Getting older is an inevitable part of life but not all of us plan ahead for it, especially when it comes to our finances. You may have recently heard about the federal government boosting the Canada Pension Plan benefits package but even Ontario’s Premier has admitted the reform is for younger workers. Kathleen Wynn says the new CPP is to make sure there is something for the future generations of employees who aren’t lucky enough to have retirement plans through their place of work as “only 25 to 30 per cent of people have workplace pensions now, that was the problem that we were confronting.”
Starting in 2019, CPP will up its contribution from a quarter of pre-retirement income to a full third with the maximum annual benefit increasing to $17,478. That’s still not much to live on and really reinforces the notion that we must do what we can to take charge and invest in our own retirement.
So where does that leave the current crowd of seniors? Well, according to Employment and Social Development Canada, the federal arm that oversees the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security payments, Canada has one of the smallest rates of low income among seniors in the world.
You can apply to start receiving the CPP benefits as soon as you turn 60-years old or stretch it as late as age 70. But according to Service Canada, more than two-thirds of Canadians take it before hitting the age of 65. Some experts suggest taking the benefits as soon as you’re eligible to ensure an extra five years of pension income. It’s true that your monthly payments will be smaller but you will be putting less strain on your reserve funds for that extra five year span, thus saving you more money in the long term.
This can all be a very stressful and confusing matter to think about and certainly for anyone in charge of senior care, but there is definitely help available and a lot of it is free! You can go online or visit the local library branch for information on formulating your financial plan. Here are some questions the Government of Canada suggests you ask yourself:
- How much income do I need?
- Do I have enough money to retire?
- Should I keep working?
- Do I need to sell property or other assets?
- How much insurance coverage do I need?
- How much money will I receive from government programs?
- How much will it cost me to live once I retire?
- How long will my savings last?
If it still feels too overwhelming for you, there are financial planners to guide you through. But it’s critical you choose the right person to help you plan out your financial future. Having a trustworthy advisor to explain what resources you have to live off and how to organize and maximize your retirement portfolio can make all the difference. Here are more tips from the Government of Canada:
- Don’t put it off! Having a financial plan in place will help you make good decisions especially if something unexpected happens
- If you have a complex financial situation, look into hiring someone and make sure they have proper accreditation and professional certification
- If your retirement income plan involves signing any legal documents, cover yourself but getting a lawyer involved. A consultation may be an extra expense but it will give you peace of mind
- Financial advisors make their money through different ways, so find out if they have an interest in selling you something. They may be making a commission from you buying their financial products
- Always keep your financial records organized and in a safe and accessible place. This includes bank and investment statements, bills, tax forms and tax returns. Don’t forget, Canada Revenue Agency requires that you keep your income tax returns for six years.
Having a financial strategy in place ahead of time is an especially important part of Alzheimer’s care or dementia care planning. You will need to get legal documents lined up and identify trusted and reliable family members who will make the right decisions for your future care. You will need to work out the rough costs of home care or care in an institution of your choosing. Also look into what federal, provincial or municipal benefits you may be able to take advantage of to ease the financial cost and if you have any long-term care insurance policies.