How To Retire With Little Money In Canada

Estimated reading time: 14 minutes

Retire with limited resources in Canada – save more with minimal inputs. Live well with strategies tailored to your retirement goals!

Most Canadians will have little money for retirement unless they invest on their own while younger.

That’s the reality.

Living well in retirement has its definition based on the people living it, but for the most part, you still need to watch your money.

How To Retire With Little Money In Canada
How to retire with little money in Canada.

Frugal Retirement Living Means Adjusting To The Little Money You Have Available.

Gone are defined benefits, and work benefits are limited based on where you are employed.

Saving for tomorrow above what government pensions Canadians get is solely left up to us, but not everyone can save.

When we sat with our financial advisor a few weeks back to review our long-term financial plan, we estimated to have around $75,000 a year to spend during our retirement years.

I’m not sure where we came up with that number, but it seemed like a reasonable amount of money to travel and afford the needed things.

The problem is we don’t know what the future holds for us, so right now, although it seems we will have money during retirement, we still budget and live frugally.

Health Worries Tops The List Retiring With Little Money

Our biggest worry is our health because we’ve learned that anything can happen in the blink of an eye.

Oddly, it never used to be about healthy living, but now that we’ve experienced how it can tear a family apart, it’s a big concern.

It should concern all Canadians because getting care in Canada when you are ill can be costly when it’s not funded.

Related: 6 Retirement Concerns That We Are Thinking About In Our 40’s

We must reach our financial goals and turn our financial plan into liquid gold for our retirement years.

Not everyone is so lucky; my mother-in-law is one of them.

Frugal Senior With Illness and Little Money

If you need to live cheaply in retirement, you must continue budgeting into your senior years.

My mother-in-law cannot do this, so we created a retirement budget for her but we can’t balance it.

Just last year, before turning 65, she finished paying off her mortgage, so she is mortgage free.

The problem is that she has little money besides her spouse’s pension and government benefits.

Related: Retirement Income Sources In Canada That You Need To Know About

The worst part is that we have to apply to reinstate her government pension, which has been terminated since she did her 2018 taxes.

Since she claimed her spouse’s work pension, they deemed her income above the threshold and revoked her benefit.

There is NO income, it was a pension, but they want us to skip rope.

She also had to pay more than $16,000 in taxes that the pension employer didn’t take off.

They didn’t take off enough money when they paid her the lump sum.

The initial taxes were around $47,000 plus the $16,000, which is a whopping amount to pay in taxes.

Looking back, we should have taken the monthly pension payments.

Our mistake was rushing the process. She was left with no money after the bank froze her account when her spouse died.

We were caught in a financial game that turned out crappy.

So, as of the end of this month, instead of taking home $1900 a month, she will get shy of $500, which won’t even cover her property taxes and groceries.

The money she got from the pension went to pay off the mortgage, and the rest was stashed in a Tax-Free Savings Account and bank savings.

There’s not much left.

It’s a bunch of red tape and hoops we have to jump through to tell the government that she’s not working and earning that money, and it was a one-time lump-sum pension payment.

The Great Depression – Little Money Available

During the great depression in 1929, there wasn’t much in the way of pensions and savings people just lived on what little money they had.

Beginning on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, when the value of the New York stock market fell dramatically, and ending in 1939, the Great Depression was a time when Canadians suffered unprecedented levels of poverty due to unemployment.- Source

The unemployment rate during the great depression was at an all-time high of 30%, where 1 in 5 Canadians lived on social assistance from the government.

When no money was available, people turned to barter to obtain services such as medical help or food to put on the table.

Canada’s Blue Cross prepaid hospital insurance plans provided a benefit that funded a maximum annual period of hospital care for plan members, including diagnosis, treatment and surgical services.

Some seniors are bartering their services today to make ends meet, living below the poverty and unsure how to fund their retirement years.

It’s a continued struggle, but with the inclusion of work pensions, RRSPs, and TFSA along with a savings plan, your retirement years don’t have to be gloomy.

For the unfortunate seniors who are faced with retiring with little money, it’s a tough spot to be in, especially when resources in Canada are limited.

The outcome is that you have to learn how to retire on little money by significantly changing how you live.

That’s the reality, and there’s no bull way around it, and it saddens us to know that eventually, my mother-in-law will have to sell her home.

It’s not unusual for seniors to downsize but when you face mental illness such as Alzheimer’s, moving house can be detrimental to the person.

Although she may not have a choice about what happens with her living arrangements, we can help keep her independent until it’s time for assisted living.

Related: What Does Your Retirement Lifestyle Plan Look Like?

How To Retire With Little Money

Sometimes we have to do without, which means taking away what little we have to make ends meet.

When you retire with little money set aside, that means taking steps to get yourself on a budget that balances and that is sustainable.

Sell Your House or Move To A Cheaper Apartment

Although you may not want to downsize your living arrangements, you have to consider your finances if you want to learn how to retire with little money.

Taking steps to move to a smaller home or apartment may free up equity in your home, which allows you disposable income that you may need.

While you are downsizing, it’s important to get rid of stuff you no longer have use for by selling it or donating it.

Food Budget With Little Money

Your food budget will change as you age because you won’t always cook the big meals you used to.

Perhaps during the holidays, if you have friends and family over, you may see a spike in your grocery budget, but simple meals are ideal for the most part.

Keeping a food budget, continually using coupons and coupon apps, shopping the deals, price-matching, and collecting rewards points all lend to grocery savings.

Related: How much should my retirement food budget be?

Chop Budget Expenses

Go through each budget category with a fine-tooth comb and consider what you can remove or reduce.

For example, consider which one you can do without if you have a home phone and a cell phone. You don’t need both.

Ideally, you will want a bare-bones budget that fits your income but with room for entertainment and spending if applicable.

Not all retiring seniors have room to save or spend money on things they want to do.

Secondhand Shopping

My mother-in-law can no longer afford to buy new things apart from undergarments, so we take her to secondhand shops around town to buy clothes, shoes, and anything else needed for daily living.

There’s nothing wrong with being frugal, and we do this now in our 40s and save lots of money, but for some people, it’s about surviving.

Public Transportation

You may not want to give up driving, but maintaining a vehicle in Canada is costly.

Once you sell your vehicle and cancel insurance, it may significantly reduce your budget.

You won’t have to pay for maintenance on your vehicle and hopefully will earn back a bit of money from the sale.

Public transportation, whether the city bus, taxi, or seniors transportation services in Ontario, will be cost-effective options for seniors.

Tax Credits And Benefits For Seniors With Little Money

As we’ve been learning more about tax credits and benefits available to low-income seniors, we’ve been exposed to what many retirees don’t know about.

It’s one of those things where you probably won’t be told about these programs if you don’t research.

These are just a few benefits that low-income seniors may apply for if they qualify.

Related: How Not To Retire Poor In Canada

Discussion: What are some concerns you have about retiring with little money?

CBB Posts You May Have Missed

These are the blog posts I’ve written over the past two weeks that you can catch up on if you’ve missed them.

If you don’t already, please subscribe to the blog, and you will get my posts to come straight to your email.

  1. 5 Steps To Improve Financial Stability – Our June 2019 Net Worth Update
  2. How To Write A Powerful Complaint Letter (Sample Letter)
  3. Easy Sugar-Free Mulberry Jam (Keto)
  4. How To Effectively Deal With Personal Financial Turmoil – Our June 2019 Budget Update
  5. Efficient Tips And Tricks To Make You An Expert Traveller

Mr. CBB’s Motivational Corner


Frugal Recipe Find

Keto Snickers Brownies

Emily over at Resolution Eats has this amazing Snickers Brownie recipe that is sugar-free, gluten-free, low-carb and keto-friendly.

As you all know, I’m a brownie nerd and since going Keto with my wife I’ve been testing out new brownie recipes for the blog.

What I’ve noticed is that we all use the same keto pantry essentials but in different measurements and techniques.

I’m not a huge fan of Lily’s chocolate chips, as we use Krisda because we like the taste better. You can find them at almost all Loblaws stores with a health food section.


  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 – 1 cup Confectioner’s Swerve or equivalent powdered sweetener, as desired*
  • 11 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature**
  • 3/4 cup superfine almond flour
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts

Caramel Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Swerve or equivalent granulated sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup Lily’s Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips or equivalent sugar-free chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon Confectioner’s Swerve or equivalent powdered sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil

Garage Sale Finds

If you have deals, you’d like to share from your garage sale outings this Summer, email me your photo and tell us what you found and how much it costs to be featured.

CBB Garage Sale Finds Of The Week July 13

Here are today’s garage sale deals:

  • Boys 13/14 Roots sweater $2
  • Set of 4 containers $1
  • Boys PJs, crocs sandals, 6 items of girls’ clothing (for a cousin) $7 (asking was $9)

Total spent $10

This was a great deal when you considered the cost of Roots sweaters!


Jen 🙂

Home and Blog Update

SWR At Home July 2019

In the last week and a half, we did some kitchen preservation while waiting for bathroom reno supplies to be delivered.

Before losing it, we had a tonne of organic garlic to mince and jar for the freezer.

That was a huge task, as cleaning garlic is tedious, as many of you know.

It’s all done now, and we ended up with about 8 mason jars of garlic that we packed with extra virgin olive oil and freeze.

A trip to the berry farm yielded some amazing strawberries, which we turned into sugar-free strawberry jam for us keto folk.

Our little guy wanted to make cookies for his friends, so we baked a strawberry chocolate cookie with white chocolate drizzle. The kids loved them.

My wife and I also make some keto kimchi which we let ferment for five days on the counter, and it’s SO GOOD with just about anything we eat.

During a freezer dive, we pulled out a bag of cauliflower rice and made a batch of our Keto cheesy cauliflower hashbrowns.

Lastly, we have a tree with berries that we know are edible but aren’t sure what they are called.

Maybe you do? It’s the second last photo above.

All recipes mentioned above are coming to the blog soon, so watch out for them!

Bathroom Renovation Update

Bathroom renovation
CBB Bathroom Renovation

So far, the tub has been installed, and I’m waiting for the toilet and fixtures to arrive.

I’ll be heading out this week to pick up some drywall and lights to get back to work on it.

I hope to finish this by the end of the month or early August to move on to home reno number two, the other bathroom.

Blog Update

I’ve been updating old posts on CBB, so they look a bit better and read better, as some are a bit outdated.

Other than that, my designer Sara has been working behind the scenes making small changes that you won’t necessarily see but will impact blog performance.

Shortly the Free Resources will be password protected for subscribers only, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

That’s all for now, everyone.

Chat to you in a couple of weeks.


Favourite Blog Read

Douglas at The Art Of Frugal Living makes a good point when he says, “Whatever your dream vacation is, “go for it.” You deserve it. You also owe it to yourself to plan it well.”

I also believe that we should live our dreams and explore, but to do so, we must budget before we finance.

So many people find themselves in consumer debt situations because they put exploring before saving. It’s not worth the headache.

So, yes, do go on holidays but plan it properly and start crossing off your bucket list.

Read the full article here.

Saturday Search Term Giggles

kermit the frog
Google Search Terms for Canadian Budget Binder

Every week I get tens of thousands of people who visit Canadian Budget Binder because they searched online and found my blog.

Yes, I can see your search terms; sometimes, they are funny.

If you see the acronym (SIC) next to a word, I’ve copied the text exactly as it was typed in Google, and it has spelling errors.

  • It’s called a bap– I don’t know why, but this made me laugh. I suppose I envisioned someone saying this to me, “It’s called a BAP, not a BUN. Read this.
  • How to avoid weed in a back garden– Don’t plant weed; it won’t grow. Oh, you mean ‘weeds.’ Read this.
  • Is shopping at Cosco cheaper?– You mean COSTco. Maybe, it depends on what cheaper means to you.  Read this.
  • Planning last Momute garage sale– Now, that’s some fancy typing. I’ve just let it go to see what Google brings back sometimes. It works, but it’s still funny.

That’s all for this week, friends; see you again in 2 weeks for the following Saturday Weekend Review!


Subscribe To Canadian Budget Binder


Share to...

Similar Posts


  1. You didn’t mention GIS for low income seniors
    If you receive OAS you can apply for it as well. In your mother-in-laws case even if her income was high the one year from the lump sum, it would be applied for on current income.

  2. Those are serviceberries or Saskatoon berries! We have two small trees and the berries are so delicious. They make great jam either on their own or mixed with other berries. If you can keep from eating them all first!

    1. Oh brilliant. My father-in-law told me they were edible. Our tree is loaded with them. Thanks for that info. I will see if I can save any to make some jam now. I made mulberry jam last week from our mulberry tree.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.