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Finding your retirement planning tipping point

(NC)According to a recent Desjardins Insurance retirement survey, many Canadians remain in retirement planning limbo. The survey found that Canadians who lack confidence in financial institutions and advisors were more likely to feel that saving for retirement planning was confusing and difficult. They also tended to have lower incomes, fewer savings and were less likely to seek financial information in main-stream media. As a result, they were more likely to feel that their own financial security is poor.

If you were to compare your situation against these results, how would you rate your retirement planning confidence on a scale of one to five, if one was the lowest? Are you like the majority of respondents who find it very confusing? What would it take to overcome your fear and finally start investing in your future? Similar to starting a diet or quitting smoking, it usually takes a shock to your system to make critical behavioural changes. For example, maybe your parents or grand-parents have to keep working past their ideal retirement age because they didn't save enough or suffered investment losses. They're likely scared and feeling desperate. "That's not going to be me," you tell yourself even though you're afraid it just might be.

Put your money where your emotion is

Instead of hitting your financial rock-bottom, why not decide to put your money where your emotion is? You can set up a plain and simple saving plan that is so automatic, you won't even notice you're saving. One easy option to consider is to contribute to your employer-sponsored retirement savings or pension plan.

• The pay-yourself-first concept: Your contributions are made automatically through payroll deductions, so it's virtually painless. If you don't have it, you won't spend it.

• Tax savings: Your contributions can be deducted before taxes. This means you're lowering your taxable income and your contributions can grow, tax-deferred.

• Matching employer contributions: Depending on the features of your plan, your employer may also contribute to your plan. This means that you could double your savings.

• Choice of investment options: You may have access to a variety of investment options that have been carefully selected by experts.

• Lower investment/No transaction fees: Take advantage of group buying power, lower investment management fees and possibly no front-end, back-end or deferred sales charges.

• Home buyer/life-long-learning possibility: Depending on your plan, you may be able to use some of your savings to purchase a house or return to school.

• Portability: If you decide to leave your employer, you should have the option of transferring your plan to another investment vehicle or savings plan.

Meet your fears head-on

There's so much information about retirement saving that it's easy to feel overwhelmed and to avoid it all together. Instead, try this approach: meet your fears head-on. Make regular retirement saving your goal and you'll end up changing your financial future for the better. More information on employer-sponsored retirement savings plans and pensions can be found online at

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