Money & Career

The best investment options for aging Canadians

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

The best investment options for aging Canadians

When you’re a young, spry 30-something, investing for retirement is easy. Put most of your money in equities and -- if all goes well -- watch your returns climb over the years.

It gets more complicated as retirement looms. When you’re 10 or 15 years out, you need to start thinking about how you’ll keep generating cash after you retire and how you’ll live on the money you’ve saved.

There are numerous investment options that soon-to-be-retired Canadians can employ to meet their goals. Which route to take depends on how much money you have in your RRSP, TFSA and other accounts and your retirement goals, and you may want to discuss potential choices with an adviser who has your best interests at heart.

Ready to make some changes now? Here are a few investing options you should consider.

Bonds
If you didn’t strike it rich during your working years, you’ll need to protect the money you’ve made. Many people start moving money out of stocks and into bonds as they get older. Bonds are generally safer than equities, so there’s less chance of losing your savings if the market goes bust. Unfortunately, with interest rates currently so low, bonds don’t pay much income these days. Consider buying some corporate bonds, which are somewhat riskier than government bonds but pay a higher yield.

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)
It’s impossible to lose money in a GIC -- at least, if you don't factor in inflation. These investment vehicles are protected by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation, so if a bank goes bust, your principal will be returned. You don’t want to put all your money in a GIC, though, as they barely offer any return; a five-year GIC from TD Canada Trust, for instance, at time of writing was paying just 2.15 per cent.

GICs are a good place to park money for the short term, or cash you know you need to live on. Maybe you’re taking a trip in six months, but you don’t want your money to just sit in a bank account earning nothing. Put it in a six-month GIC, earn a slightly higher rate than you would in a savings account, and then, when the investment matures in 180 days, use the cash for the vacation.

Dividend stocks
Many older Canadians are searching for stocks that pay a dividend. These are quarterly or annual payments made to shareholders with a company’s excess cash. Dividends paid vary from company to company and sector to sector -- Bank of Montreal, for instance, currently pays a 4.72 per cent yield; Research in Motion pays nothing. Many people use the cash back to pay for day-to-day expenses; others reinvest the dividend into more stock. Finding a good-quality company that pays a decent yield -- aim for around four or five per cent -- can give your retirement portfolio a good boost.

Annuities
Insurance companies offer annuities, which are investments that, in retirement, pay set monthly payments for life. It’s a great option for people who are worried about their cash flow, but it can be an expensive one. Fees are typically higher than what you’d pay on a mutual fund, and your money won’t get as great of a return as it would if you invested in the market yourself. But your cash is protected and you do get a regular cheque in retirement, which, to many people, is worth the extra costs.

Stocks
While you’re supposed to become a more conservative investor in retirement, you should also own some plain old stocks. Your portfolio still has to grow or you could run out of cash as you get older. That’s not to say you should invest in risky start-ups, but some solid brand-name growth stocks should help increase your savings.

How you use these investments in a portfolio depends on a number of factors, so do talk to a professional before investing in any of these options -- but at least you have choices. The older you get, the more you’ll need to tweak the balance between all of these, but if you can find the right mix, you’ll have plenty of dough at your disposal.

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The best investment options for aging Canadians

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