A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view
After the saving comes the tricky part – turning savings into income
Writing in the Regina Leader-Post, noted financial commentator Jason Heath saves that while most people agree saving is a great idea, “how much to set aside and how to set your targets are up for debate.”
He notes that when RRSPs were first rolled out back in 1957, you were allowed to contribute up to 10 per cent of your earnings, to a maximum of $2,500, each tax year.
“The percentage limit was doubled to 20 per cent in 1972. In 1991, it was decreased to the current 18 per cent of annual earned income for the previous year, to a maximum of $26,500 for 2019. Unused RRSP room from previous years accumulates each year as well,” he explains in the article.
So, he asks, can we assume that the “right” level of savings is somewhere between the two RRSP limits of 10 and 20 per cent?
The argument for putting away 10 cents of every dollar you earn was most recently popularized by author David Chilton, Heath writes. But the World Economic Forum suggests we save “10 to 15 per cent” of earnings,” he notes.
Having a savings target – let’s say 15 per cent – is only half the battle, the article continues. When you’ve saved up all that money, how much should you be withdrawing each year as retirement income?
Heath notes that in 1994, financial planner William Bengen proposed the so-called “four per cent rule,” meaning that “four per cent was a sustainable withdrawal from a balanced investment portfolio for a 30-year retirement even if stock markets subsequently had a bad 30-year run,” Heath writes.
But a 2017 Morningstar paper suggests “three to 3.5 per cent may be more appropriate,” assuming high investment fees and today’s relatively low interest rates, both factors that weren’t the same 25 years ago.
“If you assume a 3.5-per-cent withdrawal rate, you can work backwards from retirement. For example, a 65-year-old who needs $35,000 per year of withdrawals indexed to inflation would need to save $1 million. And a 45-year-old starting from scratch to save towards that same $1-million target in 20 years would need to save about $25,000 per year indexed to inflation (assuming a return of four per cent and two-per-cent inflation),” Heath writes.
As Heath notes, the math here is somewhat head-spinning, but the concept for setting a savings target is actually fairly simple – how much income per year do you want to have? From there, do the math backwards and figure out how much to put away.
He goes to explain that there are other programs that can help. You have the newer option of saving for retirement in a tax-free savings account (TFSA), and most of us will receive money from the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and even the Guaranteed Income Supplement to top up the income we’ve created from savings.
When people roll out this sort of stuff, it’s somewhat akin to finding out that your “ideal” weight is 100 lbs less than what you are walking around with right now. A lot of times, knowing that you will need to put a lot of effort into fitness and diet is so daunting that you take yourself out for a cheeseburger and fries to dull the mental pain. But like anything else, a long-term journey can be achieved by making many small steps. It’s the same with retirement savings. Start small, gradually increase what you save, and in a few decades you’ll be happily surprised at your balance. But start – don’t suffer analysis paralysis.
And a great place to start the retirement savings journey is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. They have everything you need to set up your own plan, make regular contributions, and watch as they are professionally invested and grown. At gold-watch time, you can get them to start making regular, monthly payments – for life – to the account of your choosing! So if you’re on the sidelines and not quite ready to put your toe in the water of retirement savings, check out SPP – the water’s fine!
|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|