When UrbanMommies began almost 12 years ago, I looked at other bloggers and freelancers and became giddy at the thought of the flexibility and freedom my company could provide. Other Moms had given up steady jobs to write books, manufacture baby slings or start companies like mine. There seemed to be a huge shift. All around me, new parents were operating as gig workers, some were creative freelancers and others postponed their careers, pursuing higher education and training instead.
Dubbed the ‘Flexforce,’ a term coined by TD to describe a group that is redefining what employment looks like, there are many Canadians who are gig workers (freelancers, contractors and consultants), job jumpers (those who frequently switch jobs), or postponed professionals (those who delay starting their careers in pursuit of higher education or additional training).
While the flexibility offered is appealing, many of us are struggling to reach our retirement savings goals. Surviving financially while living contract to contract is one thing, but I personally didn’t expect the added stress that materialized when my retirement goals were not being fulfilled. I am certainly not alone.
According to a survey from TD, Flexforce Canadians don’t feel confident when it comes to meeting their retirement goals and 47% are feeling increasingly uncertain about their financial future. (Raises hand.) 55% of us are not able to save as much as we need to each year in order to meet our goals.
I remember getting my first job, and immediately deciding that I needed an investment account. Having learned about compound interest and how investing early would allow for years of growth, I felt set for life. I wish I’d kept listening to my younger self! Over time, I took funds out for various things and worse – I stopped contributing – especially once I was part of the Flexforce. I’m not alone. Over three-quarters (76%) of workers like myself wished they had made financial contributions at an earlier age. (I just wish I’d kept at it!!)
There are many factors that hold us back from contributing to our retirement savings including day-to-day bills and expenses, paying off existing debt, and paying for our lifestyle. The scary part is that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of Flexforce Canadians anticipate needing to work into their senior years because they won’t have enough saved for retirement, and 41% are not sure when they’ll retire given their employment situation.
“Planning for retirement can be overwhelming in any circumstance, but it becomes even more challenging when it’s tied to the uncertainty that accompanies Flexforce employment. An increasing number of Canadians are choosing temporary or non-traditional employment and are having to rethink retirement – specifically what retirement will look like for them and what steps they’ll need to take in order to feel confident about achieving their retirement goals.” – Jennifer Diplock, Associate Vice President, Personal Savings and Investing at TD Canada Trust.
Retirement Planning for The Flexforce
But enough scary stats. And no guilt. It’s not too late to get back on track! Life is so exciting and rich that you can decide to make small shifts at any point that will help turn everything around. You don’t have to make more money before starting to contribute to retirement savings. Simple lifestyle changes like making coffee at home and turning down your thermostat can add up to a sizeable monthly contribution in your retirement account.
Create Your Retirement Vision and Budget
Remember the vision boards I shared last New Year? This is the time to pull out your glue and magazine images. Everyone has their own idea of what they envision their retirement to look like, which means there is no one size fits all approach. The first step is to define your vision. It would cost far less to live in a mud hut in the Caribbean than a Toronto penthouse. Figure out what you want, and then the cost of that dream. Once you’ve determined your goals, establish a retirement savings plan to help you stay on track. A useful tool is the online TD Retirement Calculator, which estimates how much you would need to save to retire with the desired income you need for the retirement lifestyle you want. Once you have a picture and plan for your ideal retirement, take steps to turn that vision into a mission. For example, meet with a financial advisor to help create and implement a retirement plan and consider setting up automated contributions into a retirement savings vehicle that will add up over time.
Understand Your Spending Patterns
Money and retirement planning can be confusing, so it’s important to learn what retirement will entail and what options are available to help get you there. Given the number of variables and unpredictability you may experience in the Canadian Flexforce, it’s important to speak to a financial advisor to set up a plan tailored for your specific needs and situation. As we all learn running a business – we’re not experts at everything, so outsourcing to a pro is a great idea. It’s also key to understand your spending and saving habits so you can readjust if needed. Tools like the TD MySpend app can provide notifications of your spending transactions in real-time, which in turn can provide insight into your financial habits so that you can take more control over how you manage your money.
Scan Your Statements
In addition to monitoring your spending, you should also keep close tabs on your retirement investments. It’s a good idea to check in with your financial advisor at least once a year, or whenever there’s a major milestone in your life, like buying a home or welcoming a new member into your family. Starting a new business or taking on a permanent role could also be a good opportunity to meet with your advisor to ensure your retirement plan is still headed in the right direction.
Whatever way you figure out to start saving more for retirement, I have faith in you and we can do it together! Being part of the Flexforce has so many benefits that extra stress while worrying about the future shouldn’t deter any of us from enjoying every second of our careers.
Disclosure: This post was made possible by TD Bank. All opinions and ideas are my own.