The millennial's RRSP savings guide

Financial planner Shannon Lee Simmons shares her tips for starting to save for the long term in your 20s and 30s.

How to start saving when you're still trying to pay off debts

If you are over 35, it's time to get serious about your savings plan. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Retirement isn't the sexiest topic when you're in your mid-20s, but it is a necessary one. 

Financial planner Shannon Lee Simmons is sharing her saving advice for the millennial who doesn't know where to start.

First off, Simmons said it's possible many millennials aren't saving for retirement yet. But that might be okay, for now. 

Simmons says paying off your debt is a first priority. (Shutterstock)

Simmons says many millennials are facing debt and precarious work situations, whether they're freelancing, self-employed or on contract. 

She said in these cases, it's okay to prioritize short-term savings. 

"There's this emergency account that's necessary and would prioritize, I think anyway, over long term savings, because if you don't know what you're going to be making nine months from now you're going to need to pay the rent," Simmons said. 

She said a lot of people are stressing about saving, when in reality it`s not an option for everyone in their 20s or even early 30s. 

"It would be great if we all started at the age of 15, saving for retirement. That'd be wonderful. But there has to be a sense of realism in there," she said. 

Block out the noise, focus on your situation

Planning for retirement is not going to be the same for everyone. Simmons recommends focusing on what's happening in your own situation.

She said many times people ask her to give them dollar amounts they should be saving. But in reality, that changes depending on each person's circumstances. 

Even 50 bucks is better than not doing 50 bucks.- Shannon Lee Simmons, financial planner

For some, a small saving option may be all they can do at the amount. 

"Even 50 bucks is better than not doing 50 bucks," she said.

A good base line, though, is trying to put away 10 per cent of your gross income. Some people will need to adjust that amount.

For those who aren't able to make that 10 per cent saving goal as they get older, some lifestyle changes may be in order, Simmons said.

"If you're not doing that and you're not 22 years old, you might want to check in with your budget and say, 'I might need to make cutbacks'," said Simmons.

It's nearly the last chance to contribute to RRSP savings to meet this year's deadline of Feb. 29.


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