RRSP Q&A: When can I retire and what will my income be?

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From February 16 to 19, 2010, MoneySense.ca’s top financial planners are answering your RRSP questions. For the full list of questions answered — or to submit a question of your own — click here.

I am 38 years old and work for the British Columbia government, and have been doing so since 2000. I am entitled to a pension and am able to retire at 57 years old, or early at 55 years old with a penalty. My dream has always been to consider retirement in my 50s. I am currently making around $ 55,000/year.

I currently have $171,839 in RRSPs. What would be a realistic retirement age, and what type of income can I expect to receive? Also, what kind of lifestyle may I look forward to living? —DGG

Karin Mizgala: Full pension at age 57 should provide you with around 60% of your earnings prior to retirement. Assuming your earnings average $75,000 prior to retirement, inflation is 2.5%, you earn a rate of return of 5% on your RSPs, you get maximum Canada Pension and Old Age Security and you make no additional contributions to your RSP, you can expect after-tax income of roughly $43,000 in today’s dollars through to your age 95. Check your pension statement to verify how pension earnings are calculated.

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