All posts by saskpension

Here’s what you shouldn’t do once retirement arrives

We spend much time seeking out great value-adding, life-enhancing things one can do in retirement. But here’s a worried thought – what shouldn’t we be doing in our life after work?

Save with SPP had a look around with a different theme, this time – what not to do!

The USA Today newspaper lists a number of things to not do in your crucial first year of retirement.

A key mistake, the newspaper notes, is “not having a financial or life plan.” David Laster, a U.S. financial author, is quoted in the article as saying “only 42 per cent of workers try to calculate a budget before going into retirement. If you don’t do that, that leaves you vulnerable to some unpleasant surprises in retirement. And it can be painful.”

Other things to watch out for in year one, USA Today adds, are overspending, claiming government benefits too early (you get more the longer you wait) and being too conservative with investments.

At the Yahoo! Finance site, author Gabrielle Olya adds a couple more – ignoring inflation, and not seeking the advice of a financial planner.

“Although the inflation rate seems minimal, it still affects how far your dollar will go,” she writes. “This is especially true for money held in fixed savings accounts, which unlike money in certain investments, will lose value over time.”

Going it alone on finances, she warns, may mean you are “losing out on how to improve (your) financial readiness.”

The Gilbert Guide blog adds a few more, including having too many cars, moving at the wrong time, and getting “sold or scammed on services you don’t need.”

Try to avoid having multiple vehicles, the blog suggests. One will do for most retired couples.

Moving is a very important consideration as well, the blog notes. According to retirement specialist Bill Losey, who is quoted in the article, “many people relocate based on a couple of specific factors, such as low real estate costs or low taxes, then discover that other costs more than eat up their savings.”

Losey goes on to say in the article that if you make an expensive move – then change your mind and move back where you started from – the move is even more costly. Before choosing a retirement move, the blog advises, consider “hidden costs” such as property taxes, sales taxes, grocery costs, and other basics. Staying put may make more sense, the blog advises.

Save with SPP has noted a few other things. If you consider your retirement to be an unending vacation of travel, meals out, expensive hobbies and doing new things, you may run out of money before you run out of ideas. It is perhaps better to think of retirement as being a permanent weekend – you won’t be going into work, sure, but you won’t be jetting to the south of France either. You’ll be shovelling the driveway and trying to get the wretched filters to stay in the range hood after you’ve cleaned them. It’s important to be practical, and enjoy life within your means.

A nice feature for folks who save for retirement via the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is the fact that it offers life annuities when you retire. With an annuity, you get a pre-set payment every month for the rest of your life. You can never run out of money, and SPP allows you to provide for a surviving spouse or beneficiary as well, so you can pay that security forward. Check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Mar 23: Best from the blogosphere

With retirement savings, you can’t always get what you want

What do Canadians expect they’ll need to save for retirement? And how are they doing when it comes to reaching that target?

Some answers can be found in a new round of research from Scotiabank, which is featured in a story in the Financial Post.

According to the news story, the average Canadian “expects to need a nest egg of $697,000 to retire.” As well, the story informs us, this same average Canuck hopes to punch the clock for the last time by age 64.

The encouraging news from this story is that 68 per cent of Canadians surveyed are saving for retirement. That’s an important start. However, the story continues, 70 per cent of them are worried “they are not saving enough.”

Other troubling findings from the research:

  • just 23 per cent of those surveyed see retirement saving as a top priority, down nine points from 2017
  • 66 per cent are concerned they “have underestimated how much money they will need in retirement”
  • 47 per cent fear they’ll need to rely on their family for financial assistance

In a nutshell, while it’s great that more than two-thirds of us are saving for retirement, we may not be saving enough, not making retirement a “pay yourself first” must-do, and aren’t fully aware of how much we’ll need after we complete working life. That could mean looking to the kids, or very aged parents, for help.

Scotiabank’s D’Arcy McDonald tells the Post that half of those who say they aren’t saving for retirement are younger people, age 18 to 35.

“Younger people may have different priorities at this time in their lives as they strive to get momentum in their careers, pay down student loans, and save for their first homes,” McDonald states in the Post article. “The best advice we can give young Canadians is to start saving early and automate their contributions to make retirement savings an equally important part of their financial plan. The earlier you begin to make retirement savings a priority, the easier it will become.”

The article concludes by offering up this advice. All of us should know our “magic number,” or how much they need to save. This number can be calculated fairly easily if you know your other magic number – how much income you will need to have in retirement. The advice of a financial planner can help you with the math, the article concludes.

If you don’t have a retirement plan at work – or if you do, but aren’t sure it will provide enough – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan can help. You can set up automatic contributions via direct deposit; you can even make contributions with a credit card. And if money is tight at the beginning, you can start small and then ramp up your contributions whenever you get a raise. A “set it and forget it” approach will mean more retirement savings at the finish line, and less stress when you turn in your security pass for the last time.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) and COVID-19

March 17, 2020

As the global COVID-19 public health emergency continues to spread and create challenges for families and businesses worldwide, we wanted to share with you how SPP is addressing many of the same challenges that our members may be facing.

SPP represents over 30,000 members from across Canada and our principal concern is now on prioritizing the most critical operations such as pension payroll and actively monitoring investment managers. We are also focusing our resources so that we continue to remain available to serve our members in this challenging time despite travel restrictions, social distancing and other challenges that impact our traditional ways of doing business.

We have implemented the best practices of business continuity processes and remain prepared to serve our valued members during this time. However, it is important you are aware that our methods of supporting members and employers are changing to reflect the new pandemic guidelines.

Effective immediately, we have postponed all scheduled member and employer presentations in order to follow the social distancing advice issued by the Province. We are also limiting engagement with our members, employers and other stakeholders and encouraging these activities to be conducted by phone or email where possible. As this pandemic evolves, there may be additional changes to how we connect with members and we encourage you to check the SPP website and social media pages for any updates. We will absolutely reschedule any planned large group meetings, workshops or presentations once the threat has passed.

I would also encourage you to seek out information on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus, the Government of Saskatchewan’s dedicated webpage on COVID-19. It includes the most up-to-date information and guidance for all Saskatchewan residents.

Please do not hesitate to contact SPP if you have any questions about your pension plan. We recognize that this may be a prolonged effort and wanted you to be fully aware of SPP’s commitment to continue serving you during this time.

Sincerely,

Katherine Strutt

General Manager

Mar 16: Best from the blogosphere

The big three – divorce, debt and student loans – can hamper your retirement savings efforts

We all like to say that “life gets in the way” is a chief reason why we can’t put money away for retirement.

An interesting piece in Business Insider takes a look at the top three killers of retirement dreams.

First up, the article notes, is divorce. “Divorce impacts all facets of your finances, but it can hit your retirement savings especially hard,” the article notes. That’s because retirement assets, such as retirement accounts and pensions, can be subject to splitting when couples break up, the article explains.

The article, written for a U.S. audience, suggests that retirement accounts “may be divided equally” on marriage breakdown. So you might lose half your nest egg, and if you are the spouse paying support, there’s another expense that can “eat away at your ability to save.”

The article advises those going through a divorce to get their retirement plan rolling again as soon as things have settled.

The second major retirement savings killer is consumer debt, the magazine reports. “While getting out of debt can be tough, it will be even harder to save for retirement with monthly debt payments in the way,” Business Insider tells us. A U.S. study cited in the article notes that 21.3 per cent of those surveyed agreed that consumer debt “prevented them from reaching their savings goals.”

The article suggests focusing on higher-interest credit cards and credit lines first.

Finally, the article says, dealing with student loans is considered the third barrier to retirement. Again, this article is talking about the U.S. situation, but here in Canada, the average student was $27,000 in debt 10 years ago. That number, taken from the Vice.com site is bound to be much higher today. That’s a lot of money for entry-level workers to have to carry.

The article concludes that you can’t predict how your life will go. There’s no surefire way to avoid a divorce, but you can try and limit your consumer debt and where possible, pay down student loans later in life when you are making more.

The article notes that those who start saving for retirement at age 25 tend to have “tens of thousands” more dollars in their retirement plans than those who start at age 35.

If you’re intimidated about taking that first major step into retirement saving, help is on the way via the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can start small, perhaps in the days when you’re just starting out and juggling student and other debt, and then ramp up savings when better times arrive. Meanwhile, the experts at SPP are growing your savings for you, at low cost and with an impressive track record of returns. Check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Market update as of March 12, 2020

The current market volatility illustrates the uncertainty facing investors, especially regarding when the markets will recover.  The following information has been provided by the Plan’s investment managers, TD Asset Management (TDAM) and Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel (Leith Wheeler).

TDAM: March 2/20 – Click here for the full article.

“With a number of major market events making headlines, including the S&P 500 Index declining approximately 13% from its recent highs, 10-Year Treasury yields hitting a new record low of 1.18%, and gold set to break multi-year highs, we want to highlight a few important points.”

“As we currently stand the major known unknown is how COVID-19 will evolve.  If the coronavirus doesn’t become a worldwide epidemic, then risk assets will likely recover quickly. But in a worst-case scenario where the outbreak morphs into a pandemic, the resulting market downturn could get somewhat worse.”

“We are of the view that the most probable outcome is the economic impact of the virus will be short lived for the following reasons:

  • As economic activity is suppressed, we believe it is driving global inventory levels to fall rapidly. Low inventory levels should create pent up demand that will boost economic growth in the following quarters.
  • The Peoples Republic of China will move away from financial de-risking and return to aggressive fiscal and monetary easing in order to help ensure a swift domestic economic recovery.
  • It is important to remember that prior to the viral outbreak, the global financial outlook for 2020 was generally positive as market participants felt that the economic momentum had slowly turned the corner after a soft 2019.
  • In addition, and unlike the global financial crisis of 2008, economic imbalances are generally smaller now than a decade ago.
  • And finally, global monetary policy remains highly accommodative.

We expect these factors to support a rebound in capital markets once the virus has run its course or has been contained.”

Leith Wheeler:  March 2/20 – Click here for the full article.

“Why did markets fall?  The most straightforward answer is that markets have become increasingly concerned that the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) could materially reduce global economic growth.”

 “How did markets fall?  The first place that recession fears show up is in the fixed income markets.  This past week government bond prices rose, showing both a demand for certainty and a view that central bank will need to lower rates further in 2020 in order to support the economy.  The premium required to hold corporate bonds also increased, reflecting investor nervousness about carrying the risk of default – but only rose back to levels seen in recent months.

The recent declines in equity markets have been global in nature, as the coronavirus mutated from a health scare to a financial one.  Both high – and low – quality stocks dropped, irrespective of how exposed they might be to changes in economic growth, how vulnerable they might be to fluctuations in their cash flow (i.e. highly indebted and new cash companies alike), what their growth profiles is, their level of management skill and so on.”

“The coronavirus may  fizzle out in a month, or it could get much bigger.  We could see trade flows normalize, or we could see a further global economic slowdown. “

“[W]hen you are investing for the long term, market fluctuations – even large ones that persist for quarters or even years – will just prove to be bumps on the way to your ultimate goal.  Market corrections are a normal occurrence, but lenders and investors always find a bottom; business builders move on and build again; and markets rise again – ultimately to new highs.”

“As long term value investors, we have the benefit of knowing the value of businesses without the benefit of a stock quote, so our homework pays off when others are losing their heads and selling good companies out of fear.  We use these corrections as opportunities to buy those quality businesses when they’re on sale.  Beyond that, it’s business as usual.”

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Katherine Strutt

General Manager

Unless it’s mandatory, most people can’t or won’t save: Gandalf’s David Herle

Much is said and written about the need to get more people to save for retirement, particularly younger folks who typically lack a retirement program at work.

According to David Herle, Principal Partner at research firm The Gandalf Group, and a noted political and retirement commentator, it’s not just younger people who aren’t saving for retirement.

“We know that young people do not think about the end state of their lives,” he tells Save with SPP in a recent telephone interview. “They are focused on their more immediate needs.” Those needs include the cost of education, housing, and consumer debt.

When talk turns to millennials, the Saskatchewan-born Herle points out that their ability to save is hampered by the fact that there are “less jobs, and specifically, less good jobs with pensions and benefits” in today’s “gig economy.”

So not only are young people not saving, neither are old people. No one, he explains, has any extra money kicking around to save for retirement.

Herle says his firm’s research has shown repeatedly that the best way to get people to save is to make it mandatory, with no way to opt out. That way, he says, ensures money is directed to their long-term savings without the individual “having to think about it.”

Otherwise, he notes, getting people to save is challenging. “There’s not a lot of benefit from lecturing people,” he explains.

Asked if there are any public policy options to increase savings, Herle noted one idea from the past that could be revisited – payroll Canada Savings Bond purchases.

In the recent past, you could buy a Canada Savings Bond and pay for it via payroll deductions, a sort of “pay yourself first” option that did encourage some savings. “It might be worth considering bringing it back,” he suggests.

He points to the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan as “the most significant public policy development” in the retirement savings space. Ontario considered bringing in its own pension plan to supplement CPP, but the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan was shelved when CPP expansion got the green light a few years ago, he says.

The other trend he calls “troubling” is the lack of good pension plans in the workplace. For many years most people had a decent pension plan at work, the defined benefit variety which spells out what your retirement income will be. But employers “have started cutting pension plans,” moving to other arrangements, such as group RRSPs or capital accumulation plans where future income is not guaranteed.

He cites the recent labour dispute over pensions involving Co-op Refinery workers in Regina as an example of an employer trying to cut pension benefits for their employees. “If this happens, we could be seeing the end of the line for pensions,” he warns.

“Most people have lost the security of having an employer-sponsored pension plan,” Herle explains. There’s a large chunk of “middle and low-income earners” who are being expected to compensate for the lack of a plan at work with their own private savings.

“Our research found that those aged 55 to 65 – and this is not counting real estate – have more debt than savings. So this is people in the 10-year run-up to retirement,” he says. The lack of savings will force people to use home equity lines of credit, and the “reverse mortgage business is going to take off.”

Debt is restricting the ability to save, and CPP changes “won’t kick in in time for many people.” Herle says he has not heard of any plans to fix the other pillar of the federal retirement system, the taxpayer-funded Old Age Security program. Recent governments have tried to raise the age of entitlement, and a clawback program is already in place to reduce OAS payouts for higher income earners.

The outlook for retirement saving is “a very gloomy picture,” Herle concludes. He blames “a systematic societal failure… where the risk (of retirement investment) has been transferred to employees from employers.”

We thank David Herle for taking the time to speak to Save with SPP, and encourage readers to check out his podcast, The Herle Burly.

It’s true that paying yourself first – directing something to savings and then spending the rest – can work, especially if it is an automatic thing and the money moves before you can spend it. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has flexible contribution options that include a direct deposit program; you can set it and forget it. SPP also has an option for employers to set up an easily administered pension plan for their employees. Check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Mar 9: Best from the blogosphere

Retirement saving – starting late is OK, and chipping away at it when you can a must

More and more ink (or more accurately, pixels) is being taken up with worried commentary that Canadians aren’t saving enough for retirement, and that our ship of state is sailing into choppy waters.

But a story by the Canadian Press (CP) that appears on MSN News suggests that there’s no need to panic – but there is a need to plan.

The story quotes Dilys D’Cruz of Meridian Credit Union as saying “if you’re 50 you still have 21 years left to contribute (to an Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)), it is not as dire as you might think.”

D’Cruz tells CP that while people “may be afraid to look at the numbers,” it’s best, as a first step, to get a financial planner and put together a plan.

Take stock of what retirement savings you have, she says in the article. Do you have a workplace plan from current or past employment? Do you have RRSPs?

Next, she tells CP, you need to consider “what you want your retirement to look like” before doing the plumbing work on your plan. “Do you want that big lavish lifestyle of travelling or is it maybe a quieter lifestyle that you want, what does it mean for you,” she says in the article.

The article cites recent research from Scotiabank that found that while 68 per cent of Canadians say they are saving for retirement (62 per cent of those age 18-34 are saving, versus 74 per cent of those aged 35 and 54), only 23 per cent say retirement saving is their top priority.

TD’s Jenny Diplock, also quoted in the article, agrees, saying that while the general rule of thumb for retirement saving is to start as early as you can, “starting at a particular age may not be realistic for some folks.”

She also suggests having a financial plan, but adds that once you commit to saving, the best way to go is to make it automatic. This will “help cement the habit,” the article explains.

As well, when a cost ends – when you stop paying daycare, or a mortgage – that’s a good time to direct more money to retirement savings, the article suggests.

“As your life situation changes and there are changes in your personal circumstances, you may find that you have additional cash flow that can be used to complement your savings plan,” Diplock tells CP.

Summing it all up, it appears the worst thing you can do about retirement savings is to do nothing at all. Save what you can when you can, and ramp up savings as living costs – debt, housing, childcare – fall by the way. As each impediment to saving falls by the way, your freed up cash can be put to use for your retirement plan.

If you’re not someone with a workplace pension plan – or if you are, but want to supplement those savings – an ideal vehicle is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You have flexibility with SPP – if you can only contribute a little bit in a given year, you can contribute more later; contributions are variable up to an annual limit of $6,300. Be sure to visit SPP’s site to learn more!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Making retirement planning real – Why Me? And No Gold Watch!

A lot of times, we read about what we are supposed to do before and during retirement, and have trouble connecting the dots of good advice.

Author Rick Atkinson has taken a unique and forward-thinking approach to the topic in Why Me? And No Gold Watch! To make all the information more relatable, he turns it all into a story – the story of Sally McBride, a marketing exec who is unexpectedly let go from a good job at age 57.

Sally is initially shocked by the news that she’s been terminated. “Will I be able to find a new job? Who will hire someone who’s 57… am I now facing retirement?”

An overwhelmed Sally does the right thing, however. When faced with a situation she’s not sure how to cope with, she reaches out to friends for advice. Her friend Thelma soothes her initial fears about retirement, that she would be “unproductive” and losing her identity. “It doesn’t have to be that way,” explains Thelma. Retirement, she says, is an opportunity for all of us “to be enthusiastic about their futures and shape (our) destinies.”

The book weaves in quotes from real people about their perspectives on retirement. Rick Hansen is quoted as saying, on goal-setting, that “it should be challenging enough to make you stretch, but not so far that you break.” Another nice feature of this book is that each chapter also contains a worksheet, for you to add in your own perspectives.

Chapters deal with retirement preparedness, working and volunteering, money, health and well-being, and more – almost every facet of life after work.

In the section on money, Sally meets with friends to talk about how to select a financial advisor, who at a high level talks about the need to have a budget. The worksheet pages at the end of the chapter provide you with your own template; so after seeing Sally walk through it, you can next walk through yourself.

After attending to her financial, health, spiritual and social concerns, Sally is feeling a lot more positive. “You’re beginning to build your vision of retirement, and how to spend your time. You’re giving thoughts to your finances… (and) you’re thinking about your health and well-being strategy,” her friend Thelma enthuses. “The more positive images, questions, implicit beliefs and positive self-talk you engage in, the more positive your mindset,” she adds.

“You’re right, Thelma. I’m beginning to be excited about life after work,” Sally replies.

This book is definitely a positive addition to any pre-retirement/retirement library. Author Atkinson’s style reminds us of talking to a friend or parent, the tone is patient, sensible, non-judgmental, and convincing. If you are unsure about retirement, this book is definitely for you.

A good part of any retirement plan – specifically the financial angle – is to put away money while you’re working to use later to finance life after work. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers you a full-service retirement savings plan. SPP will grow your savings (they have an enviable track record of growth) and turn them into a series of lifetime payments when it’s time to turn in the name tag. Be sure to check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

MAR 2: Best from the blogosphere

New NIA study says we may need to work longer before retiring

New research from the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) entitled Improving Canada’s Retirement Income System sheds some new light on the age-old question of when to retire.

Writing about the research for the Advisor, James Langton sums up the study, by noted retirement experts Keith Ambachtsheer and Michael Nicin, this way – “greater pension coverage, higher savings and longer working lives will all be needed to ensure an adequate retirement for Canada’s aging population.”

The paper, reports the Advisor, warns that “retirement is getting more expensive and harder to achieve.”  The research found that the cost of long-term care in Canada will “triple to $71 billion in the next 30 years.”

So the costs of looking after older folks are going through the roof at a time when “pension coverage has steadily declined, and private saving is proving harder to achieve amid rising costs for housing, education and childcare,” the Advisor notes, again quoting the NIA paper.

The authors of the study also note that even those who do save are doing so in less favourable conditions, the Advisor tells us. “Today, we face historically low bond yields and uncertain equity returns in the face of climate change and political turbulence across the world. This means retirement savers may not get as much help from favourable financial markets as they did in the post-World War II decades,” the Advisor states, quoting from the paper.

The paper reaches the conclusion, the Advisor reports, that three important public policy considerations need to be met. Pension coverage must be increased, savings rates need to be boosted, and there needs to be thought given to ways to incent people to work longer.

Commenting on the same report in a Globe and Mail opinion column, the NIA’s Dr. Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald elaborates further on these ideas.

“Canada can better keep up with the retirement income systems of other countries by improving the labour-force participation of older workers,” she writes.

“Having more older Canadians working will also increase tax revenue. With Canada’s aging population, it will help ease shortages in labour and skills supply as baby boomers contemplate their exodus from the work force over the coming decade.”

Working later also has an impact on saving, she notes. “If you work longer, you’ll need to save less for retirement. Every year you delay your retirement is one fewer year you’ll need to draw on your savings, and one more year for those savings to grow,” she explains in the Globe article.

The takeaway here is this – you may live for a long time. If you don’t have a workplace pension, you will have to save on your own for retirement. If you haven’t saved enough, you will have to work longer than you planned.

A step you can take on your own to address this problem is joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. This is a great resource if you don’t have a workplace plan or are not sure how to invest. SPP does the heavy lifting for you, growing your savings at a very low cost (and with a great track record) and then turning those savings into an income stream at the time you leave the workforce. It’s never too late to get cracking on saving, so check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22