Every time a bank wants to scare the crap out of you, or somebody has a new financial book to flog, they use a poll. The sexiest topic real estate finance & investments 15th edition retirement, because most people are seriously screwed.

What they don’t understand is how easily this can be fixed. Canadians don’t think they’re saving enough to retire. The mistakes people are making are epic. First, more money sits in GICs and savings accounts than in all other investments combined.

Obviously this is an insane place to put money. The current inflation rate is 1. So forget trying to grow money that way. Unless you make and save huge amounts of money, or start when you’re four, GICs are retirement-toxic. Why do the banks push these hard?

50,000 for five years in return for a weasely 1. It’s a win-win for them, a lose-lose for you. Not only is the return hugely inadequate, but you have to pay tax every year at the same rate as your work income, on interest you haven’t received yet. Others have the financial acumen of a poodle. Still others live in fear of losing money when they should really fear running out of it. Second, it seems most of us are completely mangling the TFSA.

Canadians have opened a tax-free account. TFSAs are for investing, not saving. Third, not only have RRSP contributions dropped off into a black hole since 2008, but the number of Canadians who don’t understand them is legion. For the record, RRSPs are not products. A registered retirement pension plan is merely a vehicle into which you place assets, where they’ll grow without triggering tax while providing you with some immediate tax relief. Never, ever populate an RRSP with the low-hormone stuff mentioned above. By the way, the money you put into RRSPs becomes taxable once again.