Weekend Reading – How much do folks have saved for retirement?

Weekend Reading – How much do folks have saved for retirement?

Hey Everyone,

Welcome to a new Weekend Reading edition, wondering: how much do folks have saved for retirement?

First up, a few reminders:

I recently highlighted some key things you need to know about when it comes to the upcoming and new Tax-Free First Home Savings Account (FHSA).

(More on the FHSA below too.)

Last weekend, I published some tips related to Fraud Prevention Month for this year. I share a few more tips later on in this post, thanks to my investor advocate friend Ken Kivenko.

Now, onto the theme…

Weekend Reading – How much do folks have saved for retirement?

“It depends”.

Here in Canada, it’s hard to find good, consistent year-over-year data.

Here is a decent source that has a mixture of data, older and newer informtion:

“Around 32% of Canadians aged 45 to 64 say they have no retirement savings.

(Source: BNN Bloomberg)

The sum of the average Canadian retirement savings in 2018 was roughly around $184,000.

Some 19% of respondents had less than $50,000, and 30% had no retirement savings.

In the age group approaching retirement (45-64), 32% had nothing put aside. This cohort’s average savings were $345,000, while 49% had less than $250,000 in their accounts.”


Of course, this is a huge disconnect from what some Canadians feel they actually need based on recent polling:

Weekend Reading – Do you really need $1.7 million to retire?

There are more than enough debates in the personal finance community about what Canadians need to save for a comfortable retirement. Let’s start with some rules of thumb before some American context.

Rule of Thumb #1: Live off 70-80% of your pre-retirement income

Some retirement experts recommend strategies such as saving 10 times your pre-retirement salary and/or living off 70-80% of your pre-retirement annual income. That means if you make $100,000 annually at retirement, you need at least $70,000-$80,000 per year to have a comfortable lifestyle after leaving the full-time workforce.

Since everyone’s situation is different, so estimating a percentage isn’t the best strategy, and therefore you don’t need any expert or financial advisor to help you come to that conclusion. 

Rule of Thumb #2: Use the 4% rule

Some retirement experts have fallen in love with the 4% rule for an early retirement plan. It’s a decent rule of thumb IMO but it ends there. This study is flawed for today’s times since that study was only based on U.S. historical research and included an era of much higher, assumed fixed income returns. 

Using a desired $80,000 in annual retirement income, as an example, this rule implies you would need a retirement nest egg of about $2 million ($80,000 / 0.04). Not many folks really need that much money but your mileage may vary. 

Rule of Thumb #3: Saving by the age

The big money manager Fidelity in the U.S. published content years ago that is still used today. Fidelity devised a savings age-based model to help assure you’re at least in the ballpark to have enough money for retirement.

Fidelity Savings By Age 2023Source: Fidelity (no affiliation)

How much do Canadians have saved for retirement?

You and I can slice-and-dice the Statistics Canada data below:

Age GroupPrivate Pension AssetsFinancial AssetsTotal Average Savings
45 to 54$406,700$110,000$516,700
55 to 64$567,500$130,800$698,300
65 and Older$405,600$166,800$572,400

How much do Americans have saved for retirement?

That depends on the study too…

According to data on Ben Carlson’s site recently, the same Fidelity folks found not as much as you might think. 

Vanguard also producted a study a while back related to How America Saves.

When it comes to (Vanguard) defined contribution pension plans in particular, the results are not overly positive but still meaningful savings progress is being made by many in those contributory plans:

How America Saves 2022

Source: Vanguard. 

The takehome message is: there is a behavourial disconnect between what people are saving/doing and what people feel they need. 

Where is my thinking on this subject?

Since everyone’s situation is different, and will always be personal or at least personal to your family, I would always consider at minimum the following, some personal answers to these universal questions:

Focus on: 

  • what retirement (or even semi-retirement) even means to you, and 
  • what your expenses might be. 

And then layer on the following:

  • When do you plan to retire? 
  • What date/age are you estimating to live to?
  • How much might your investments earn? (I suggest you be a bit conservative somewhere up to 6% but not much more!)
  • What do you believe inflation/your spending with inflation to be?
  • How much money or assets (if any) do you expect to leave behind for loved ones?
  • Do you have any expectations of/for long-term healthcare services?
  • What about health insurance benefits for retirees?

All of this is very personal stuff. That makes sense. No two retirement experiences could ever be alike.

To help you with any case studies or support, check out my free posts and resources on this page: some folks that have “been there and done that” to figure out their enough number. 

Figuring out what your personal retirement lifestyle might look like is probably the best way to get a handle on it. That lifestyle and spending is forever up to you. 

I’ll certainly keep you posted on my plans and I’m happy to write more content on this subject, just let me know!

More Weekend Reading…

As a brand new account option in Canada (the FHSA for 20- and 30-somethings in particular), there’s a lot more to know about this account to make the most of it. Questrade recently shared this great FHSA 101 resource here so stay tuned folks – the account is coming soon to a brokerage near you. 

Great tips from Ken Kivenko in my inbox recently. I’ve summarized his points below as part of Fraud Prevention Month:

  • Don’t be swayed by fancy advisor titles
  • Read your account statements – report any inexplicable fees, charges or transactions immediately
  • Ignore suspicious emails and phone calls and texts
  • Review your annual (investment) report on fees and expenses – are you really getting value for money? (Me/remember: 1% paid to a financial advisor, on $100,000 invested, is $1,000 gone every year.)
  • Have you considered buying low cost ETFs vs. any actively managed mutual funds?
  • Do not name a salesperson/financial advisor as a beneficiary of your Will
  • If want to make a complaint, get some help:

Read: How to make a complaint https://learninghub.prospercanada.org/knowledge/how-to-make-a-complaint/

If you need more support, contact an Investor Protection Clinic for help with your complaint:


If you not agree with how your complaint was settled, contact OBSI: www.OBSI.ca

Finally, “Control your own financial destiny or somebody else will.”

Kenmar Associates – Source: www.CanadianFundwatch.com  

Incredible, low expenses, that is certainly one way to accelerate any path to early retirement. Dividend Daddy is doing just that. 

“My total expenses this month were $1,646.91. Below I break down my spending into various categories that include housing, transportation, food, etc. Please note that my expenses below do not include the tax I may have to pay on dividend income (which is a lot lower than standard employment income).”

I participated in some Twitter banter recently on the subject of credit card rewards. I like the support/education that some bloggers offer when it comes to credit card rewards – but that wasn’t my point. A reminder that juicy credit card rewards are part of a system paved on the backs of all consumers including those that can’t afford their credit card payments. There is no free lunch, that is all. Rewards are simply incentives. 


Here is a good article on the subject: who pays for credit card rewards?

“The catch on credit card rewards and points is that for the richest consumers, there might not be one. Instead, the catch is for everyone else.”

Dividend Growth Investor offered his take on stocks vs. bonds today but also for the health of your portfolio:

“With dividend growth stocks, you may be getting a lower yield today, but there is a decent chance that over a longer period of time that dividend income will grow at or above the rate of inflation. This helps preserve and even increase purchasing power of that passive income. In addition, there is the opportunity to generate capital gains as well, as those businesses earn more money and distribute more to shareholders over time. Of course, nothing is guaranteed and there is risk, but if history is any guide, it is possible that a diversified portfolio of dividend growth stocks would be generating a higher income in 10 or 20 or 30 years from, while also being valued at higher prices over that same time period.”

On Cashflows & Portfolios we looked at high-interest ETFs:

Should You Invest in a High-Interest ETF?

In some local news, maybe, Deadpool mega-millionaire Ryan Reynolds might be freeing up some cash to be a part-owner of my Ottawa Senators – selling his stake in Mint Mobile. 

“It’s possible that this sale could net Reynolds more than $100 million, depending on Mint Mobile’s valuation within that $1.35 billion deal. Mint was looking to be acquired at a valuation of $600 million to $800 million in 2021, according to the New York Post.”

Want to consider owning stocks that rock?

Mike Heroux and his team work hard to cover many companies over many months. Given there are always many moving parts in the stock market, you might want to consider Mike’s membership to support you on your DIY investing journey.

Mike continues to partner with yours truly to offer all My Own Advisor readers a whopping 33% off LIFETIME Discount for you to get started and remain informed with Dividend Stocks Rock.

Check that link out to learn more.

DSR and MOA Partnership 33% Discount

Have a great weekend!


My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

24 Responses to "Weekend Reading – How much do folks have saved for retirement?"

  1. With our credit cards along with loyalty cards we just collect what we can without stretching too far. Once every few weeks or months perhaps we have points to redeem for $10 off groceries, or a car wash or even lower the credit card bill, but that’s about all I can think off.

    To be honest, I think I get more excited by a dividend increase rather than redeeming credit card/points.

    Latest dividend increase announcement this past week was 6.1% from Power Corporation, bought in 2020 when the dividend yield then was near 6.5%, so I’m quite happy. More supplemental income in our pockets.

    1. Ha, same: “…I think I get more excited by a dividend increase rather than redeeming credit card/points.”

      Hopefully more raises for us in 2023 to come!

  2. Hi Mark,
    Credit card good or bad I really don’t know all I know is if you pay your credit cards fully every month then take advantage of the rewards , we took so many free family trips on those rewards and I tell you it felt good whether they price it in or not I don’t care.
    Talking about retirement and how much you need and all that I just got the book “Retirement income For life” by Frederick vettese and just started reading it last night , seems good so far but one thing I always believed in that since tomorrow is not guaranteed I always tried to have a balanced life enjoy save and donate.

  3. Wow….so many people commenting in here for no sympathy for us small business owners and ranting against us to suck it up with regards to the credit card fees we get hammered with, YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I do not pass along a single surcharge or fee to my customers as a small retail business owner. The amount I am now paying monthly for transaction fees blows my mind and I am well over $10,000/yr in 2023 I bet as an early projection. I get a transaction fee and % fee of every sale plus I pay more if you tap vs insert to use a pin. This is a big expense for us little shop owners.

    The ruling the government just made allowing businesses to pass fees along was them caving in to the bank lobbyists when the original intent of the CFIB push for businesses was for Credit Card companies to REDUCE their massive fees we get charged to accept and do credit transactions. But the end result was just allowing business if they choose to pass the buck to the consumer which I don’t think is right, should have held the CC companies accountable.

    1. I have sympathy, Chris, and I also feel for those that cannot afford the CC payments. It’s all consumers and merchants that cover the costs of “rewards” to CC owners. You know this well! I don’t have a solution, rather I wanted to highlight in my Weekend Reading that there is no free lunch and rewards are better understood as incentives to spend money IMO.

    1. Thanks for that, Alice. I missed that. G&M subscriber here.

      I took the test 🙂

      “Your mortgage debts are $413,708 less than your peers who have the same type of debt. Read The Globe and Mail’s guide on mortgage debt.”

      I guess that’s good!

      Have a great weekend,

  4. Perhaps Canadians should reach out to their MPs to have credit card rewards banned in Canada. It is true that their cost (plus a heck of a lot of costs and mark-ups) are paid both by cardholders and consumers (as the retailers essentially pass them along in higher prices). And since we are paying for them anyways, it forces folks that would normally pay cash/debit to pay via credit card otherwise they are essentially paying for other’s rewards. Banning the practice of offering rewards (banks historically were banned from offering rewards to open mortgages, credit accounts and even bank accounts) would bring down costs for everyone – and benefit society by removing the incentives of using credit.

    1. I doubt very much that merchants would lower their product pricing if credit card costs were eliminated. It would just mean more profit to them.
      Lets call it hidden inflation. The merchants are kicking up a storm just so the consumer will once again get to foot the bill.
      And why does it take government to do this? Almost anything that the government, and it doesn’t matter which party, gets there hands on ends up costing us more than before. Look at the Phoenix pay roll system for the feds. How much has that cost us so far and, as far as I am aware, is still not up to snuff.
      Recently in QC we have the Automobile agency installing a new software program without any training to the employees. My son had to go back two days only to have to pay his drivers license for a second time because they don’t know what they are doing.
      The GST came in at 7% originally. Then the feds reduced it to 6% Two guesses as to what our QC government did with the sales tax here. Then the feds reduced it to 5% where it presently stands. You better get it right on what the QC government did with the QC sales tax the second time around. If we were able to pay the GST at 7% than why would we not be able to pay the same cost on a purchase after the Fed reduction. Hence the prov revenue dept collects more money
      That’s my rant on governments for today.
      “The government that governs the best is the government that governs the least”


      1. I don’t mind the rant. Our government is bloated. So many changes needed.

        Indeed: “The government that governs the best is the government that governs the least”. Focus on less and do more!


        1. The main idea behind the less government quote (either Thoreau or Emerson) is that if people were more responsible for their own well being we would need less government. Running to governing bodies to “fix” everyday problems is what has led to bloated government. And then people complain about too much government involvement in their lives.


      1. Credit cards are a useful tool (I use them myself rather than debit to provide a buffer from my bank accounts rather than using Debit), however the rewards are like a drug addiction. The costs are ultimately borne by consumers and since we are paying regardless of even whether we use the credit cards, it forces an escalation of using cards with the highest reward value. And I share Ricardo’s view that governments – by their very nature are incompetent. In this case, the lack of government oversight is the key reason for the increasing cost of credit card rewards.

        1. Thanks Stephen. Same, I/we use a cash back as our primary card but to your point, they can be addictive to some.

          As I get older, I’m embracing more simplifiction.

          Spend within my means / save first, spend what is leftover.
          Have few credit cards, pay them off.
          Manage debt, avoid too much mortgage or too much LOC.

          Simple stuff. Easy to say but hard to do sometimes!

  5. When it comes to knowing how much you need to retire, everyone’s situation will be different. The one factor you have the least control over will be how long you will live to. Your length of retirement however is important. Best to go into retirement debt free. Carrying a mortgage into retirement will mean you will require more income. I like the percentage of your income method with trying for 70% and if you’re debt free then taking another 10% off of that. Don’t bother trying to keep up with the Jones and you’ll be better off and need less money. Know what makes you happy and plan accordingly

  6. Is it part denial? I will never grow old. Is it complicated and I don’t understand it so I will ignore it. I think for me (recently retired early due to situation) that it is because one size does not fit all so the spurts are only noise because “They don’t understand my situation so information is useless”. Personally, I was retiring early, no company pension or benefit packages and large prescription costs for at least 10 years so I prepared for that and just did the best I could along the way. I do a number of peoples taxes and see that everyone is different and when I ask them why do you do this or don’t do that the explanations are as different as the people. If world was simple we would all be in for an easy ride, unfortunately I think most of us have to endure the potholes.

    1. Maybe, Murray. Changing behaviour is a very tough nut to crack. It’s hard to be objective I think. I’m not perfect, I have my biases too.

      “I do a number of peoples taxes and see that everyone is different and when I ask them why do you do this or don’t do that the explanations are as different as the people.”

      Totally. Good on you to help others.

      Yes, we all have our potholes to avoid and navigate.

      Stay well Murray, thanks for your insights.

  7. Disconcerting about the % of people/households without any savings let alone retirement savings. My only thoughts are that these are individuals/families living paycheck to paycheck and quite simply do NOT have any extra cash to squirrel away for the rainy day, or retirement. Although there are some who want to enjoy the life they are living to the full extent of their income and spend it all when they get it. Also some individuals who were born to complain about how poor they are while spending everything they can get their hands on (grasshoper).
    As for credit cards, as I have said previously but will say it again, I am old enough to remember the roll out of credit cards. It was for stores to get you to purchase more as not everyone walked around with several hundred dollars in their wallet (at least at that time). I would ask for a discount if I paid cash but merchants refused saying it was against the credit card policy to offer a “cash’ discount. So I would pay by C.C. as it at least gave me a few extra weeks to pay. Now merchants are complaining about credit card fees. I have absolutely no sympathy for them. Plus they want to charge transaction fees for us to pay the C.C. fee charged to them. If I were in business and was being charged an extra 3% fee on the products I sold I can assure you that I would have included that in the cost of the goods. So PLEASE Mr. Merchant do not complain about how much C.C.’s are costing you. You wanted them to get people to spend more and you got what you wished for.
    No sympathy for the C.C. companies either by the way.
    I just use whatever is the most to my advantage.


    1. It is, quite the system, isn’t it? Credit cards I mean. I have them. I use them. I don’t deny that. We just need to be mindful of the system that is all. To tout rewards is fine to a point but we can’t forget we all pay for those rewards indirectly. It’s not free and usually the rewards, very much so I would say, are done on the backs of those that can least afford credit card use in the first place.

      Thanks for reading and offering your experiences.


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