similarly, someone living a frugal lifestyle outside the urban core could also be quite happy with half of what they previously earned.

Your housing situation, hobbies, cost of living and willingness to work part-time post-retirement will have a huge impact on how much you will need. And downsizing, especially in expensive cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, to smaller abodes or to cheaper communities can free up large amounts of equity to bolster retirement savings.

Emptynesters who don’t want to downsize or move might increase post-retirement cash flow by renting a room to a student during the academic year. Many retirees can also improve their balance sheet by shifting to a single car and cellphone.

There is another variable that could have an enormous impact on your post-retirement income needs -- how your tastes may change. My in-laws moved from a waterfront home in Victoria to a double wide mobile home in a 55-Plus community outside Sidney, B.C. They loved it.

In short, there are many ways to look at retirement so don’t be panicked by any magic number or percentage. Do these four things and you’ll probably be okay:


  • Contribute as much as you can to your RRSP or other savings accounts.

  • Save monthly and make it a habit.

  • Invest the money conservatively.

  • Aim to be debt free upon retirement.