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Preparing for retirement isn’t always on one’s mind until they’ve reached their later years, but the earlier you start planning for it, the better off you’ll be. According to an Angus Reid study, only 46 per cent of polled Canadians retired when they expected to—meaning you should always be ready for the unexpected when it comes to your financial future.

Calculate how much you’ll need. Use a retirement calculator to ensure you’re on the best financial path in order to continue with your current lifestyle and quality of life once you retire. Crunch the numbers as accurately as possible and adjust any savings plans now while you still have time to build more savings.

Pay off any remaining debt. If your mortgage isn’t already paid off, this is an important one. Retiring with debt is never a good idea, so now is the time to downsize, if necessary, and pay off any and all remaining debt you might have so you can retire without worrying about making payments you might not be able to afford once on a fixed income.

Test your plans. While you might have it in your mind to escape the cold Canadian winter permanently, become a snowbird and move to Florida, if you’ve never spent time during winter there before, do you really want to make such a huge life change before trying it out? You might find you hate being so far away from family or the culture isn’t what you expected. No matter if it’s the cottage or a warmer destination, make sure you’ve spent a lot of time there and love it before you make any permanent life decisions.

Talk to your kids. Are your children still at all financially dependent on you? Before you retire, you’ll want to ensure they know what you can and can’t do for them once you are retired. If they’re still in school, you may want to discuss with them the best time to retire, to ensure they’re on their financial feet first.

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