Sep 20: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

September 20, 2021

One in five over 50 will delay retirement plans: RBC

The pandemic has made many Canadians rethink their retirement agenda, according to new research from RBC, covered in a recent article in Wealth Professional.

According to the article, the study – called the 2021 RBC Myths & Realities Poll – indicated that nearly 20 per cent of Canadians 50 and older have decided to change their retirement date.

There are a number of concerns outlined in the research.

A total of 21 per cent of those with assets of $100,000 or more fear they will outlive their retirement savings. Most of this group, the article continues, “believe they will need $1 million saved for their retirement but more than three quarters are at least $300K short of this.”

It’s worse for those with less savings, the article notes. Those with $50,000 in assets think they will need $533,000 in their savings pots, but are “an eye-watering $473,000 short of this goal,” Wealth Professional reports.

So what are people considering in what the article calls a Retirement Rethink?

  • 22 per cent are “thinking more about where they will live in retirement,” with 20 per cent “deciding where they don’t want to live,” typically meaning not in a retirement home, the article states.
  • Fifteen per cent are said to be reviewing or updating their wills; 17 per cent are “taking stock of their financial affairs,” and 16 per cent “realizing life is short” and are taking up new activities and hobbies, Wealth Professional notes.

Other actions they are thinking of taking, the article concludes, are to “stay in their own home and live more frugally,” to return to work, to downsize or move home, or ask family members for help.

What do we make of all this?

For starters, the cost of a dream retirement condo, cottage or timeshare has gone up significantly lately. It’s not so easy to sell your city house and pick up a cheaper one somewhere else, as prices are up everywhere. This and the massive cost of long-term care, in the thousands per month in most places, makes one’s existing home have new appeal. After all, it is either paid for or in the process of being paid for, you don’t have to pay moving expenses, realtors and lawyers to stay put, and your costs of living are known and predictable.

The article makes the point that having a financial planner makes sense in terms of establishing your financial goals for retirement. For instance, if you plan to stay home and live frugally, will you really need $1 million? It’s important to try and estimate, in advance, exactly what you will need to live on when you live the workforce.

If you are among those Canadians who worry about running out of money in retirement, be aware that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers annuities as an option for SPP retirees. With an annuity (they come in various forms with different options) you forego the risk of running out of money in retirement, as annuities provide you with a lifetime income stream. And you won’t have to put your sand wedge down in mid-swing to worry about investment decisions; with an annuity, there are none. Check out SPP, celebrating its 35th year of delivering retirement security, today!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


How to get rid of clutter quickly and easily

September 16, 2021
Photo by Humairah L. on Unsplash

We accumulate so much stuff in our lives, to the point that eventually, many of us will find boxes of stuff in the basement that have remained unopened from the last, or maybe several, previous moves.

It’s daunting to see your place full of boxes of old stuff, and/or disused furniture, small appliances, TVs, and the like – it looks like so much work to get rid of it that it’s easier just to dust the clutter and close the door on it.

Save with SPP looked for help with this problem on the Interweb, and found some interesting suggestions.

The Simple Lionheart Life blog offers some great advice.

They recommend “frequency over intensity” when it comes to decluttering. “Even 10 minutes a day of decluttering will add up over time,” the blog advises. Schedule your decluttering sessions, and have clear goals for clutterless living in a decluttering plan, the blog adds. Another of the great tips (there are several more) is to target the areas of your living space where the clutter is the biggest headache.

The Quick and Dirty Tips blog offers a few more ideas. Here, the authors argue that clutter builds up “because it takes effort to put stuff away.”

A simple way to return things to their correct place is to take an empty box, make a pass through your office or home, and load up everything you encounter that’s in the wrong place. Pop it in the box, the authors suggest, and then when you make a second run through the house, put things where they belong as you pass by. Clever.

The Mommyhood Life blog advises that you create a “make trash, donate or sell” pile of things you aren’t using.

“A donate pile will be for any items that may be useful to another family in need. A sell pile will be for items that are in good shape and have value left to them. A trash pile will be for any items that obviously don’t fit in the sell or donate pile. This will help you get rid of clutter fast by not double thinking about an item, just toss it into a pile,” the blog states.

Other ideas from Mommyhood Life include tips on when to consider getting rid of something – such as, when did you last use it? Does it still help you? As well, get the whole family working on the same page with clutter, the blog says.

Over the years, Save with SPP has attacked clutter (on occasion) by a variation of the “trash, donate or sell” pile. Our pile was trash, donate or recycle. Because we were moving after 10 years in one place, we did a daily run through the house and added items to the three piles. We dropped off donatable items daily at the local thrift shop on the way to work. Trash and recycling went out on garbage day.

We also once employed the services of a junk removal company to clear everything out of the basement just before we moved. It was just like on TV – everything was gone very quickly and painlessly. Right now we are thinking of calling them back to get rid of our space-taking, non-used pool table.

Our neighbours regularly have yard sales to sell off their old stuff. A friend has found a company that will take his empties back for him, and give him a charitable receipt for it! There are companies that will buy your old golf clubs if you upgrade; there are shops that will buy your collectibles if you don’t want the hassle of trying to sell them off yourself online.

One idea that didn’t work was putting excess stuff in a storage locker. After a while you began to feel nagged by the idea that you were paying to hang on to boxes filled with heaven-knows what, old university essays from the 1970s, perhaps, or old sets of cheap crockery or pots and pans you forgot about after packing it up two moves ago.

The biggest obstacle to decluttering is getting going on it, so good luck and Godspeed!

If you make a few bucks from getting rid of your old stuff, a nice place to stash the cash is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can make one-time contributions to your SPP account via your online banking site, by sending them a cheque, or by using their website to make a credit card contribution. All those little piles of extra cash will then be invested professionally and converted to retirement income when you’ve finally scaled the wall and escaped from the office! Check out SPP today.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Sep 13: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

September 13, 2021

Where should you be – retirement savings-wise – at different ages?

Saving for retirement tends to be a solitary process. While we are encouraged to put away what we can for that future post-work life, there’s little information out there on how much is enough, or what targets we should shoot for at various ages.

Writing in Yahoo! News, author Jami Farkas provides a little bit of clarity on those savings benchmarks.

First, Farkas writes, “the best time to start saving for retirement is when you start earning.” So even in your 20s you should be thinking about putting some of your paycheque towards retirement, Farkas continues.

As you age, those savings targets become more concrete, Farkas notes.

“By age 30, you should have saved an amount equal to your annual salary for retirement,” the article advises. “If your salary is $75,000, you should have $75,000 put away.”

The article suggests this goal can be met by putting away 20 per cent of what you earn, and to “live and give on the remaining 80 per cent.” The article, intended for an American audience, says signing up for any workplace retirement program, like a pension plan or here in Canada, a group registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is another positive step towards your savings goal.

Saving for retirement in your 30s can “even trump paying down debt,” the article notes.

In your 40s, you should have three times your salary stashed away, the article urges.

“If you don’t have a retirement savings strategy as part of your overall financial plan by this point, don’t delay,” Farkas writes.

A common mistake at this point is growing your lifestyle at the expense of your savings, the article explains – moving into a bigger house or apartment, or upgrading your car. Dr. Robert Johnson of Creighton University states in the piece that “what happens is they are unable to improve their financial condition because they spend everything they make. People are wise to effectively invest any money from a raise as if you didn’t receive the raise. That is, continue to live the same lifestyle you led before receiving a raise and invest the difference.”

If, instead, you were to invest some or all of a raise in your future, it would add up, the article notes. A $5,000 raise invested annually at 10 per cent will yield an eye-popping $822,000 in savings after 30 years, the article explains.

By age 50, the article notes, you need five times your salary in savings. With kids usually gone from your home and their education paid for, this is a good age for catch up if you have fallen behind, Farkas writes. And be sure you are investing in a low-fee savings vehicle, the article adds.

At 60, the article concludes, you should have seven to eight times your salary in retirement savings because you are now five years away from retirement. As well, the article warns, you should consider reducing your exposure to riskier investments, such as equities.

The article notes that those approaching retirement in 2007/8 would have seen their equity investments fall by 37 per cent in one year.

Let’s sum all this thinking up. Start saving for retirement as soon as you start making money. Make it automatic. Don’t forget your savings program in the excitement of getting a big raise and making more money. Don’t put all your savings eggs in one basket, particularly if that basket is full of stocks and no bonds or alternative investments.

The article suggests that a great way to get to the finish line in retirement saving is to join up with any retirement plan your employer offers – often, they will match what you contribute. That’s great advice. But if you don’t have access to an employer retirement program, fear not – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is available for do-it-yourselfers. Through SPP you can save in a low-fee program that has delivered strong investment returns for over 35 years. Check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


How you can set up a “Pay Yourself First” plan

September 9, 2021

By now, practically all of us have heard about “pay yourself first” as a savings strategy.

The general idea is to put away some percentage of your earnings, and then live on the rest. It sounds simple in theory, but in practice, less so. To that end, Save with SPP took a look around the Interweb to get some ideas about how to actually get going on a “pay yourself first” plan.

The folks at MoneySense see several simple steps you need to take to put your plan into action.

First, they suggest, “zero in on your savings goals.” What are you paying yourself first for – to build an emergency fund, or save up for a down payment, or a wedding or (our favourite) retirement, the article asks.

There has to be a reason why you are directing money away from your normal, bill-paying chequing account, MoneySense tells us.

Next, they recommend, take pen to paper and figure out how much you actually can pay yourself first. Make a list of your monthly “must spends,” like “shelter, food, electricity/heat, phone, transportation, etc.,” the article says. What’s left over is “discretionary” money, which can be spent or saved, the article adds.

If you are saving for more than one thing, you need to figure out how much each month to put away for each category. Then comes the actual “doing” part – automating your savings plan.

MoneySense recommends setting up an automatic transfer each month that moves money from chequing into savings. This amount can be increased when you get a raise, the article notes. Savings should be directed to either a tax-free savings account (TFSA), a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), or a combination of both, the article concludes.

The Oaken Financial blog notes that guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) can be a good place to stash savings. GICs are locked in for a time, but pay a set amount of interest for a fixed term, the blog notes. High-interest savings accounts pay good interest but allow you to make withdrawals at any time, the blog notes.

The Golden Girl Finance blog says there are apps that take the difficult thinking part out of the saving equation. Wealthsimple, the blog notes, allows you to round up your credit card purchases, so you are actually paying a little extra, with that money being directed to your savings account. So you save a little as you spend, the blog notes.

Save with SPP notes that similar arrangements – where you pay a little extra on debit card purchases, or where a money-back credit card deposits the cashback directly to your savings account – exist at other Canadian banks.

Other ideas that have flashed across the screen of late:

  • Banking your raise. You were paying off the bills OK before you got the raise, so why not stick the difference between your former pay and your new pay into savings, and live off the rest? You were the day before the raise!
  • Banking your cost of living adjustment. Same concept, but for us lucky pensioners who get cost of living increases, why not direct the increase to savings and continue to live on what you were getting prior to the increase?
  • Starting small. You may not stick with a pay yourself first plan if it is overly ambitious. Uncle Joe always said bank 10 per cent and live on the 90 per cent; he did, and he did well, but Joe was a very disciplined spender. Better to start smaller, maybe two or three per cent, and phase it up.

So to recap – you either need to know how much you spend each month to figure out how much you save, or you need to just pick an affordable percentage of your earnings and set it aside. Once you have automated the process, you won’t miss the saved amount, which will grow happily in a savings account, a retirement account, or perhaps the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

Celebrating 35 years of operations, the SPP permits automatic contributions. They can set it up for you, or you can set up SPP as a bill on your bank website and set up the automation yourself. Either way, the money you direct to SPP will be put away for your future, invested professionally, and – grown – will await you after you get home from the retirement party!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Sep 6: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

September 6, 2021

State pension benefits starting later around the world

Here in Canada, the “normal” age at which you can start full government retirement benefits – the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) – is 65.

That date probably reflects the old “mandatory retirement” rules of years ago which decreed that at 65, it was time to go.

But with people now living longer and working until they’re older, an article by Schroders notes that moving beyond age 65 for official pension start dates.

For instance, the article notes, in the U.S., pensions start at 66 and will move to 67 in 2027. Australia is similar, and will move to age 67 in 2023. The Netherlands and several other European country are moving to a “67+” start date with links to life expectancy rates, Schroders tells us.

Schroders explains the shift this way.

“The model common in most developed countries – start work at 18 to 21 and retire at around 60 to 65 – no longer looks viable as governments try to balance pension obligations with stretched public finances,” the article tells us.

Another factor, the article continues, is the increase in life expectancy. There is a growing “demographic imbalance where there are fewer retired persons for every retired person,” we are told. Not only are older folks living longer, but the birth rate is declining, meaning the talent pool to replace retiring workers isn’t growing as it once was, the article states.

“Typically, the fertility rate required to replace an existing population is 2.1 children per woman,” the article notes. “According to the latest data, the average for the 35 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is 1.7. Many countries, including Germany, Japan and Spain sit at 1.5 or lower,” Schroders explains.

So the ratio of the working to the “dependant,” those not working any longer, “has fallen and will keep falling for decades,” the article adds.

Lesley-Ann Morgan, Schroders’ Head of Retirement, calls this situation “a ticking timebomb.” Retirement systems “may not be affordable in some countries unless adjustments are made,” and the easiest way to fix them is to move the retirement age forward.

The takeaway for those of us who are not retired is this – pay attention to what’s going on with the CPP and OAS, and retirement rules in general, because they can change. Most recently, the CPP expanded its benefits for future retirees – good news for younger workers – but the power of demographics may mean other changes that are yet to be enacted.

One way you can help protect yourself against future changes in state pension benefits is by having your own retirement nest egg. A great option is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, which allows you to stash up to $6,600 a year away for retirement. That money is professionally invested, and at retirement, if you are worried you might live to 104 like your mom, SPP has annuity options that ensure you won’t run out of money no matter how many birthday candles they put on the cake. Check out SPP today.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


McCloud’s Saving Money is jam-packed with thrifty tips

September 2, 2021

Ace McCloud’s Saving Money is a slim volume that’s absolutely jam-packed with good advice on saving money.

McCloud begins by stressing the importance of “investing in yourself,” specifically the need to look after your physical and mental health. Good health practices are essential to “living a longer, happier life.” So, eat well, visit the gym, get lots of sleep and check in with your doctor, we are told.

For mental health, McCloud says yoga and meditation are good bets.

On the money side, McCloud points out the advantages of having a savings account. “First and foremost, your chances of spending that money are much less (in a savings account) than if your money was in a chequing account,” McCloud notes. It’s a good start, but with interest rates currently quite low, other investments – property, stocks, bonds – may provide greater profits.

On the stock front, McCloud says investing in preferred stock “is best for those who don’t get excited by risk taking because the price of the stock doesn’t tend to fluctuate.” You’ll get better interest via bonds than a savings account, and if actually buying a property to rent out is beyond your means, a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) can get you into the real estate game with a much smaller entry fee, he notes.

Many of us don’t have money to save due to high levels of debt, writes McCloud. “Many people find themselves in bad credit card debt because credit cards easily bring on feelings of instant gratification,” he explains. So while saving is a great thing, he advises getting rid of “high interest debts as fast as you can” to free up more money to save.

He gives an example indicating that if you make only the minimum payment on a $10,000 credit card balance, “it would take you nearly 30 years to pay it and it would cost you $12,000 just in interest!” By paying just under twice the minimum payment, you can pay it off in two years and save $10,000 in interest. If you have a number of credit cards, the Snowball Method may be a good idea – put extra money on the card with the lowest balance until you pay it off, and then add that money to the next-lowest card, McCloud explains.

Obviously debt is just one factor that restricts savings. The other is overspending. McCloud offers dozens of great ideas on how to save money. Go to the library, he suggests. Put down your electronics and take a walk. Don’t go to malls without spending money. Clip coupons. Shop at thrift stores. Make dining out (or ordering in) for special occasions only.

A nice bit of advice is to “take care of your personal possessions… you can make them last longer, therefore getting more value out of your money.” This advice extends to toys, cars, your house… the whole shebang.

We also like the idea of saving change in a jar.

There’s a handy section on grocery shopping that contains advice like “don’t fill your cart,” buy generic and private label brands, avoid pre-packaged food, and the classic “don’t shop when you’re hungry.”

While the book is intended for a U.S. audience, many of the tax saving tips are relevant for us Canadians. Make charitable donations to get a tax deduction, he writes. If you are moving, keep receipts – you can often claim the expense if you are moving somewhere to get a new job. The cost of having someone prepare your taxes is tax deductible, as are a variety of home office costs if you are self-employed.

He concludes by recommending a family stick to a budget to avoid surprises. This is a fun and straightforward little book that can jump-start your thinking if you are finding that there’s less money left over on payday than there used to be. It’s well worth reading.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Aug 30: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 30, 2021

How to hang on to any “pandemic cash” that may be pilling up

While some of us have had to struggle to make ends meet during the pandemic, others have – somewhat ironically – seen their personal savings shoot to new heights.

A report by CTV News looks at how some of us may have to adjust our budgets as COVID-19 restrictions begin to taper off.

The article notes that by the second quarter of 2021, Canada’s savings rate rocketed up to 13.1 per cent, more than double the previous year’s savings rate.

“Even Canadians’ credit card debts have been dropping, with rates hitting a six-year-low in June due to reduced spending,” the article informs us, citing data from Equifax.

You read that right. Credit card debt is dropping.

“Across the board in all age groups, we’re starting to see people pay more than they actually spend on a credit card, which is a real positive behaviour change in terms of consumers,” Rebecca Oakes of Equifax tells The Canadian Press in the article.

That’s great, but when things return to “normal,” will we still be saving and paying off debt?

CTV suggests a few things to do with any extra cash you may have accumulated as normality begins – and there are more tempting things to spend your money on than during the locked-down pandemic.

Finance expert David Lester is quoted in the article as suggesting one destination for extra bucks would be an emergency fund, which should be enough to cover “six to nine months of expenses.”

Next, Lester tells CTV that your retirement piggy bank should not be neglected in the rush to spend, spend, spend.

“It could go into your tax-free savings account (TFSA) or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), but we should just get used to saving 10 to 15 per cent” for retirement, he states.

If you spend with a credit card, Lester says it’s important to pay off the card each month, and to avoid letting a credit balance begin to grow.

He recommends that you pay off credit card balances first, as soon as you get paid, “and then going to zero (balance).”

If you are setting a budget for the world after the pandemic, be realistic, adds Lester.

There were a lot of things we couldn’t do – many of them expensive – that we may not want to spend as much on post pandemic, he explains. We lived without them for a long period of time, Lester tells CTV.

“Maybe it was travel, maybe it was movies, maybe it was having coffee at home, or not buying expensive clothing,” he says in the article. “So see what you really don’t miss and go back through that budget line-by-line and see what you don’t have to add back on now that things are opening up. We don’t want to go back to that bad spending that we were doing before.”

Our late Uncle Joe frequently would pull us aside and recommend the 10 per cent rule – bank 10 per cent of your money off the top, and live on the remaining 90 per cent. “You will never have any problems,” he said. It’s very sensible advice.

Pay yourself first, the old adage goes. And if you are putting away that cash in a retirement account, you are paying your future self first. You’ll be making life easier down the road, because you’ll be entering retirement with money in the bank and at the ready. A great way to pay your future self first is to set up an account with the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. They’ll invest your savings, at a low cost and a historically strong rate of return, and at the appropriate time, will help you convert those savings into retirement income. After all, they’ve been delivering retirement security for an impressive 35 years!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Navigating the complexity of the golden years: The Boomers Retire

August 26, 2021

The concept of retirement “has grown increasingly more sophisticated,” begin authors Alexandra Macqueen and David Field in their new book, The Boomers Retire.

“Canadians preparing for retirement,” they write, “have been able to contemplate a variety of highly personalized approaches – from early (or even very early) retirement, to phased retirement, working retirement, and more.”

This thorough book covers all matters retirement and boomer with clear, concise explanations, tables, charts, and focus.

Early, we learn about three “realities” in today’s retirement world – the amount of time we are retired is “increasingly longer,” that retirement is much more diffuse than the old “retire at 65” days of the past, and that funding retirements that may last longer than one’s working years is “increasingly complex.”

Workplace pensions aren’t as common as they were in the past, especially in the private sector, so many of us have to rely on government benefits, the authors explain. But Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan maximum benefits are just over $1,200 a month, and worse, the “average benefit amount for new recipients is $710.41 per month, or about 60 per cent of the maximum.”

Old Age Security provides another $7,384.44 annually, but is subject to clawbacks, the authors observe. Lower-income retirees may qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, we are told.

Those without a workplace pension plan (typically either defined benefit or defined contribution) will have to save on their own.

In explaining the difference between two common do-it-yourself retirement savings vehicles, the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) and the registered retirement savings vehicle (RRSP), the authors call the TFSA “a nearly perfect retirement savings and retirement income tool” since growth within it is free of tax, as are withdrawals. They recommend a strategy, upon withdrawing funds from an RRSP or registered retirement income fund (RRIF) of “withdrawing more than needed… and instead of spending that extra income, move it over to the TFSA.”

Our late father-in-law employed this strategy when decumulating from his RRIF, chortling with pleasure about the fact that he received “tax-free income” from his TFSA.

The book answers key timing questions, such as when to open a RRIF. Planners, the authors write, used to advise waiting “until the last possible moment” to move funds from an RRSP to a RRIF, at age 71. “The problem with this approach,” they tell us, “is that it sometimes results in low taxable income between retirement and age 71.” If you are in that situation, be aware that you don’t have to wait until 71, and can RRIF your RRSP earlier, they note.

A section on annuities – a plan feature for SPP members – indicates that they address the concern of running out of money in retirement, as annuities are generally paid for life. The trade-off, of course, is that you don’t have access to the funds used to provide the annuity.

Other retirement options, like continuing to work, taking a reverse mortgage, and starting your own business, are addressed. There’s a nice section on investing that looks at the pros (security) and cons (low interest rates) of bonds, how to treat dividend income, index exchange-traded funds, and more.

An overall message for this book, which is intended for both planners and individuals, is a focus on having an individualized strategy, rather than relying on various “rules of thumb.”

“Aiming for a smooth, even withdrawal over a retiree’s lifetime will often be the optimal approach,” the authors say. That’s complicated if, as our friend Sheryl Smolkin told us recently, your retirement income “river” comprises many different registered and non-registered streams. The authors say that a withdrawal rate of four per cent from your various retirement income sources is generally a good target.

Tax tips include remembering to claim medical expenses – many of us forget this category and miss out on tax savings – claiming the disability amount if you qualify, and taking advantage of income splitting. There’s a chapter on being a snowbird (there can be some unexpected downsides with it) and going the rental route in your latter years, when “the future is now.”

This clear, detailed, and very helpful book is a must for your retirement library.

If you’re a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, you’ll have the option at retirement to choose from a variety of great annuity products. Some offer survivor benefits, including the Joint & Survivor option where your surviving spouse will continue to receive some (or all) of your pension after you are gone. It’s a solid part of the SPP’s mandate of delivering retirement security, which it has done for more than 35 years.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Aug 23: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 23, 2021

Ontario “Golden Girls” team up to share costs of retirement living

A group of Ontario seniors have, according to Reader’s Digest Canada, come up with a unique way of beating the high cost of retirement living.

Like the Golden Girls of TV fame, the four women – all single seniors and friends – decided to move in together and split living costs.

The four had independently begun to realize living costs were going to be tough. All were either widowed or divorced and living in “empty, too-big suburban houses.”

They also did not want to move into an expensive retirement home and live amongst strangers, the article notes.

Quoted in the article, Louise Bardwich, one of the four, began to realize that “depending on the extent of care she might need one day, a spot in a seniors’ home could end up costing her between $2,000 and $6,000 a month on average, which would quickly eat up the money she’d saved working as a college administrator in Toronto and, later, as a management consultant,” the article states.

“I thought of myself 20 years out, did the calculations and realized it wasn’t in the cards,” states Bardswich, then a widow in her 60s, Reader’s Digest reports. “I was not going to be able to afford that,” she tells the magazine.

Reader’s Digest cites that fact that a 2020 survey conducted for Home Care Ontario found that 91 per cent of the province’s seniors “wanted to age in their own home, not an institution. They also didn’t want to burden their families, calling their children every time they needed the lawn mowed or driveway shovelled.”

So in 2016, the four chipped in $275,000 each to buy a large home in scenic Port Perry, Ont., northeast of Toronto.

Ah, you may ask, recalling days of sharing apartments during college or university, what if somebody won’t play ball on the bills?

“Before they moved in, the four women drafted and signed a lengthy legal agreement to solidify the details of their co-living arrangement. They’d each pay $1,700 a month to cover property taxes, home insurance, utilities, Internet, cable, maintenance, snow removal, weekly cleaning services and the cost of food and wine, both of which they share freely. The agreement also stipulated what would happen if one of them left the house (the other women could buy her out, or she could sell her share to an agreed-upon buyer). Later on, they also discussed what would happen if someone got a boyfriend (this would be okay, so long as everyone liked him and he helped around the house),” the article tells us.

Five years later, the Golden Girls – Ontario edition — are planning for future health concerns. “We don’t know what our lives are going to look like five years down the road,” states Beverly Brown, one of the four, in the article. “It’s nice to know that there are other people around. If I took a tumble down the stairs, I wouldn’t be lying on the floor for three days waiting for my kids to figure out that they hadn’t heard from Mom.”

The article goes on to list other examples of seniors moving in together to share costs, and even consultancies that have sprung up to help aid in the process.

There’s no question that innovation is key when it comes to making ends meet in retirement. The example of the Ontario “Golden Girls” shows that there doesn’t have to be a cookie cutter approach to senior living – new ideas can make things work, and can save hard-earned retirement dollars.

Their situation underscores the need for retirement saving now, while you are still working. No one can predict the future, other than to say it will almost certainly cost more than the present. That’s a reason why the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be a good option for you. The SPP will gather up the dollars you contribute, invest them professionally in a low-cost way with a stellar track record, and – when it’s time to see if you too will be a Golden Girl – will help you convert those savings into retirement income. Be sure to check out SPP today, as the plan marks its 35th year in business.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Things We Used to Need, But Don’t Any More

August 19, 2021

There was a great movie called The Intern a few years ago, where a 70-something guy rejoins the workforce at a start-up tech company. He wows the kids by toting a briefcase to work, and setting up his desk with fancy pen sets and a Rolodex.

It made Save with SPP wonder about things that were once “must haves” that we now see rarely – if ever.

An article in USA Today says technology has done away with the need for phone books, CD or record collections, and “cutting things out of the newspaper.”

Only grandparents, the writer notes, are likely to “find an article they like, snip it out, put it in an envelope, and send that little strip of newsprint to a relative.” Now, news is shared online, we use Internet searches to find service providers, and the majority of people stream their music, the article says.

Insider predicts that in the not-too-distant future, there won’t be print newspapers or magazines from which clippings can be clipped. Paper maps may also soon be a thing of the past, the article suggests. The writers also think “single-use” electronic items, like digital cameras, portable hard drives, and “standalone GPS” systems, will soon be in the “whatever happened to” file.

At the Too Old to Grow Up blog, under the tab “Nostalgia,” we are reminded of the once-cool Betamax videotape systems, encyclopedias, and video rental stores that now seem to recall a bygone era.

The article goes on to recall the days of floppy disks, film cameras, and pay phones. You can still find the odd pay phone, but far less frequently than in days of yore.

The BestLife blog notes that busy signals when you are phoning someone are now a relic of a forgotten era. “Back in the days of landlines, calling somebody and getting a busy signal used to be annoying,” the writers note. “But today, in an age of digital phones, we’d give anything to hear a busy signal.” The signal let you know whoever you were trying to reach was there, but on another call.

Dot-matrix printers used to be the industry standard years ago, but long have been replaced by faster, better inkjet and laser printers, the article notes. Remember when you used to get static on your TV between channels? No longer a thing in the digital age, we are told. Slide projectors, fax machines – gone, and mostly forgotten.

When this aging writer was a journalism student at Carleton in (gulp) the late ‘70s, it was an analog world. There was a room full of typewriters for us to use, and a cramped little phone room with wall-mounted dial phones for us to do the reporting stuff. We took notes in shorthand. If you wanted to get someone to comment on something, it was a bit of an effort – no Internet to search on, yet. A lot of times you were on the phone to operators at governments or big businesses, asking them who might be able to comment on, say, the rising price of gold, or inflation, or other ‘70s things. So much has changed.

One thing that has remained constant over the decades of technological progress is the need to save for retirement. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has kept up with the times – with My SPP, you can look up your account balance, and see the progress on your savings efforts, online, 24-7. If you are looking to squirrel away a few dollars today for fun in retirement in the long-away future, SPP may be the retirement provider you are looking for. They are celebrating 35 years of operation in 2021.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.