'Working until we are old': some fear retirement is unattainable amid rising inflation

Experts say retirement is something everyone should be planning for, but a new survey shows many younger Canadians are concerned retirement won't be in the cards for them.

For 31-year-old Hillary Smith, the prospect of retiring seems more like a pipe dream than a reality.

"I would love to retire tomorrow – that would be fantastic, but I think I would have to really, really, really plan really hard now to have that as an option," she said. "I feel like a lot of my peers and workers feel the same way – they are like, 'We are going to be working until we are old, old, old people."

Though she has a budget, Smith said the rapidly rising cost of living has been throwing things off track.

"It just happened so fast, the amount of cost for everything – gas, groceries, everything went up so fast that I don't think we really stopped to look at our budget, "she said."

"If you are not reassessing that today, you are going to be screwed I feel. It is a bit scary right now, absolutely."

Those worries are being felt right across the country.

According to a survey commissioned by the Health Care of Ontario Pension Plan of more than 1,700 Canadians in late April, 75 per cent agree there is an emerging retirement crisis, while 55 per cent say they are concerned about having enough money to survive retirement.

It is a particularly troubling situation for Canadians under the age of 35 who – according to the survey – are less likely to own a home and have more than $5,000 in savings.

But it's not hopeless.

"It totally is attainable…if you have a plan," said Treena Nault, owner of Nault Group Private Wealth Management. "I think that people make assumptions about what they may or may not be able to do without the facts. I think you need to really need to delve into those facts to see what is attainable."

She suggests creating a road map to retirement with your saving goals. It is a plan that has a simple first step – just start saving. Whether that is $50 a pay cheque or $100, Nault said it is a great way to build that discipline.

"It might be a matter of juggling a few budgeting items, but if you can, then I really, really encourage you to stay on track," she said. "If you have to take a little step back for a couple months, do so, but then get right back on track and keep those contributions going."

Even with a plan in place, some are making changes in their spending in an effort to stick with their savings.

"I ride my bike to work instead of driving my truck – the gas is crazy, so I'm trying to keep that same level of kind of monthly investment into the RSP account," said Chris Karasewich, who runs an advertising agency downtown.

As for Smith, her advice is don't wait.

"Because if you kind of put it off, and put it off, and put it off, those are more and more years you are adding to your work life," she said. "And you don't want to be at your desk when you are 75."