Your retirement planning roadmap

May 27, 2022


Your time in retirement (“retirement journey”) can be just as long or longer as your time in your career. When you plan for your retirement, you are planning for what could be a very long time (e.g., 40 years).


Protect yourself when you plan and use information that you know and can control, and be wise when you use information that you don’t know for certain or can’t control.


Things you know or can control may include your guaranteed income sources (e.g., Canada Pension Plan), your retirement date and your debt. Things you don’t know or can’t control may include future investment returns, inflation and healthcare costs for loved ones.


The checklist below may help you as you plan for your retirement journey. This is not all inclusive – but this roadmap can be a great resource for you. 




Three or more years before your retirement journey begins

Ask yourself: Where will I spend my money?

  • Your spending habits may be different in your retirement years when compared to your career years. 

  • Sometimes it helps to visualize your retirement over 10-year periods. Your spending needs during early retirement may be different than your needs during mid-retirement which may be different than your needs during late retirement. 

  • Include the normal spending needs of life (i.e., daily, monthly and annual needs) and the big spends (e.g., vacation plans, renovations). 

  • Will aging loved ones impact your spending needs? Will your own health care needs impact your spending? 

  • Where will you be living at first? And later?

Ask yourself: Where will my money come from?

  • Canada Pension Plan / Quebec Pension Plan and Old Age Security (get estimates from Service Canada).

  • Learn how taking CPP early or later can affect your retirement income (a CSS Advisor may be able to assist you with this learning). 

  • CSS Pension Plan (get estimates from CSS). 

  • Other workplace pensions. 

  • Personal savings.

Ask yourself: Am I financially secure?

  • Discuss your retirement plans with your loved ones, including your personal wishes for late retirement care and support. 

  • Check your credit report and protect yourself from financial fraud and abuse.

  • Examine and act on any opportunities in other financial aspects of your life (e.g., insurance needs, debt elimination, estate planning, tax planning). 

  • Review your investment portfolio and risk tolerance annually.



One to three years before your retirement journey begins

Ask yourself: Am I on track?

  • Re-evaluate the questions “Where will I spend my money?” and “Where will my money come from?” 

  • Use the tools (e.g., myCSSPEN Compass) and resources (e.g., CSS Advisors and website) available to you to determine if you are on track, need to consider minor course corrections (e.g., save more, plan to spend a bit less), or need to consider a detour (e.g., retire later, plan to spend less).


Ask yourself: Am I financially secure?

  • Do a financial check-in for yourself. 

  • Things to review and consider are: 

    • Your debts: ensure that you are managing and eliminating debt.

    • Your risks: where will the money come from in the event of an emergency? Consider emergency funds and your insurance needs. 

    • Your estate: Review your estate plan. Consider reviewing matters such as beneficiaries on file, health care directives, living wills, taxes, liabilities to the estate, and prepare your will.



Less than 12 months to go until your retirement journey begins

Ask yourself: Am I on track and will I be financially secure in retirement?

  • Re-evaluate your financial situation and security. Contact a CSS Advisor if you have any questions, use available tools and resources, and make decisions that fit your personal circumstances.

Take action to start your CSS Pension Plan source of retirement income. 

  • Contact CSS and speak with a CSS Advisor. They will help you get your retirement paperwork ready for your CSS pension funds. If CSS does not receive your retirement paperwork, your retirement income may not start when you want it to.

Take action to start your federal sources of retirement income.

  • When you are ready to start your federal sources of retirement income (e.g., CPP, OAS), contact Service Canada to ensure you fill out the right paperwork and submit that paperwork to them on time.



During your retirement journey

Remember – your retirement journey can last 20 to 40 years

Ask yourself (at least annually): Am I on track and am I still financially secure?

  • Take action and continue to manage your ongoing financial security in retirement. 
  • Monitor and adjust your spending as needed – the “wants” of life bring emotional value, but if you overspend on these things, you may increase your risk of running out of money during your retirement journey. 
  • Be careful with debt - too much debt can have a negative impact on your financial security. 
  • Be prepared for emergencies. 
  • Communicate your plans and needs with your loved ones.

Take action and monitor your investments, including your CSS Variable Benefit account (if you elected this income option).

  • During your retirement journey, you may need to increase your attention to the “downside risk” of your investments. 

  • Protecting against the downside risk is where you use strategies to try and reduce the losses that can occur when markets go down. Your funds held with CSS are managed using several downside protection strategies. 

  • You may need to adjust your withdrawal amount based on the performance of your investments. Be prepared for this.


​Need assistance?

A CSS Retirement and Pension Advisor can help you understand your retirement income sources and how they all fit together. 

Contact us to book a one-on-one meeting with a CSS Advisor. 


Article from the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of TimeWise.

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