Nearly half of working Canadians expect to be employed full-time at 66

By: Zandile Chiwanza on November 20, 2019

Retirement seems like a pipe dream for a large number of Canadians, according to a new survey from Sun Life Financial called Counting pennies: the frugal facts of retirement.

The survey found that 75% of Canadians don't have a financial plan and 44% expect to be employed full-time at the age of 66.

It also found that nearly half (47%) of working Canadians are afraid they’ll outlive their retirement savings.

If retirement seems like more of a myth than something actually attainable, then you're definitely not alone. This time last year I attended a retirement-themed Millennial Money Meetup hosted by millennial money expert Jessica Moorehouse and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, the regulatory agency of the Ministry of Finance.

I was one of the only people at the event who hadn't started saving for retirement and at the time I promised myself to get educated about the topic and begin a retirement fund the following year. While the education part is going well  – I’m yet to have a plan in place for retirement. 

Of the 2,901 Canadians Ipsos I-Say online polled, 750 were retired Canadians aged 55-80. The survey found that 72% of the respondents say their retirement is not what they were expecting.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the retirees described their lifestyle as 'frugal', following a strict budget and refraining from spending money on non-essential items. 

Among the 'frugal' retirees who worked past age 66, nearly two-thirds (65%) said it was because they needed to work rather than because they wanted to work (35%). 

Considering these results, what can working Canadians do now to ensure a financially secure future?

SunLife encourages Canadians to take a “holistic” approach to build their retirement income by embracing the value of advice, taking advantage of “free money” and implementing small steps such as basic day-to-day budgeting and saving for shorter-term goals.

"Many Canadians don't realize their employer offers tools and resources designed to help them achieve lifetime financial security," said Tom Reid, senior vice-president of Group Retirement Services for Sun Life Canada, in the press release. 

"Across the country, more and more Canadians can access workplace savings vehicles such as defined contribution pension plans, RRSPs and TFSAs. These are effective and easy tools for saving. Investing early and making contributions when you can pay off in the long run."

For a majority of Canadians, including myself, we know it's never too early to start thinking about retirement, surveys like this just remind us of the necessity to start planning and saving.