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.


Aug 16: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 16, 2021

Has pandemic “self-care” spending disrupted Canadians’ retirement plans?

It seems that we are starting to near the end of the pandemic, as economies across the country begin to slowly re-open.

But, according to an article in the Globe and Mail, there is concern that Canadians have been spending so much more money on “self care” in light of the pandemic that there may be little left for the retirement savings piggy bank.

The newspaper cites a recent Bank of Nova Scotia study that found “70 per cent of Canadians started partaking in at least one self-care activity during the pandemic, with 60 per cent of those spending an average of $282 in the past 12 months.”

By self-care, the Globe says, we are talking about “online yoga classes, baking supplies, $5,000 Peloton bikes and class memberships, $85 meditation apps, or meal delivery services that take the thinking out of dinner prep.”

While those approaching retirement spent the least on these categories, the Globe says younger people spent plenty. “Although they struggle to find the money for down payments on homes and families, even in good times, the Scotiabank survey found that Canadians 18 to 34 significantly outspent others (on) self-care activities in the previous year.” Their average rate of spend was $395, the article notes.

The article says that while it is understandable that people might spend money differently during the pandemic, it is important that they get back on track now that things are returning to a more normal setting.

“It’s still important for financial advisors to help clients stick to their bigger, longer-term financial goals like debt repayment and saving for retirement,” the article tells us.

Another poll, this one from the National Institute on Retirement Security in the U.S., points out that younger people already have obstacles in the way of their retirement savings plan. The NIRS media release is featured on the Le Lezard website.

In the release, NIRS spokesman Dan Doonan notes that “Generation X and Millennials are the first two generations that will largely enter retirement without a pension,” and states that it is not surprising they are anxious about their long-off golden years.

The research shows that 64 per cent of American Millennials and 54 per cent of GenXers are “more concerned about their retirement security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

So let’s link these two ideas. Everyone is spending more on self-care, particularly younger people, due to the pandemic – but there are worries by younger people, GenXers and Millennials, about retirement security, given the lack of a pension at work.

If you don’t have a pension at work, you need to think about funding your own retirement. Government benefits are being improved, but currently deliver a fairly modest benefit. You have the power to supplement that future income by setting up your own retirement savings program. Take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan – it offers everything you need for a do-it-yourself pension plan. You can set up automatic contributions from your bank account, or chip in lump sum amounts throughout the year. SPP will invest and grow your savings, and when you turn in your parking pass and security lanyard, SPP will help you convert that nest egg into an income stream. Check out SPP today, as the plan in 2021 is celebrating its 35th year of delivering retirement security.

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.


Why we struggle to save – and what we can do about it

August 12, 2021

We are routinely encouraged to save money, for retirement, for education, for emergencies, and so on.

But this advice is not always easy to follow. Save with SPP took a look around to see why saving is such a struggle, and to find out ways those who aren’t currently savers can work their way into the savings habit.

A study carried out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and reported upon by the CBC, found that on average, Canadians saved “just 3.21 per cent of their disposable income in 2020, or about $1,277 per household.”

Americans, the article notes, save three times as much. Why?

“Canadians are currently spending more of their income to service their debts than Americans, which partly explains the lower savings rate,” says BMO senior economist Saul Guatieri in the CBC article.

And indeed, according to Statistics Canada, household debt topped 177 per cent of disposable income by late 2019, up from 168 per cent the year before. In other words, for every dollar we earn, we owe $1.77, on average. The same agency’s research found that 73.2 per cent of Canadians “have some sort of outstanding debt, or have used a payday loan at some point in the last 12 months.” Almost one-third of those surveyed told Statistics Canada they have too much debt.

The CBC article also cites the increased cost of living as a factor. Shannon Lee Simmons, a certified financial planner, tells the network that “she’s seen the amount of money Canadians are able to put away decrease for a number of reasons, including stagnating wages and the rising cost of necessities like gas, groceries, daycare and housing.”

Housing costs have bumped up to 45-50 per cent of take-home pay for some, she tells CBC.

Inflation, reports Reuters, is on the rise, and “the Bank of Canada said inflation was expected to remain at or above three per cent… for the rest of 2021.”

Blogger Jim Yih of the Retire Happy blog adds a couple of other factors. The lack of formal financial education, he writes, and the prevalent “consumption attitude” of “spending money we do not have” are a big part of the problem. He also notes that interest rates for savings accounts have been at historic lows for many years, which discourages some savers.

So what can be done?

  • Start small, suggests Simmons. “I would rather someone save a little bit than just give up altogether because they feel the goal is too unrealistic,” she tells the CBC. Having a budget is a key step as well, she says, as you can not only track spending but see opportunities to reduce costs.
  • Review your bank fees, and see if you can find a bank with lower or no fees, suggests the Canada Buzz blog.
  • Pay yourself first, advises Alterna Bank. “Automate your savings… transfer the funds to a savings, investment, registered retirement savings plan or tax-free savings account,” Alterna suggests.

The last step is a great one. Even if you did a “pay yourself first” and put one or two per cent of your pay into savings, and then lived on the 98 per cent, you would see those savings begin to grow over time. And while it may not be the “save 10 per cent, and live on 90 per cent” rule that our late Uncle Joe hammered into us over the years, you are starting on the right road. Patience and being steadfast can get you there.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan supports a “pay yourself first” strategy. You can set up automatic contributions from your bank account each payday. The money you contribute is then carefully invested by SPP for your future. It’s a “set it and forget it” way to build retirement security, something SPP has been providing 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 9: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 9, 2021

Could a change in mindset help boost your retirement savings?

An interesting article in Entrepreneur magazine suggests a change in mindset can help GenXers augment their retirement nest eggs.

The article starts out by making the target for retirement savings clear.

“GenXers, did you know that experts say you need to have saved a whopping six times your income for retirement by the time you’re 50? If you were born between 1965-1980 (41-56 years old), you’re at that age or close to it,” the article begins.

“In other words, if you make $50,000 per year, you need to have at least $300,000 saved. If you make $150,000 per year, you need to have at least $900,000 saved,” we are warned.

That’s a lot of money – so what happens if we don’t get there?

Plenty, the article cautions.

You’ll face a “rising cost of living” without savings, the article states. The article – aimed at a U.S. audience – talks about healthcare costs, here in Canada that would refer to things like long-term care. Without enough savings, “you may have to work longer,” government pensions probably won’t cover all your costs, and you may “end up selling something,” like your home.

Bottom line is that “you may have to accept a lower quality of life” without retirement savings, Entrepreneur concludes.

But there’s a cure, and it is a simple one – reinvent your mindset, the article advises.

“When you start thinking about ways to save for retirement all the time, it can make a huge difference in how much you ultimately do save,” the article suggests.

Having the drive and determination to do something will make you unstoppable, the article urges. So “get laser focused” and “dig into grit.” This latter idea means having “courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience and passion for something,” the article explains.

So if you just can’t find a few dollars to save each month, Entrepreneur suggests getting “a side hustle” of some sort. Even $10 here and there can add up over time, we are told. Be sure (again, this is a U.S. piece) to maximize your contributions as much as possible to savings programs like a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or tax-free savings account (TFSA).

Be prepared to work longer if you have to. This will also allow you to delay your government retirement benefits and collect more, later. Look at downsizing to save money, and budget “like crazy.”

“Do anything (within reason) that you have to do to get your retirement savings because you are laser-focused,” the article concludes.

Save with SPP has been a retirement saver since age 25, when we first learned about RRSPs. Some suggestions we can add to the good advice in Entrepreneur is that every little bit adds up over time. If you took all the “free money” you get from winning on a scratch ticket, returning cans and bottles, getting cash back on a credit card or income tax refunds and put it into savings, it will add up to a tidy sum over time.

Saskatchewan Pension Plan members know that they have contribution flexibility. If you want to contribute a set amount each payday, no problem – set up an automatic withdrawal from your account. If you want to put in bits and pieces of savings now and then, perhaps all you need to do is set up SPP as a bill on your banking website. SPP will take that cash, invest it, and help you turn it into retirement income down the road. Be sure to 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.


The Dirt Cheap Green Thumb – great tips for stretching your gardening dollars

August 5, 2021

We frequently write about ways to save money for retirement. But when you finally get over that wall between work and non-work, things change – the concern becomes saving money in retirement.

That’s why The Dirt Cheap Green Thumb, by Rhonda Massingham Hart, is ideally suited for those of us who did NOT garden for a living prior to becoming retired. This well-organized little volume covers off a ton of valuable time and money-saving tips.

Hart starts by explaining that since no two lawns are alike, it’s important to know the “microclimate” of your own yard. Find out things like average rainfall, first and last frost dates, and even the pH balance of your soil (one way to figure this out is by checking the leaves of your tomato plants – who knew). The book explains how to test the soil drainage of your yard, as well.

Knowing these details makes it far easier to plan what, and where, to grow, the book explains. There are lists of plants that like sun, plants that are hardy in cold weather, and even plants that “can tolerate less than ideal growing conditions,” such as polluted urban settings.

For those who can’t master the existing yard conditions, Hart suggests growing in containers, and gives the ideal soil, peat moss, sand and compost ingredients.

There’s advice on using “do it yourself” plant growth boosting – such as adding “a tablespoon of Epsom salts… in the planting hole of tomato and pepper” plants.

For those of us living in drought-prone areas, using a “soaker hose” may be a far cheaper way, water-wise, to irrigate the roots of your lawn and garden than a conventional sprinkler. “Using a lawn sprinkler or an overhead watering system on hot, windy days wastes a lot of water,” notes Hart. Ah. Now we see. She points out how a rain barrel can shave down the water bill while providing a free water supply for gardening.

She goes over a handy list of ideal “people-powered tools” for the garden – a fork, a spade, a shovel, hoes, and rakes. Get decent tools, she advises. “Cheap tools will cost you, in either repairs or replacement costs. Well-made tools last longer and require fewer repairs.”

She talks about how you can make your own mulch from old branches lying around the yard via a chipper. Again, this is turning yard waste into yard upgrades!

Other topics covered – what to look for when buying plants on sale, the most “cost effective herbs” to grow, tips on the correct way to mow the lawn, “edible ornamentals,” how to make a low-cost greenhouse for cold-weather gardening, and how best to prepare the produce you grow at home for the freezer.

This is a perfect book for a novice or johnny/jane come lately gardener who didn’t learn any of these tips at mom or dad’s knee. It’s very accessible, it’s very clear, there are helpful illustrations, and the overall tone of the book is very encouraging – you can do this! Recommended for any new retiree who has always wanted to take up gardening, or a pre-retiree keen on saving on lawn and garden costs.

Saving is pretty much always a good thing. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has been helping people save for retirement for more than 35 years. If you don’t have a pension at work, and aren’t interested in finding out about the investment climate and best conditions for growing your income, check out SPP and leave the financial planting and harvesting to them!

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 2: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 2, 2021

COVID did a number on the retirement rate, but it’s climbing again

One unexpected side effect of the pandemic was a dampening of people’s plans to retire.

According to new research from RBC, covered in a story from CTV News, there was an unexpected drop of 20 per cent in the retirement rate last year – likely due to COVID-19.

RBC’s Andrew Agopsowicz tells CTV that the dip “was likely a result of uncertainty about retirement savings as the pandemic arrived.”

“It’s what held people back,” he affirms in the story.

But – perhaps an indicator of better times ahead – retirements are starting to return to normal levels, he notes.

“The return to normal could be a good period for people to make a decision they were probably going to be making (anyway),” Agopsowicz states in the story.

There has been a general rise in retirements over the last decade as the boomer generation hits age 65, the story notes, and “that trend will continue for several years.”

A fringe benefit of the boomers getting out of the workforce may be “a near-term labour shortgage for some types of jobs,” Agopsowicz tells CTV. This will be due to a trifecta – boomer retirements, a low national birthrate, and lower levels of immigration, the story states.

In mid-July, CTV reports, Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian economy added 230,700 new jobs, “as restrictions put in place to slow the pandemic were rolled back across the country.”

Savings may have to last a long time

If you are among those planning to log out for the last time in 2021, Money Control outlines some of the steps you may want to consider to ensure your retirement stash isn’t exhausted before (ahem) you are.

Most retirees will live beyond age 85, the article notes. “We could live for up to 30 years or more post our retirement… (and) women live longer than men,” the article states.

With that in mind, you should plan for your investments to outperform inflation, the article says. If you can’t get there with fixed-income investments, “investing in equity will give you long-term growth; in between, there will be volatility.”

So, putting these two bits of information together – the stampede towards the workplace exit for boomers will soon resume its normal pace. The nest eggs boomers have built, and that younger folks are still building, will need to last for maybe 30 years. And while conventional wisdom suggests that the older you are, the less exposure to risky equities you should have, inflation hasn’t been a factor for a while but could one day reappear.

One answer is a “balanced fund” approach, where experts position their fund with exposure to both fixed income and equity, making strategic moves in advance of emerging trends. A great example is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan Balanced Fund, which has produced an average rate of return of eight per cent since its inception 35 years ago. While past returns aren’t a guarantee of future performance, the idea of having someone else decide when to get in or get out is a sound one – you can instead focus on your golf game or line dancing steps. 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.