Expecting the Unexpected: When life happens out of order

Dec 19 2017, 5:08 pm

For many Canadians, life events are happening in a different order than they did in previous generations. Finishing school, getting married, buying a house – traditional notions of when these events should happen no longer apply.

Buying a house/Shutterstock

Image: Buying a house / Shutterstock

A recent TD survey found nearly 58 per cent of Canadians have completed or are on track to complete their life’s milestones in a different order than they originally expected. More specifically, Gen X Canadians are more likely to complete or be on track to complete them in a different order (64 per cent) than Millennials (52 per cent).

While we may all take different paths in life, thinking ahead about goals and putting a financial plan in place can help manage the impact of these significant life moments, whenever they occur.

“We know that priorities are constantly evolving and the big moments in our lives don’t always happen the way we expect,” said Lee Bennett, Senior Vice President of TD Wealth Financial Planning.

“In fact, the survey findings also show that the best laid plans of previous generations didn’t always happen as anticipated either. This is something Millennials can learn from so they can better prepare themselves for unexpected – and sometimes simultaneous – life events by planning to allow for financial flexibility.”  


Image: Graduating / Shutterstock

Bennett says it’s important to ask yourself some key questions and then meet with a financial planner to help create a plan that’s unique to your situation and aspirations. Some questions to consider include:

  • How do I handle multiple milestones occurring at the same time?
  • Is it smarter to plan a wedding or buy a home first?
  • What costs should I factor in when contemplating buying a home?
  • How much do I need to save to comfortably enjoy a parental leave?  
  • How do I know if I’m on track to save enough for retirement?

“Preparing for life’s big moments requires planning and saving, and regardless of your age, it’s never too early, or too late, to build a financial plan and set goals for your future,” Bennett said. “Whether starting an RSP or a Tax-Free Saving Account, your contributions are really an investment in yourself and your future.”

Many Canadians who have already completed these milestones also reported having experienced unexpected costs, according to the survey, especially for Canadians buying a home (52 per cent) and having their first child (43 per cent). More than half of both Millennials (56 per cent) and Gen X Canadians (58 per cent) said they experienced unexpected costs when buying a home, and half of Millennials (50 per cent) and Gen X Canadians (49 per cent) cited unexpected costs associated with having their first child. 

When it comes to being financially prepared for life’s milestones, the survey found:

  • Only four in 10 Canadians say they have properly budgeted or are properly budgeting for having their first child (39 per cent) and for retirement (41 per cent)
  • Millennials (28 per cent) are less likely than Gen X Canadians (42 per cent) to say they have properly budgeted or are properly budgeting for having their first child
  • Only one-quarter (24 per cent) of Millennials and one-third (33 per cent) of Gen X Canadians say they have properly budgeted or are properly budgeting for retirement.

Bennett says being financially prepared can allow you to better enjoy each and every moment of life’s milestones – planned or unexpected.

For more information on financial planning for life’s milestones, visit TD Financial Planning.

About the TD Bank Group Life’s Moments Out of Order Poll

TD Canada Trust commissioned Environics Research Group to conduct a custom survey of 6,149 Canadians aged 18 years and older. Responses were collected between January 20 and February 8, 2015.   

About the TD Wealth

TD Wealth Financial Planning is a division of TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. is a Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.


DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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