*As published in the Fall 2013 issue of FinanceWorks.ca

As the year comes to a close, it’s natural to reflect on what you’ve accomplished during the past year and what you want to accomplish in the year to come. When it comes to financial goals, the best advice is not to wait: the timing will never be perfect, you’ll always have bills to pay, but if you start now you can vastly improve your financial future.

Financial goal: Saving for your retirement
Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security are not enough for most people to retire on comfortably and even though the vast majority of working people don’t have a pension plan through their employer, saving for retirement often gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list. The longer you wait however, the more money you have to put aside in order to meet your retirement income needs. 

If you haven’t been making the necessary contributions to your retirement savings, you’re not alone ­— Canadians have $600 billion of unused contribution room*.

Financial goal: Protecting your family
One of your goals may be to put an insurance plan in place to protect your family if something were to happen to you. Maybe you have insurance through work or a small policy from when you were younger but they are not enough for the people that now rely on you. Maybe in the past you’ve obtained life insurance quotes but you couldn’t afford to pay the extra premiums at the time. What is the cost of waiting?

The cost of insurance tends to go up each year but you’re also older. Insurance isn’t just something you buy, you need to qualify to get it. Changes in your health as you age or even in the health of your family members can impact your ability to purchase coverage. If you wait until you feel the time is right to purchase, you may no longer be able to anymore.

Financial goal: Saving for your child’s education
Since the usual timeframe of savings for a Registered Education Savings Plan is from birth until age 18, every year you wait makes a big difference in how much can accumulate. Also, if you are not contributing, your child is also missing out on the tax-free growth of the Canadian government’s contributions. 

With increasing tuition costs, now is the time to start your child’s RESP and benefit from the government’s contributions to the plan. If you are worried your child might not attend any post-secondary institution, please note that with a regular, non-scholarship RESP plan, if your child doesn’t go to school, your contributions and any growth can be transferred to your RRSP.

If you did not accomplish your financial goals in 2013, seize the opportunity to do so in 2014. Even if you cannot achieve your ultimate goals, starting sooner rather than later will pay off in the long run. When it comes to financial planning, timing is everything. In order to paint a rosy future financial picture for you and your family like those cheesy auto commercials urge: don’t wait; act now!