Money not the number one thing people link with retirement: fuse research

August 31, 2023

A new research paper from fuse strategy takes a fresh look at how Canadians react to retirement — and the findings are an eye-opener.

The paper begins by observing that while most of us are aware of the need to save for the future, we are not as sure about how to go about it. “This seemingly simple task is challenged by our human biases for clarity, certainty, and immediacy: how should we prepare? What will we need? How long will the future last,” the authors ask.

After researching the topic, fuse found that for most people, retirement is “invisible… not something we normally talk about.” It’s also seen as “boring and depressing… a time when we will be old and possibly unwell.” Retirement planning is seen as “complicated and confusing,” making it easier to “do nothing,” and retirement is finally seen as “less important than our current needs.”

The fuse study then asked 16 Canadians to shed more light on the meaning of retirement.

They described it, the report notes, as not so much an individualist thing, but “a collective achievement and experience,” to be shared with family and friends. It’s a time of “freedom and simplicity,” free of pressure from things like work, the report continues. It’s a time when “travel and self-determination are valued,” and is an aspirational period of time with respect to nature and the environment.

Somewhat surprisingly, retirement was not seen as being connected to financial assets.

“Retirement should not be seen as synonymous with the products designed to enable it, including pensions. None of our participants mentioned money in articulating the meaning of retirement, which is particularly notable given the clear framing of our study. When defining what matters to them about retirement, our participants simply did not think about the financial dimension of the experience,” the report notes.

Those who had positive views on retirement saw it as attainable and achievable, the report notes. Many of them reported they had a workplace pension plan.

For those who were negative about retirement, it was seen as something “that happens to them when they were compelled to stop working by health or circumstance.” This group had trouble with the idea of retirement involving a “conscious choice” to stop working.

The negative group had not had any experiences dealing with “knowledgeable financial guidance,” and “examples of retirement tended to be absent or negative for participants,” the report states. “Many participants considered retirement planning to be an impolite topic,” the report adds.

While workplace pension plans were generally seen as positive by those who were positive about retirement, the report states that more work needs to be done on this file.

“The role a workplace pension plan can play in providing confidence in retirement outcomes absolutely depends on how those retirement outcomes are defined – or, put another way, understanding what retirement really means to Canadians is critical to supporting it. There is a clear need to develop a more nuanced view of the meaning of retirement – and a clear opportunity to use this insight to strengthen and improve the value and impact of the workplace pension plan,” states the report.

Interestingly, participants were found to value pensions more when they were on the receiving end. “Pensions… were more fully appreciated in hindsight, and often understood as `free money’ from the employer,” the report notes. Younger participants stated they wanted to have “values-oriented outcomes” from the investment activity within their pension plans, ranging from responsible investing to clearly expressed organizational values, the report adds.

This interesting paper concludes by advising pension plans to do more to engage with their members and prospective members, through modernization, advocacy, and action.

If you lack a pension plan at work, don’t worry — you still have options for building retirement income. A great place to start is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Joining SPP means your savings are managed, along with those of more than 31,000 other members, in a pool investment fund value at more than $588 million as of Dec. 31, 2022; the annuity fund totalled a further $108.2 million. Costs are kept low, but experts guide the investing. At the end of the day, your savings will have grown — and the future, retired you will have options to pick from for turning savings into income, including the chance for a lifetime monthly annuity payment. 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.


August 28, 2023

Private investing, common for institutions, is a mystery to individuals: IPSOS

A whopping 60 per cent of Canadians say they don’t know anything about private investments — common amongst institutional investors. And one in four surveyed think “they are missing out” on such investments.

A media release from B.C.-based Harbourfront Wealth Management shares the results of a poll it commissioned, which was carried out by IPSOS.

The private investments category, the release begins, accounts for “market capitalization double in size compared to the public market in various countries.” But despite “Canada’s large institutional involvement” with private investing, “and a track record of success in the space,” a “stark majority” of us have no knowledge of it whatsoever, the release continues.

Private investments “may include private lending, private equity, such as investing capital into companies that are not publicly traded, and private real estate, such as student housing, seniors living facilities, and infrastructure.”

Since this type of investing basically involves big institutional funds directly owning things, it hasn’t generally been something for individual investors to be able to take part it, the release says. But they do want in.

“Canadians need a broader toolkit, that includes private investments, to plan for their futures,” states Harbourfront’s Christine Tessier in the release. “The IPSOS study clearly demonstrates that among Canadians, a quarter feel their financial institution doesn’t give them access to all types of investment products. New technologies, combined with increased oversight, are changing the face of this industry,” she states.

The study found that 24 per cent of Canadians don’t feel they are getting full access to all investment products, and a further 27 per cent feel “they do not have access to every type of investment product they want.” Forty-two per cent, the release continues, say they would be willing to change financial institutions for such access, and 43 per cent would be willing to change advisors to do so.

The release cites the fact that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan achieved a four per cent rate of return in 2022 in its private investments portfolio; the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Public Sector Pension (PSP) Investments are said to be investors in this space.

Harbourfront offers a range of pension-fund-like, “retail friendly” private investment products for individuals, the release concludes.

This is an interesting piece, because the fact that big pension funds and other institutions directly own things like office towers, airports, shopping malls, warehouses and the like is not well known. Private equity — where an institutional investors directly owns all or part of a non-trade private company — has also been around for years in the pension plan world. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is also involved in private investments. As of Dec. 31, 2022, 18 per cent of SPP’s Balanced Fund was invested in infrastructure, 11 per cent in real estate, and 10 per cent in private debt. That means those of us who are members of SPP already have private investing at our fingertips! 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.

Learn from these retirement savings mistakes

August 24, 2023

While it’s never great to make a mistake, they have the interesting side effect of teaching you what not to do.

Save with SPP decided to hunt around for some tips on what not to do when it comes to saving for retirement.

According to the Espresso blog on MSN, there are a couple of retirement plans that can backfire on you.

Many who haven’t saved much for retirement plan to continue working past age 65. But, the article warns, your body may have other ideas. A StatsCan finding from 2002 was that 30 per cent of those who took early retirement did so “because of their health.”

If you are saving via an investment product that charges high fees, you may find those charges “can eat up huge amounts of your savings over time,” the article reports. Be careful and look for lower-fee options, the article advises.

A key tip is to get saving, even if you start late. “According to BNN Bloomberg, 32 per cent of Canadians approaching retirement don’t have any savings,” the article notes. “Anyone hoping to rely only on the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security will find it difficult to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, which is why middle-aged and older Canadians should start saving as early as possible,” the article concludes.

The Motley Fool blog offers up a few more ideas.

Be aware of your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) limits, the blog warns — there can be penalties if you over-contribute.

If you are running your own money and wanting to think outside the box, don’t use your RRSP as the test bed, The Motley Fool warns. “You should test out your investment strategies in a non-registered account before investing in RRSPs. Apply your successful investment strategies in RRSPs because losses cannot be written off,” the blog suggests.

Other advice includes diversification — don’t go fixed-income only in an RRSP, because you’ll get more growth from equities, the blog advises.

Over on LinkedIn, Brent Misener, a certified financial planner, provides a few more ideas.

Don’t procrastinate on retirement saving, he notes. “The power of compounding is a significant advantage when it comes to saving and investing. Starting early allows your money to grow and work for you over an extended period. Take action now and harness the power of time to maximize your retirement nest egg,” he writes.

Have a handle on what your expenses will be after you retire, Misener writes. “Medical costs, housing, leisure activities, and unforeseen events can quickly deplete your savings if not accounted for,” he warns.

In a similar vein, he says you must not ignore the possible impacts of inflation. “Consider inflation as you plan for the future and ensure that your investments and savings can keep pace with rising prices. Consider how much everyday items like groceries and utilities have increased dramatically in the last two years,” he adds.

If you are among the fortunate few who have a workplace pension plan, don’t stop saving outside that plan, Misener states. “Whether it’s a defined benefit or defined contribution, it’s important to remember that your pension may not cover all of your spending needs. Most retirees plan on spending more in retirement and often work pensions may only cover basic expenses,” he concludes.

These are all good tips to be aware of.

If you don’t have a workplace pension plan, or you want to supplement the savings you are getting from one, have a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP is an open, voluntary defined contribution plan that will invest your money at a very low fee. Your savings will grow within SPP’s pooled investment fund, and when it’s time to retire, you have the option of a lifetime monthly annuity payment, so that you will never run out of money. 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.


August 21, 2023

Financially independent seniors require less government help: Frazer Stark

Writing in the Financial Post, Frazer Stark notes that the “looming crisis” of baby boomer retirements — with those boomers living longer lives than their forbears — can be solved with a little more focus on self-reliance.

“Retirees,” he writes, “face uncertainty on multiple fronts: market returns, cost inflation and their own physical health. Yet it’s the unknown length of an individual’s ultimate lifespan that creates a labyrinthine financial planning challenge.”

“Consider that a 65-year-old woman entering retirement can expect to live on average to age 87,” he explains. “This average hides variability: she still has a 10-per-cent chance of living past 100, a one-per-cent chance of living past 105 and a tiny chance of reaching 110 or even beyond that (the oldest Canadian on record passed away at 117 years and 230 days). This variability makes determining how much to safely spend from her nest egg rather tricky,” he writes.

This danger of outliving one’s savings, he explains, can be handled several ways. You can “play it safe” and avoid drawing down your savings, he writes. But that carries the cost of “not fully enjoying these special retirement years while we can.”

You could also simply ignore the problem of living into your 90s and beyond by spending “freely as you set into retirement.” This can backfire, Stark adds, and your future you may suffer as a result of early heavy spending.

Defined benefit (DB) pension plans, Stark continues, offer a form of insurance against longevity, as such pensions are paid for life. Yet, he says, we “continue to steadily transition away from the DB pension structures that offered comfortable, confident retirements to previous generations.” Less than nine per cent of private-sector workers have DB plans today, compared to 50 per cent in the late 1970s, he notes.

Because such plans are so scarce in the private sector (they are more common in the public sector), Stark writes that “some… are giving up, viewing retirement as an unattainable goal.” Recent research has found that many have “curtailed saving,” rather than cutting back on today’s expenses to save for tomorrow, he continues.

As an example, he writes that the average price of a new car in 2022 hit more than $61,000, while in the same year, “59 per cent of Canadians said they were saving nothing for retirement, or little at all.”

Only a small percentage of Canadians insure themselves against running out of money in retirement via the use of lifetime annuities, he writes.

There has been progress in rolling out low-fee retirement savings programs (Stark mentions Wealthsimple), but “a similar evolution is now essential for the decumulation phase,” when saved retirement dollars are turned into income.

“Last year, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) updated its pension-program guidelines, recommending that member countries provide their retired populations access to income-for-life options, including `by non-guaranteed arrangements where longevity risk is pooled among participants,’” Stark writes.

While work is being started by government and the financial sector on programs that address longevity risk for retirees, the path to this future “remains largely untrodden, and much work remains,” he continues.

Stark sees a solution in boosting “baseline education” about finances, and developing for Canadians “a set of tools to solve the decumulation problem for themselves.” This won’t be easy, will require a lot of innovation, but will be worth it, he predicts.

“Every Canadian who can comfortably navigate their own retirement finances is one less person requiring expensive subsidized care from the public purse, which must come from either increased taxes, additional borrowing or reduced spending elsewhere. The fourth option would be to simply not provide aid, creating tremendous suffering among our vulnerable elderly population and a stain on our national conscience,” he concludes.

This is a very well-written and detailed look at an insidious problem that tends to bite you in the backside when you are too old to deal with it — running out, or running low, on retirement income.

There is a way out of this for members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP has you covered on the savings side — your contributed dollars are invested in a low-cost, expertly managed pooled fund. But SPP also has you covered at the drawdown stage. You can choose from a variety of SPP annuity options when you retire. All of them will provide you with an income supply that never runs out — a payment nestled in your bank account at the beginning of every month.

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.

After decades on the sidelines, fixed income investing makes its return

August 17, 2023

There was a time, way back when, when you could easily make an annual return of 16 per cent or more simply by signing up for payroll Canada Savings Bonds at work.

Are those days coming back, at least in part, now that interest rates on guaranteed investment certificates have topped the five per cent mark? Save with SPP took a look around to see what’s happening — for the first time in decades — in fixed-income investing.

A recent Wealth Professional article declares that “bonds are back.”

“After a long period in the unfashionable doldrums, fixed income has come roaring back with some tempting offerings that could be music to the ears of wealth managers,” writes Catherine Lafferty.

She quotes Macan Nia of Manulife as saying “a lot of the issues in the financial markets and for financial advisors was [around] this search for yield and how we drive income for our clients that are retiring. The good news is right now we simply clip the coupon. We believe they are attractive opportunities just in yield.”

OK, so bonds are suddenly a better investment. What about other forms of fixed income?

You don’t have to buy bonds (which pay interest, normally once or twice a year, until they mature) to benefit from today’s higher interest rates, writes Rob Carrick in The Globe and Mail.

Even a simple high interest savings account (HISA) can pay you “2.5 to 4.1 per cent right now,” he writes. A nice thing about HISAs is that your money is not tied up for a set period of time as it would be with a bond or guaranteed investment certificate (GIC).

There are now even exchange-traded funds that are basically an index fund of HISAs, Carrick notes.

“ETF HISAs offer after-fee yields around five per cent right now, but you may have to pay brokerage commissions to buy and sell,” he writes. There are also “mutual fund-style HISAs” that offer yields of 4.2 to 4.6 per cent, he continues.

The good old GIC is also looking more attractive, Carrick writes.

“If you have money to lock into GICs and want a great rate, now’s not a bad time to buy because there are 5 per cent yields available for terms of one, two, three and, in the case of EQ Bank, five years,” he writes. There are also cashable GICs — you can cash them in whenever you want — but those pay roughly one to 1.5 per cent less in interest, Carrick notes.

Equitable Bank’s Mahima Poddar tells Global News that the rise in interest rates has definitely rekindled interest in GICs.

“I do think we’re going to see more and more people going back to GICs,” she tells Global. There is a lot of downside risk these days to equity investment, she continues, with many people getting “burned.”

“When you compare that to a guaranteed five per cent rate with no downside risk, it becomes incredibly attractive,” she tells Global.

We have had several friends and family members over the years who prefer the lower risk of interest investing over the potentially higher returns from equities. Having lost a shirt or two on “can’t miss” fibre-optic network construction companies and the odd copper mining firm in the past, we must concede that risk is, well, pretty risky.

It’s probably safer to have a balanced approach, and that’s exactly how the Saskatchewan Pension Plan runs its retirement savings pool. The Balanced Fund is 41 per cent invested in Canadian, U.S. and International equities. On the interest side, bonds, private debt, mortgages and money market investments represent 30 per cent of assets. The rest of the fund is invested in what are called “alternative” investment such as infrastructure and real estate. 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.


August 14, 2023

Saving for retirement “is only part of the puzzle,” reveals Edward Jones research

Today’s retirees aren’t having an easy time of it like their predecessors, but are dealing with “curveballs, cannon balls and windfalls,” reports a new study carried out by Edward Jones.

The study’s results are covered in a recent article in Wealth Professional.

On the plus side, the findings from the firm’s latest Age Wave study suggest that Canadian retirees are focused on “health, family, purpose and finance,” the article notes.

And, says Edward Jones’ David Gunn, millennials are taking note of how retirees are dealing with post-work life.

“Eighty-five per cent of millennials agree that applying what retirees are learning right now would be helpful to them. So, millennials seem to recognize that retirees are going through a lot right now with respect to retirement plans and they want to learn from them. That’s a really good finding,” he tells Wealth Professional.

However, the study did note that while having goals in retirement is a positive, having a budget is also of critical importance.

“Saving for retirement is only part of the puzzle. The biggest challenge is figuring out a retirement budget,” the article explains.

On the activity/lifestyle front, those surveyed suggested that pre-retirees “test-drive their retirement activities before retiring.”

The survey also suggested that retirees “consider working in retirement,” even if they don’t need the money, the article notes. “It can improve their quality of life… by helping them keep an active mind and maintaining a strong sense of purpose,” the article reports.

The research found that the most successful retirees seem to embrace flexibility in their golden years, the article adds.

“Ninety-two per cent of retirees said that preparation, flexibility, and willingness to adapt were keys to success in retirement,” Gunn tells Wealth Professional. “So, they’re making course corrections in all four pillars of health, family, purpose, and finance.”

Their focus, the article continues, is on “healthier diets, doing regular exercise, and finding mental stimulation. They’re spending more quality time with family and less in unhealthy relationships.”

This is all very insightful.

On the idea of “test-driving” retirement activities, we might add a suggestion — why not test-drive your retirement budget? Before you retire, spend a month or two living on what you think your retirement income is going to be. That way, when you leave the workforce, you won’t be surprised, but prepared.

Friends of ours did this when buying their first home. They were worried what it would be like paying a mortgage, and thus, having less to live on. So, for six months before they started their mortgage, they banked the difference and tried living on the lesser amount. The plan worked perfectly — they had a stress-free transition to home ownership.

More is always good when it comes to retirement income. If you don’t have a pension program at work, and are saving on your own for retirement, why not consider partnering with the Saskatchewan Pension Plan? This do-it-yourself pension plan will invest your retirement savings in a low-cost, pooled fund, grow them, and when the time comes, help you turn those saved dollars into retirement income! 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.

What’s the right amount to tip in Canada?

August 10, 2023

Here comes the bill. What’s a fair amount to tip?

The old rule of thumb used to be 15 per cent, but in many places, you are presented with the options of 20, 22 and even 25 per cent if you pay with a debit or credit card.

So, what’s the best path forward on tipping? Save with SPP took a look around to see what folks are saying on this topic.

According to Global News, tipping, like many other things, is being impacted by inflation.

“People feel like tipping is getting out of control,” Angus Reid’s David Korinski tells the broadcaster. Sixty-two per cent of Canadians surveyed by the pollster said “they’re being asked to tip more,” and “one in five reported leaving a tip of 20 per cent or more the last time they dined out,” the Global article reports.

Inflation, Korinski tells Global, is making the price of everything higher — which means you are tipping for meals and services that cost more than they used to.

“When you get the tipping machine, instead of 12, 15, and 18 per cent for the suggested tip, it now says 18, 24, and 30 per cent. I think for a lot of people, that it’s getting a little overwhelming,” Korinski tells Global.

Fifty-nine per cent of those surveyed said they’d like to see a “service included” model, where tips are not needed, but workers receive higher wages and benefits.

So how much should we tip?

According to the Wealth Awesome blog, “in days past, a 10 per cent to 15 per cent tip was considered average. Today, however, a 15 to 20 per cent tip is considered normal for most services.”

The blog recommends a tip of 25 per cent “or more” for “exceptional service,” 20 per cent for “great service,” a tip of “15 to 20 per cent for average service,” and a tip of “10 to 15 per cent for below average service.”

Over at the CBC, flaws are being noted in our nation’s “tipping culture.”

“Card payment machines have made it simple for businesses to prompt a gratuity option, even in industries where tipping previously wasn’t part of the cost or conversation. And data from Canadian trade associations show the average percentage tip for restaurant dining has gone up since the pandemic began,” the broadcaster notes.

The University of Guelph’s Professor Mike von Mossow tells CBC he is even asked to tip if he picks up a couple of cans of beer from a microbrewery.

He tells CBC this is a “double whammy” for consumers, “with more businesses asking for tips while simultaneously raising their prices.”

“You know, I’ve started to wonder if I give a particularly good lecture, should I put a jar at the front of the lecture hall at the end, and as they file out? Maybe they could drop a few bills in there for me, too. I mean, where does it stop,” he asks the CBC.

The Conversation raises questions about why we tip in the first place. Isn’t it for good service?

“This belief presumes that the server receives the tip,” the article explains. “But in most provinces, management often requires servers to share tips with kitchen staff, and sometimes with management itself,” the article continues.

Furthermore, the article explains, there could be tip-sharing (or tipout) at your favourite resto. “Your individual hard-working server may not have any appreciable benefit from your generous tip,” the article tells us.

And if we tip because we feel our server/service supplier is working hard for a low wage, what about everyone else who is working for minimum wage, the article asks.

Tipping, and how much you tip, is at the end of the day up to you.

Viewed through the lens of retirement saving, one might want to think about giving oneself a little tip now and then to boost our retirement savings. Even if you were to pay yourself first, to the order of five per cent per month, you’d see your retirement nest egg begin to grow.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan allows you to “tip up” your retirement account in several ways. SPP can be set up as a bill in your online banking, so that you can direct dollars there that way. You can make contributions on our website via your credit card. Or, you can fill out this form and have a pre-authorized contribution deducted regularly from your bank.

It’s a good tip that your future you will greatly appreciate. 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.


August 7, 2023

In an about-face, kids now support parents who didn’t save for retirement

So much for stories about boomerang kids who won’t leave home — it now seems that kids are supporting parents who didn’t save enough for retirement!

Writing in The Globe and Mail, columnist Rob Carrick notes that “the overwhelming reason why adult kids are financially supporting their parents is insufficient retirement savings.”

In a poll conducted via the Carrick on Money newsletter, 52 per cent of those aged 18 and up who provide support for their parents cite a lack of retirement savings as the reason they have to help mom and dad. Ten per cent of those surveyed said their parents had outlived their retirement savings — and therefore needed help from their kids, the newspaper reports.

“A suggestion for anyone in their thirties and older: Have a conversation with your parents about their retirement savings. Ask if they have any. If so, how much and what kind. Though it’s not much talked about, adult kids are clearly playing a backstopping role in this country’s retirement system. Be prepared,” writes Carrick.

Some of the other reasons cited in Carrick’s column as to why adult kids are supporting their parents include illness or disability (nine per cent), debt loads experienced by the parents (4.8 per cent) and divorce (4.3 per cent). The article says other reasons include “cultural expectations, job loss and death of a spouse.”

Interestingly, the survey results indicated that “even people who owned homes and who have pensions require help,” the article reports. Seven in 10 of survey respondents said their parents “currently or previously owned a home,” and one in three said their parents “have a company pension.” But they still needed help, the article explains.

“Take note if you think your house is your retirement plan, or that having a pension means retirement security. Pension payments can be small if you work for an employer for a short period of time. As for houses, they are a financial responsibility as well as an asset. Coping with big repair and maintenance bills can be a handful when you’re retired,” Carrick warns.

Other findings from the survey include the fact that 38.5 per cent of those surveyed help their parents “through periodic cash infusions,” and 29 per cent “make regular cash payments to parents,” the article reports.

Eleven per cent report that mom and dad have had to move in with them, the article adds.

While a large percentage of respondents were helping parents who were in their 90s and above, age 60 seems to be when parents start needing help, Carrick concludes. That help, he notes, can be small — less than $1,000 a year — or large, and over $100,000 annually.

Saving for retirement is a great way to avoid being a burden to your kids. If you haven’t started yet, check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room can join, and once you are a member, you can contribute any amount up to your RRSP contribution limit, or transfer in any amount from other RRSPs.

And if you are worried about running out of money in retirement, SPP offers retiring members the option of a lifetime annuity, which means you’ll get a cash deposit on the first of the month for the rest of your life.

Check out SPP today!

Our ability to adapt to life’s challenges is our superpower: Healthy No Matter What

August 3, 2023

In Healthy No Matter What, authors Dr. Alex Jadad and his daughter Tamen Jadad-Garcia make the fascinating argument that our “natural gift of adaptation” is a form of superpower, one that can help us live a healthy life despite the many challenges we face.

They note that health self-assessment — in which you are asked if your health is excellent, very good, good, fair or poor — has led to some “groundbreaking” findings.

Those who are positive about their health tend to be healthy, the book explains. But those who negatively self-assess their health “have twice the risk of premature death than someone who rates their health as positive,” and tend to live at least 23 years less than those who say their health is excellent, the book notes, citing U.S. research.

The book takes a detailed look on why some of us live longer than others, and much of the focus is on our ability (or lack of ability) to handle stress.

A chapter on “Toxic Stress Load” or TSL explains that stress plays a key role “in how long and healthy your life could be.” TSL refers to “the physical and psychological reaction of a person to long-term threatening situations or events, especially those that start in early childhood… the wear and tear your experience from grinding through life.”

Wealthier people tend to have less stress and lead longer lives, the book notes.

“In 2021, the female citizens of Monaco had a life expectancy of 93.4 years. At the time, their home country had a Gross Domestic Product of more than $190,000 per capita (U.S. dollars), with the fourth lowest infant mortality rate, the 10th most powerful passport in the world, and zero homicides per year from 2007 to 2018,” the book says.

Another long-lived group are those who live in “Blue Zones,” such as Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy, Icaria, Greece and other locations. “Apart from being isolated places, with communities that draw from a somewhat related genetic pool, the Blue Zones are all places that encourage physical activity in natural settings.” Those living there “put their family ahead of other priorities, have a clear life purpose, have low rates of smoking, drink alcohol in moderation,” and eat healthy diets and engage in stress-reducing activities, the authors note.

Research on those living to 100 and beyond found “a tendency to react with low anxiety to stressful situations” and eating smaller portions of food, the book notes.

In the chapter “You Are What You Think,” we learn that money is “the main source of psychological stress for people in the richest country in the history of the world,” the U.S.

Research from south of the border found that “financial concerns have trumped health, family and work as the main source… of stress for Americans since 2007.” Having “insufficient savings for retirement (51 per cent) and excessive debt (30 per cent) are listed as the top two money concerns, the book explains.

A startling stat from the book is that 52 per cent of Americans under 40 are “more afraid of retirement than death,” even though they have two decades ahead of them to save for retirement.

The book lays out ways to overcome stress and fear about life events. The “BASK” acronym refers to Behavioural tasks, Attitude Changes, Skill Development, and Knowledge Acquisition.

Exercise, the book explains, is an antidote to anxiety. Yoga is another.

Optimism is also cited as a natural way to defend against anxiety. “Optimists tend to engage more often than pessimists in healthy behaviours such as exercising and eating nutritious diets, and they are less likely to smoke or drink alcohol in excess. Optimism is also associated with proactive strategies that can improve adaptability, including problem-focused coping and seeking social support…as well as with better psychological and physical function later in life.”

A later chapter looks at the value of friendship, “the single most important factor influencing our health, well-being, and happiness.”

We need to watch out for negative behaviours, the book warns, since “negatives attract.” A U.S. study found that “72 per cent of adults report having at least one unhealthy behaviour or avoidable risk factor, including insufficient sleep, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking or excessive drinking” had double the risk for premature death than those without such behaviours. Compulsive buying and binge eating were said to be the top two negatives to watch out for.

The book concludes with a chapter on how to get the most out of doctor visits by being a “good patient” and making sure you get answers to all your questions.

There is a lot of ground covered in this interesting read, but the message that comes through is that there is a lot of non-medical things we can do to stay healthier, better connected, and more focused — and together, a better attitude and handling life’s stresses will help us live longer and better lives.

Are you stressed about retirement? If you haven’t started saving for your post-work life, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be just what you’ve been looking for. SPP takes on the hard part of retirement saving, which is investing your contributions in today’s tricky markets, and growing them for your future. When it’s time to collect those dollars, SPP offers a full range of options including the possibility of a lifetime annuity. Don’t stress about retirement — 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.