Feb 10: Best from the blogosphere

If you’re going to live longer, you’ll need more savings

Writing in the Globe and Mail, John Ibbotson flags a new and somewhat concerning problem for Canadians – we’re living a lot longer than anyone expected.

The oldest boomers, he writes, are about to turn 75. And, he continues, “the boomers are living inconveniently long lives.” It is expected that over the next three decades, the number of Canadians over age 85 will increase three-fold.

In the story, McMaster geroscientist Parminder Raina (click here to see his recent interview with Save with SPP) is quoted as saying the big spike in older folks is a big problem. “The rapidity of aging is the real issue for policy makers,” he tells the Globe.

What are the problems with having more old people?

The article identifies a few issues. First, the article notes, “the boomers haven’t saved enough. Which means looking after them will cost younger generations a great deal of time and money.”

Next, “the boomers were also the first generation to stop having enough children to replace themselves, there are fewer young people available to look after the old,” the article reports.

The article notes that “when the pensions and health-care systems that Canadians rely on today were first put in place in the 1960s,” men were expected to live until age 69, four years after retirement began. Now, the article warns, men will live on for another 19 years, and women, 22 years, after reaching age 65.

And with a birthrate of just 1.5 children per couple, Ibbotson writes, Canada’s population would actually decline were it not for immigration.

You’d think that those of us who are nearing retirement might have read that we could live for 20 years, into our 80s or 90s, after retirement, and started putting away a few extra bucks for retirement. Not so, the article tells us – “half of Canadians approaching retirement age do not have a workplace pension. The median level of savings for these people is $3,000. No, there isn’t a missing zero.”

As for not having as many kids, the article quotes Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald of the National Institute on Ageing (click here for Save with SPP’s interview with her) predicts that lower fertility rates mean “that services that have traditionally been provided by the family – namely women – will still need to be paid for.”

So we’re not saving enough and aren’t having enough kids, so there will be little money to spend on our care and no family to provide it free.

Are there solutions? The article lists a few – raising the retirement age, perhaps, or forcing older people to “unlock the wealth accumulated by older Canadians” in their real estate and other holdings. Rather than giving seniors discounts, they should be paying a premium for services, the article suggests. Such measures might be political suicide, Ibbotson admits, so maybe things like long-term care insurance should be promoted.

The bottom line, he writes, is “if we are to live well, we must care for one another, however old we are and whatever we may need.”

The lack of a workplace pension is a serious issue for many Canadians. Workplace pensions are usually a sort of “forced savings,” where money comes off your paycheque and is later returned to you in the form of income. While some people want to spend all of their paycheque, few with pensions or retirement plans at work complain when they can draw on that retirement income. If you don’t have a workplace pension plan, you need to save on your own for retirement. A great way to do this is through the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. They’ll grow your savings with professional investing at very low fees, and when it’s time to finally start collecting your savings, they can pay it out to you in the form of a lifetime pension – monthly payments that continue for as long as you live. 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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

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