Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The 'flaw' of averages - your retirement isn't average ... it's personal

Famed novelist Mark Twain is reported to have said: "There are three kinds of lies - lies, damn lies and statistics." An 'average' is also a statistic of sorts. Statistics Canada puts out all kinds of 'averages' drawn from statistics - the average age of Canadians, the average income of Canadians, and so on. The investment community also likes statistical 'averages' - especially when it comes to the amount of retirement income you'll need. And although statistics can be a good way to get a handle on things from a very general perspective, as Twain astutely observed, the easy use of 'statistics and 'averages' can mask some important 'personal' truths.

As you move toward retirement, you're likely to see many 'averages' bandied about, including this very popular one: 'If you are 30 now (or 40 or 50) you will need to average a certain amount in savings and investment for your retirement.' The 'lie' in this statistic is that there is no average retirement.

You are an individual. Your retirement lifestyle will be 'personal' - different than anybody else's. Your family situation and financial circumstances are unique to you. So don't be fooled by the 'flaw of averages'. An easy statistic is no substitute for personal planning.

As you approach the next phase of your life you take a more active interest in designing the retirement lifestyle of your dreams. (And, in this case, statistics do help because they tell us that Canadians, generally, are retiring earlier and living longer, so you can reasonably expect to live through many years of retirement.) That's where a practical and 'personal' retirement lifestyle plan comes in - because it will help ensure your retirement dreams are built on your financial realities.

When you know exactly what you want to do in retirement, you're in a much better position to know what it's going to cost. Once you've established that basic requirement, you can begin working on other important financial details like organizing sufficient retirement income, tax planning, and your insurance needs in retirement.

You should also expect your plan to change. Life is always tossing curves at us - so flexibility is another important aspect of a successful retirement life plan.

If all that sounds like a lot of work, here's some good news - you can get help.

The Investors Group Retirement Readiness Quiz is designed to give you a head start on your retirement life plan. You'll find it at www.investorsgroup.com . A professional advisor can also help ensure your saving and investing levels will allow you to realize your retirement dreams. No statistics, no 'averages' - just the 'personal' plan that will work best for you.

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