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  (Ron/© 2003 Thinkstock LLC)

 

(Ron/© 2003 Thinkstock LLC)

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Too little, too late: Many boomers regret retirement planning Add to ...

While boomers may be part of the healthiest and wealthiest generation ever to roam the earth, members of this distinguished group are not without regrets, certainly not when it comes to saving for retirement.

A survey released by Bank of Montreal found that 42 per cent of Canadian boomers wished they had started saving at an earlier age, 25 per cent regretted not making regular RRSP contributions and 24 per cent lamented the fact that they didn't take more time to plot their financial future more carefully.

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Bev Moir, senior financial adviser with Scotia McLeod in Toronto, attributes their regret to a few factors, including the fact that 15 years ago, boomers could not have predicted that their portfolios - upon which many of their retirement hopes were pinned - would not ripen the projected 7 or 9 per cent annually.

"The expected average annualized growth rate has gradually decreased over the subsequent years and recent growth rates may have been more in the range of 3 to 5 per cent, depending on how invested,” Ms. Moir says.

But she also believes the 'put it off until later' approach to saving may have something to do with those who are unhappy as they sail into retirement.

"When people are starting a family, buying a house, starting careers and not earning a lot of money, there aren't a lot of extra dollars available," she says. So what some some cash-strapped boomers did was put off retirement saving only to have their plans derailed by life interruptions such as a divorce, illness or layoff.

With respect to specific retirement savings, the study found that 31 per cent of boomers wished they had invested in real estate, 31 per cent in guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) and 20 per cent in cash.

“Volatility in the market has been extreme and has frightened people because of some their investments haven’t really delivered returns,” says Ms. Moir, which is why she is not at all surprised to learn that more people wish they had stowed their money in GICs, which offer a guaranteed return.

Real estate as an investment, however, is a bit riskier, and while some markets in Canada like Toronto and Vancouver have shown incredible resilience over the past 15 years, they too are prone to cycles, such as the crash in the early 1980s.

To prevent retirement saving regret, she encourages those in their 20s and 30s to be diverse in their investments and to pick up a copy of David Chilton's book The Wealthy Barber.

“If [young people]can get a start with a regular savings program and learn the message that you have to live within your means and pay down debt, you’ll have money at the end of the day that can build and grow.”

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