Dale Jackson | February 1, 2013
 Freedom 55 was a marketing campaign from London Life Insurance in the mid 1980s that exemplified the optimism of a 25 year bull market in its early stages. The ads showed healthy middle-aged couples climbing mountains and sailing into the sunset.

Fast forward to the post 2007 financial meltdown and Freedom 55 has become a cruel joke. A recent survey by Sun Life Financial found the average Canadian now expects to retire at 68 - a full year more than expectations from the previous year's survey.

There are four basic reasons retirement is becoming more and more elusive for Canadians:

1. According to Statistics Canada anyone who retires at 65 today can expect to live 20 years on average to 85. Compare now to 1995 when life expectancy was 75, and the cost of retirement doubles - in fact, it more than doubles when you consider we're healthier and more active in our old age.

2. The market meltdown knocked the stuffing out of a lot of retirement portfolios. Shortfalls in company pension plans and registered retirement savings plans have investors scrambling to make up lost ground, sometimes taking risks they shouldn't. Old Age Security eligibility will be extended to 67 from 65 in 2029, which calls into question the longer term viability of government retirement programs such as OAS and the Canada Pension Plan.

3. Household debt for the average Canadian has risen to 164% of annual household income, according to Statistics Canada. Compare that to 90% in the 1990s and it's easy to see how baby-boomers are being faced with the gut-wrenching decision to either postpone retirement or carry debt into retirement.

4. The savings rate for the average Canadian has fallen to 3.5% of disposable income from 13% in 1990. Much of the money we used to sock away has been diverted to paying down debt and keeping up with the Jones'.