This is the theme of my Personal Finance column in this weekend’s Financial Post: page FP9 for those with a dead-tree edition. Asked when you need to get serious about saving and investing towards retirement, I make the case for first getting out of debt. As one character says in Findependence Day, “You can’t climb the tower of wealth while you’re still mired in the basement of debt.”
This means paying off high-interest credit-card debt and maybe student loans before worrying about stocks, bonds and ETFs. The sooner you do, the sooner you get a TFSA. Once you’re in a higher tax bracket, add the RRSP. And if you’re not serious about all this by your mid 40s, be prepared to work a long, long time and/or have a simple enough lifestyle that by the time you turn 67 and qualify for government benefits (Social Security in the US, CPP/OAS/GIS in Canada) you will be accustomed to living on a modest income.