Category Archives: Blogosphere

Jul 16: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

How to “gear down” and move from work to retirement
We hear about saving for retirement, and we hear about life after work – but what about those key transition years?

An article in Forbes recommends 10 key steps to transition from work to retirement.

First, author Nancy Anderson writes, you should take more vacation. Most of us take two or three weeks off per year, but “when you retire, you suddenly have 52 weeks of unoccupied time on your hands.” Getting used to more time off while you are still working, she notes, makes good sense – and why wait until you are retired to travel?

Second, she recommends trying to work less than full time in your last years on the job. A US study, Anderson writes, found that one in five Americans reported their employers “allowed workers approaching retirement to switch from full-time to part-time work.” Again, she notes, the idea is to get used to having more time to yourself – gradually.

Next, Anderson advises spending four full seasons in the place where you want to retire. “It’s much different living in a tourist destination than vacationing there,” she warns. Make sure you are OK with your new, forever home, she advises.

Her fourth point – “transition to retirement by making new friends who also enjoy your favourite activities” – emphasizes the need to have strong social connections when you retire. And as a fifth point Anderson advises that people “rekindle old hobbies or start new ones.”

Point six – if you are thinking of moving when you retire, consider doing it now rather than at 65. “Great jobs in popular destinations are hard to come by, but not impossible,” she writes. Similarly, if you want to do some expensive renovations, tip seven is to do them while you are still working and not while retired, when you are living on less.

Practice living on less before you actually do is point eight, and focusing on your most important relationships is tip nine. Her final advice is to “try something new” each week of your retirement. “You never know what wonderful experiences lay ahead of you. A little planning can help you to be better prepared to enjoy them,” she concludes.

Famous quotes about retirement
The Rethink Retired blog contains a number of great quotes from famous people on the topic of retirement. Here is a sample:

“Retire from work, but not from life. – M. K. Soni

The key to retirement is to find joy in the little things. – Susan Miller

“Age appears to be best in 4 things: old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read. “– Francis Bacon

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jul 9: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

Canadians begin to make a dent on their collective debt
As interest rates begin to creep up, it appears that Canadians’ thirst for low-interest debt is finally starting to be slaked.

According to Bloomberg News via the Financial Post, the debt to income ratio for Canadians “dipped” to 168 per cent in the first quarter of 2018. That means that the average working Canuck owes $1.68 for every dollar he or she earns. It’s down from 170 per cent in the last quarter of 2017, the Bloomberg article notes.

Debt is often described as the destroyer of retirement dreams. If you are maxed out on all your credit cards and credit lines, there is precious little money left to put away for retirement. If you don’t have a workplace pension plan and are relying on your own savings for your future retirement, the pressure is doubled.

It appears that Canadians are beginning to turn the corner on debt. If you’re in that situation, consider starting to put a little away for life after work. Start small and build up your savings as debts are paid off. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan provides the ideal way to put a little away now so that there’s a bit of security later on – visit their site at www.saskpension.com for full details.

What are the habits of those who retire rich?
Writing in Business Insider, financial advisor Roberto Pascuzzi says there are several key characteristics he has noticed in wealthy retirees.

First, he says, they don’t get distracted from their overall plan. They are realistic about their wealth creation plan and aren’t hoping for “magical” investment gains. And they don’t worry about what others think – they don’t seek approval, he writes.

They make smart, long-term financial decisions and don’t look for a “get rich quick” home run. They are mentally tough and well organized.

They visualize the goal of retiring rich, and they dream big “with a realistic foundation.”

A systematic approach to retirement can help you get there in style. Pay yourself first. Be consistent and methodical in your savings – don’t lose focus and keep a steady stream of income directed at the target. Get rich slowly and avoid trying to hit home runs via your investments. With a little homework we can all get there.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jul 2: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

A fifth of working Canadian boomers have saved zero for their retirement
A startling one-fifth of Canadian boomers haven’t saved a nickel for their golden years, reports the Huffington Post Canada, citing Franklin Templeton Canada research.

Boomers, for the purposes of this research, are defined as those aged 53 to 71, the article notes.

“While working longer might seem like a good solution (to not having retirement savings)… it means little for your retirement if you’re only servicing debt, which is the case for many people,” the article warns.

A good solution for folks with large debts to pay off is to start small with retirement savings, and then ramp it up a bit as each debt is paid off. With the Saskatchewan Pension Plan – www.saskpension.com — you can start small, adding a few dollars here and there and gradually working up to a regular monthly contribution. You will be able to watch your savings grow as your debts decline.

“Debt avalanche” approach touted for getting out from under those credit cards
It’s said that getting out of debt is like losing weight – it’s not fun, it requires enormous self-discipline, and real progress doesn’t seem to come for a very long time.

Melanie Lockert, author of Dear Debt, recently told NBC that it was only when she fully understood her debt that she was able to do something about it. “I did the math, and my interest was costing about $11 per day, and that just drove me completely mad and upset me because $11 a day, that’s $300 a month,” she states.

Lockert’s solution to getting rid of her $68,000 US debt was the “debt avalanche” approach.

She ranked her debts by interest rates. At the beginning, she paid extra each month on the debt with the highest interest. Once that debt was knocked off, she added a little more extra on the next high interest debt, repeating the process until all the debts were gone.

To help speed up the process, she found a few “side hustle” jobs and directed that income towards the debt. “There’s no fun advice,” Lockert states in the article. “There’s no easy hack. There’s no magic secret. It’s really just about being consistent.”

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jun 25: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

1,000 boomers a day are turning 65 and gearing up for retirement
The crowd of people punching the clock at work for the last time is growing, writes Jim Yih, author of the Retire Happy blog. He notes that 7 million Canucks will be retiring in the next decade.

“We hear too many doom and gloom scenarios about what retirement holds from so many sources,” writes Yih. Instead, he offers some key retirement readiness tips from those who are already over the wall.

First, he says your health and fitness should be a priority. “Your health is the basement you build on, so it needs to be as solid as possible,” he advises.

Next, be prepared for retirement, he writes. Know your sources of income, be prepared for relationship and psychological impacts of not working, think about working part time and generally “educate yourself to avoid retirement shock,” Yih advises.

Where possible, Yih states, you should avoid retiring with debt. That’s not easy, he writes, given that about 59 per cent of us are indeed in debt at retirement age. But debt in retirement can be a black hole that can lead to “a downward spiral” in income, he warns.

His last advice is about retirement savings – “start saving earlier, and save more,” he writes.

It’s a great blog to check out.

If you are thinking about retirement savings, another great resource is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Visit their site and find out how you too can make retirement savings easy and automatic.

Blog focuses on the ins and outs of investing
One of our Save With SPP readers suggested we take a look at the Stocktrades blog — and we thank our reader for the suggestion.

Investing is not for the faint of heart. The blog helps do-it-yourself investors through the often complicated maze of terms and tactics. There’s a lot of helpful information on this blog and if you are into picking your own stocks, bonds, ETFs and the like, this will be a helpful resource.

It’s certainly worth reading, so we again thank our reader for the tip.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jun 18: Best from the blogosphere

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

Workplace pensions disappearing, putting savings onus on you
Writing in the Financial Post, Jason Heath notes that while most Canadian retirees think they saved enough for retirement (42 per cent said they had saved enough, 44 per cent wished they had saved a little more), much of that saving – about 25 per cent on average — came from their workplace pension plans. That’s a problem going forward, Heath writes, because workplace pension plans are becoming quite scarce.

“There have been trends in Canada towards reducing employee pension coverage, shifts towards temporary and contract workers and an increase in self-employment,” he writes. “These all put more personal responsibility onto today’s workers to save proactively to be tomorrow’s happy retirees.

Many of us already know that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan provides a great way for us to save on our own. Those savings can augment your company’s plan or can represent your own personal retirement plan. Sign up today – visit saskpension.com for more details.

What are the best places to retire in Canada?

MoneySense magazine recently put together a video on how to choose a place to retire in Canada.

The magazine says that retirees want to live somewhere that is close to an airport, has a thriving arts and culture scene, good weather, and good healthcare.

What places made their list? Number 1 choice was Victoria, B.C. MoneySense says B.C. has the warmest weather in Canada, and Victoria, while a bit pricey (over $574,000 for the average home), is steeped in history and culture and blessed with fine hospitals.

Taking second place was Ottawa, a larger city with more than 974,000 residents, which has many museums and art galleries, a good and mid-sized airport, and excellent healthcare. Housing is still a bit expensive, with the average price around $481,000.

Number 3 was Orillia, Ontario, which is about two hours’ north of Toronto. This beachfront town of 32,000 has lots of history and culture, a large casino nearby, and boasts affordable housing averaging under $300,000.

An unofficial runner-up selected by the Save with SPP blog might be Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a fine, young-feeling university city with great healthcare and those long, sunny, and non-humid summer days of bright sunshine. Northern lights in the winter, too.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jun 11: Best from the blogosphere

The pros and cons of annuities

Annuities are usually insurance against something bad – but there’s a kind of insurance that you can look forward to, explains Moshe Milevsky, Professor of Finance at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

In his YouTube video, Why Annuities Now?, Prof. Milevsky talks about how annuities are really insurance “against something that is a blessing, longevity.” Longevity insurance is “the insurance you buy to protect you against the cost of living for a very long time.”

An annuity is certainly something to think about when converting your SPP savings into retirement income. It’s a way to set up your savings to provide you with a fixed monthly income for your life – and there are ways to also provide for your survivors. Check SPP’s retirement guide for an overview of the annuity options the plan provides.

The retirement spending “smile”

Writing in the Financial Post, Jason Heath talks about the “retirement spending smile” that seems to occur for most of us. What is the smile? We generally spend more money in our early retired years, see a decline in the middle, and then see spending increase in the end – on a chart, it looks like a smile.

Research, the article notes, finds that “spending tends to rise by more than the rate of inflation in later years, on average.” This, the article notes, is likely due to the fact that in extreme old age, “few 95-year-olds cut their own grass, live independently in their homes, or avoid prescription drugs.”

The article warns us that spending may rise modestly if we are fortunate enough to live into our late 80s, and advises that idea to be part of our financial planning.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jun 4: Best from the blogosphere

Whether you’re just starting out on your own, building your nest and populating it, or gearing down for the golden years, there’s one constant you can rely on. There’s always room for more money.

So how to save? The lady of this house has developed what she calls her Rules of Acquisition, which she thinks of before buying anything. Before paying full retail price, she asks – “can I get it on sale?” Better, she wonders, “can I get it used?” And finally, “can I get it free?” There’s no shame and much to be saved by checking out yard sales and thrift shops, she advises.

Here are some more suggestions from a quick search of the Internet:

The U.K. based Mumsnet site had a great discussion on the topic. The three most common ideas were shopping for sale items, reviewing insurance (home and auto) and looking for cheaper options, and avoiding restaurant meals – “packed lunches every day,” one poster advises. You can see the full website here.

Closer to home, the My Money Coach blog suggests collecting your change and depositing it in savings account, and thinking of savings more like we think of bills – putting a set amount aside each month. The blog offers helpful steps on this second point, the “pay yourself first” approach that can be automated, and concludes with discussion of the importance of a written spending plan. Here’s where you can have a look at the rest of the blog.

The Huffington Post agrees on the idea of less restaurant eating, and adds putting a nix on daily coffee shop indulgences and online shopping. Their post is here.

Our good friend Steve Martyn’s one-page financial plan focused on knowing how much you are making, and how much is going out. If you spend less than you make, you are winning the battle. Steve also advises paying very close attention to hidden fees.

Our late Uncle Joe advised us all to live on 90 per cent of earnings. “You will never have any problems in life if you do that,” he said.

Sifting through all this advice, three themes emerge:

  • You need to be aware of how much you are spending, versus how much you make – a plan
  • There’s usually a way to get things you want for less than full retail price – be a patient shopper
  • Just as you plan your spending, plan to save; pay yourself first

You can make good use of the savings. A great destination for retirement savings is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. If you’re a member, direct some of your savings there – and if you want to sign up, visit their site today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Happy Retirement Sheryl!

Last week Sheryl Smolkin announced her retirement and talked about how SPP has changed her life.  If you missed the blog you can read it here. Sheryl has been part of our Social Media team for the last seven years, helping us write our original policy, getting us started with Facebook posts, hosting on our YouTube channel and of course has being the voice of savewithspp.com since 2011.

Sheryl lives in the Toronto area, however she writes content that is relevant across Canada. Her writing style makes the blogs easy to read and packs a lot of information into a few hundred words. We covered many topics over the years, mixing current events with general topics that everyone in Canada should know about everything financial.

Sheryl and I have worked closely together on the blogs since the beginning; I have gained so much knowledge not only from reading her posts, but also from asking questions and getting advice for the writing I do at SPP. We both like traveling and seem to travel close to the same time which makes it fun to hit our deadlines for our weekly best of posts and our regular weekly blogs.  But we always got our “act together” so we didn’t miss a week, even if our inboxes were full of emails saying “Are the blogs ready for review I am leaving on Wednesday?”.

As I said to Sheryl, I have mixed feeling about her departure from savewithspp.com. I am happy she will be able to spend more time with her family and traveling, but I will miss hearing from her and reading her blogs.

Thank for you for being a mentor to me and putting up with me as I moved from a mid-20 something to an early 30 something. Enjoy your retirement and remember those of us who are still working.

Happy retirement Sheryl!

Stephen Neiszner

May 28: Best from the blogosphere

Of the 500+ blogs I have written for savewithspp.com, monitoring the blogosphere to link you with the best of the personal finance world has been the most rewarding. While some personal finance bloggers generate money from google ads on their websites,  forge corporate relationships, sell courses or develop an enhanced reputation in their chosen field, the vast majority write for free, just because they have information they want to share with others.

Here is a completely unscientific list of some of my favourites who I have featured time and time again in this space. If you want to continue following them, sign up to receive emails notifying you when their latest blogs are posted.

Boomer&Echo: Rob Engen and his mother Marie Engen are the writing team that generate a consistent stream of always engaging blogs about everything to do with saving and spending money.

Cait Flanders: Cait Flanders has written about all the ways she continually challenges herself to change her habits, her mindset and her life. This includes paying off debt, completing a two-year shopping ban and doing a year of slow living experiments. And in January 2018, she published her first book, The Year of Less  (a memoir), which became a Wall Street Journal bestseller.

Canadian Dream: Free at 45: I have been reading Tim Stobbs since we blogged together on moneyville for the Toronto Star. He has beat his initial target, retiring recently at age 40, but his blogs about retirement are still a great read.

Jessica Moorhouse:  Jessica Moorhouse is a millennial personal finance expert, speaker, Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada® professional, award-winning blogger, host of the Mo’ Money Podcast, founder of the Millennial Money Meetup and co-founder of Rich & Fit. Don’t miss How I Survived a Trip Across America Using Only Chip & Pin.

Millenial Revolution: Firecracker and Wanderer are married computer engineers who retired in their early 30s. They blog on Millenial Revolution. They opted to not buy a home because they believe home ownership is a money pit. Instead they travel the world living on their investment income. Reader case studies where Wanderer “maths it up” are particularly fascinating.

Money After Graduation: Money After Graduation Inc. is an online financial literacy resource founded by Bridget Casey for young professionals who want to build long-term wealth. Whether readers are looking to pay off student loans, invest in the stock market, or save for retirement, this website has valuable resources and tools including eCourses and workshops.

Retire Happy Jim Yih and his team of writers publish top quality financial planning information. They believe there is a need for timeless information because too many financial and investing sites focus on minute-by-minute investment ideas, changing markets and fast paced trends.

Sean Cooper: Sean Cooper’s initial claim to fame was paying off his mortgage by age 30 which he has documented in his book “Burn Your Mortgage.” Since then much of his writing has focused on real estate-related subjects. He has recently qualified as a mortgage broker and will be leaving his day job as a pension administrator to launch a new career.

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For me, retirement beckons. This is my last Best from the Blogosphere for savewithspp.com. My own blog RetirementRedux has been dormant for some time as I have focused on writing for clients but I plan to revive it now that I have more time. Feel free to subscribe if you are interested.

May all of your financial dreams come true, and when the right time comes, I wish you a long, healthy and prosperous retirement.

 

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

How SPP changed my life

Punta Cana: March 2018

After a long career as a pension lawyer with a consulting firm, I retired for the first time 13 years ago and became Editor of Employee Benefits News Canada. I resigned from that position four years later and embarked on an encore career as a freelance personal finance writer.

In December 2010 I wrote the article Is this small pension plan Canada’s best kept secret?  about the Saskatchewan Pension Plan for Adam Mayers, formerly the personal finance editor for the Toronto Star. The Star was starting a personal finance blogging site called moneyville and he was looking for someone to write about pensions and employee benefits. I was recommended by Ellen Roseman, the Star’s consumer columnist.

The article about SPP was my first big break. I was offered the position at moneyville and for 21/2 years I wrote three Eye on Benefits blogs each week. It was frightening, exhausting and exhilarating. And when moneyville began a new life as the personal finance section of the Toronto Star, my weekly column At Work was featured for another 18 months.

But that was only the beginning.

Soon after the “best kept secret” article appeared on moneyville, SPP’s General Manager Katherine Strutt asked me to help develop a social media strategy for the pension plan. Truth be told, I was an early social media user but there were and still are huge gaps in my knowledge. So I partnered with expert Leslie Hughes from PunchMedia, We did a remote, online presentation and were subsequently invited to Kindersley, Saskatchewan, the home of SPP to present in person. All of our recommendations were accepted.

By December 2011, I was blogging twice a week for SPP about everything and anything to do with spending money, saving money, retirement, insurance, financial literacy and personal finance. Since then I have authored over 500 articles for savewithspp.com. Along the way I also wrote hundreds of other articles for Employee Benefit News (U.S.), Sun Life, Tangerine Bank and other terrific clients. As a result, I have doubled my retirement savings.

All my clients have been wonderful but SPP is definitely at the top of the list. I am absolutely passionate about SPP and both my husband and I are members. Because I was receiving dividends and not salary from my company I could not make regular contributions. Instead, over the last seven years I have transferred $10,000 each year from another RRSP into SPP and I would contribute more if I could.

By the end of 2017 I started turning down work, but I was still reluctant to sever my relationship with SPP. However, as my days became increasingly full with travel, caring for my aged mother, visiting my daughter’s family in Ottawa, choir and taking classes at Ryerson’s Life Institute, I realized that I’m ready to let go at long last. After the end of May when people ask me what I do, I will finally be totally comfortable saying “I am retired.”

I will miss working with the gang at SPP. I will also miss the wonderful feedback from our readers. I very much look forward to seeing how both savewithspp.com and the plan evolve. My parting advice to all of you is maximize your SPP savings every year. SPP has changed my life. It can also change yours.

Au revoir. Until we meet again….

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Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.