Saving strategies for generation X

By Bryan Sommer
Jul 29, 2019
Photo credit: Deagreez/iStock/Getty Images

Between the baby boomer and millennial generations are the gen-Xers (now in their late 30s to early 50s), who grew up in interesting times. This is the ‘latch-key’ and the ‘MTV’ generation, often children of working parents. They were impacted by the rise of personal technology and social media, and shifting societal, economic, and environmental norms as well as globalization. 

Gen-Xers have unique challenges when it comes to money:

Gen-Xers are also the ‘sandwich’ generation, caring for aging parents and for their children. Given this, they may be concerned about how they can save for retirement.

But gen-Xers are also known to be hardworking and are at the peak of their earning power. With a good financial plan and the resolve to follow it, they have the opportunity to have financial peace of mind.

Here are six key strategies to help gen-Xers get on the right track:

1. Take a financial snapshot

  • Make a list of your income, expenses, and debt to get a clear picture of your current circumstances.

2. Set specific goals

  • Talk about what you want to do before and after retirement. Dream big and come up with a plan that you are excited about—one that motivates you to save.
  • Set a savings goal.
    • Keep in mind any financial help you’d like to give your children (e.g. education, home down payment) that may affect your goal.
    • Plan for vacation or fun activity expenses—enjoyment is important.
    • Consider assets that may contribute to a retirement fund (e.g. the sale of a business or house you own).
  • Protect your family with a basic life insurance plan, in case something happens to you.


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3. Have a conversation with your parents

  • Understand their current and upcoming needs, and their resources, and how you may be impacted.

Did you know?

More than a quarter of Canadian generation Xers haven’t saved anything for retirement. Some of the reasons behind this include:

  • Income factors (47%)
  • High expenses (2%) 
  • The need to prioritize paying down debt (2%)

As a result, 56% would consider retiring later if they don’t have enough  income.

4. Get out of debt before you retire

  • Try to eliminate your debt sooner because carrying debt costs money.

5. Be a sneaky saver

  • Set up an automated savings plan.
  • Participate in your company’s registered retirement savings plan programs.
  • Save any financial windfalls (e.g. tax refunds, bonuses).
  • Have a discussion with a qualified financial planner who can help you craft a customized plan based on your unique circumstances, and to work with you over time.

Remember, you can’t depend on winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance. A well-thought-out financial plan can make a difference in retirement.

Bryan Sommer, CPA, CA, CFP, CIM, is a portfolio manager with CIBC Wood Gundy and holds the Chartered Professional Accountant designation.