Get real about your expectations - MoneySense

Get real about your expectations

Retirement is great, but everyone gets there at their own pace.

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Financial companies love to portray retirement as a time for golfing in sunny climes, walking with the grand-children on an autumn day and traveling the world&#8212all while you’re still in your fifties. Everyone in this happy universe makes a six-figure salary and earns a 15% return on their investments. Sounds great, but the reality is much different.

Most Canadians make less than $50,000 a year. The typical man retires a 63, the woman at 60. Thanks to the global financial crisis, the median return of balanced mutual funds over the past few years has been a disaster, with recent gains serving only to make up ground lost during 2008-09.

What do all these numbers mean? That you shouldn’t stress if your retirement plans don’t match those you see advertised on TV&#8212and that you should be very suspicious of fast-talking brokers promising you a 20% return.

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