The RRSP deadline is fast approaching, but when it comes to saving for retirement, what’s the best option for you, and how can you calculate your risk?

Like thousands of Canadians, 44-year-old Lori Pacilli lost a big chunk of her retirement savings when the markets crashed in 2008.

“It was devastating. It’s almost like you’re having to start over again,” said Pacilli.

For her, the market crash meant starting over with more conservative retirement investments. She’s sticking with GICs and staying away from the market.

But some financial advisers say that’s a mistake. They believe that while people think putting all their retirement money in a low-interest GIC or RRSP savings account is less risky, they’re wrong.

Chris Mattern, a financial adviser for Freedom 55, says that these kinds of people are still incurring a risk. “Their rate of return will be lower than inflation, so you’ll be losing buying power, and in the long term that’s not a good situation.”

Mattern said since the markets have leveled out, he’s seen a lot of bandwagon-jumping and cautions investors from going all in on stocks or mutual funds.

“When markets go up, clients tend to assume more risk than is actually appropriate,” he said.

Advisers say diversity is key, but how much you invest and where really depends on your own personal risk factors, which include your age, retirement goals, and whether or not you have additional savings, such as a pension.

Taren Gesell, an investment adviser from National Bank Financial, says the markets are going up and down a lot more than previous to 2008. Volatility will always be a part of the market, he says, so these days investors are looking at alternatives.

“Things like gold, things like real estate are becoming a lot more common in people’s portfolios because people have been fairly upset with the performance of typical mutual funds, so they’re looking at alternative investments,” says Gesell.

But is that enough to convince Lori Pacilli to put some of her GICs back into the market?

“I’m not a risk taker,” she says. “I believe in playing it safe, so definitely not.”

It may not make her rich, but it’s what she says makes her comfortable.

The deadline for making contributions to your RRSP for 2012 is March 1.