You’ve worked hard for years, saving for retirement and to transfer wealth to family members so they are taken care of. How do you make these goals a reality? With strategic financial planning, you can balance your retirement and wealth transfer goals.
While you may have short-term goals (e.g., taking a vacation, buying a car) and longer-term goals (e.g., starting a family, purchasing a home), eventually everything feeds into two of life’s most important goals: retiring comfortably and transferring wealth to loved ones. Achieving these goals requires awareness of your financial circumstances and strategic planning.
Funding retirement is the top priority
Offering financial support to others is an admirable goal, but first you must ensure your retirement needs are covered. To fund the retirement lifestyle, you want to reduce the risk of potentially outliving your retirement nest egg. After setting aside enough for your retirement needs, the surplus amount is what you can designate for wealth transfer purposes (e.g., to family members, other loved ones, favourite charities).
What will you have in retirement?
It might not be feasible right now to estimate the value of your retirement nest egg, but it’s helpful to start thinking about the various assets you may have available, to meet your retirement goals. Consider these contributors to your wealth:
- Current net worth (i.e., add up your savings and investments, and subtract any debt you owe)
- Employer pension plan, if any, and how much you should have in that plan when you retire
- Expected income from government pension benefits (e.g., CPP, OAS)
- Assets you hold in RRSPs, TFSAs and non-registered accounts
- Potential inheritance
- Do you own a home, vacation property, investment property?
- Do you own or have shared ownership in a business?
Determining what you may need in retirement
Gaining a thorough understanding of your retirement needs is critical in effective wealth planning. Consider the following five factors when thinking about what you’ll need to retire comfortably:
- Desired retirement lifestyle. How often do you plan to travel each year, and what might each trip cost? How much money will your hobbies require? Obviously, some hobbies cost more than others. What living arrangements do you anticipate? Staying in your home? Downsizing or renting? Moving to a warmer climate? Each option has a different price tag.
- Projected health care needs. Nobody knows what health issues they will encounter later in life, but it’s advisable to put aside money to cover such expenses. Understanding your current health situation and using your family history as a benchmark will help you estimate your life expectancy and possible care needs.
- Expected rate of return on investments. Investing to grow your wealth is a sound strategy, but it’s difficult to predict returns. Not long ago, investors assumed a relatively high annual compound return. Now, with low interest rates and high market volatility, forecasting is much harder. Returns also depend on the investment type (e.g., GICs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds).
- Expected rate of inflation. Goods and services tend to rise in price over time – sometimes modestly, sometimes dramatically. Inflation erodes your buying power, meaning you need more money to cover expenses. Overall, inflation has been relatively low in recent years, but prepare for future spikes in the cost of goods and services.
- Impact of taxes. Life is filled with tax obligations, including taxes related to employment income, investments, property ownership, estate disbursements, etc. Taxation will reduce your wealth and must be considered when estimating the money you’ll need in retirement. Of course, we can explore tax-minimization strategies to help reduce the negative impact of taxes.
The best way to determine your retirement needs and achieve your retirement and wealth transfer goals is with a comprehensive financial plan. The planning process will factor in various scenarios to determine the impact on your wealth. This means taking into account your lifestyle expectations, travel goals, probable life expectancy and rising health care costs as you age.
If you believe you may face a financial shortfall in retirement, or if you’re looking to establish a wealth transfer plan, let’s consider different strategies for managing your wealth. With strategic planning and thoughtful consideration, it’s possible to enjoy a comfortable retirement and set aside funds to transfer to your loved ones and charitable causes.
Contact our office to learn more about addressing your retirement needs and sharing your wealth with others.