A Tale of Two Retirees

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If you regularly read blogs like Canadian Dream: Free at 45, Early Retirement Extreme, Mr. Money Mustache or Freedom 35 you may think that everybody but you has managed to sock away enough money to retire very early and spend the rest of their life checking off items on their bucket list.

But the recently released 2015 Canadian Unretirement Index Report tells a very different story. This year, for the first time in the seven-year study, more Canadians expect to be working full-time at age 66 then expect to be fully retired (32% expect to be working full-time at 66; 27% expect to be retired). In addition, another 27% say they will be working part-time, while 12% aren’t sure.

Those who plan to work past 65 fall into two camps. Forty-one per cent say they’ll do so because they want to while 59% feel they will need to. On average, Canadians say they expect to retire at 64.

 Current retirees vs working Canadians

But what I found most interesting in the data is the contrast between the views of current retirees and working Canadians. Compared to current retirees, working Canadians are two and a half times more likely to believe they are at “serious risk” of outliving their retirement savings.

The actual average retirement age among current retirees was 61. A whopping 88% retired before age 66. They intended to retire early (at 62 on average) and for the most part, they did so.

Their experiences differ markedly from today’s workers.

Three-quarters (76%) benefited from a workplace retirement plan (68% had their own and another 8% were married to a plan member). By comparison, just 68% of working Canadians have a workplace plan (55% have one of their own, 13% will benefit from a spousal plan).

Retirees are also significantly more confident about their government pensions (94% vs. 72% among working Canadians), their government-funded prescription drug benefits (82% vs. 68% respectively) and their employer pensions (71% vs. 65% respectively).

Indeed, working Canadians are more likely to be less confident than retirees about:

  •  Having enough money to enjoy the lifestyle they want: 36% working Canadians vs. 20% retirees.
  • Having enough money to pursue their hobbies and interests: 33% working Canadians vs. 17% retirees.
  • Being able to take care of medical expenses: 28% working Canadians vs. 11% retirees.
  • Being able to take care of basic living expenses: 19% working Canadians vs. 5% retirees.

 

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of retirees are very/somewhat satisfied with their retirement savings. Only 44% of today’s workers say the same. When it comes to outliving their retirement savings, 55% of today’s retirees are unworried, 31% are unsure and 14% are worried. Contrast this with 30% of workers who say they are unworried. One-third (35%) are unsure and 36% are worried.

Choosing your retirement date

It is also interesting to juxtapose this data against results of the 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index released late last year. Whether you plan to still be working at age 66 or beyond for love of the job or money, the fact is almost 70% of retired Canadians did not stop working on the date they planned. Among those Canadians who did not retire as planned, 41% cited personal health as the primary reason for retiring earlier.

But the Sun Life health study reveals that developing a financial plan with an advisor can help. Canadians who have an expert to help with their finances are more likely to finish their careers as planned (40% versus 25% who do not work with an expert).

 

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