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October 10, 2021

Do you expect to be debt free by the time you retire?

Coming off a spectacular long weekend, it's tempting to think about what life might be like if you didn't have to head back to work tomorrow.

But, for some boomers at least, taking more than a few days off is a very scary thought.

On average, Canadians plan to retire at about the age of 63, according to recent CIBC research. But only 21% of those who're getting close feel they'll have saved enough money to be able to retire on the date of their choosing.

What's worse, the older they get, the less certain they are that their savings can carry them through the retirement of their dreams. In fact, after the recent market gyrations, 31% are sure they're still going to be carrying some debt once they get there.

Does that surprise you? 

The 2008 financial crisis and stock market dive complicated the quest for retirement for a lot of people, particularly for those who had the misfortune of fleeing the market near the bottom before it rebounded.

What's worse, a lot of people in this cohort are still underwater. The ratio of household debt to disposable income rose is now hovering around 150%, a significant portion of which belongs to those approaching retirement age.

More Canadians are carrying debt into retirement, with one-third of retired households carrying an average debt of $60,000 and 17% carrying $100,000 or more, according to a recent report from CGA-Canada.

It used to be that people paid off all their debts before they retired. However, since wages have barely kept up with rising prices over the past three decades, many Canadians have run up a hefty debt load, essentially living beyond their means.

Is retiring debt free a realistic objective for you? When do you expect to get there? Does all this worry you at all?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...