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Members of Generation X are this country’s foremost non-savers.

In its 2019 Financial Health Index, a firm called Seymour Consulting found that 23 per cent of Gen Xers, 20 per cent of boomers and just 12 per cent of millennials described themselves as non-savers. A lesson here: Peak financial stress hits you in your 40s. Be ready.

There’s sometimes a bit of a fantasyland aspect to financial advice. For example, we’re supposed to start saving young and keep building momentum until retirement. But maintaining a rising level of spending will be tough at certain points of your life. For example, when you’re in your 40s with a kids, a mortgage and the lifestyle demands that come as you reach mid-career. This is where we find Gen X, which can be defined as people born between 1965 and 1980.

What do you do if you have to throttle back on savings for a while? One option is to use windfalls like tax refunds or bonuses to put into your savings. Another is to plot a strategy for finding ways to resume saving. For example, when child-care costs wind down or your mortgage is paid. Easing back on your savings is normal. But you need a clear path to regaining the momentum in your retirement saving.

The Financial Health Index found that Newfoundland had the highest proportion of non-savers at 38 per cent, while Manitoba was at the low end at 12 per cent. The national average was 19 per cent. Men and women were equally represented among non-savers, while renters were more likely to place themselves in this group than owners.

This is the final Carrick on Money newsletter of 2019. I’ll see you again on Jan. 7. Peace, everyone.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

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To help in your retirement planning. Identify the models that work – and those that you want to avoid.

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How to clean your car’s interior with baby wipes, a paint brush and cotton swabs.

Heard the arguments against low-cost index investing?

Indexing means buying the returns of major stock and bond indexes through investments in exchange-traded funds or index mutual funds. Indexing naysayers get a lot of coverage these days; here’s a through discussion of the points they raise.

Never be an early adopter

A highly entertaining look at the most disappointing gadgets of the decade. If you’re splurging on technology, buy something that is proven.

Ask Rob

Q: What do you think of electric cars? Is it worth making a down payment of whatever you can and financing the rest because the vehicle has no gas cost and minimal maintenance costs?

A: It does look like you would save on fuel and maintenance with electric cars. But the usual rules apply when borrowing money to buy these vehicles. For me, that means a loan term of no more than five years and monthly payments of no more than $400 to $500 per month. It’s a wasted opportunity to buy a vehicle with lower ownership costs and take on a bigger loan.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

A primer on taxation of investments in mutual funds, including those dreaded year-end capital-gains distributions.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

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