Each decade of your life will bring a mix of circumstances that necessitate different financial goals and priorities. When you’re young, you have your freedom, and saving for retirement is likely not a worry, particularly considering your limited disposable income. As you age, your earning power increases, but the time horizon during which your savings can grow before retirement shrinks. Knowing the goals to set and decisions to make as you progress through adulthood is key to setting yourself up for a successful retirement. Read on for our recommended financial goals for each decade of your adult life.

"Focus on living within your means, building strong credit and contributing to tax-favored accounts, such as an RRSPs."

In your twenties. As a twenty-something, you may well feel as though you have a lot of time ahead of you to save and make smart financial decisions. Your twenties are the time for having fun, right?! Yes and no. Absolutely, you want to take advantage of your youth and the freedom that comes with minimal commitments. However, from a financial perspective, you’ll create a lot more work for yourself if you don’t take advantage of this period of early adulthood. Focus on living within your means, building strong credit and contributing to tax-favored accounts, such as an RRSPs.


In your thirties. If you’re like many Canadians, your thirties will likely bring some changes to your priorities and your lifestyle. Maybe you get married, buy a house, have a kid or two. You’ll likely start to plan for the future a little more than you did during your twenties. As the seeming invincibility of your 20s fades away, you’ll want to take steps to cover yourself if things go wrong.  Prioritize building a sizable emergency fund, one that would see you through six months of life expenses should you lose your job. Create at least a basic will that clearly spells out your wishes. Continue aggressively saving for retirement, giving preference to the tax-advantaged accounts.  Set the goal to reach about three times your income in retirement savings by the time you head into your forties.

"... you should ideally have five to six times your salary saved by the time you hit 50."

In your forties. In your forties, you’re likely well established in your career and – hopefully – generating income that consistently exceeds your expenses. Retirement starts to feel a little more real, and you should ideally have five to six times your salary saved by the time you hit 50. While you should have a basic will by this point, you’ll want to build it out into more of an estate plan to protect your loved ones’ interests in the event of your untimely passing. That also includes ensuring that you’re carrying the appropriate amount of life insurance, an amount that would comfortably take care of the needs of your family in your absence.


In your fifties. You’re now well into your prime earning years. Direct some of those extra funds to paying off your mortgage and topping off those retirement accounts, along with making any catch-up contributions for years you didn’t invest the allowed amount. Your goal should be to have at least eight times your salary saved by the time you hit 60. You’ll also want to complete some less-fun tasks that are key to your later years, such researching long term care options and finalizing estate plans.

In your sixties. You’re in the home stretch! If you’ve done most of the things right in the earlier decades of your life, you should be well-positioned to retire.  You should have at least 10 times your salary saved for your golden years so that you can enjoy the freedom you’ve worked so long for. In your sixties, you’ll want to make sure that you (or your financial planner) rebalance your portfolio as you shift towards dependency on your investments instead of employment income.


If you start as early as you can, live within your means and prepare for uncertainties, you’ll eliminate some of the most common roadblocks to a happy and stress-free retirement.

Article By

Ashleigh Finley

An ex-shopaholic, she’s now passionate about financial optimization. Her undying wish is that more people can experience financial freedom.

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