Retirement investors need to think about balancing growth and income

February 16, 2023
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

Saving for retirement sounds like building wealth, but there’s a twist. After the saving is done, you’ll be wanting to convert that piggy bank into income for your golden years.

Do you bet it all on black, or is there a more sensible approach to investing for retirement? Save with SPP scouted the Interweb for some thoughts on the principles behind retirement investing.

Forbes magazine suggests retirement investors should take advantage of “tax advantaged accounts” available to them. In Canada, this would be things like a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or tax free savings account (TFSA).

The article suggests an “asset allocation” approach makes sense for retirement investing, with a portion of your investments targeting growth, through exposure to equities (stocks), and the rest to income, via fixed income investments, such as bonds.

You can either buy stocks and bonds directly, or via exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds, the article adds.

Forbes believes that your age should help dictate the portion of your holdings that is in equities versus that in fixed income. In your 20s, the article notes, you should invest “90 to 100 per cent” in equities. By your 50s, you should be around 65 per cent equities and 35 per cent bonds, and once over 70, “30 to 50 per cent in stocks, 40 to 60 per cent bonds,” with the rest in cash.

At The Motley Fool Canada, dividend stocks are seen as one of the best investments in a retirement portfolio.

“You pay lower income taxes on dividend income from dividend stocks than your job’s income, interest income, and foreign income. Therefore, it is one of the best incomes to build up and grow as soon as you can. This low-taxed income will benefit you through retirement,” writes The Motley Fool’s Kay Ng.

She also notes that even if you have paid off your mortgage when you retire, you are still going to need income “to pay for home insurance, property taxes, and potentially utilities, condo, or home repair fees during retirement.”

Her article suggests real estate income trusts (REITs) are an investment well suited for your retirement portfolio. Owning REITs, she explains, is like owning shares in a property that is being rented out — you’ll get regular monthly income (like rent) and the value of the properties held by the REIT tend to go up over the long term.

The folks at MoneySense note the RRSP, now more than six decades old, is still a “go-to” for Canadian retirement investors.

The article begins by noting that the RRSP allows investments to grow on a “tax deferred basis,” meaning no taxes are owed until you take the money out in retirement. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) operates very similarly, for tax purposes.

MoneySense agrees with the idea that Canadian dividend stocks make sense in your retirement investment portfolio, as they are taxed at a lower rate than foreign stocks in a non-registered account and aren’t taxed in a registered account.

Since the end game of retirement investing is converting savings to income, MoneySense notes the annuity — “which pays a fixed income for life” — is a good idea for some or all of your savings once you have retired.

So, let’s recap. You want to build your retirement portfolio with a mixture of dividend-producing stocks, and interest-producing (and lower risk) fixed-income investments. Real estate income is seen as beneficial both before and after retirement. When retirement begins, these sources will provide regular income, and if you want to guarantee the level of income, you can convert some or all of your holdings to an annuity.

If you’re hesitant about wading into this somewhat complex topic, another way to go is to join the SPP. SPP’s Balanced Fund is invested in Canadian, U.S. and international equities, but also bonds, mortgages, real estate, infrastructure and money market funds. The savings of SPP members are invested, at a very low cost, in a large pooled fund. And when it’s time to collect your SPP benefit, you can choose from a variety of annuity options for some or all of your account. Check out SPP today!

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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.

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