saving for retirement as a contract worker


Planning for Retirement When You’re Working in Canada’s Flexforce 

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with TD, but all opinions are my own.

After graduating from university, I began my career working in the city for various companies in the entertainment industry. My typical day was spent behind a computer screen, but working with a dynamic group of people always enhanced my work experience. While the commute from the suburbs took a toll, the regular paycheque, and health and dental benefits made it all worthwhile.

Once my first son was born, I traded in the back-to-back traffic, and often long train rides, for the chance to be a stay-at-home mom while pursuing a freelance career from home. I gave up my portion of our new family’s income to start my own business. I started by first offering virtual assistant services and then eventually starting this website, as well as doing some freelance writing for other publications. I’ve found some creative ways to generate income from various streams as freelancers typically do.

Canada’s Flexforce – a term coined by TD to describe freelancers, temporary/contract workers, frequent job jumpers, and people who are gaining additional schooling or training and thus delaying their career – often comes with a great deal of financial unpredictability. Being in the Flexforce, especially as a freelancer like myself, means you must go with the ebb and flow of work volume; sometimes the work is overflowing, and other times it’s painfully slow. Getting through those dry periods financially can often be a challenge – so understandably, contributing to a retirement fund can often wind up at the bottom of the priority list.

According to a recent TD survey, Flexforce Canadians are financially unprepared for retirement and don’t feel confident when it comes to meeting their retirement goals. Specifically, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) are rethinking retirement and anticipate needing to work into their senior years because they won’t have enough saved for retirement. In addition, nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of the Flexforce are finding it difficult to save for retirement, while four in ten (41 per cent) are not even sure when they’ll retire given their employment situation. They’re also feeling increasingly uncertain (47 per cent) and worried (34 per cent) about their financial future.

Are you a Flexforce Canadian? If so, is this causing you to “rethink”  your retirement? There’s no need to panic! With some guidance and planning, there are simple ways to feel more confident about retirement – here are a few ideas from TD.

Planning for Retirement When You’re Working in Canada’s Flexforce

Know your goals.

Whether you’ve been working for decades or are just getting back into the workforce, everyone has their own idea of what they envision their retirement to look like. Once you’ve determined your goals, establish a retirement savings plan to help you stay on track.

Know your options.

Planning for retirement can be confusing, so it’s important to learn what retirement will entail, and what options are available to help get you there. There are many variables and unpredictability if you work in the gig economy, so it’s important to speak to a financial advisor to set up a plan tailored for your specific needs and situation. It’s also key to understand spending and saving habits so you can readjust those in order to reach your retirement goals.

Manage your money.

How much are you spending on coffee per week?! Tools like the TD MySpend app can provide notifications of your spending transactions in real-time, which in turn can provide insight into your financial habits so that you can take more control over how you manage your money. Perhaps your take-out expense will have to be reduced to once a month for a while.

What does your retirement look like?

Do you see yourself working until 70 in your current location? Or would you like to retire on a secluded beach off the coast of Bora Bora by 55? Once you have a picture and plan for your ideal retirement, take steps to turn that vision into a mission. A useful tool is the online TD Retirement Calculator, which estimates how much you would need to save to retire with the desired income you need for the retirement lifestyle you want. You should also consider meeting with a financial advisor to help create and implement a retirement plan. Consider setting up automated contributions into a retirement savings vehicle that will add up over time, without any extra effort from you.

Stay accountable.

Now that you’re in a good routine of monitoring your spending, check in on your retirement investment from time to time. While it may not be necessary to check your portfolio daily, it’s a good idea to check in with your financial advisor at least once a year, or whenever you’re going through a major milestone in your life, like buying a home or welcoming a new member into your family. Starting a new business or taking on a permanent role could also be a good opportunity to meet with your advisor to ensure your retirement plan is still headed in the right direction.

Many Flexforce Canadians are financially unprepared for retirement and don’t feel confident when it comes to meeting their retirement goals. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Hopefully, these tips from TD will help you feel more confident in planning your retirement goals.

Planning for Retirement when You're Working in Canada’s Flexforce