The tarnished golden years

A recent survey of 1,000 Canadians over the age of 60 shows that “running out of money before they die” and “not being able to pay for long term care” top the list of financial worries of seniors. The Seniors and Money Report paints a picture of aging Canadians facing financial jeopardy.

One-in-four seniors fear they will run out of money before they die, while an equal amount fear they will not be able to pay for long-term care. Other concerns include never being able to pay off their debt, not having enough money to retire, having to sell their house or depending on their children for financial support.

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One-in-five Canadians still work past age 60 (one-in-16 work past 80). Too much debt, not enough savings, still supporting adult children and “I’ll never afford retirement” are the main reasons. On a positive note, nearly one-third of Canadians over 60 continue working because they simply “love their job.”

More than half of Canadians age 60 and older carry at least one form of debt, with many carrying more. The usual culprits tend to be credit cards (which lead the way), lines of credit, mortgages, and (to a lesser extent) auto loans. Surprisingly, more than one-in-three Canadians 80 and older are carrying at least one form of debt, perhaps most unexpectedly, nine per cent have car loans.

The report shows the beginnings of a generational shift in how seniors are supporting their retirement. The number of seniors who list a company pension plan as a source of income is declining. Currently, 50 per cent of those 80 and older list a company pension plan as a source of income, while that dips to 41 per cent among those 60 to 69.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are a multitude of resources available to seniors and their families. Truthfully, it's never too late to get started.

Non-profit organizations like Credit Canada and the Financial Planning Standards Council provide resources for all Canadians at any stage in their life; wherever a person sits on the spectrum of debt or savings. 

There are steps that can be taken by seniors and their families to ensure their financial security.

Laurie Campbell is CEO of Credit Canada and Kelley Keehn is an author, educator and consumer advocate for the Financial Planning Standards Council.

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