Planning for retirement

Planning for retirement

For a retirement that lets you do what you love, plan one step at a time and don't hesitate to talk to an advisor for guidance.

Call us at 1-800-CAISSES (1-800-224-7737)

Test your retirement knowledge

You’re about to take a 5-question retirement quiz. For each question, select true or false. You’ll get your results once you’re done answering all of the questions. Feel free to skip this section and move on to the next: Go to Retirement planning steps.

With $500,000, I'll have enough savings to retire comfortably and reach my goals.
If I retire between 60 and 64, I'll get 100% of my pension income from the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP).
50% of my income will come from government plans such as the QPP.
If I save 10% of my annual pre-tax income, I'll be able to retire comfortably, and money won't be a source of stress.
I'll be retiring over 5 years from now, so I don't need to meet with an advisor to plan my retirement. I can do it myself.

That's correct!

It's not that simple.

You'll need between 50% and 70% of your annual end-of-career income to maintain your standard of living during retirement. However, you may need more or less depending on what you want to do and your desired lifestyle.

That's correct!

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

If you retire between 60 and 64, your QPP pension will be permanently reduced by 30% to 36%.
There are strategies you can use to postpone receiving your pension. Talk to an advisor.

That's correct!

Not exactly.

Government plans should cover 20% to 40% of your income. The rest should come from your personal savings, your employer's pension plan (if you have one), or other sources of income. A solid financial plan will help you gradually reach your goals.

That's correct!

That should be your goal.

However, you need to be adaptable. Figure out your savings plan and adjust to changes along the way. The important thing is to start saving now, regardless of the amount.

That's correct!

That would mean missing out on some good advice!

As retirement experts, our advisors can ensure you aren't forgetting anything. They'll explain the financial impact of your choices and adapt your savings strategy accordingly, regardless of when you choose to retire.

Great job! You know the basic principles of planning for retirement. You know that the key to success is the ability to adapt. An advisor can help you identify what you need to do to make sure you have the retirement you want.

With more information, you'll be able to make more informed decisions. It's never too early, and definitely never too late, to start saving. Don't let worry or guilt put you off. Our advisors can help!

Retirement planning steps

  1. 1

    Identify your sources of income

    Government pension plans don't provide a lot, so you'll need other income sources, such as your personal savings or your employer’s pension plan. If you plan properly, you could even buy the perfect family cottage!

  2. 2

    Decide on your retirement age

    This is how you'll determine how much time you have to save up and reach your goals. According to average life expectancy in Canada, you may be retired for over 20 years. Be sure to save accordingly so that those years won't be a source of financial stress.

  3. 3

    Determine your goals

    Retirement means different things for different people: some dream of setting up a music studio or running the Great Wall of China. What would you like to do? You'll generally need between 50% and 70% of your annual end-of-career income (after tax) during retirement. It's the nature of your goals and your desired lifestyle that should dictate how much you need to save.

  4. 4

    Calculate how much you need to save each year

    Ideally, you should put aside 10% of your annual after-tax income. But since life is full of surprises, you need to be adaptable. Your ability to save will of course vary over the years. The important thing is to have a flexible savings plan and to start saving now, regardless of the amount.

  5. 5

    Choose where to invest your savings

    Choose investments suited to your risk tolerance, the number of years until you retire and your goals. An advisor can help you.

  6. Retirement calculator

    Test out different scenarios to understand what's influencing your retirement savings and how to maximize your savings.

Speak to an advisor

During this courtesy meeting, the advisor will help you:

  • Assess your financial situation
  • Determine your retirement goals
  • Draw up a financial plan

Once you've got your plan you'll be better equipped to start working on your dream retirement.

Make an appointment with an advisor to set up a retirement plan.  - This link will open in a new window.

Retirement income sources


Government plans typically cover between 20% and 40% of the income you'll need to maintain your standard of living during retirement. That's your basic amount.

  • Old Age Security (OAS)

    This is a taxable monthly pension indexed to the cost of living. It's paid to Canadians 65 and older, whether they've worked or not.

  • Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)

    This pension is paid to all Quebec workers who have contributed during their working years. The amount paid depends on the number of years you've contributed, your earnings during that time and the age at which you apply.

    • Between 60 and 64: benefits reduced by 7.2% per year
    • At 65: full benefit amount
    • Between 66 and 70: benefits increased by 8.4% per year

    The longer you wait, the higher your benefits will be for the duration of the payment period. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to postpone your application if you have other sources of income.

  • Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

    This monthly benefit is available to low-income Canadians. It varies according to family situation and income. It can also be combined with the Allowance, which is a benefit for people aged 60 to 64 whose partner or spouse is already receiving the GIS.

Two main plans are offered by certain employers and are added to the retirement income from public plans. Like government plans, these plans alone don't ensure that you'll maintain your standard of living during retirement.

  • Defined contribution plan

    • You know how much you and your employer contribute ahead of time
    • Pension amount depends on your and your employer's contributions and the value of the pension fund investments when you retire
  • Defined benefit pension plan

    • You know how much money you'll receive when you retire.
    • Usually a percentage of your salary multiplied by your number of years of service

Your personal savings may well be your biggest source of income in retirement, especially if you cannot rely on your employer's plan. That's why it's important to start saving as early as possible.

  • Registered investments

    • Registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
    • Provide tax benefits

    With an RRSP, you reduce your taxable income while saving money tax-free for your retirement. You should select your investments based on your investor profile. Withdrawn amounts are taxable, but at a lower rate if your retirement income is lower.

    TFSA contributions aren't tax-deductible, but you don't have to pay any tax on your investment income—even when you take it out.

  • Non-registered investments

    • Help you continue saving once you've reached the maximum contributions for your RRSPs, TFSA or employer's pension plan
    • Include the money in your bank accounts and investments in the stock market
    • Income from these types of investments is taxable

Depending on your needs and goals, you may need to consider other sources of income.

  • Renting or selling real estate, like your primary or secondary residence
  • Working part-time

Since these amounts will be added to your taxable income, remember that they may reduce certain government benefits that are based on your annual retirement income.

Learn more about income sources during retirement

Steps to take now to plan your retirement

Schedule automatic transfers

When you set up automatic transfers throughout the year, you take the work out of saving and accrue interest.

Contribute the maximum allowable amounts

Registered investments grow tax-free for longer and some of them will reduce your taxable income. Since your income will be lower, you'll also capitalize on government income-based credits and programs.

Pay off your debt

Depending on your situation, it may be worthwhile to pay off your debt with a portion of the tax refund you get from your RRSP. You should pay off the debt that has a borrowing rate that's higher than the rate of return on your investment, whether that's your mortgage or other form of debt.

Review your retirement plan periodically

Changes related to the economy, your job, your family situation or your health could have an impact on your ability to save and how you'll reach your retirement goals. Review your retirement plan regularly with an advisor.


Choosing the best savings vehicles

  • RRSP

    RRSPs help you put aside money tax-free to save for retirement, while also reducing your taxable income in the years you make contributions. An RRSP is a good idea if you think your tax rate will be lower when you retire than it currently is.

  • TFSA

    A TFSA can help you put aside money tax-free for your goals throughout life. All withdrawals are tax-free. A TFSA is a flexible savings vehicle that can be used alone or alongside an RRSP.

  1. To be eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, you must also be a citizen or legal resident of Canada and have lived in the country for at least 10 years since your 18th birthday. If you do not currently reside in Canada, you must have lived in Canada for at least 20 years since turning 18.