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APR 12: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

April 12, 2021

Canadian millennials now focused on long-term saving: report

It’s hard to find many silver linings to the dark, terrible cloud that is COVID-19, but a report from Global News suggests the crisis has caused millennials to think longer-term when it comes to savings.

Carissa Lucreziano of CIBC tells Global that Canadians aged 24-35 “are very committed to saving more and investing.” That’s great news for this younger segment of our society, she states, “as actions now can have long-term benefits.”

The report also cites data from Semrush, an online data analysis company, as showing 23.6 per cent of millennials regularly visit their online banking websites, as compared to 20.7 per cent of older Canadians aged 35 to 44.

Semrush’s Eugene Levin tells Global this suggests younger people “are more conscious moneywise… they are using this time (the pandemic) to plan out their finances to either mitigate their financial insecurity or improve their financial security.”

Other findings – more people are searching for information on Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), and investment apps like Wealthsimple and Questrade, the article reports.

CIBC data noted in the Global report found that 38 per cent of millennials have decreased spending, 34 per cent plan to add to TFSAs or Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), and to establish emergency savings accounts.

While there is also interest in topics like payday loans and installment loans, the article finds it generally positive that younger people are thinking about long-term savings.

For sure it is positive news. Data from Statistics Canada reminds us why long-term savings are so important.

The stats show that as of 2019, 70 per cent of Canadians are saving for retirement, either on their own or via a workplace savings program – that’s up from 66 per cent in 2014, Stats Canada reports.

“Interestingly, this may reflect the fact that over the past five years, Canadians have become increasingly aware of the need to save for retirement,” reports Stats Canada. “For example, almost half of Canadians (47 per cent) say they know how much they need to save to maintain their standard of living in retirement—an increase of 10 percentage points since 2014 (37 per cent).”

Those who don’t save for retirement on their own (or via a workplace plan) will have to rely on the relatively modest government benefits, such as the Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan, and Old Age Security, the article notes. And surely, the terrifying pandemic era has more of us thinking about our finances, both current and future.

So that’s why it is nice to see the younger generation is focusing on these longer-term goals. The best things in life, as the song goes, are free, but many other things carry a cost. The retired you will certainly be thankful that the younger you chose to stash away some cash for the future.

If, as the article notes, you don’t have a workplace pension plan and are saving on your own for retirement, there’s a plan out there for you that could really be of help. For 35 years, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has been delivering retirement security; the plan now manages $673 million in assets for its 33,000 members. 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, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


APR 5: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

April 5, 2021

Will your retirement dreams align with retirement realities?

Let’s face it – if you asked a bunch of folks what they think retirement looks like, more than a few would imagine it involves a sunny beach, a cool tropical drink, feet up, and full relaxation.

And maybe it does. But a new U.S. study has found that in reality, retirement isn’t always what we expect it will be.

An article in Yahoo! Finance, citing research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), notes that retired American seniors find they are “wrestling with spending worries, forced retirement and an identity crisis.”

EBRI’s Lori Lucas tells Yahoo! Finance that “We expect retirement is going to be one thing and then when you actually get into retirement, as your priorities have changed, you’re not as excited about doing things that you thought you were going to be excited about.”

The survey, the article continues, found that “fewer than one in four Americans think their current retirement lifestyle aligns with what they planned for their retirement to be.”

Travel, the story notes, takes a back seat to health and wellness as a top concern – 81 per cent put it first, with “quality time spent with family and friends” next at 68 per cent.

“You’re more excited about the quality of your relationships, and things that are not going to cost as much as we thought they were going to cost,” Lucas tells Yahoo! Finance.

The article also notes that after a lifetime of saving for retirement, there is a genuine reluctance to start tapping into the nest egg – even though that’s exactly why we saved it!

Six of 10 respondents in the EBRI survey “wanted to spend down only a small portion of assets, spend none at all, or grow their assets,” the article tells us.

Two other bits of advice the article provides are these:

  • Once you are in your 60s, retirement could come at any time – even before you plan it. “Layoffs, health or other reasons” can be behind an “unplanned” exit from the worforce, the article says.
  • There can be an “identity crisis” for retirees if they are leaving a job that they really felt defined them as people. Even retired people get asked what they did when they were working, which “almost makes it (retirement) seem like a less important existence,” the article adds.

The article says it is important to “fill your time with meaningful activities to give yourself that sense of purpose that you might lose” once you are retired. Another option is to ease into full retirement via retiring part-time – keeping busy with consulting, part-time work or “professional mentorships,” the article concludes.

Save with SPP, out of the full time work force for a seventh year, can attest to these latter points. You need to do something to replace the 40 hours – more if you count commuting time – that you’ve spent earning money to support your family. New interests, and reviving old ones, are among the keys to making your time more meaningful.

Fun is often expensive, however. Be sure you have a regular plan to save money for retirement. If you lack a plan, and really aren’t sure how to go about starting one, take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can start building an SPP nest egg slowly, and then ramp it up as you earn more. And when it’s time to give up your parking spot at work, SPP will help turn those saved, well-invested dollars into a stream of income to help finance your retirement “to-do” list. SPP, after all, has been in the business of securing retirement futures for 35 years.

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 29: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 29, 2021

We talk – endlessly, it seems – about the importance of building retirement security, either via a workplace pension, your own savings, government plans, and so on.

But a new report from Market Watch suggests there’s a new investment category that more of us need to focus on – the “psychological portfolio.”

The article quotes Nancy Schlossberg, author of Too Young To Be Old: Love, Learn, Work and Play as You Grow Old, as saying any retirement planners should think of “what they’ll do in retirement, and how they’ll interact with others.”

“You have your identity so tied to work, when you are no longer working, who are you?” Schlossberg stated at a recent live personal finance event. In other words, your future you may not be the same as the current version of you.

Schlossberg goes on to define six different ways you can define your own retirement path. According to the article, the six ways are:

  • adventurers, who take on a new job they’ve never done before
  • continuers, whose work is similar to what they did before
  • easy gliders, who take retirement day by day
  • involved spectators, who immerse themselves in fields without working at it full time
  • searchers, who aren’t sure what to do next, and
  • retreaters, who can’t figure out what to do

Whatever path you select will help you build your new post-work identity, Schlossberg notes in the article.

The article concludes by quoting Marty Kurtz of the Planning Center, who appeared on the same panel with author Schlossberg, as saying “do we have a good view of reality and do we understand what our expectations are? It is not just about the money, it is about money and life and how.. they work together.” 

Dividend investing – a good approach for volatile markets ahead?

Writing in the Financial Post , author Christine Ibbotson suggests dividend investing is a good way to address volatile markets.

“When (bond) yields are likely to stay low and markets have a tendency to have future volatility, dividend strategies should be revisited. Start moving more of your investments toward high-quality dividend payers and high-quality growth-name stock picks,” she writes.

Periods of low interest rates “have always typically benefited dividend investing,” and growth stocks in particular seem to do well in a low-interest rate environment, Ibbotson notes.

She says that while many investors expect a “bull market” after COVID-19 is finally addressed, there may be a lot of market swings before then. “There will be some unexpected volatility that will at times remain elevated in the coming months as investors continue to doubt the validity and sustainability of the bull,” she predicts.

Worried about navigating tricky markets? Consider joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, and letting expert investors navigate through waters choppy and calm. The SPP has averaged an eight per cent rate of return since its inception 35 years ago, and that management expertise is delivered at a very low rate. Check out SPP 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, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Mar 22: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 22, 2021

Is the 11 per cent solution the right retirement number for you?

There’s long been a debate in retirement circles about how much is the right amount to save.

New research from Schroders in the U.S. suggests that non-retired savers around the world are putting away 11.4 per cent of their earnings for life after work.

The biggest savers, according to the Schroders Global Investor Study, which took a look at over 30 countries around the world, are those living in Asia, who put away an impressive 13 per cent of their earnings. The Americas are not far behind at 12.5 per cent, while Europeans save the least, at 9.9 per cent.

However, the folks at Schroders say those numbers fall short of what people may actually need. 

“It’s well known that people aren’t saving enough for retirement but this study shows that even those who are already established investors are not putting away enough money,” states Lesley-Ann Morgan, Head of Retirement at Schroders, in the article.

“There’s also a strong message from those who have already saved: ‘I wish I had saved more,’” she adds.

The problem, Morgan points out, is that people aren’t connecting what they’re saving with what they want to do in the future.

“The pension savings gap is further compounded by the fact we’re in an age of low rates and low returns. To reach their goals, people will need to save even more than savers did in previous generations,” she explains.

“The study shows investors globally are only putting away 11.4 per cent of their income but say they want to retire at age 60. Our analysis shows that someone who started saving for retirement at age 30 is likely to need savings of 15 per cent and above a year if they wanted to retire on 50 per cent of their salary,” she warns.

The article, through charts and examples, goes on to suggest that 15 per cent may be a better savings target.

“People in some countries tend to invest more cautiously and may therefore see lower returns. In Germany, for instance, pension savers have a preference for bonds, which typically have delivered lower returns,” Morgan explains.

“Such savers will need to contribute even more to ensure they realize their retirement goals,” she says.

“The most powerful tool available to savers is time. Start saving at an early age and it makes an incredible difference to the eventual size of your retirement account. The miracle of compounding, where you earn returns on your returns, adds up over 30 or 40 years of saving.”

The takeaway from this article, then, is more is always good with retirement savings – the more you can put away, and the earlier you start, the better things will be when those savings turn into your retirement income.

There’s no question that investing can be tricky. If you’re looking for a way to invest your retirement savings professionally – but at a very low fee – consider the venerable Saskatchewan Pension Plan, now celebrating its 35th year of operations. SPP offers two professionally managed investment funds to choose from, and has averaged an impressive average rate of return of 8 per cent since its inception. 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, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Mar 15: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 15, 2021

There’s no place like home for retirement, Canucks say

The pandemic seems to have changed a few people’s minds about their retirement plans.

According to a recent article in Investment Executive magazine, the former dream of retiring to warmer climes may now have been replaced with the idea of a made-in-Canada retirement.

The article, citing recent research done for IG, found that “half of respondents said being closer to family and remaining in Canada is now a priority.”

The survey found most of us – two-thirds – also would prefer to live out our lives in our own homes rather than in “a retirement facility,” the article notes.

“It’s understandable that the events of the past year have caused many Canadians to pause and re-think what their futures will look like, including their plans for retirement,” states IG’s Damon Murchison in the article.

Other financial concerns Canadians raised in the piece including emergency funds, healthcare coverage, and the amount of savings they’ll need in retirement.

So, if having more money is the answer to most of these concerns, how do we get there?

A recent article from Kiplinger, while intended for a U.S. audience, offers up some good advice on what not to do when you’re saving for post-work life.

The article suggests that many of us, particularly when young, take too many risks with our investments, “because time is on your side.”

Once you have reached middle age, your investment strategy should change from accumulation to “preservation and distribution,” the article advises. “This is generally where your financial strategy should become more conservative,” Kiplinger advises.

The article mentions the “Rule of 100,” namely, that your current age should be the percentage of your overall investments that should not be at risk. “Whatever you do, don’t consider a Las Vegas `all-in’ scenario as you edge closer to retirement,” the article warns.

Other tips include tailoring your investments to your personal needs, being aware of the impact of fees, and not listening to the neighbours when it comes to financial advice.

“The neighbours’ advice may be well-intentioned, but it’s likely misguided or possibly self-serving. Swap barbecue tips and stories about your kids—but never talk money,” the article concludes.

Saving for retirement, like many other things we don’t always want to do, is good for you. While times are tough, they will get better as the pandemic gets under control and fades from significance. But there are some good lessons the pandemic can teach us about having an emergency fund ready, ensuring our retirement savings continue (if possible) so we don’t have to work even longer, and seeing the true value of in-person time with our family and loved ones again. All good.

If you’re not really sure about investing, but do want to save for retirement, have a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can leave the heavy lifting of investment decisions to SPP. Despite the Tech Wreck, the financial crisis of 2008-9, and the craziness of the pandemic and its impact on financial markets, the SPP has averaged an impressive eight per cent rate of return since its inception 35 years ago. That’s quite a track record of delivering retirement security!

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 8: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 8, 2021

At a time when some have “mountain” of savings, few focus on RRSPs: study

One of the oddest side effects of the pandemic has been the fact that for those fortunate enough to be able to keep working throughout it, savings are starting to pile up.

According to the Financial Post, the overall Canadian saving rate has reached “historic highs.” So, the article says, “you might think it would be a bumper year” for Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs).

Apparently not. Citing research from Edward Jones, a brokerage firm, the article reports that “52 per cent of Canadians say they do not plan to contribute to their RRSPs,” with 44 per cent saying it’s the pandemic that is preventing them from doing so.

As well, the Edward Jones research found that of the 31 per cent who said they would invest in their RRSPs, less than a third – again, 31 per cent – said they would invest the maximum.

Now, normally you’d look at all this and say, yeah, no one has the money for RRSPs this year – pandemic, hours cut, stores closed, travel and restos no longer possible, etc.

But the article notes that Canada’s overall savings rate “is at the second highest (level) since the early 1990s as locked-down residents with little to spend their money on, squirrel it away.” By the third quarter of 2020, the Post reports, our savings rate had soared to 14.9 per cent, compared with just three per cent in 2019.

So those with savings are packing it away at a clip not seen since the early 1990s. Save with SPP remembers those years fondly, as interest rates that were in the high teens in the late 1980s were still hitting the mid-teens by the early 1990s, making those old Canada Savings Bonds a great investment.

But there’s no such investment attraction today, and the Post feels that those who are hanging onto their dollars are doing so because of “economic uncertainty.”

“What the research shows is that Canadians have had to make financial compromises like deferring retirement contributions for other more immediate priorities and are storing away cash they can easily access in response to economic uncertainty,” states David Gunn, president of Edward Jones Canada, in the Post article.

This, the article informs us, makes sense given similar results from earlier Edward Jones research, as well as a Morneau Shepell poll that found 27 per cent of Canadians “say their financial situation is worse than those (15 per cent of those polled) who say it is better.” Looking around the country, Morneau Shepell found the most financial pessimism in Alberta, with Saskatchewan residents being the most optimistic about their finances.

While it is completely understandable that those without extra cash would have to cut back on retirement saving, it’s less clear for those who are sitting on money as to why RRSPs aren’t in favour. After all, you get a tax deduction for the RRSP contributions you make. More importantly, it’s not like retirement savings are some sort of bill you have to pay – it’s an investment in your future. You’ll eventually get all the money back and then some, thanks to investment.

If you are lucky enough to be sitting on some extra cash this year, consider the possibilities and look to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan as a destination for those dollars. Founded 35 years ago, the SPP has posted an impressive eight per cent rate of return over that period, demonstrating a history of savvy investing. Your contributions, just like an RRSP, are tax-deductible, and the money saved and invested will come back to you in the form of lifetime income down the road. Don’t deny your future self retirement security – check out the SPP 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, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Mar 1: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 1, 2021

Is shopping for a good retirement plan getting too complicated?

A lot of ink (or perhaps, pixels) gets spent on why Canadians aren’t saving for retirement in sufficient numbers and amounts.

But an equally important question is raised in a recent article by three leading retirement experts – are the retirement products out there getting too complicated?

The article appears on the Common Wealth site and is authored by Jim Keohane, recently retired CEO at the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and Common Wealth founding partners Alex Mazer and Jonathan Weisstub.

The article asks if employers offering retirement programs – and members joining them – are being well served by the retirement industry. For starters, the trio writes, most group retirement plans offer a dizzying array of choices.

“The traditional industry’s focus on a high degree of investment choice is based on a flawed premise: that employees and plan sponsors have the desire and capacity to engage in the choosing and ongoing management of the investment of their retirement savings. If our goal is to help employees achieve retirement success in the most cost-effective way — which it should be — then a better focus should be not on choice but on simplicity,” the authors write.

Today’s typical choices for group plan members are far from simple, the authors note.

Service providers – typically banks and insurance companies – sell their services to employers “on the basis that they have hundreds of funds and dozens of managers to choose from,” the article notes.

Providers have thus become “supermarkets of funds, outcompeting each other for who could offer the greatest selection,” Common Wealth notes.

But there are downsides to giving employees – the folks who will actually want retirement income from these products – all that choice, the article warns.

A study by Columbia University in the U.S. found that “greater investment choice led to lower participation” in retirement programs, with plans offering 10 choices or less getting the highest participation.

Streamlining choices could result in greater savings – up to $10,000 U.S. per employee, found a study by the Wharton School.

And even highly-educated investors “make common mistakes,” such as paying too much in fees, when selecting investments for retirement, says research from Yale and Harvard.

Will the average person, the article asks, know what asset mix to select? Will they fall into the trap of trying to time the market? Will they “chase performance” by tending to choose investment products that have done well recently? The article goes on to focus on the higher costs end-users pay for having all that investment choice, which they pay for via higher fees.

The authors say a simpler way to go exists.

The use of “target date” funds is said to increase wealth by up to 50 per cent, the authors note, citing Wharton School research. Other simplification ideas include:

  • Using “smart defaults” in retirement products, so those who don’t make a choice are automatically moved into a fund that is “appropriate for their age and desired retirement date.”
  • Removing choices for employers, who have “little interest in becoming investment experts.”
  • Using an “index-based approach” rather than trying to beat the markets.
  • Work with “world class” providers, rather than smaller ones trying to create a supermarket of choices.

The authors conclude by pointing out that the goal of offering a retirement program is “helping people secure the best possible retirement outcomes for themselves and their families.” Boxing people into programs where they have to make complex investment choices can “cost employees tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Save with SPP can personally attest to a lot of this. When saving on your own – especially if you don’t have any professional advice – you will tend to gamble a bit with your own future income. One remembers being told by friends, for instance, that Nortel “would come back,” and that money could be doubled by the then-booming tech market. Not so much, it turned out.

If you are looking for a simple, “set it and forget it” pension plan that takes care of tricky decisions for you, think about the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP, there are two funds to choose from – The Balanced Fund, or the Diversified Income Fund. Both funds are professionally invested for you. As well, the SPP is “full service,” in that after it has grown your savings, it provides you several options for collecting income when you retire, including lifetime annuities. Let the pros do the heavy lifting for your retirement – check out SPP 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, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Feb 22: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

February 22, 2021

Canadians cutting back on retirement saving due to the pandemic?

There’s no question that the pandemic, now into its second year, is wreaking havoc on most people’s financial plans.

A report from Benefits Canada, citing research from Ipsos, found that “one quarter of Canadian employees say they’ve needed to cut back or stop contributions to their savings and retirement plans.”

One in 10 of the survey’s respondents say “they have reduced or frozen contributions to their retirement savings,” and 13 per cent “have cut back or stopped” savings for non-retirement purposes, such as vacations, clothing, household items, and “rainy day” savings.

While 70 per cent say they are “confident” about their financial management during what the article calls “tumultuous times,” 59 per cent “are worried about the effect of the pandemic on their savings and retirement plans.” Younger Canadians, the magazine reports, are even more worried – that’s 73 per cent of Gen-Zers and 67 per cent of millennials. Fifty-two per cent of boomers share their worries.

It would be interesting to ask this same group a little more about what their savings plan is, assuming they have one. While those with a workplace pension do have a sort of built-in retirement savings plan – as long as they are working – do those who don’t have some sort of savings budget or automated plan?

An article in USA Today stresses the importance of this kind of planning.

“One of the common misconceptions about achieving financial success is that it requires complexity, sophistication and intricate effort. Sure, you might want to construct a detailed analysis of investment allocations, debt-payback schedules or whatever, but you probably don’t need to,” the article explains.

“Sometimes, just a handful of straightforward guidelines, consistently followed, can do the trick,” USA Today reports.

Citing U.S. research, the story notes that a simple rule of thumb for saving is “save as much as you can,” and to separate saving from spending. You should, the article says, try to set aside between 10 to 30 per cent of your monthly earnings as savings.

(Our late Uncle Joe always said 10 per cent was his rule of thumb – put that away as soon as you get paid, and live off the other 90 per cent.)

That sort of advice is echoed in another of the findings from the research – the need to “pay yourself first.” The article picks up on this theme. “Learn to set aside money as soon as you get paid,” we are advised.

Let’s put it all together. Most of us are worried we’re not saving enough for retirement. But unanswered is the question, are most of us making savings easy through automation and paying ourselves first? The idea of setting aside a percentage of your earnings for savings, and then spending the rest, works even if your earnings are reduced. If 10 per cent is too much, try five per cent, or even 2.5 per cent. You can always ramp it back up again later.

If you don’t have a pension program at work, then you are the person your future self will rely on to set aside retirement savings while you are working. This sounds daunting, but doesn’t need to be. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan allows you to contribute in a number of ways, including pre-authorized payments from your bank account. That way, you are paying your future self first! Check out SPP, celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2021, 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, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Feb 8: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

February 8, 2021

Canadians worry they aren’t saving enough for retirement

New research from Scotiabank reveals that a surprising 70 per cent of Canadians “admit it’s hard to know what to do when it comes to their investments” in the current pandemic environment.

Even more interesting for Save with SPP readers is the news that the pandemic is causing Canadians to “rethink their retirement.”

“The majority of Canadians who have not yet retired are worried they are not saving enough for retirement (72 per cent), one third (32 per cent) say they won’t be able to retire when they had planned because of the pandemic, and 28 per cent report they won’t be able to pay off their debt before retirement,” says a media release accompanying the Scotiabank research.

That’s quite the trifecta. So not only are three quarters of us not saving enough, a third of us won’t retire when we hoped and nearly 30 per cent will have to pay off debt with reduced retirement income.

Scotiabank advises us to “identify our goals” when it comes to saving, and to seek the help of a financial adviser.

But there may be other things to think about here.

A report from Wales Online adds another puzzle piece. In the U.K., the article says, more than 150,000 folks aged 55 to 64 have been forced “to retire early because of the pandemic.” The reasons why they are leaving the workforce include “redundancy and income cuts, a desire to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure, and reassessing priorities in life due to the pandemic,” the article says.

So they are being laid off (made redundant is how the Brits describe it), getting their hours cut, or simply fear getting sick in the workplace as older workers. A few are “reassessing priorities” which may mean looking for things to do that aren’t work. The key point here is that this is all an unplanned departure; they are into retirement earlier than they planned, and not necessarily by choice.

Clive Bolton of LV=, the firm responsible for the research, sums it up very nicely.

“Early retirement is a dream for many people but it can become a financial nightmare if it is forced on people without them having time to prepare.” He goes on to say “your 50s are critical years for retirement planning because that is the age when many people’s earnings and pension contributions peak. Being forced to end a career before you planned will disrupt retirement plans.”

We’ve seen how most of us have to choose between paying down debt – which helps us in the short term – and saving for retirement, which helps us in the long term. And while the pandemic won’t be with us forever, it will be here long enough to throw peoples’ retirement plans into a bit of chaos. We may have to go before we’re ready. How do we prepare?

If you’re among the many Canadians who are not saving enough for retirement, there’s a remedy close at hand. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan can provide you with an easy, flexible and effective way to save. At press time, the estimated rate of return in 2020 for SPP – a year that saw market turmoil – was an impressive 8.72 per cent, and the SPP has averaged a return rate of 8.00 per cent since its inception 35 years ago. You decide how much to contribute and you can ramp up your savings as better times return. Check out SPP 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, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Feb 1: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

February 1, 2021

Canadians have socked away nearly $300 billion in Tax Free Savings Accounts

It’s often said that high levels of household debt, compounded by the financial strains of the pandemic, make it difficult for Canadians to save.

However, a report in Wealth Professional magazine suggests that Canadians – once again – are indeed a nation of savers. According to the article, which quotes noted financial commentator Jamie Golombek, as of the end of 2018, we Canucks had stashed more than $298 billion in our Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs).

“[A]s of Dec. 31, 2018, there were 20,779,510 TFSAs in Canada, held by 14,691,280 unique TFSA holders with a total fair market value of $298 billion,” Golombek states in the article.

Again looking at 2018, the article says Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) data shows 8.5 million Canadians made TFSA contributions in ’18, with “1.4 million maxing out their contributions.” In fact, in 2018, the average contribution to a TFSA was about $7,811 – more than that year’s limit of $5,500 – because of the “room” provisions of a TFSA, the article explains.

The reason that people were contributing more than the maximum is because they were “making use of unused contribution room that was carried forward from previous years,” Wealth Professional tells us.

Another interesting stat that turns up in the article is the fact that TFSA owners tend to be younger. “Around one-third of TFSA holders were under the age of 40; two-fifths were between 40 and 65, and those over 65 made up about 25 per cent,” the article explains.

“This is not overly surprising since the TFSA, while often used for retirement savings, is truly an all-purpose investment account that can be used for anything,” Golombek states in the article.

However, there is a reason older Canadians should start thinking about TFSAs, writes Jonathan Chevreau in MoneySense.

“Unlike your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), which must start winding down the end of the year you turn 71, you can keep contributing to your TFSA for as long as you live,” he writes – even if you live past 100.

He also notes that a TFSA is a logical place to put any money you withdraw from a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) that you don’t need to spend right away.

While tax and withdrawal rules for RRIFs must be followed, “there’s no rule that once having withdrawn the money and paid tax on it, you are obliged to spend it. If you can get by on pensions and other income sources, you are free to take the after-tax RRIF income and add it to your TFSA, ideally to the full extent of the annual $6,000 contribution limit,” Chevreau writes.

This is a strategy that our late father-in-law used – he took money out of his RRIF, paid taxes on it, and put what was left into his TFSA, where he could invest it and collect dividends and interest free of taxes. He always looked very pleased when he said the words “tax-free income.”

2021 marks the 35th year of operations for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. The SPP is your one-stop shop for retirement security. Through SPP, you can set up a personal defined contribution pension plan, where the money you contribute is professionally invested, at a low fee, until the day you’re ready retire. At that point, SPP provides you with the option of a lifetime pension. Be sure to check out the SPP 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, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.