Mar 18: Best from the blogosphere

March 18, 2019

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

The unempty nest: a new problem for retirement savers

We’ve heard all about the main obstacles to retirement saving – paying off debt, the lack of workplace pensions, and competing savings needs, like ponying up for a down payment.

A recent article in The Guardian from Charlottetown, PEI, points out another problem that can crop up, which we’ll call the unempty nest, or caring financially for kids age 30 and beyond.

The article notes the somewhat shocking statistic that “more than half of Atlantic Canadian parents are still supporting their adult children between the ages of 30 and 35,” and how that helping hand is “putting a damper on their retirement plans.” The article cites numbers from a recent survey by RBC.

A whopping 58 per cent of Atlantic Canadian parents are in this situation, the article reports; for the nation as a whole the figure is a lower but still noteworthy 48 per cent. The article states that while 88 per cent of parents “were happy to be able to help support their adult children,” more than a third of them – 36 per cent – “were worried about the impact on their retirement savings.”

How much support are we talking about? The article says that the average Canadian pays “$5,623 annually to support adult children age 18-35 and $3,729 annually for… adult children age 30-35.”

Sixty-nine per cent of parents are helping adult children with education costs, 65 per cent help with living expenses (rent, cable and mortgages) and 58 per cent help with cell phone costs, the article notes.

There is no question that younger people are facing higher education, housing, cable and phone costs than their parents ever did, so these statistics aren’t all that shocking. It’s clear that today’s wages don’t align with living costs like they did decades ago. So what can one do?

The cost of higher education for your children can be addressed by signing up for a RESP when they are very young. According to the Canada Education Savings Program’s 2017 Statistical Review, the average tuition cost in Canada was $6,373, and there may be additional costs for “administration fees, books, tools and accommodation and living expenses.”

The publication shows how various programs can help people save up to $21,000 per child if they start at the child’s birth. Many people are taking advantage of this program, the publication notes – there was $55.9 billion in RESP assets in 2017, compared to just $23.4 billion 10 years earlier, benefitting more than 622,000 students.

Save with SPP can attest to the benefit of a RESP; the great thing about it is that your successfully educated child graduates with less student debt thanks to the RESP saving.

So what’s the takeaway? Even if you can only put a little money away for the kid’s education and your own retirement, that action will be far more beneficial than doing nothing at all. Slow and steady wins the race, and as far as retirement savings are concerned, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan  lets you contribute as little or as much (up to $6,200 a year) as you want.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22
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