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The good news, bad news story of living to 100

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The World Economic Forum issued a discussion paper recently titled, "We'll Live to 100 – How Can We Afford It?" The math behind this question is simple. "On average, [lifespans have] been increasing by one year, every five years," the paper says. "Babies born today in 2017 can expect to live to over 101, or in other words, they will live to see the year 2117."

Living longer means you'll need more retirement savings. Problem is, there are some financial, economic and demographic trends working against this happening. As noted in this MarketWatch article, fewer employers are offering pension plans. Meanwhile, an aging population means more retirees and fewer people in the work force.

There's now talk of a "retirement savings gap" between what people will need for retirement and the amount they'll actually have from government benefits, workplace pensions and individual savings. Canada is doing comparatively well on this front. Of eight countries considered in the World Economic Forum report, Canada comes in second best, just behind Australia.

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Baby boomers are least affected by the retirement savings gap because of the assets they've accumulated through bull markets for stocks, real estate and company pension. Millennials, you're most vulnerable. Fewer of you have pensions, and there's a consensus that investment returns will be subdued in the years ahead. Your best defence is to start saving for retirement as soon as you can. Is it fair to say that retirement is the most urgent financial priority for a 30-year-old? Arguably, yes.

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The $20 emergency fund

A smart take on how it's OK to start small when building an emergency fund. What I like here is that the writer doesn't drone on about how you need three or six month' salary covered. Instead, she insightfully explains how to start modestly and go from there.

Retirement's coulda, shoulda, woulda

What would retirees do differently if they could go back in time? A financial adviser with the U.S. investing giant Vanguard asked that question in a blog post and received hundreds of answers. Good, real-life commentary here, though some is U.S-specific.

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The complete guide to no-cost workouts

If you're disciplined about working out at home, these free online workout videos can be a great alternative to paying for a health club membership. My take on gyms is that they're an investment in your health if you use them regularly.

Smashing the diamond ceiling

Twelve per cent of the 2,500 billionaires in the world are women. Here's a look who they are and how they made their money.

Today's featured financial tool

I rounded up a bunch of websites for comparing financial products in a recent column. Here's one to add for credit cards, mortgages, brokerages and robo-advisers – Hardbacon.

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Ask Rob

The question: "I am considering selling my $650,000 house and upgrading to an $850,000 house. The major difference between the two houses is location – the newer house comes with a beautiful view and no rear neighbours. I'm 37 years old. The conservative banker in me says don't do it. But every other part of me wants the new house."

The answer: "Sounds like you're asking me to talk you out of this move. OK, let me try. Selling your current house and buying the other place will cost you a lot in real estate commissions, legal fees and moving costs. Financing the new place will mean a bigger mortgage and quite possibly higher property taxes, upkeep and insurance costs. Moving might make sense if you had a growing family, but not for a view and more privacy. Some landscaping with a high fence would be much cheaper.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

What I've been writing about

– Some great online tools that can help improve your portfolio returns

– It's the Canadian way to pay too much for financial products

– Five things to know if you're a President's Choice Financial client

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998.Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More

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