If you plan to retire at 65, and you’re 50, you won’t be dipping into your investments for 15 years. If you are in reasonably good health, you could live well into your 80s: possibly longer.
Let’s say you have $200,000 in your RRSP, and expect to add $15,000 in each of the next 15 years.
To determine if this is enough, you need to make some realistic retirement calculations about investment returns and income needs.
What you can expect
Long-term studies show that the stock market as a whole generally produces total pre-tax annual returns of 8% to 10%, or around 6% after inflation. For the purposes of retirement planning, we’ll assume a 6% yearly return, and disregard inflation. Your $200,000 grows to $479,312*, and your yearly $15,000 RRSP contributions add up to $370,088, for total retirement savings of $849,400.
*Be sure to check your math. There are many compound-return calculators available online. For example, you can find a comprehensive compound-return calculator at the Bank of Canada’s web site.
Income and outgo
If you continue to earn 6% a year, and you withdraw $50,964 a year (6% of the $849,400 in your RRSP), you can avoid dipping into capital until your mid-70s, when RRIF rules require a larger withdrawal.
However, if you start taking money out faster, or earn lower returns, you’ll run out of money.
If you withdraw $90,000 a year while earning 6%, the money you’ve accumulated will last just over 13 years. If you earn 5% but withdraw $90,000 a year, your money will be gone in just over 12 years.
Beware of getting caught in a vicious circle