Are We Saving Too Much For Retirement?

Flying Canadian Dollar bills

Frederick Vettese is an actuary and partner at Morneau Shepell. He is the co-author of The Real Retirement and author of Retirement Income for Life. As an actuary, he has looked at the most common shockers that we prepare for in retirement. His conclusion is that some Canadians are over-saving for retirement because they fear events that will probably never happen. And he’s got some math to prove it. 

By the numbers

If the unexpected is truly unexpected, who knows what to expect? Well, the Society of Actuaries is a good group to ask. In 2015, they set out to identify the type of rainy day situations that retired Americans actually encounter and how they cope with them. We can assume that Canadians might expect similar situations. “When I looked at the list,” says Vettese, “the shocks seemed to fall into two major categories: “supply shocks” and “demand shocks”. 

Supply shocks involve a sudden loss of assets (our supply of assets goes down).
A drop in home value of 25 per cent or more
Running out of assets
A loss in the total value of savings of 10 per cent or more due to poor investment decisions or bad investment
Bankruptcy

Loss of a home through foreclosure

Demand shocks are events that require us to spend (the demand for money goes up). Frequency
Major home repairs or upgrades 35%
Major dental expenses 26%
Significant out-of-pocket medical or prescription expenses 8%
A family emergency 6%
Victimization by a fraud or scam 4%
Significant damage to the home due to a fire or natural disaster 2%
Divorce during retirement 2%

This may look like a long list of potential threats to financial security but Vettese points out that most “supply shocks” can be avoided by effectively managing investment risk. That’s where a Lawyers Financial Advisor can help. Most “demand shocks” occur very infrequently and tend to be manageable when they do. Many of the medical and dental expenses may be covered by Provincial or personal health insurance plans. So, it’s possible that many Canadians may be saving more than they have to and giving up some of their opportunity to enjoy life more in their earlier retirement years. 

So what does Vettese suggest? He says, “It appears that the vast majority of retirees muddle through reasonably well, in spite of the odd retirement shock. I would therefore suggest we don’t try to overthink the matter of rainy day spending by devising too elaborate a strategy.” His suggestion is to hold back a smallish percentage of your retirement income each year and use it to build a reserve for rainy day situations. How much you set aside is up to you and will likely vary by the type of retiree you become. Learn more about budgeting for retirement spending based on your retiree type here

To learn more about how to prepare for life’s shockers in retirement, book an appointment with your Advisor and request your free copy of the latest book, Retirement Income for Life – Getting More Without Saving More by Frederick Vettese.