A one-sentence summary of what retirement is like

June 29, 2023

As our two Shelties (Duncan and Phoebe) pulled us around the neighbourhood the other day, we came upon a small group of younger folks — parents of school aged kids — enjoying a sunny late spring afternoon.

After some friendly chatting, talk turned to retirement. “You two are both retired now — what’s it like?”

After thinking a bit, our reply was this — “being retired is like every day is a Sunday.” It is not like every day is a vacation day — who could afford that — so it is more like the weekend, we explained. They liked that.

So Save with SPP decided to do a quick search for other peoples’ takes — ideally a short sentence — on what retirement is like.

We started by asking our new AI chat thingie what it thought retirement is like — in one sentence.

“Retirement is the time of life when one chooses to leave the workforce behind and live on savings, passive income, or benefits,” the AI doodad replied. OK, good, but we were thinking more of what it is like rather than what is literally is.

At the AAG website, a writer had a similar view to our own. When you are retired, the article notes, “now Fridays aren’t the best day of the week any more — they all are!”

A fairly recent article from Forbes didn’t boil it down to one sentence, but said these ten words are the ones most often used to describe retirement — “relax, happy, travel, retirement (of course), family, fun, success, freedom, money and fulfilled.”  This may not be an actual sentence but it captures a lot of what it’s like.

“Retirement is not the end of the road. It is the beginning of the open highway.” This two-sentence statement, original author unknown, was posted on the Southern Living website.

“We work all our lives so we can retire so we can do what we want with our time and the way we define or spend our time defines who we are and what we value,” states Bruce Linton. His quote is featured on the Goalcast website.

On the Goodreads website writer Charles Baxter describes retirement as being “gainfully unemployed; very proud of it too.” We like this one.

“Retirement is the best gift. No gold watch or plaque could ever top it,” state the folks at the Chapparal Winds Retirement Community website.

If there’s a common thread to all this, it’s that retirement means that your time is now yours, and it is up to you to decide what you’ll do with the time.

We saw that “money” was mentioned by Forbes magazine, and it’s true that money is part of it. The more you have when you retire, the more options you’ll have for your free time. So if you haven’t started saving for retirement — and maybe don’t have a pension or retirement savings plan through work — you ought to think about the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

Any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room can join. You can contribute as much as you want to each year (up to your personal RRSP room limit), and if you want to consolidate savings from other RRSPs into SPP, you can transfer any amount in. It’s how SPP makes your savings options limitless. 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.


June 26, 2023

Seven tips for stretching your fixed-income retirement dollars

Whether you are getting a monthly pension cheque, or annuity payments, or whether you are drawing down your retirement savings from a lump sum, one thing’s for sure — the amount of income you’ll be living on is fixed.

Unlike work, there’s no chance of a big promotion or bonus when you are retired. You have to live on a fixed income. So what can be done to cope?

Writing for the Supermoney blog, Julie Bawden-Davis offers up seven very helpful tips on how to get the most out of your fixed-income dollars.

First, she writes, you need to “live below your means.”

“If you’ve been saving up for retirement since your college years and can afford to party it up in the Caribbean well through retirement, more power to you. If not, get real. Living on 20-25 per cent less than your income enables you to save money for the unexpected, be it a medical problem that requires out-of-pocket expenses or a present for a surprise birthday party,” she writes.

One easy way to achieve this, she adds, is to ditch the car and take public transit (if you live somewhere where that’s doable).

Her second tip is to “micromanage your budget.”

“Prioritize your expenses, starting with set costs such as insurance, healthcare, rent or mortgage, and utilities. Then add the average amount you spend on discretionary expenses each month, such as entertainment, food, and gas,” she advises. Again, cut what you can with the goal of having 20-25 per cent of income directed to a savings account.

Her third tip is to avoid taking on new debt.

“A shiny new purchase may seem like a good idea at the time, but busting your budget can have a lasting impact that is likely to lower your standard of living substantially,” she explains.

She suggests that retirees consider moving to another jurisdiction that offers lower taxes, or to “downsize to a smaller place.”

“If you’re still living in the family home, now may be the right time to sell and move into a smaller, less expensive place. Doing so often gives you money to invest and save, and a smaller home will cost less to run,” she writes.

A key bit of advice offered in her column is the idea of enjoying what’s out there that is for free, or that costs very little.

“It’s ironic that when you finally have time to pursue hobbies and interests, your income is limited. It is possible, though, to enjoy yourself by spending little to no money at all. If you’re eligible, take advantage of senior specials, and check local publications and websites for free events. Museums, zoos, and botanical gardens often have complimentary admission days just for you,” she notes.

Her final bit of advice is to “unfix” your fixed income by doing a little work on the side. Working part time or having a “side hustle” can bring in a little extra money, and be fun as well.

“Living on a fixed income does take some adjustment, but with some creative budgeting, you can enjoy a satisfying retirement,” she concludes.

This is all very good advice, and we can add in a few more ideas, gleaned from our fellow senior citizens.

  • Consider going to one vehicle. If you’re both not working, you can share one car rather than each having your own. You’ll save a fortune on fuel, maintenance, and so on.
  • Some of our retired friends sold their houses and are now renting. No property taxes, no driveway shovelling, lawn cutting and other costly expenses.
  • Thrift stores like Value Village or the Sally Ann are great places to get what you need for far less. We found a brand new cart bag for golf clubs for only $20 there!

The more income you end up with in retirement, the easier things will be. If you don’t have a workplace pension plan — like the majority of Canadians — don’t worry! Any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room can join the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Let SPP handle the heavy lifting of investing your savings and growing it into an income stream when you retire. You have the option, when you retire, of choosing a lifetime annuity for your SPP account.

And contributing to SPP is now limitless! You can contribute any amount annually (up to your available RRSP room) and can transfer in any amount from another RRSP. Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.

Book blends humour and insight about life after work

June 22, 2023

For those of us in the workforce, retirement is something you tend not to think about until it is looming around the corner — and even then, most of us have no idea what to expect.

Kate Freeman’s The Little Instruction Book for Retirement is designed exactly for that audience, and delivers a nice preview of life after work with pithy little quotes and cute illustrations from Ian Baker.

Retirement, the book explains, means “it’s time to celebrate the end of an era — and the start of a whole new one.”

It will be a different reality, the book adds, making the “transition from working life to retirement,” so you may want to hold “a `morning meeting’ every day to brief the household on the day’s events.” (Not really — the illustration shows an older guy with a clipboard announcing the day’s events to his pet goldfish.)

There’s really no need to be tied to an agenda in the same way you were at work because, the book explains, “days of the week now have no bearing on your life whatsoever — every day is the weekend!”

In fact, the book advises, “you must now make household chores take at least three times longer than when you were holding down a full-time job, just to fill some time.”

Well, maybe not quite. But there’s time to do more, and time to do less.

“While there’s no longer any need to dress smartly every day, you should probably still get dressed, at least sometimes,” the book advises, with a drawing showing a happy retiree pushing a shopping cart while wearing PJ bottoms and slippers.

The book suggests that if you miss work colleagues, or work itself, consider volunteering to “become a pillar of your local community.” There will be lots of work-like meetings, the book promises.

You will get more time with your partner, the book adds. “After years of seeing each other only briefly, you can now finally get to know your partners, as you have plenty of unbroken time to spend together.”

Retirement is a good time to take up new things. You can get a new pet, can take up “all the hobbies,” binge watch all the Netflix shows you never had time to see, or tackle home improvements. Or, the book advises, just play.

“When you grew up, you put away childish things. Frankly, it’s way past time to get them out again,” the book tells us.

This is a fun book, and Save with SPP can attest to some of the instructions outlined here. It’s true that every day feels like it’s the weekend, and you lose track of statutory holidays because you’re essentially always on holiday. You will miss colleagues, so the book is correct in urging you to try new things and join new groups. It’s well worth a read.

Life after work requires income, because one change that is a bit rough to get used to going from a steady paycheque every couple of weeks to once-a-month pensions. If you don’t have a pension plan at work, and are saving on your own for retirement, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

It’s open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room. You can contribute any amount (up to your available RRSP room) to SPP each year, and also can transfer in any amount from your other RRSPs to consolidate and build your retirement nest egg. SPP will grow your savings using low-cost professional management in a pooled fund — and when it’s time to tick off things on your bucket list, SPP has multiple ways to help turn your savings into an income stream. Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


June 19, 2023

Millennial homeowners said to have easier time saving for retirement

Those of us of a certain age worry about our millennial kids and grandkids, chiefly because of the massive costs they face in order to own a home, and the higher interest (and mortgage) rates they are dealing with.

If there’s a silver lining, it may be that those home-owning millennials will have an easier time saving for retirement than their peers who rent — so says an article in the Financial Post.

“Owning a home could make all the difference between millennials having enough money to retire or being forced to work longer than their parents did,” the article explains.

“If millennials — who today are in their late 20s to early 40s — rent throughout their working lives, then they must save a lot more than homeowners in order to retire in their 60s, according to the 2023 Mercer Retirement Readiness Barometer,” the article continues.

“This is a generation where being able to retire is one of the top three challenges when we look at unmet needs,” Mercer Canada’s Jillian Kennedy states in the article.

The article says millennials who rent “will need to save eight times their salary over the course of their career to be able to retire at age 68.” But a millennial homeowner needs to “only” save 5.25 times their salary to be able to retire three years younger, at age 65, the Post reports.

These figures are based on a millennial earning $60,000 annually and saving 10 per cent of their salary to a monthly savings plan, starting at age 25.

OK, so why are the homeowners able to save so much less?

“Homeownership gives retirees flexibility, as retirees who downsize may be able to access a significant amount of money. Renters, conversely, must pay rent every month or face eviction – whether they are 25 years old or 85 years old,” the Post reports, citing a Mercer media release.

As many of us worrying parents and grandparents already know, the big problem millennials face with housing is its cost.

“The composite benchmark price of a home in Canada rose 87.4 per cent over the last decade to February 2023, according to date from the Canadian Real Estate Association,” the article notes. These days, the article continues, “mortgage payments as a percentage of income on a ‘representative’ home stood at 64.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2022.”

Housing is said to be “affordable” when it represents one-third of disposable income, the article concludes.

Things sure have changed. Our late dad used to tell us, when we were kids growing up, that a mortgage should cost no more than “two years’ salary,” and that housing costs were affordable as long as they represented 25 per cent of salary. Those rules of thumb probably worked in 1965 but you’d have to make a heck of a lot of money to be able to follow them today!

The article tells us that even those millennials fortunate enough to enter the housing market still need to save a lot of money to be able to retire at 65 — we assume this is absent a pension plan at work. If you are saving on your own for retirement, check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP will take your contributions, invest them in a pooled fund at a very low cost, and — when it is gold watch time — will help you turn your invested savings into retirement income, including the option of a lifetime annuity payment.

SPP no longer sets any limits on how much you can contribute to the plan. You can make an annual contribution of any amount up to your available registered retirement savings plan (RRSP)room. And you can transfer any amount into SPP from an existing RRSP.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.

What not to do when you’re investing

June 15, 2023

Investing is a lot like golf. Anyone can get some clubs and play the game, but very few of us get to the point where we’re breaking par. That level of skill tends to be the exclusive domain of professionals, or well-trained amateurs, rather than those teaching themselves via social media, websites, and “can’t miss” tips from friends.

With investing, again like golf, there are common mistakes to avoid that will improve your results. Save with SPP had a look around the Interweb to find out what folks think you should not do when it comes to managing your investments.

Writing in the Financial Post, Peter Hodson warns of the danger of “anchoring.”

“Do not anchor your expectations to where the stock has been in the past. Anchoring can cause you to keep a stock far longer than you should (it used to be $100, so it must be cheap now), but it can also keep you from buying a stock that has already risen (it is too expensive now). The only thing that should matter is what a stock may do going forward,” he writes.

He also warns about focusing too much on the yield of a stock.

“If the stock declines 25 per cent then of course that seven per cent (yield) was only just the `hook’ that got you into a sinking ship. It is far better to focus on companies with lower dividends that have the ability to raise them. Dividend growth stocks have been proven over time to be much better performers than high-yielding stocks.”

At the Morningstar site, we learn that diversification — often touted as a way to avoid downturns — isn’t always a safe harbour.

“2022 is an example of a year where more assets in the portfolio would not have offered more diversification. The only asset classes that have delivered positive returns are the energy sector, the U.S. dollar and some ‘niche’ markets such as Brazilian equities,” states Morningstar’s Nicolò Bragazza.

In plainer terms, moving eggs into different baskets in 2022 would have led to quite a few broken eggs.

He also adds these ideas — the false belief that “history always repeats itself” when thinking about past market performance, and “trying to predict the future” of the markets. No one knows what’s going to happen next, he explains.

The Motley Fool blog offers up a couple more.

Don’t, the blog advises, “have a short-term focus” when investing.

“Having a longer-term focus can help you wait out a crash until the market recovers, which it often does within only a few months. Indeed, the average stock market drop takes about six months before changing direction — and most take less than four months,” the article tells us.

Similarly, if things are going south with the market, don’t sell off your holdings in a panic.

“One mistake many make when the market crashes is selling out of it. They’re doing the opposite of the old investment chestnut to `buy low, sell high.’ If your portfolio plunges by, say, 30 per cent, you haven’t technically lost any money until you sell your shares and lock in that decline. Hang on and you’ll often be able to sell later, at a significantly higher price.”

We have done most of these mistakes over the years, as well as a few other ones, like plunking down money on “can’t miss” hot tips from friends that turned out to be big losers. Buying shares in a company teetering on bankruptcy because of the belief that it will make a comeback probably has paid off for some folks — not us!

It’s a place where expertise is necessary. Most professional money advisers we know advise that ordinary people get help with their investments. Fortunately, that professional investing advice is included when you become a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP will invest your retirement savings in a low-cost, pooled fund that is managed by experts. You can leave the heavy lifting of reading the tea leaves on ever-changing markets to them.

News just in — contributing to SPP is now limitless. There is no longer an SPP limit (you can contribute any amount up to your full registered retirement savings plan room) on how much you can contribute to the plan each year, or transfer in from a registered retirement savings plan. Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


June 12, 2023

Nearly half of Canadians say they’re unprepared for retirement

New research from H&R Block Canada has found that “nearly half of Canadians are unprepared for retirement, lack enough savings, and are planning on working part-time in retirement years to make ends meet.”

The survey was carried out in February of this year, reports H&R Block via a media release, and the findings suggest that Canadians are beginning to realize that they won’t have the same kind of retirement their parents had.

“Not so long ago, the traditional vision of retirement was that at around 65 years old, Canadians ‘hung up their hats’ and celebrated the end of full-time employment. Enjoying the steady income of their company/government pension, they were ready to embrace new life ventures in pursuit of the things they never previously had time for,” states Peter Bruno, President of H&R Block Canada, in the release. “What we’re seeing now is that the vision for retirement has evolved dramatically – fuelled by shifts in tax-friendly savings plan options, evolving workforce realities, the gig economy, and the prevailing economic environment.”   

Some other key findings from the research, cited in the release:

  • 50 per cent of Canadians say they plan to have a side gig when they retire
  • 55 per cent say they need to better understand tax-friendly retirement savings options
  • 52 per cent don’t feel they have enough money left at the end of the month to save for their retirement
  • 19 per cent plan to rely on government-assisted retirement plans; 13% have not made retirement savings plans
  • 32 per cent believe they put away enough money each month for a retirement fund
  • 46 per cent feel good about their retirement strategy

While Statistics Canada says the average retirement age in 2022 was age 64 and six months, the release notes that 44 per cent of respondents “anticipate retiring before they hit the 64-year mark.”

At the other end of that spectrum, five per cent said they plan to retire “between 45-54 years old,” and 36 per cent don’t believe they ever will retire, the release notes.

The research found that Canadians seem to have a fairly good understanding of “tax-friendly” savings plans, such as registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs). (With an RRSP, your contributions are tax-deductible — savings grow tax free until you start taking money out in retirement, where taxes apply. With a TFSA, there’s no tax deduction for contributions, but no taxes are owed when you take money out.)

According to the release, the survey found that:

  • 56 per cent of Canadians report having an RRSP; six per cent plan to set one up in the future
  • 54 per cent have a TFSA; six per cent plan to establish one at some point
  • 37 per cent have an employer-sponsored registered pension plan
  • 19 per cent say they’ll rely on government-assisted retirement plans

Those planning to rely on government programs need to know that benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) are quite modest. According to Canada Life, the average CPP benefit as of October 2022 was just $717.15 per month. The maximum amount you could receive that month was $1306.57, the article adds. The OAS payment as of April 2023 was $691 monthly, according to the federal government’s website. If you don’t have a workplace pension program, and you haven’t yet started saving on your own, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may offer just what you’re looking for. It’s open to any Canadian with RRSP room. You can contribute any amount up to the limit of your RRSP room, and can transfer in any amount from an existing RRSP. The possibilities are limitless! Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.

Women face “unique” challenges when it comes to saving for retirement

June 8, 2023

When you think of retirement from a woman’s point of view, you see an array of challenges.

Writing in the National Post Christine Ibbotson observes that women “tend to live longer than men, and many divorced women or widows are simply choosing to remain single in retirement.”

This creates a “unique challenge” for them, she continues. “Many retired women receive much less than their male counterparts. Often, women have not worked the same amount of years as men, or have earned less income during their working careers, and therefore do not receive the same pension benefits.”

As well, Ibbotson continues, women may tend to be more “risk averse” with investing. Recent research from BMO found that “men were more likely to hold stocks and mutual funds in their investments whereas women were more likely to hold guaranteed investment certificates (GICs).”

An infographic from Eckler Partners provides more details on these factors.

In 2017, a woman could expect to live to age 83 on average — for men, the number is 79, the article notes. Sixty-two per cent of women were likely to take a break from work to care for their kids, compared to only 22 per cent of men, the Eckler research continues.

Scariest of all — 51 per cent of Canadian woman “haven’t even started to save for retirement or know how much they plan to save,” the article notes. A whopping 92 per cent of women surveyed say they have “minimal or no knowledge of investment.”

So, to sum it up, women — who live the longest — earn, on average, just 69 cents for every dollar men earn in Canada, Eckler reports. That means they have less money to save for a retirement that is almost bound to last longer than a man’s.

An article from the Wealthtender blog expands on the idea about women earning less than men, and its impact on retirement saving.

The article cites Merrill Lynch research in the U.S. as noting that “when a woman reaches retirement age, she may have earned a cumulative $1.05 million less than a man who has stayed continuously in the workforce.”

This necessarily means there is substantially less money to save for retirement by women, the article adds.

An article from Kiplinger suggests that women take a good look at annuities when they retire.

Noting that women earn less, and thus get lower government retirement benefits, the article underlines the idea that “women live longer, so their savings have to last longer.”

While the article is written for a U.S. audience, it makes the point that through an annuity, savings can be turned into “a guaranteed stream of lifetime income, paid monthly, no matter how long that is… in other words, a woman can use it to create a private pension.”

The article quotes University of Pennsylvania economist David Babbel as recommending that lifetime annuities should “comprise 40 to 80 per cent of their retirement assets.”

What can women do to close the retirement savings gap — apart from considering annuities?

Ibbotson recommends they “start by educating” themselves… “when we know more, we make better decisions and feel more empowered to improve our situation.”

“Start to know what your financial picture looks like. Buy a notebook and create a budget — your new financial plan,” she writes. Financial advisers and accountants are recommended, she writes, and your retirement savings portfolio needs to be designed “to grow with products that that offset inflation and taxes.”

The Wealthtender article adds a couple of other good points.

Focus on increasing financial literacy, the article suggests, by reading financial blogs, listening to related podcasts, and watching online videos on the topic of personal finance.

As well, the article concludes, women should focus on the future.

“Acknowledge early on that you may spend a big part of your life on your own, so always make saving one of your biggest priorities. Even if it’s just saving an extra $50 extra per month or increasing… your contribution by one to two per cent, the money can really add up over time.”

If you have a pension plan at work, be sure to join up, and participate to the max. Many plans will allow you to do “buybacks,” and make contributions after you are back at work for periods when you were away. This can really help fatten up your future pension cheque.

If you don’t have a pension plan at work, a great program to know about is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. It’s open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room. Your contributions are invested in a pooled fund, featuring low-cost expert management. When it’s time to retire, SPP will help you turn your savings into retirement income, including the possibility of a lifetime annuity.

And now, there are no limits from SPP on how much you can contribute each year, or transfer in from an RRSP. You can contribute any amount (up to your available RRSP room) and transfer in any amount from your RRSP. The possibilities are limitless!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


June 5, 2023

More Canadians need access to better pensions: Ambachtsheer

Writing in The Globe and Mail, noted pension expert Keith Ambachtsheer says our ever-growing senior population would be better served if they — and the rest of us — had access to better workplace pensions.

He notes that Canada’s retirement system is ranked 11th out of 44 countries via the Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index. What’s needed to boost that ranking, Ambachtsheer contends, is to make the type of pension plans that public sector workers have widely available to the rest of the population.

“Canada,” he writes, already has “one of the best occupational pension systems in the world for its public-sector workers. Globally admired as `the Canadian pension-fund model,’ it efficiently converts regular contributions into lifetime retirement income streams for its public-sector members. At the same time, investment organizations using the model are at the leading edge of converting retirement savings into sustainable, wealth-producing capital. This system needs to be expanded to everyone else.”

The number of senior citizens, he observes, is on the rise. Citing Peter Drucker’s 1976 book The Unseen Revolution, Ambachtsheer notes that the author foresaw “the young, outsized baby boomer generation of the 1970s eventually becoming an outsized generation of retirees, and advocated creating pension organizations with two key features: legitimacy and effectiveness.”

Ambachtsheer lists governance as an important attribute of the most effective pension plans. “Pension arrangements must be structured to always act in the best interests of the plan risk-bearers,” he explains.

The plans should ideally “have an accumulation pool that focuses on investment return generation, and a separate decumulation pool that provides lifetime income.” You contribute to the investment pool during your working life and receive benefits from the decumulation side when you retire, he explains.

The Canadian model pension plans also feature cost-effective management and “value-adding investment programs that turn retirement savings into wealth-producing capital,” writes Ambachtsheer. Another feature is the ability to provide lifetime pensions to plan members, he adds.

So how do we go from what we have now — a situation where there are many workers without any sort of retirement program at work — to one where most of us are in a Canadian model plan? Ambachtsheer sees three ways to achieve this change.

First, “existing Canadian pension-fund model organizations” could “offer their pension management infrastructure to private sector employers,” he notes. This is already being done by a few larger pension funds, such as Ontario’s Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology Pension Plan (CAAT).

Save with SPP interviewed CAAT’s Derek Dobson on this topic a few years ago.

Another approach would be to have “a government entity decide to create a Canadian pension-fund model organization for private-sector workers and retirees,” an idea that has worked in some U.S. states and in Great Britain, he writes.

Finally, he suggests that the private sector create “one or more new Canadian model offerings,” making better pension plans available to the private sector. He writes that Common Wealth and Purpose Investments offer programs that provide end-to-end coverage, including lifetime pensions.

Our own Saskatchewan Pension Plan, which is open to any Canadian with available registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room, already has some of the Canadian model features — investments are pooled, professionally managed and governed at a low cost. SPP offers, through its annuity features, a lifetime pension for its members. If you don’t have a pension plan at work, you can join SPP as an individual — or, if you are an employer, you can look into offering it as a pension for your employees. Check out SPP today!

Great news — the savings opportunities with SPP are now limitless! You can transfer any amount you want into SPP from an RRSP, and you can make contributions based on your entire available RRSP room. It’s a great way to build your SPP retirement nest egg more quickly!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.

Cost of living, “best guess” planning hindering Canadian retirement savings efforts: CIBC poll

June 1, 2023

A recent poll by CIBC found that while most Canadians hope to retire by age 61, more than half (57 per cent) worry whether “they’ll actually be able to achieve that ambition.”

As well, a very high percentage — 66 per cent — of pre-retirees surveyed worry “about running out of money in retirement.”

Save with SPP reached out to CIBC to follow up on these results, and got some comments from Carissa Lucreziano, Vice-President, Financial and Investment Advice, CIBC.

Q. Quite an eye-opener to see that two-thirds of people worry they might run out of money in retirement. We wondered if you got any information on the causes of this worry – maybe more people are drawing down a lump sum of money in a registered retirement income fund (RRIF) versus receiving monthly workplace pension cheques? Or is it worry they’ll lose money in the markets? 

A. The rising cost of living is increasing faster than people expected which in turn is impacting many Canadians’ ability to save for retirement and other goals, which has them feeling less prepared for the future and worried about their retirement savings. A recent CIBC poll found that inflation is the top financial concern for 65 per cent of Canadians right now. While inflation is cyclical, many people are thinking, if inflation keeps going up at this rate, it’s going to affect my retirement plan. 

Another reason people may be worried is because they don’t know how much they will need in retirement. One third of Canadians simply hope they have enough to retire, 20 per cent have sat down to run the numbers on their own and only 14 per cent have enlisted the help of an advisor. It’s like going on a road trip without planning a route, of course you’ll be worried about getting lost. 

Given all the factors you need to consider in a retirement plan, it’s best to sit down with an experienced advisor who can map out a strategy that aligns with your goals, your current situation and how you expect your circumstances to change in the future. 

Q. We were interested in the quote in the release about the importance of having a financial plan. Wondered if you could expand (briefly) on what sorts of things should be in a plan – probably it is looking at what future retirement income will be versus expected expenses, and then including the great things listed in the release like travelling? 

A. A financial plan is your big picture, giving you a detailed look at your current financial situation to help you prioritize and manage your short- and long-term goals – like travel, renovations, and retirement. 

The key items that should be included in every financial plan are your income, expenses, net worth, investment strategy, retirement, and estate plan.  

Many advisors use a goal planning tool to build a personalized plan that addresses all your needs, while taking into consideration any “what if” scenarios to see how any major changes might affect your overall plan. What if you buy a cottage at age 55 or gift money to your children at age 75? It is important to understand the financial implications of any big moves before you make them.  

The most important thing to remember though, is that your plan should grow and change as you do. Ideally, you should be reviewing it every year or whenever there is a material change like employment, divorce, marriage or having a child. 

Q. It’s interesting that many people are saving for retirement more via Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) than by traditional registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs). Wondered if you learned any of the reasons why they preferred the TFSA – tax free income when you withdraw the money? Accessible for emergency spending en route to retirement? Maybe it is not impactful on one’s Old Age Security (OAS) qualification? 

A. Right now, Canadians are prioritizing day-to-day needs over long-term planning. This means, for many, that they are saving more in their TFSA over their RRSP.   

Contributing to a TFSA is a terrific way to save for both short- and long-term goals. A TFSA gives you the flexibility to access money easily and any interest, dividends, and capital gains earned are tax-free. The funds you withdraw from your TFSA also do not count as income, so it will not affect the amount of OAS you qualify for when you are over the age of 65.  

You don’t have to choose between an RRSP or a TFSA.  However, one could give you more benefits than the other depending on your situation. An advisor can help you understand your options and how it fits into your plan.

Q. Finally, what was the one thing that surprised you the most about these results? 

What stood out to me is that most Canadians polled are relying on their best guess for how much they will need to fund their retirement. Only 14 per cent have met with an advisor to run the numbers.  

An advisor can help you get a better understanding of your big picture and put an actionable plan in place, setting you up for success! It may seem overwhelming, but you can get there with the right support. Plus, you will be able to enjoy your next chapter, knowing that you are in a good place financially. Financial wellbeing is so important. 

Our thanks to Carissa Lucreziano and CIBC for taking the time to respond to us!

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has been helping Canadians save for retirement for more than 35 years. Now, saving for retirement is simpler than ever before. There’s no longer a dollar limit on how much you can contribute to SPP during the limit — you can contribute any amount up to the total of your available RRSP room. And if you are making a transfer into SPP from another RRSP, you can transfer any or all of it — no limit applies. It’s a limitless opportunity for retirement saving! 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.