While the saying goes that the only two things you can be sure of in life are death and taxes, there could well be a third certainty: retirement. We may not know exactly how or when we’ll retire, but we know that at some point most of us will say goodbye to the 9–5 lifestyle and spend more time enjoying life on our own schedule. Unfortunately, although many people are certain they will one day want to retire, far fewer undertake the required financial planning to make a secure retirement a sure thing.

One of the main roadblocks to ensuring a financially sound retirement is age, says John Vignali, Senior Financial Advisor at Scotiabank. People in their 40s and 50s are more likely to be actively saving for retirement than someone in their 20s, because it can be difficult to imagine something that seems so far into the future. “People tend to prioritize more immediate goals over the longer-term ones, because they can’t picture what their life will look like in 30 or 40 years.”

Yet even older adults who understand the reality of retirement are not necessarily making careful plans, because most people — no matter what their age — can find it incredibly difficult to know how and how much to save. “There are so many options when it comes to retirement. Preparing and saving for it now means you will have more choice later,” says Vignali. “My goal is to help my customers prepare financially so that when they do decide how and when they want to retire — whether it be at home with their family or off traveling the world — they can.”

Save smartly

As a Scotiabank advisor, one thing Vignali likes to do is teach people how to plan for saving by doing it automatically based on their individual incomes. He makes saving easier by teaching customers how to essentially alter their earning reality and convince their internal spender that they make less than they really do. “What I tell people is: ‘Let’s say your paycheque is $2,000 every two weeks. Mentally you can condition yourself to think that you’re not earning $2,000, you can say to yourself that you’re earning $1,700 and then put that extra $300 into savings. Those savings over time can really add up.”

Customize your retirement plan

Even when you set up automatic savings and condition yourself to believe you earn less than you actually do, most of us find it overwhelming to consider how much we need to save to live comfortably when we retire. That’s why turning to an expert who has the right training and tools can be helpful, notes Vignali. “At the bank, we use financial planning tools. We sit with a customer and we go through their current lifestyle. Basing how much a customer may need in the future on how their lifestyle is now is a good place to start. The general rule is that you will need 70 percent of your current income when you retire. To be more conservative, I like to go at 80 percent, because you can’t always anticipate what your expenses are going to look like when you retire. There are so many variables that experts know that you need to take into consideration. And it always depends on the specific needs of each individual.” Vignali also points out professional financial advisors know to factor in issues like taxation, estate planning, major illness, and other future plans like extensive travelling.

Yet Vignali emphasizes that even with expert tools and training, a good financial advisor knows that every single customer’s retirement needs are different. “When meeting with a new customer, I spend most of the time getting to know them. First talking to them about general things and hitting on their goals. Whether retirement’s a goal right now, saving is everybody’s goal. My job is about understanding my customers. Listening to people, understanding them, and then tailoring my advice to help match what they’ve said. My overall goal is to customize their retirement plan so it suits their specific needs.”

There really is no set path when it comes to retirement.  People are choosing to work part-time, travel the world, volunteer overseas, move to be with family — the options are endless.  Scotiabank financial advisors will help you get to a position financially to make these options a reality.