I would start by asking, “What do you want?” and then “Why” like an incessant two-year-old as long as they can handle it. For example, why does Reza want to retire at 67? It may be because he hates his job, or because his father died at 67, or because that’s when he thinks he’ll still be healthy and active.

Those are things we need to know as planners to be able to offer true advice. Then we can build a plan they’ll follow, containing short-term goals that will make them happy today and long-term goals that will make them financially stable tomorrow and the day after that and 10 years after that.

They don’t have a lot of money in investments for their age and considering Reza’s position and income. But I wouldn’t recommend putting a ton of money in RRSPs. If Reza is not an incorporated physician, he probably should be at his income level, and it doesn’t make sense to draw fully taxable income from a corporation and put it into an RRSP to create more fully taxable income in retirement.

This couple has an opportunity to save a lot in the next 19 years. Reza may even be able to boost his income by taking ER shifts or through a number of alternate income streams common for doctors. But what I really need to see is their cash flow—today’s expenses—which will tell me how much income they’re likely to need at retirement. Some costs will index to inflation, some will index above inflation, some will go away and new ones, like pharmacare, may appear.

What’s clear is that this couple has worked hard and has been strict about debt repayment. From an asset standpoint, if they’re just as strict, they can probably end up far better off than many people born in Canada.

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