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Saving for golden years can be done 10 years before retirement, says accountant

David Trahair says the first step is to look at how much you are currently spending now, to see where all your hard-earned dollars are going.

David Trahair says the first step is to look at how much you are spending now, to see where your money goes

It can be difficult to save for retirement when you're in your 20s and 30s, but if you've been procrastinating you can still save enough in ten or less years to have a comfortable retirement, an accountant says. (Getty Images/Hero Images)

Those who have been procrastinating on saving for their golden years need not panic — even if they only start in their 50s it's not too late, according to a chartered professional accountant.

"All is not lost," said David Trahair, author of new book The Procrastinator's Guide to Retirement: How You Can Retire in Ten Years or Less.

"With ten years or less to go, there's an incredible amount that you can do to secure a comfortable retirement, if you play your cards right."

Tracking your personal spending

Trahair said the first step for those who have been procrastinating is to start tracking their personal spending.

"There's this rule of thumb that you'll need approximately 70 per cent of your pre-retirement earnings to maintain your standard of living after you retire. That's just a wild guess," he said.

"It may be totally the wrong answer for you, and that's because your spending is different from everybody else."

Trahair said there are a number of free websites that can help track their personal spending.

One is mint.com, from the makers of Quickbook Software, which allows users to download all their transaction information from their checking accounts and credit cards, and then summarizes the information in charts to show a breakdown of where the money is being spent.

Trahair said that allows people to clearly see how much they are spending and specifically on what, and then they can make changes to cut down unnecessary spending and put those savings into retirement.

"I'm a big believer in: what you track tends to improve," he said. "There's a tendency for you to improve things because you're looking at real numbers."

When it comes to keeping track of cash spending, Trahair said there are also free or cheap apps that people can use to input the amounts. The app then gives a summary of the spending.

RRSPs

Trahair also said that a registered retirement savings plan or RRSP are usually better than a tax-free savings account.

"RRSPs are the greatest thing since sliced bread for people who are in a high tax bracket when they make the contribution, and a lower tax bracket when they withdraw it, which for most [people] is the case."

However Trahair said that if anyone has credit card or any other kind of consumer debt, they should "forget anything else" and get rid of that first.


To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Saving for golden years can be done in 10 years before retirement, accountant says

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