There’s no such thing as an average retirement

Are you “average”? Definitely not!

Are you “average”? Definitely not!

Here’s one dictionary definition of average: Lacking any extraordinary, untypical, or exceptional characteristic. Does that describe you? Of course not — you are unique. Yet, many Canadians will hear the word average a lot as they go about their retirement planning.

They’ll hear things like, “If you are now 30 years old (or 40, or 50) you will need to average $X amount in savings and investments for your retirement.” And, “As you get closer to the average age for retirement, you will need to move all of your investments into safe, but lower-returning, investments.”

The essential flaw in statements like these is that there is no such thing as an average retirement. You are an individual. Your family situation and financial circumstances are unique to you. Your retirement will be as personal as your fingerprint — different than anyone else’s.

So don’t be taken in by the “flaw” of averages — be sure your financial plan is precisely tailored for you alone according to your needs and goals.

But don’t throw away every average because some can be effective as planning tools. Take the average life expectancy, for example: statistics are clear that, on average, Canadians are living longer. That means you can reasonably expect to live through many years of retirement — so the prudent and practical thing to do is design a financial plan that will deliver the income you need to ensure you will have the retirement lifestyle of your dreams for all your years.

The key is to know exactly what that lifestyle will be — what you want to do in retirement. Then you’ll know how much it will cost and you can begin working on the important financial details that will support that — like organizing sufficient retirement income, tax planning, and your insurance needs in retirement.

Be prepared for change, though. Your life will take directions you can’t see right now — so a flexible plan that is frequently updated is also necessary to reach and retain retirement success.

Sound like a lot of work? Here’s how to make it easier: the Investors Group Retirement Readiness Quiz, at www.investorsgroup.com, is designed to give you a head start on your retirement planning.

Your professional adviser is also a great resource for developing a plan that ensures your savings and investing levels will match your retirement dreams. And there will be nothing average about it.

J. Kevin Dobbelsteyn is a certified financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. His column appears every Wednesday.