Blogosphere

May 27: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 27, 2024

The best time to start saving is now – Millard

Even if you’ve reached age 40 and beyond, it’s never too late to start saving for retirement.

So writes Brett Millard in Kelowna’s Castanet.

“For those in their 40s, traditionally called `over the hill’ and who haven’t yet begun saving for retirement, the thought of catching up can feel daunting. Especially in the face of record-high costs of living and other financial challenges,” he writes.

But, he writes, there’s no need to worry. “While the task may seem formidable, it’s never too late to start saving for retirement. With careful planning, discipline and a proactive approach, Canadians in their 40s can take meaningful steps to secure their financial future,” he explains.

First, he writes, you need to fully understand your financial position.

“Gather information about your income, expenses, assets, and debts to get a clear understanding of where you stand. Evaluate your spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back to free up funds for retirement savings,” he advises.

Next, it’s time to set “clear and achievable goals.” You need, he writes, to “determine how much you need to save for retirement based on your desired lifestyle, retirement age, and expected expenses. Break down your goals into manageable milestones and track your progress regularly to stay on target.”

The third step is to focus on your debt, which is a barrier to saving.

“High-interest debt can be a significant obstacle to saving for retirement. Prioritize debt repayment to reduce interest expenses and free up funds for retirement savings. Focus on paying off high-interest debt first, such as credit card balances and personal loans, before tackling lower-interest debt such as mortgages or student loans,” Millard explains.

With debt managed, goals set, and finances clear, you can next try to “maximize contributions to retirement accounts.” Millard advises us to “take advantage of employer-matched retirement accounts first,” then look at registered retirement savings plans and TFSAs.

The sooner you start, the more you will take advantage of compounding, he explains.

“By investing your savings wisely and allowing them to grow over time, you can harness the exponential growth potential of compound interest to accelerate your retirement savings. Start investing early and regularly to make the most of compounding returns,” he says.

His last bits of advice are to consider seeking professional financial help, to be flexible with your savings strategy through the ups and downs of reality, and to “stay motivated and consistent,” and to stay focused on the long-term.

This is all great advice that we wish we had followed better in the past! We can add one additional “welts” of experience, such as avoiding investing in trendy things you don’t really understand, or tapping into your retirement nest egg for other non-retirement purposes.

Do you have little bits of retirement benefit from different jobs sitting in different accounts? If these amounts aren’t locked in, you may be able to consolidate them within the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. There’s no limit on how much you can transfer into SPP from an unlocked RRSP, and through SPP you’ll have the retirement options of a lifetime monthly annuity payment or the flexible Variable Benefit option.

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.


May 20: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 20, 2024

Government pensions are too low, say protesting Prince George Seniors

What’s life like if you are living solely on government retirement benefits, such as the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)?

According to Monica Murphy, 77, it means having to “line up at the food bank every week and shopping at thrift stores,” the Prince George Citizen reports.

“Last week there were 80 people in the food-bank line up and – there are wonderful people at the food bank – but with my health issues it’s a bit of a hardship to wait so long,” Murphy tells the Citizen. “A lot of people who are on a fixed income are struggling to make ends meet and I’m one of them.”

Use of food banks by B.C. seniors has jumped 78 per cent in the past five years, the Citizen reports.

Murphy joined a number of other seniors at the Seniors’ Tip Cup protest held in mid-March, the newspaper reports.

“Murphy joined a small but mighty – and peaceful – group that gathered with signs that said ‘seniors deserve respect’, ‘end senior poverty’, ‘we are tired of being poor,’” the Citizen article notes. “Murphy’s sign said ‘pensions are too low,’” the newspaper adds.

“The small Prince George contingent led by organizer Ken Aitchison joined the call to government for pension reform so that low-income seniors can reach Canada’s poverty line of about $25,000 a year. Most live on about $17,000 a year,” the Citizen reports.

“So many seniors are on fixed incomes, living below the poverty line, they can’t make ends meet and a light needs to be shone on that,” Natalie Mcquary, peaceful protester, tells the Citizen. “I know people who, after retirement, feel they have to go back to work to survive. These people have raised families and worked all their lives and to be struggling in their golden years isn’t right.”

Save with SPP interviewed Carole Fawcett, one of the founders of the Tin Cup movement, recently, you can see the story here.

The group has launched a website as well.

The benefits offered by the federal government to retirees are pretty modest, as the article points out. That’s likely because these programs were introduced at a time when most working Canadians also had a pension plan at work. That’s no longer as likely.

If there’s a takeaway, it is this. If you are fortunate enough to have any sort of retirement program where you work, be sure to take part and contribute at the maximum level. If you are saving on your own for retirement, a great partner is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. The heavy lifting of investing your money and growing it can rest on SPP’s shoulders, your job is simply to contribute money to your savings pot. When you retire, your options include having a lifetime annuity that pays you every month, or SPP’s Variable Benefit, which provides flexibility on your payouts.

Check out SPP today!


May 13: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 13, 2024

The idea of stepping away from work and into retirement is becoming an unaffordable “luxury” south of the border, reports Business Insider.

Many older Americans, the article notes, are in “tough financial straits,” and “the decline of pensions and the rise of student-loan debt are contributing to the retirement crisis.”

As a result, many Americans in their 70s are “still punching the clock” and working.

“As much as I love my job and what I do, in my darkest private moments, I think I’m going to die in this job. I’m going to die in this office because I have no way to get out,” says Marcia, a senior in her mid-70s, in the article.

Medical bills left over from her late husband’s care are part of the reason she’s still working, Business Insider notes.

Marcia is one of many retirees who feel left behind by the American dream’s promise that a life of hard work would be rewarded with years of rest. Now, as with many traditional economic milestones, retirement has become a luxury reserved only for those who can afford it. More people over 65 are working as pensions disappear, people live longer, and Social Security benefits are seemingly always in peril,” the article continues.

The declining availability of workplace pensions in the U.S. is definitely part of the problem, the article notes.

“Just under 20 per cent of Americans 65 and older were employed in 2023, up from 11 per cent in 1987,” the article reports, citing research from Pew. And it may be that more older people are working because they have no alternative, the article points out.

“In 2007, 21 per cent of low-income households had a retirement account balance; by 2019, that fell to 10 per cent, according to an analysis from the Government Accountability Office. And as younger generations try to save while also paying off homes and student loans, it might only worsen,” Business Insider tells us.

The article introduces us to Steve Biddle, 69, who “lives in a small, low-income apartment in North Carolina” and who is “worried that at some point, he’ll become infirm and unable to work.”

“I’m scared to death of the possibility of homelessness. I don’t think I could handle that very well,” he tells Business Insider. “I think I’ll always be able to have a place to be, but there are so many homeless folks my age that it scares me to death.”

The article concludes with some American realities that are somewhat the same here – if there’s not a good workplace savings plan, and you don’t have enough to save on your own, and government pension benefits are modest, then indeed you will probably continue to work well past traditional retirement age.

If having guaranteed retirement income is a priority for you, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has a range of annuity products available as retirement option. All provide you with monthly income for life. Some options also provide benefits for a surviving spouse or beneficiary. SPP is open to any Canadian with RRSP room, so if you don’t have a pension plan at work, SPP is an option worth exploring.

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.


May 6: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 6, 2024

Many old-school financial tips just don’t hold up today: CTV

All of us have, at some point in our lives, been taken aside by a well-meaning parent, sibling, or friend to receive can’t-miss financial tips, designed to help us move forward with fiscal fitness.

Only problem, reports CTV News, is that a lot of those tried-and-true bits of advice no longer really hold up.

Remember hearing “CPP won’t be there for us in the future,” popular in the 1980s and 1990s?

The CTV report quotes Jason Heath of Objective Financial Partners, who states that many of us worry the feds can help themselves to CPP money and spend it on something else. In fact, he reports in the article, “the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is a Crown corporation and independent of the federal government, with a portfolio of roughly $600 billion in assets. The latest report from the office of Canada’s chief actuary, which reviews the CPP’s sustainability every three years, said the pension fund remains sustainable for more than the next 75 years.”

CPP will be “there” for this writer starting in October.

Another rule that gets questioned is that “contributing to an RRSP… saves on taxes.” What?

“Heath says using RRSP contributions to get the biggest tax refund possible is not necessarily the best approach for people in low tax brackets and can hurt them in the long run when they withdraw those savings at a higher tax bracket in retirement,” the article reports.

“Sometimes, it’s OK to pay a little bit of tax, as long as you’re paying at a low tax rate,” he tells CTV. He suggests that for some of us, using TFSAs – where there is no tax impact on the withdrawal side – might be a better long-term approach.

Another idea that gets questioned is the “50-30-20” budget, where “50 per cent of the paycheque is for needs, 30 per cent is for wants, and 20 per cent is for savings.”

Jessica Morgan of Canadianbudget.ca tells CTV that while this idea might have worked well in the past, now, “because of (the) high cost of living (and) high cost of housing in Canada, it’s a bit harder to make things fit in that proportion.”

She instead recommends a “zero-based” budget, “which means assigning a `job’ to every dollar, even if it is being put aside for savings – and not leaving any dollar unused.”

Interesting.

The article concludes by busting a couple of other myths. Investing, the article said, is not complicated. And the seemingly no-brainer view that owning a home is better than renting can be questioned, the article notes. In some instances, renting may be the better approach, helping you avoid costly maintenance, closing costs, mortgage interest and repairs.

If there’s a takeaway here, it’s to think of the pros and cons of any approach you are considering for your money. We’ve even seen challenges, in various financial publications, of our Uncle Joe’s belief that you should bank 10 cents of every dollar you earn, and then live on the rest. Some say that’s too high, others, too low. So, think it all through before deciding on an approach that works best for you.

An approach that works best for your future you is saving for retirement. If you don’t have a pension plan at work, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be the savings partner you’ve been looking for. SPP will invest your savings in a low-cost, professionally managed, pooled fund – and when it’s time to retire, a lifetime monthly annuity or the more flexible Variable Benefit are among your options.

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.


Apr 25: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE   

April 25, 2024

Looking for the top 10 places to retire in Canada

Where are the best places to retire in this country?

According to CTV’s Christi Dabu, recent research from Sotheby’s International Realty Canada came up with a Top 10 list – and Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto didn’t make the cut.

The cities on the list are deemed to be top retirement destinations because of “breathtaking naturescapes, top health-care facilities, and diverse and welcoming communities,” notes Sotheby’s in the CTV article.

Topping the ranking is Victoria, B.C., the article begins.

“A mild climate, beautiful beaches and ocean views are among the reasons Victoria is a popular place to retire in Canada,” the article notes. “B.C.’s capital suits those with an active lifestyle. It has golf courses as well as dozens of parks and gardens.

Next up, also in B.C., is Parksville, the article continues.

Known as “Canada’s retirement capital,” the community “has the highest concentration of seniors per capita,” CTV reports.

Parksville “also meets the needs of those who want to enjoy the outdoors. Located on Vancouver Island, its mild climate year-round means retirees have plenty of opportunities to golf and visit parks, as well as to go boating, kayaking and more on the Strait of Georgia,” the article explains.

Making the top three a B.C. sweep, next comes the Okanagan Valley.

“Spending leisurely days of retirement in wine country is another attractive option. And the Okanagan Valley has year-round outdoor activities, such as boating on Okanagan Lake and skiing at ski resorts,” the article notes, citing Sotheby’s research.

In fourth and fifth place are two Alberta cities.

“Calgary was ranked one of the world’s top five most livable cities and is one of the few cities on the list that are among Canada’s most populous,” the article notes.

Sotheby’s states in the article that “with a vibrant culture, access to top healthcare facilities, and more sunshine year-round than any other part of Canada, Calgary is a popular spot for those looking to retire in a vibrant and bustling city.”

Nearby Canmore, Alta. is noteworthy for its “breathtaking scenery in Canada’s Rocky Mountains,” and offers “year-round recreation” with a “thriving arts scene and a welcoming community.”

In sixth place is Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

“Close to Toronto and New York state, this town is the heart of Ontario’s wine country. Along with access to more than 50 wineries throughout the Niagara region, this town has a vibrant culture and many galleries,” the article reports.

In seventh place is Canada’s capital, Ottawa.

“Canada’s capital city is considered ideal for those who want an urban environment with historic charm. Ottawa has some of the country’s top health-care facilities, scenic parks, museums, galleries, and entertainment venues,” CTV reports.

Quebec City, with “rich history and European charm,” Fredericton, with “tranquil tree-lined streets” and “charming Victorian architecture” and Halifax, with “breathtaking natural scenery and a friendly community,” round out the list.

Now, all you need to do to prepare for a Top 10 retirement destination is to start saving!

If you are a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to retirement saving, a great and handy toolkit is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room, SPP does all the heavy lifting, investing your savings in a low-cost, professionally managed pooled fund. When it’s time to start retirement living, SPP’s options include a lifetime monthly annuity payment or the flexibility of the Variable Benefit option.

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.


Apr 18: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE  

April 18, 2024

Daily Hive asks if big-city retirement is possible in Canada

An article in The Daily Hive took a look at how possible it is to retire in a big Canadian city at age 65.

The results of their research are a little depressing.

“Living in a major Canadian city is already expensive, and in recent years, food and housing costs have skyrocketed. Those looking to buy a home are intimidated by substantial down payments and high mortgages with bloated interest rates. Others are dealing with soaring rent,” The Daily Hive reports.

Citing research from Swedish firm Sambla, the publication notes that in a ranking of the most expensive countries to retire in, Canada “placed pretty high at number six.”

And, the article continues, Sambla’s conclusion was that “with an average retirement age of 60 and an average life expectancy of 83, Canadians would need to save around $300,500 to retire.”

When asked about the possibility of retiring at 65 in a large Canadian city, Reddit users painted a pretty bleak picture, The Daily Hive notes.

“Most responses ranged from worrying to, well, really, really depressing. It’s clear that retirement, as our parents knew it, no longer exists in Canada,” the article notes.

Here are some of the Reddit comments, from The Daily Hive article, on whether or not retirement at 65 is possible in big-city Canada:

  • “Is retirement even a word in Canada anymore? Prices just keep going up and wages stay the same; it just doesn’t make sense.”
  • “I’m 42. At my current trajectory, I can expect to retire comfortably at age 275.”
  • “I’ll be lucky if I can retire at age 95.”
  • “Yes, as long as I die by the age of 64.”
  • “I will work until I die. Not by choice.”

Another Reddit post, the article notes, suggested that retirement is only possible “for those who have inheritances when their parents or other family members die.”

The article goes on to note that Canadians are, according to Statistics Canada, working longer and retiring later.

“Statistics Canada data shows that Canadians are, on average, working for longer periods before retiring. In 1998, the average age of retirement for public sector, private sector, and self-employed workers was 60.9 years. Now, it is 65.1 years,” The Daily Hive reports.

It’s a little concerning to see how some people feel about retirement. We sometimes hear similar stories from those who are buried under debt – that they’ll never get out from under it.

It’s important to have some sort of retirement savings plan to help fund your future. If you’re in a pension plan or retirement program at work, that’s a huge help. If you don’t have a plan, and are trying to save on your own for retirement, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be just what you’ve been looking for.

SPP will take your hard-saved dollars and will invest them in a low-cost, professionally managed, pooled fund. When it’s time to turn your investments into income, you can choose to receive monthly lifetime annuity payment, or SPP’s Variable Benefit, where you decide how much to take in income, and when.

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.


Apr 11: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE  

April 11, 2024

Despite focusing on slaying debt, Canadians still plan to retire at 60

Writing in the Financial Post, Victoria Wells reports that “more than half of Canadian investors say they’re concentrating on getting their bills paid over saving for the future.”

Yet, her article notes, despite the focus on debt reduction – brought on by higher interest rates – a CIBC study suggests “most still expect to retire around 60.”

OK, saving less, reducing debt, and still jumping over the wall of work at 60. Let’s hear more.

The focus on paying down debt, Wells reports, is “leading many to look past traditional long-term savings vehicles, such as the registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) instead. Indeed, 53 per cent of investors with both an RRSP and TFSA said they preferred putting their money into the latter so they could access their savings tax-free at any time. RRSPs, in contrast, may be locked-in, meaning withdrawals, which are taxable, can only be made at a future date.”

In fact, the article continues, again citing CIBC research, “one third of people with RRSPs don’t intend to make any contributions” by the annual deadline.

The fact that people seem to be preoccupied, in the present, with defeating debt seems to be impacting how they are investing generally, the article notes.

“The shift to a more conservative financial focus is also showing up in people’s investing strategies, and 42 per cent said they’re looking for predictable returns over outsized growth amid an uncertain economic environment,” the article notes.

“The preference for short-term liquidity and stable returns suggests many Canadians are focused on today and less so on long-term accumulation of wealth or retirement,” Carissa Lucreziana of CIBC states in the article.

OK, more interest on liquidity – having money available to use soon – than long-term growth. What’s driving that?

The article says anxiety may be the reason behind the switch in investment thinking.

“Inflation, higher interest rates and concerns the economy may tip into a recession have left many Canadians anxious about their finances. Worriers are spending an average of 17.7 more hours fretting about money than they were last year, according to separate research from the Bank of Nova Scotia,” the Post reports.

And some of those anxieties extend to retirement, the article adds.

Citing more data from CIBC, the Post notes that “more than half admit they either can’t afford to save for retirement or aren’t sure they’re saving enough. Another 57 per cent harbour fears they’ll run out of money in their old age, while higher inflation has forced one-third to push back their expected retirement date.”

The solution, the article concludes, is a balanced approach – focusing on debt while not overlooking long-term savings needs completely.

“Planning for both short and longer-term ambitions can help individuals move beyond their immediate needs and envision how they can live for today (and) save for the future, accumulating wealth over time to support their retirement years,” states CIBC’s Lucreziana in the article.

The article makes a great point. Of course, you should get rid of personal debt – the less you have of it in retirement, when you will probably have less income, the better. But it’s probably not a great idea to completely stop saving for retirement while battling debt. Maybe, one should consider retirement saving to be like any other bill you have to pay each month.

Members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan can save as though they are paying bills – just set up SPP as a “bill” on your online banking, and you’re off to the races. You can also set up a “pay yourself first” pre-authorized contribution, and SPP also accepts credit card contributions. That’s one of the great features about SPP – flexibility.

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.


Apr 4: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE 

April 4, 2024

Canadians “gotta giddy up on saving for retirement,” warns the Free Press

Despite the many benefits that registered retirement savings plans have – including tax-deductible contributions, and creating a nest egg for your future you – Canadian RRSP balances are declining, reports the Winnipeg Free Press.

According to the Free Press, citing information from BMO and Statistics Canada, “the average RRSP account was about $113,000 in 2023. That’s actually down from about $144,000 in 2022.”

While the newspaper reports that a recent market correction in 2023 may be behind the drop in the average account balance, another reason could be “a likely disconnect between retirement goals and action.”

The Free Press notes there is a “under-saving” problem in the land.

“Canadians 50 and older are coming to grips with under-saving for retirement, too,” the article notes. “The National Institute on Ageing, based in Toronto, released its annual survey in January and found only one-third of working Canadians aged 50 and older say they can retire at their desired time. It further revealed four in 10 Canadians in this age group stated they are not in a position to retire at all,” the Free Press adds.

“All of this is to say that working Canadians gotta giddy-up on saving for retirement,” the newspaper warns.

What’s causing people to save less?

Debt, reports the Free Press, is a definite barrier to saving.

The article quotes Natasha Macmillan of Ottawa’s Ratehub.ca as saying “If you have high-interest debt, the best use of your money is to pay that off first.”

The newspaper adds that while Macmillan is specifically referring to high-interest credit card debt, “even additional mortgage payments in this high interest-rate environment may be a better use of extra cash than contributing to retirement savings.”

The Free Press goes on to note that retirement savings is just one type of savings vehicle. There is the Tax Free Savings Account (where there’s no tax on the money you invest, and no tax consequences when you take money out), registered education savings plans (RESPs) for kids and grandkids, and the new First Home Savings Account for prospective home buyers.

The article suggests you seek financial advice on which savings vehicle is best for your situation.

But, the article concludes, retirement savings is always an important priority.

“But just to keep things simple: if you have extra cash, contribute to your RRSP — tax efficiency considerations aside — because fattening up retirement savings is never a bad thing,” the article notes. “Even if you contribute more to your RRSP than is optimal for your 2023 taxes, you can still carry that deduction forward to use for tax years to come,” Yannick Lemay of H&R Block Canada tells the Free Press.

This is a good, thorough article that provides the perspectives of a number of experts. We can add this, from the perspective of a semi-retired senior – if you don’t have a pension plan at work, it is imperative that you save for retirement, because once you get to the age where you can’t work, you’ll need something to augment the rather modest benefits we get from the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and even the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Your future you will be very thankful for any savings you are able to put away now, in your younger years.

If you’re saving on your own for retirement, a great partner is out there waiting to help you. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a provincially run, not-or-profit retirement savings program open to any Canadian with RRSP room. SPP will take the money you save and invest it for you in a low-cost, pooled, professionally managed pension fund. When you retire, your options including receiving a lifetime monthly annuity payment, or SPP’s Variable Benefit option, where you decide how much you want to take out of your nest egg, and when.

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.


Mar 25: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 25, 2024

South of the border, Americans are saving for retirement – they just don’t know how much they need

The good news south of the 49th is that our American friends have generally opened retirement accounts and started saving.

But the bad news, reports the TIAA Institute via a media release, is that many Americans “don’t know how much they’ve saved.”

“Large majorities of Americans of all races and ethnicities think about retirement in similar ways, calculating how much money they’ll need and how long they have to save it. But the similarities end there, as gaps emerge in savings rates, confidence in their retirement plans and other key measurements of retirement readiness,” the release notes.

The findings of TIAA’s State of Financial Preparedness report “raise questions about whether coming generations of retirees will enjoy financial security, particularly as lifespans continue to lengthen and a retirement crisis already exists,” the release notes.

Here are some of the key findings, via the media release – all figures are in U.S. dollars.

  • “Overall, two thirds of Americans (67 per cent) have at least some money invested in retirement accounts, but close to one in four don’t know how much they’ve saved. That’s true for 24 per cent of retirees and 22 per cent of those planning to retire.

    More than seven in 10 whites (76 per cent) and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (71 per cent) have retirement accounts, but that’s true for only about half of Black (49 per cent) and Hispanic (52 per cent) Americans. Many Hispanic (37 per cent) and Black Americans (28 per cent) who have not yet retired are unsure of how much they’ve saved, underscoring the significance of the uncertainty.
  • Fewer than half (47 per cent) of those not yet retired are “very” or “somewhat” confident they’ll retire when planned. Those with the lowest confidence rates are Hispanic Americans and people ages 22-34 (each 37 per cent).
  • Roughly 30 per cent of whites and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders have saved at least $250,000 for retirement. That’s almost twice as many as the number of Hispanic (17 per cent) and Black Americans (16 per cent). 
  • One-fourth (26 per cent) of Black Americans expect they’ll need some kind of paid employment for income during their retirement. That’s at least 10 percentage points higher than any other race or ethnicity.

“We’ve long talked about retiring inequality, but this new data does more to identify gaps, challenges and opportunities,” states Surya Kolluri, head of the TIAA Institute, in the release. “If most people are planning for retirement but can’t follow their plans, that’s a call to action for employers, policymakers, financial advisors, retirement services providers and others. We need to better identify the steps we must take to give people the resources they need,” states Kolluri.

The release notes that a worrying “40 per cent of U.S. households already risk running short of money in retirement.” Forty-four per cent of those surveyed have less than $50,000 saved for retirement; 19 per cent have saved at least $500,000, the release adds.

If there’s a takeaway from this research that’s helpful for all of us here in Canada, it may be the idea that you should know how much you’ve saved, and then as well have a general idea of what you’ll need as income when you’re retired. That means having a sense of how much you’ll want to receive from government retirement benefits, workplace pensions, and your own savings.

If you haven’t got started on the whole retirement savings thing, check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP, you can contribute in many ways – via online banking, pre-authorized contribution, and even via credit card. The money you send SPP is then carefully invested in a professionally managed, low-cost pooled fund with an enviable track record.

At retirement time, you can convert your savings into monthly income for life via an SPP annuity. Alternatively, you can take advantage of SPP’s Variable Benefit and take out what you need when you need it. Check out this made-in-Saskatchewan solution for Canadian retirement savings 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.


Mar 18: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 18, 2024

Those taking CPP at 60 worry about their health, finances: Wealth Professional

We frequently hear or read that waiting to take the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) later in life – say, age 70 – will lead to a greater monthly payment.

Yet, reports Wealth Professional, most people choose to start CPP at age 60, despite the fact that they will get a 36 per cent reduction on their payments.

“An informal survey conducted by The Globe and Mail found that the most popular age to take one’s CPP benefits is 60, with 34 per cent of the respondents saying so. This was followed by those aged 65 with 19 per cent and those aged 70 with 16 per cent. This coincided with the data from Statistics Canada that also found that nearly 40 percent of Canadians who were born between 1940 and 1950 began to take their CPP benefits at the age of 60,” Wealth Professional notes.

That’s despite having payments at age 60 decreased by “0.6 per cent every month (before age 65), amounting to 7.2 per cent annually and a maximum reduction of 36 per cent at age 60,” the magazine continues.

The article quotes recent research from Toronto Metropolitan University’s National Institute on Ageing (NIA) as saying “those who take their pensions at 60 instead of waiting until they turn 70 can possibly lose a total of $100,000 (in) retirement income.”

The NIA report found that a mere one per cent of us wait until age 70 to get the maximum benefit, which represents 42 per cent more than what you would get at age 65, Wealth Professional reports.

There are plenty of good reasons why people don’t wait for a greater benefit, the article continues.

The Globe and Mail survey found that the reasons behind this included the need for financial coverage of living expenses, having health problems or family history of health issues with the expectation of not having a long retirement, as well as the uncertainty of life. Some were also concerned about the possibility of the CPP being compromised in the future, with many citing the departure of Alberta from the CPP for the Alberta Pension Plan,” the magazine reports.

Some used the “why turn down money on the table” argument, taking CPP at 60 and then hoping “they will be able to make more than the government will be providing them down the line,” the article notes.

Some felt taking a lower CPP payment would keep them in a lower tax bracket, the article adds. Those waiting to start CPP at age 65 and beyond “stated that the reason behind this was to increase the payout of their benefits.”

If you don’t have a workplace pension plan or personal retirement savings, you would have to keep working until 65 or 70 to get the greater benefit. If you aren’t working after 60 one would think the CPP would be an immediate need.

Since, as the article says, the maximum CPP benefit in 2024 is $1,364.60 per month at age 65 (that’s before taxes), you might want to be able to bolster that modest amount with your own savings. If you’re not sure how to grow your savings, fear not – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is ready to help. You decide how much to contribute, and SPP does the heavy lifting of investing your hard-saved dollars in a professionally managed, pooled fund run at a very low cost.

When it’s time to collect, you have the options of choose a lifetime annuity payment each month, or the flexibility of SPP’s Variable Benefit, where you decide how much to take out in 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.