While the U.S. and Canadian economies have rebounded after the Great Recession, they still have a long way to go until they are on solid, sustainable footing, according to the experts at Learn-To-Trade.com. Unemployment data in both countries has improved significantly, but the fact remains that debt levels remain at record levels and wages are stagnant. In Canada, the average household debt—which includes credit cards, student loans and mortgages—has risen six percent in the past year to $76,140. More specifically, 43% of Canadians have mortgage debt, an increase of 13 percentage points over last year. More than half of Canadians have a credit card balance and 15% of households have student loan debt. In fact, Canadian debt levels means many are struggling to save for retirement. Almost 40% of Canadians say paying down personal debt is their first priority. Just a quarter (26%) say saving for retirement is a first priority. On average, Canadians expect 27% of their retirement income to come from personal savings, 23% from employer plans, 30% from government programs (Canadian Pension Plan and Old Age Security), 10% from home equity, five percent from inheritance, and six percent from other sources. The “other sources” include investments like stocks and bonds. When it comes to planning for retirement, it’s important to have a diversified portfolio. And while it’s important to save for retirement, the high debt levels shows most aren’t. Inheritance isn’t a given by any stretch and government programs aren’t meant to carry you through retirement; they’re just to supplement it. When it comes to saving for retirement, investing in the stock market is your best option. Over the last 20 years, the Standard and Poor’s 500 has gained roughly 320%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 330%. Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, the S&P 500 has climbed almost 200% and the Dow Jones has risen close to 160%. And with the economy picking up steam, it looks like the broader stock markets have a lot more room to run. If you’re looking for growth, it’s important to have a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds. It’s also wise to take a diversified approach to investing. In addition to looking at different companies and sectors to invest in, it’s a good idea to use different investing strategies, such as stock index trading, futures trading, futures option trading, forex trading, and stock options trading. One of the best ways to add value to any investment portfolio is with stock options. In fact, with stock options, it doesn’t matter if we’re in the midst of a bull market or bear market or experiencing a stock market correction; investors can always make money when using the appropriate stock options strategy. That’s because with options, an investor can potentially make money on a stock regardless of whether it’s going up or down. With stock options, investors can participate in the price change of an investment, whether up or down, before a certain date. What’s also great about options trading is that investors can control a stock for a fraction of the price of the stock without actually owning it. A stock option is a contract between two parties. By definition, a stock option buyer has the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell the underlying stock at a specific price on or before a specific date. When it comes to investing in the stock market and making money, no strategy is as versatile as stock option trading. That said, stock option trading can be complex and comes with inherent risks; if an investor isn’t careful, they can lose their entire investment. Taking a comprehensive stock option trading course from the skilled, professional traders at Learn-To-Trade.com will teach you how to profit from a stock whether it rises or falls in price. Learn-To-Trade.com will also show you how to limit risk and preserve capital. Sources: “BMO Annual Debt Report: Household Debt Up 6 Per Cent to $76,140,” BMO Financial Group web site, August 5, 2014; https://newsroom.bmo.com/press-releases/bmo-annual-debt-report-household-debt-up-6-per-ce-tsx-bmo-201408050960770001. “Sun Life Canadian Unretirement Index,” Sun Life Financial web site, February 2014; https://cdn.sunlife.com/static/canada/sunlifeca/About%20us/Canadian%20Unretirement%20Index/ 2014_Sun_Life_Canadian_Unretirement_Index_Report_en.pdf.