Skip to main content

The best saving strategies for every stage of life


Happy married couple laughing while organizing bills at homeThe truth about saving

Many people think that saving is related to retirement, or budgeting, or being able to buy a home. The truth is that saving isn’t one goal, or a finish line - it’s a set of habits that are key to your financial and mental well-being. This means that saving will look different to everyone depending on their unique situation, their goals, and where they are in life.

To better explain this, let’s take a look at key saving strategies for different stages of life:


How to save in your 20s

Saving is a life skill. You wouldn’t wait until your 30s to learn how to cook or do your own laundry (we hope) - and the same applies to developing good saving habits. At this stage, you may be recently out of school and starting your career. You might want to pay off student debt, or buy your first home, or both - and saving can help you with those goals.

Building up your confidence is key. Most young Canadians have a strong desire to develop good savings habits, but feel anxious about how to do it, according to a 2021 study. Jordan Damiani, Financial Planner at Meridian, offers this advice: “Don’t think about saving for retirement - think about saving for financial security. The good habits you form early on will translate into feeling more confident in your future.“

Here are some key strategies:

  • Pay yourself first: Set aside part of each pay cheque and add it to your savings. In fact, you can set up a plan to do that automatically with pre-authorized contributions

  • Know what you owe: For some people, tackling debt - especially high interest debt - is the best first step. Figure out what you owe and how to start paying it off.

  • Learn about money: The fancy word for that is “financial literacy,” but getting started is actually simple. There are tons of websites, blogs, magazines, and podcasts out there to help you learn more about managing your money.

  • Track your spending: The best way to pinpoint how you can cut back is to find out where your money is really going. Print out six months of account and credit card statements to go over, or try a money-tracking app!

  • Set up a TFSA and start contributing to it. The earlier you start, the more you can earn!

  • Talk to a Financial Planner: You don’t try to solve medical problems by yourself, you ask an expert - and saving is no different! A Financial Planner can help you create a plan for meeting your goals.


How to save in your 30s and 40s

For many people in their 30s and 40s, life is full of big changes. You’re likely in the midst of advancing your career, taking care of your family, managing a mortgage, paying down debt, and building up your savings. Sounds like a lot, right? It is, and for many people, this stage of life is a time of greater spending than saving – and often a time of increased stress. Canadian millennials (in their late 20s through early 40s, depending on who you ask) have been reporting increased financial anxiety, according to a 2021 study.

We can’t offer a magic solution to money stress – methods for dealing with it will always be unique to each person. Revisiting your goals is always a good place to start, though. Take a moment and evaluate your short- and long-term financial goals and make sure you have a clear plan to stay on track, which may mean careful budgeting and regular savings contributions.

Here are more key strategies:

  • Save for retirement: If you aren’t contributing regularly to an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) - start now. RRSPs are tax-sheltered - you don’t pay any tax on the interest, dividends, or capital gains your investments earn and contributions are tax-deductible. Learn more about RRSPS.

  • Invest for education: Sending your children to university is expensive, so make things a little simpler by setting up RESPs (Registered Education Savings Plan). Savings in an RESP grow tax-free - plus, there are government grants that can help with your contributions. Learn more about RESPs.

  • Talk to a Financial Planner: This is always a good idea - especially during this time of your life when your goals and priorities may shift. Build more confidence and ease anxiety with a second opinion.


How to save in your 50s, 60s, and early 70s

When you’re at this life stage, saving becomes an even bigger priority. With retirement on the horizon, it can feel like you have this ‘savings deadline’ to meet. Don’t panic. No matter where you are in your savings and retirement planning, you have time to get on the right track.

The first step is to get a clear sense of your financial situation by asking questions like: How much debt do you have? Where’s your cash flow coming from? Once you know where you are, it’s much easier to map out how you’ll get to the place you want to be when you retire.

A key strategy for saving in your 50s:

Maximize your RRSP contributions and consider other options like TFSAs and other non-registered accounts. Boosting your retirement savings at this age works well because you’re likely to be at the height of your earning potential and if you have kids they may be old enough that they require less financial support.

A key strategy for saving in your early 60s:

This is the perfect time to re-evaluate your ideal retirement scenario and budget. Work with your Financial Planner to tweak your portfolio as needed and decide when it makes sense for you to start receiving Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments.

A key strategy for saving in your late 60s and early 70s:

This is the time to enjoy retirement and all the work you put into saving for it. Give yourself some peace of mind by setting up annuities or other forms of investment income. Also, make plans to transfer your savings from RRSPs to RRIFs when you (or your spouse) turns 71.


Saving is personal

Meridian Financial Planners know that saving is personal. That’s why your hopes, goals, worries, and perspective all go into helping you create the perfect saving plan. Our goal is always to get you where you want to be, building up your confidence and optimism along the way.

Start with a conversation
Talk to a Financial Planner


Learn more about saving

RRSP Basics: What you need to know

RESP: The smart way to save for your child's education

What is a pre-authorized contribution plan?

A version of this article was originally published on December 2, 2020

Meridian Credit Union communications are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial advice or an opinion on any issue. We would be pleased to provide additional details or advice about specific situations if desired.

For permission to republish this content, please contact the Meridian Credit Union Marketing Department at ©️ 2023 Meridian Credit Union