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High housing costs are throwing a wrench in peoples’ retirement savings plans
In the good and now gone old days, people finished paying for their mortgages, hit age 65, and then collected their workplace pensions. They also got Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security – bonus!
But those days appear to be gone.
Research from the Toronto Board of Trade, reported on in the Toronto Star, suggests the old way of doing things is no longer working, especially for big-city dwellers.
The story says that 83 per cent of those surveyed by the Board of Trade believe “the high cost of housing in the (Toronto) area was impeding their ability to save for retirement.”
The story quotes Claire Pfeiffer, a Toronto resident, as saying that she bought her home for $430,000 in October 2007, and it is now worth more than $1 million. But the $1,800 monthly mortgage over the last 12 years has taken up over half of her take-home pay in the period, the article says, leaving her with no money to save for retirement. This, the article says, occasionally keeps her up at night.
There are other factors at play, the story says. “Financial experts say the impact of the region’s affordability challenge extends all the way to the relatively well-off and better-pensioned baby boomers, who are hanging on to big houses longer and sometimes risking their own financial well-being to help their kids,” the article says.
As well, the article notes, “high house costs are set against a backdrop of declining defined benefit pensions, a rising gig economy and record household debt.”
The article notes that only about 25 per cent of today’s workers have a workplace defined benefit pension, “the kind that offers an employer-guaranteed payout,” down from 36 per cent from “10 years earlier.” Coupled with the reality that pension benefits at work are less common is the reality of today’s high debt levels. Quoted in the article, Jacqueline Porter of Carte Wealth Management states “more and more Canadians are retiring with a mortgage, which 30 years ago would have been unheard of. People are retiring with debt, with a mortgage, because they just didn’t plan very well.”
She concludes by saying the notion of “Freedom 55… is out the window.”
Michael Nicin of the National Institute on Ageing states in the article that while debt and high housing costs are definitely restrictors for retirement savings, human behavior needs to change. He thinks automatic savings programs are an answer, the article notes.
“Most people in general don’t consider their future selves multiple decades in advance. They’re more concerned about current priorities — getting ahead, staying ahead, buying a home, going through school, daycare, kids’ education,” he states.
The takeaway here is quite simple – you’ve got to factor retirement savings into your budget, and the earlier you start, the better. Any amount saved and invested today will multiply in the future, and will augment the income you get from any workplace or government program. You need to pay yourself first, and a great tool in this important work is membership in the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can start small, and SPP will help grow your savings into a future income stream. Be sure to check them out.
|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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22|