Much of what you read about saving for retirement forgets to include a valuable source of income that can be unlocked if needed. Just like a piece of coal can be burned to create energy, these assets can be released to create cash.

So, on top of retirement savings held in your TFSA and/or RRSP, your government pension (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS), and any company pensions, you shouldn’t forget other assets you or your family may have accumulated in your lives.

The primary asset many will have when they reach retirement age is a mortgage free home. There are more than a couple ways you can unlock the equity in your home.

First, you call sell the home and downsize to a less expensive home. They could also take out a reverse mortgage on the equity of the home. There are pros and cons to this idea. Typically the interest rate is higher on reverse mortgages and the fees to set up the reverse mortgage and substantial.

You could also sell and move to a retirement community where you purchase the physical home but not the land the home sits on. This concept unlocks a considerable amount of cash if you live in or around a large city like Toronto or Vancouver.

For example, my parents live in Markham, Ontario and could sell their condo for roughly $600,000. They could move down the street to a retirement community and pay roughly $220,000 for a 2 bedroom townhome. They would be allowed to stay in the home until they both die. At that time, the unit would revert back to the non profit organization that owns the community. The cost of the townhome is determined by the age and health of the individual seniors who are considering making the purchase.

Examples of other assets that could finance retirement are a cottage, rental property, business equity, other savings and any inheritance you may expect.

While not everyone has these other assets, many do and any discussion on how much to save for retirement should not forget these other assets.