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Canadians might want to stop working before the age of 65, but for the many who don't have enough saved that retirement goal is just a pipe dream.

TD Bank's recent Age of Retirement Report found that the average age Canadians expect to retire at is 61, but Generation Y (ages 25 to 30) plan to retire at age 59 while Generation X (ages 31 to 46) expect to retire a year later at 60. However, 59 per cent of those polled said they have less than $100,000 in household financial assets, not including company pensions, life insurance policies and home equity. And 16 per cent said they have no financial assets at all.

Of those surveyed, "6 in 10 said they feel behind when it comes to getting their finances in order." Boomers (ages 47-64) expect to retire at age 64, a few years later than those younger generations. Because they are closer to the traditional retirement age, they have started to calculate how much money they'll need and realized they just don't have enough, says Cynthia Caskey, vice-president and portfolio manager with TD Waterhouse Private Investment Advice.

And although it is better to start your retirement planning early in life, the old adage of "better late than never" is also true, she says.

"For anybody who's feeling behind, it comes down to actually starting retirement planning," Ms. Caskey says. "Even if you're starting late, working with an adviser to determine some realistic goals that work best with your lifestyle and the steps you need to take to secure your future, that's probably one of the best places to start."

While some Canadians will choose to work past age 65, others will be forced to remain in the workforce, says Ms. Caskey. "For some Canadians it's not a choice and they'll likely have to work past 65 whether they're paying off debt or working longer to afford their retirement."

The study found that almost half of Canadians expect to retire with debt, and about 13 per cent expected to retire with "a significant amount" of debt. About 57 per cent expected to retire with consumer debt, including loans and credit card debt, while 48 per cent expected to enter their golden years with a mortgage debt.

Consumers should aim to pay down credit card and other high interest debt before they retire, she says. "Focus on that 'bad debt' and set yourself some short-term goals in whittling that away."

For younger generations with a lofty goal to retire earlier than their parents did, they have the advantage of being able to start early and benefit from compounding, says Ms. Caskey. She recommends they start using pre-authorized contributions to build up an RRSP and a TFSA early and have a fluid retirement plan that can change as their life does, with short, medium and long-term savings goals.

"With proper planning ... we do think that early retirement could be an option for many Canadians."

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