We all dream of the day we’ll retire. No more alarm clock and having to get up early to go to work. Being able to take a nap whenever we like. And doing the things we want, whenever we want – a golf game at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, why not?

Being able to do all the things we want when we retire though will require some planning in advance. It’s recommended to start early and if you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late. When planning for your retirement, here are a few things you should consider.

How much money will I need?

The amount of money you’ll need to retire will depend on what you plan on doing and the expenses you’ll incur. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • At what age do I want to retire?
  • What types of expenses will I have when I retire such as housing, bills, etc.?
  • What type of health insurance will I need? Will I need extra coverage as I get older?
  • What types of activities/hobbies do I plan on doing such as traveling, etc.?
  • Will I move into a senior’s complex and what expenses will I have?
  • Do I want to leave an inheritance for my family?

Considering all factors, what yearly income would you need and feel comfortable living off of? Take this amount and divide by 12 to get your monthly income. Is this still an amount you’re comfortable with? If not, you may need to relook at the things you may want to do or think about increasing your yearly income to make an amount that you’re happy with.

I know how much money I’ll need, but now what?

Now that you have an amount in mind that you want to retire with, you need to put together a plan on how to start saving money to reach this goal. Starting early is key as it allows you to save more over a longer period of time. Starting later is still possible, but you may have to put more money away in a shorter amount of time to reach your goals.

A retirement calculator helps you figure out the amount of savings you’ll need each year to meet your retirement needs. It takes into account any money you’ve already saved, retirement income you may receive from the government or an employer and rate of returns. It also helps show if you’re on track and provides advice on adjusting your savings if you have a shortfall.

Through the calculator, you’ll be able to see what yearly contributions you should be making. To find a monthly amount, take the yearly contributions and divide by 12. Does this amount fit your budget? If not, consider adjusting your retirement goal or putting away smaller amounts that fit your budget now with a plan to reevaluate and increase contributions over the next several years.

When creating a plan, it’s great to have an understanding of what your goals are and what is needed from you now in order to reach your long-term goals. It’s also important to know that things change in life and you may need to adjust your plan along the way. This is why it’s also important to speak with a financial advisor when creating a plan as they can provide guidance and advice based on your needs and things that may change over time. A financial advisor can also help determine what products would be in your best interest and help reach your goals.

Where should I invest my money?

Everyone’s situation and goals are unique as should be the products to best meet your goals and needs.  There are many different ways you can save and invest money for retirement such as RRSPs, TFSAs, etc. Talking with a financial advisor will help determine what products work best for you. Prior to discussing, become familiar with the different options available and jot down any questions you may have.  Your financial advisor can help answer these questions and set you up with any products identified in your personalized plan.

When planning your retirement, there are many factors to consider and starting as early as possible is key. First, understand what you want when you retire and factor in all related expenses. Talk to a financial advisor to help determine where you want to be and how to get there. And then start investing today. Putting as little as $20 every couple weeks now can make a big difference later on. There’s no better investment than in yourself and your future… so what are you waiting for?