Category Archives: Blogosphere

Jan 20: Best from the blogosphere

“Collision between retirement hopes and financial reality” may be newsmaker of the ‘20s

Writing in the Globe and Mail, columnist Ian McGugan predicts that the “gradual unravelling of the world’s retirement dream” may be the biggest crisis we face in the ‘20s.

While we aren’t seeing violent protests in the streets over pensions, as in Chile and to a lesser degree, France, McGugan suggests that while Canada’s retirement system is not yet broken, there are signs of problems.

The Canadian retirement system, he writes “is now only slightly better than Chile’s in terms of overall design, according to an annual survey of retirement systems in 37 countries, conducted by human-resource consultants Mercer and academics at Monash University in Melbourne.”

The survey, called the 2019 Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, says there is currently a $2.5 trillion gap between “existing retirement savings and future retirement needs in Canada.”

The causes of the gap, writes McGugan, include “shrinking access to  corporate pension plans” and “rock-bottom interest rates,” which mean savers must take on riskier investments to grow their retirement pots.

Other factors, he notes, include the growing number of retirees and the fact we’re all living longer. “Many people now live into their nineties, but most still want to retire in their early sixties or even earlier. This means their savings and pensions have to support them for more years, but without any increase in contributions,” he writes.

Let’s unpack these four important points. Workplace pension plans are not as common as they used to be – so many of us must fund our own retirements. Low interest rates make it hard to grow your savings. The number of retirees is growing, which is a strain on government benefits, and we’re generally all expecting to see our 90th birthday or beyond.

McGugan says there is no magic solution for these problems.

He notes that the fixes out there include “raising official retirement ages by four to six years” so that people work longer, promoting great retirement savings rates, and “accepting that retirement incomes may have to be substantially lower than they are now.”

For instance, people may have to accept that they’ll be living on 60 per cent of what they earned while working, rather than the conventional target of 75 per cent. Making changes to government retirement programs so that they pay less and are thus (in theory) more sustainable will be “political dynamite,” he writes.

McGugan’s analysis seems very accurate. Let’s recall the reaction to two federal government proposals. Years ago, the federal Tories proposed delaying payment of OAS, moving the starting point from 65 to 67. There was a lot of protest over this decision, which ultimately was reversed by a subsequent government. And when that subsequent government moved to increase – gradually, and over decades – the cost of, and payout from, the Canada Pension Plan, many organizations called that an unfair tax hike. So you can lose politically by cutting or by improving benefits.

The bottom line is that even if you do have a workplace pension plan, you need to be thinking about saving for retirement in order to augment your future income. If you don’t have a plan at work then you need to come up with your own. Don’t be overwhelmed – you can start by making little, automatic contributions to your savings, and dial up how much you chip in going forward. But you’ve got to put up that first dollar.

A great retirement savings plan, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan  allows you to put away up to $6,300 each year, within your available RRSP room, in a defined contribution plan.  Your savings will be grown by professional, low-cost investing until the day comes when you need to draw on that money as retirement income. And then, the SPP offers an array of options, including providing you with a lifetime pension. Be sure to check them out.

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

Jan 13: Best from the blogosphere

Millennials who own homes can’t save for retirement

New research from KMPG Canada has revealed some bleak findings about millennials and home ownership.

According to a KPMG media release, “barely half of Canadian millennials think they will ever be able to afford a house,” and those who do aren’t likely to be able to save much for retirement.

The survey found that only 54 per cent of the 2,500 Canadians surveyed believed “they will ever be able to afford a home.” A further 42 per cent said they were putting off all retirement savings in order to be able to afford a home.

So it’s not all that surprising that 65 per cent of millennials “worry that if they buy a home and delay their savings, they won’t have saved enough for their retirement.”

A final thought – a worrying one – is that even those millennials who managed to buy a house doubt that it will grow as much in value as their parents’ houses did. The survey found that 38 per cent feel “they paid so much for their house that they’re afraid that by the time they want to retire, they won’t get the same price, or much more for it.”

Let’s unpack all this. So the millennials – the up and coming younger set, not yet 40 – are facing such high housing prices that they don’t believe they can enter the housing market AND save for retirement. Getting into the housing market is taking all their cashflow.

And they are worried that today’s expensive houses won’t go up 10 times or more in value like houses bought in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s. Some worry they’ll break even at best, leaving minimal extra money for retirement.

“While Canadians generally believe home ownership is essential for a financially stable retirement, most millennials feel times have changed and they can’t rely on their home to be a viable nest egg like their parents have,” states KPMG’s Martin Joyce in the release.

“What we are seeing is that millennials face a choice today that their parents’ generation didn’t,” Joyce states in the release. “They either buy a home or focus on saving for retirement. Buying a home involves taking on considerable debt because house prices are so high in relation to incomes, and that limits millennials’ ability to save. While most feel home ownership is an investment for financial stability, they worry their home will be worth less in the future.”

Our millennials have an unenviable task ahead of them, for sure. One hopes that the transfer of wealth from boomers will cushion the blow somewhat. And while housing prices aren’t soaring like they did decades ago, they are still rising.

Even if cashflow is super tight for the younger amongst us, it is very important to have retirement savings as part of one’s overall focus. If you can’t throw big money at it, throw small money at it. Those savings will grow and form an important part of your retirement income component down the line.

If you have a retirement plan at work – and especially if you don’t – a great option for creating or augmenting your retirement savings is membership in the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Members can save up to $6,200 per year within available RRSP room. You can also transfer in up to an additional $10,000 per year from other retirement savings accounts. When you get to the time you want to turn on your retirement income, SPP converts your savings, plus growth, into a lifetime income stream. You can never run out of retirement income, and there are options to look after your survivors as well. Be sure to click on over to SPP and check out their many retirement savings options.

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

Jan 6: Best from the blogosphere

Can living longer cause you a pain – in the pocketbook?

We all hope to enjoy our golden retirement years with the blessing of good health.

But could this blessing – a long life – actually be a problem in disguise?

New research from the World Economic Forum, covered recently by the Montreal Gazette, suggests the living longer creates the risk of outliving your retirement money.

“Today, one of the most taxing challenges that is often left out of the conversation is the impact of the change in average lifespan,” the Gazette reports. “According to Statistics Canada, today, the average Canadian will live until age 82, with the number of centenarians — those reaching the age of 100 — continuing to grow,” the newspaper notes.

And those of us who are born more recently will see ever greater longevity in life, the article continues, noting that research from the Lancet suggests a girl born in 2030 will live to 87, a boy to 84. That’s up sharply even compared with life expectancy data from 2010, the Gazette reports.

OK, so we are all living longer. So what’s the downside to that?

“The World Economic Forum suggests that today, Canadians will outlive their retirement savings by more than 10 years,” the article warns. The article recommends that people work with financial advisers to develop a plan to help insure against this risk.

What would such a plan contain?

The article notes that in the UK, many retirement programs available through work offer “automatic adjustments,” such as an automatic increase in savings contributions when there’s a raise or change to a better-paying role. Other tactics include looking at investments that offer lower fees, since high fees can eat away at the value of your savings.

Some organizations offer “lifestyle and investment modelling tools” to help individuals choose a savings strategy that aligns with how they see their latter years unfolding.

But the article concludes that while such measures are a good start, more work needs to be done in this growing area.

“It’s clear that there is no simple solution to retirement savings,” the article states. “However, one thing we know for certain is that driving change requires increased demand. To manage finances successfully, individuals should understand the decumulation options available to them, how their money is being distributed, and what happens to their savings when they retire.”

This is very sensible advice, since most of us focus on saving as much as we can for retirement, but then have no plan in place to turn the savings into an income stream. Imagine if you got paid once a year – how would you handle your bills, your rent, and so on? You’d have to make that money last until the next year. That, in a nutshell, is what “decumulation” refers to – taking a chunk of money out of a retirement savings vehicle and then living on it.

There’s another option available to ensure you don’t run out of money. You can use some or all of your savings to purchase an annuity. The annuity will provide you with a monthly payment for the rest of your life. This makes planning easier, and you can’t run out of your savings. This option is available through the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, and the annuities they offer come in various different forms. Check it out today.

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

Dec 30: Best from the blogosphere

Making some retirement savings resolutions for a new decade 

It’s hard to believe that we’re on the cusp of a new decade – welcome to the ‘20s.

At least – like the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s – there won’t be confusion about what to call this coming era. We never heard a good name for the 2000s and the 2010s. So we bid them adieu.

Save with SPP likes to start any new year with some resolutions; what little tips we could consider following to increase our retirement savings efforts in the year, and decade, to come.

Here’s some good advice we found.

Plan, understand and scan: A Yahoo! Finance article on the lack of preparedness for retirement in Canada says we need to do three key things – plan, understand and scan. You can start your plan by first determining how much you want to have as retirement income, and then calculate how much you need to save to get there. Knowing how much you’ll need in the future requires understanding how much you are spending now. And be sure to scan your retirement savings account periodically “to ensure your retirement plan is headed in the right direction.”

Start as early as you can: According to the folks at Nasdaq people need “to save as much as they can in their early years to enable their invested savings to compound over decades.” The average rate of return for the US S&P 500 index, the article notes, has been 10 per cent per annum since 1926 – so that includes two major crashes. What that means is that money can double every 7.2 years, the article notes. It’s all about growth, the article advises.

Make it automatic:  An article from the Career Addict blog urges us to make our savings plans automatic. “Have a direct debit set up so you can automatically (save),” the blog advises. “You can even set up an account that’s not accessible by Internet banking so you’re not tempted to tap into these funds when you feel you have an `emergency.’”

Consider an RRSP for your retirement savings: The folks at BMO note that if you save for retirement using an RRSP or similar vehicle, your contributions “are tax-deductible” and “your investments grow tax-free.” The income you withdraw from an RRSP will be taxable, a point often overlooked by those using them.

Get out of debt: The Motley Fool blog sees getting out of debt as a critical first step towards having a retirement savings plan. “Make paying down debt a priority,” the blog advises. Even if your only debt is a low interest mortgage, the blog suggests you pay that off before you retire to reduce the stress of paying it down on a reduced income.

An important thing to note here is that no one is saying “don’t worry about saving for retirement.” Even if you have some sort of pension arrangement at work, saving a little extra will be a move you’ll appreciate when you’ve reached the golden age of retirement.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers many of the features outlined here. You can start young, or when you are older, and SPP allows you to set up automatic deposits. Contributions you make are tax-deductible and grow tax-free, just like an RRSP. And since SPP is locked in, you won’t be able to raid the piggy bank for a pre-retirement expense – it’s sort of like giving money to your parents to hang on for you. Check SPP out today, you’ll be glad you did.

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

Dec 23: Best from the blogosphere

Canada’s pension system cracks the world’s top 10 – but there’s room for improvement

When it comes to government retirement benefits for its citizens, Canada is certainly world class.

According to The Wealth Professional, Canada has the ninth best pension system among 37 developed countries – this due to a recent ranking by the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index.

However, Dr. David Knox, author of the study, sees a few problems for Canada, despite its relatively high standing.

“Systems around the world are facing unprecedented life expectancy and rising pressure on public resources to support the health and welfare of older citizens. It’s imperative that policy makers reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their systems to ensure stronger long-term outcomes for the retirees of the future,” he states in the article.

One of the problems in having a system where retirement savings plans are looked upon as “wealth,” rather than a pot of money earmarked for the future, is that people tend to dip into the account early, Dr. Knox tells The Wealth Professional.

In plainer terms, people look at their retirement savings account, which may contain tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, and dip into it. That’s because, the article advises, “people feel more financially secure and are more likely to borrow (from) their retirement savings pre-retirement.”

Having those relatively fat retirement savings accounts also makes people more comfortable with debt, Dr. Knox states in the article.

“As the wealth of an individual grows, whether it be in home ownership, investment portfolios or their retirement savings, so does their comfort with amassing debt. The evidence suggests on a global basis, for every extra dollar a person has in pension assets, their net household debt rises by just under 50 cents.”

There’s another problem, the story notes. While Canadians have amassed a lot in retirement savings, there seems to be a discrepancy between the amount saved, and what they will actually need to fund their golden years.

“Canada currently has a US $2.5 trillion gap between existing retirement savings and future retirement needs,” states Jean-Philippe Provost of Mercer Canada in the article. “This gap reflects not only demographic forces, but also the combination of limited access to corporate pension plans for workers and a challenging long-term investment environment. Women are particularly affected by this savings gap,” he tells The Wealth Professional.

So the two takeaways here are this – try to avoid dipping into your retirement savings before you have retired, and be aware that you’ll need to save more than you have saved thus far.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has one-little heralded feature that prevents cookie jar raids. Funds contributed to SPP are “locked in,” meaning that you can’t access them until you start your retirement. Your retirement cookie jar remains sealed until that wonderful day when, freed from the bonds of work, you want to turn those savings into retirement income. Be sure to 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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Dec 16: Best from the blogosphere

First wave of retiring boomers finding retirement disappointing

Retirement has always seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel for hard-working Canucks. But new research suggests that retiring boomers are finding it a little disappointing.

Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, noted financial journalist Jonathan Chevreau reports that new research from Sun Life finds “almost three in four retirees – 72 per cent – say retirement is not what they were expecting, and not in a good way.”

The 2019 Sun Life Barometer, he notes, found 23 per cent of retirees reported life after work was a tight money environment, where they were “following a strict budget and refraining from spending money on non-essential items.”

And those not yet retired are delaying their plans, Chevreau notes. A whopping 44 per cent of Canadians “expect they’ll still be employed full time at age 66,” and it’s because they “need to work for the money, rather than because they enjoy it.”

Why the strict budgeting? Chevreau notes that about half – 47 per cent – of those still working believe “there’s a serious risk they could outlive their retirement savings.”

The article says the lack of defined benefit pensions – the type where the retiree receives a pension equal to a percentage of what they were making at work – is one of the reasons for these concerns. Everyone without such plans is either saving in RRSPs or in defined contribution plans. In both these types of savings plans, you save as much as you can, and then turn that lump sum into retirement income, normally on your own.

This tendency for retirement plans to be savings plans designed to build a lump sum is, the article says “devolving responsibility onto the shoulders of individuals,” making the RRSP unit holder or DC plan member the person handling the risk of outliving the savings, known as longevity risk in the industry.

The article offers a couple of ways people can improve their retirement security.

Be sure, the article warns, that you are fully taking part in any retirement program your work offers. “Canadians are leaving up to $4 billion on the table,” the article notes, by not taking full advantage of plans where the employer matches some or all of any extra money they put in.

There’s also a worryingly large group of people who don’t have a workplace pension and aren’t saving on their own via RRSPs or TFSAs, the article reports. That group, the article says, will probably have to work well beyond age 65, but at least they will get more income from CPP and OAS if they take them at a later age.

The article concludes by noting that running day-to-day finances is “hard enough” for Canadians, which may explain the savings shortfall.

If you have a pension plan or retirement savings benefit through your work, consider yourself lucky, and be sure you are getting the most you can out of it. Can you consolidate pension benefits from other workplaces into the plan you’re in now, rather than retiring with several small chunks of savings? Are you eligible for a match, and if so, are you signed up for it?

If you are saving on your own, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be of help. You can save on your own through SPP, much like an RRSP, except SPP has the added advantage of offering a variety of annuity products when you retire – these turn your savings into a lifetime income stream that never runs out. As well, you can often transfer pension funds from past periods of employment into your SPP account – contact SPP to find out how.

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

Dec 9: Best from the blogosphere

Year end – time to make sure you’re taking full advantage of employer retirement programs

The end of the year is always a highlight – the festive season, the New Year, family and friends; it’s an endless list.

But, according to a report from the Toronto Star, there’s another little item that should be on your growing year-end list – retirement, and particularly, any program you’re in at work.

“Many medium-to-large-sized employers offer some form of savings program for their staff; some with a matching component, such as the employer matches 50 per cent of the contribution that the employee makes up to a certain maximum value, while other programs are simply to facilitate savings exclusively from the employee. The draw for employees is that the funds are typically deducted right off one’s paycheque, and of course, the free money if a match is offered,” the Star notes.

You could be leaving that free money on the table if you haven’t signed up, the article warns.

Be sure, the article advises, to find out which employer-sponsored program you’ve signed up for.

“Have you enrolled in a defined benefit or defined contribution pension? Do you contribute to an RRSP or TFSA? Are you funding an RESP for your children? Is your company offering non-registered plans? Which accounts offer a company match, as these should be your priority to fund,” the Star notes.

You may have options to choose from if you are in a company retirement program – often mutual funds, ETFs, or target-date funds (or a combination of each).

Know what you’re paying into, the Star suggests. “Grab a list of what your fund options are and compare historical rate of return, risk level, the composition of the fund and read up on the fund’s objectives. In most cases, your company will be covering a large portion of the fees associated with these investments,” the article notes.

Finally, the article notes, be sure that if there is a company matching option, that you are signed up for it. The Star recommends that you “find out how to get the maximum matching dollars. For example, sometimes they scale the match up (or down) depending on how much you contribute. Simply take advantage of all the free money that’s available to you. It’s the easiest ‘return’ on your investment you’ll ever make,” the article advises.

Those without retirement programs at work must do the job on their own, the article concludes. If you are in this situation, “it’s then up to you to save independently.”

An option for that self-managed saving is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan . With SPP, your contributions are invested professionally and at a low fee. As of the end of September, 2019, the SPP’s balanced fund is up more than 10 per cent. In addition to growing your savings, SPP is equipped to offer you a multitude of ways to turn savings into lifetime income via annuities – SPP’s Retirement Guide provides full details.

There’s still time to sign up and join SPP prior to the RRSP deadline in 2020, so check them out today and make them part of your year-end to-do list.

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

Dec 2: Best from the blogosphere

Experts say retirement planning should start in one’s 20s

Ah, the joys of being in one’s twenties. You’re young, you’re healthy, you’re newly educated and you’re ready to make your way in the world of employment.

And, according to the experts, you should have your retirement planning well underway!

According to The Motley Fool blog via Yahoo!, “the saddest tale you can hear from baby boomers is the regret of having not prepared early for retirement.”

Not saving enough while young is something your older you will experience – in a negative way – later in life, the blog advises. “Many baby boomers found out belatedly that their nest eggs weren’t enough to sustain a retirement lifestyle,” the blog warns.

Without an early head start on saving, the Motley Fool warns, “you might end up with less than half of the money you’d need after retiring for good. The best move is to invest in income-generating assets or stocks to start the ball rolling.”

What stocks should a young retirement saver invest in? According to the blog, “Bank of Montreal (BMO) should be on the top of your list,” as it has been paying out good dividends since 1829. Other good dividend-payers recommended by the investing blog include Canadian Utilities (CU) and CIBC bank.

“The younger generation should take the advice of baby boomers seriously: start saving early for retirement. Apart from not knowing how long you’ll live, you can’t get back lost time. Many baby boomers started saving too late, yet expected to enjoy the same lifestyle as they did before retirement,” the blog warns.

So the takeaway here is, start early, and pick something that has a history of growth and dividend payments.

The bigger question is always this – how much is enough to save?

A recent blog by Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail mentions some handy calculators that can help you figure out what your nest egg should be.

Carrick says that while seeing a financial adviser is always recommended for goal-setting, the calculators can help. Three he mentions include The Personal Enhanced Retirement Calculator, designed by actuary and financial author Fred Vettese; The Retirement Cash Flow Calculator from the Get Smarter About Money blog; and The Canadian Retirement Income Calculator from the federal government.

You’ll find any retirement calculator will deliver what looks like a huge and unobtainable savings number. However, if you start early, you’ll have the benefit of time on your side. Even a small annual savings amount will grow substantially if it has 30 or 40 years of growth runway before landing at the airport of retirement. For sure, start young. Join any retirement program you can at your work, but also save on your own. If you’re not ready to start making trades, a great option is membership in the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You get the benefit of professional investing at a very low price, and that expertise will grow your savings over time. When it’s time to turn savings into income, SPP is unique in the fact that it offers an in-plan way to deliver your savings via a monthly pay lifetime annuity. And there are a number of different types of annuities to choose from. Check them out today!

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

Nov 25: Best from the blogosphere

Albertans look to their homes to help fund their retirement

New research suggests that more than half of Albertans see their homes as their “retirement nest eggs,” reports the Edmonton Journal.

The study, carried out by RBC, found that “52 per cent of Albertans, 50 and older, plan to use the equity in their homes as a source of retirement income,” the Journal reports.

“A lot of retirees are expecting they will downsize – or sell and rent – and turn that equity into potential retirement income in the future,” states RBC’s Nicole Wells in the article.

And the survey backs that thinking up, indicating that 56 per cent of Wild Rose Country citizens surveyed want to do just that – downsize or rent, the article adds.

What’s driving this?

The article notes that 16 per cent of those surveyed expect they will be carrying debt into their retirement. One of the reasons, the article suggests, may be that many Albertan parents are helping their adult children.

“What we find is often parents are feeling great pressure to help their kids,” states Wells in the article. This, she states, can have some negative consequences on the parents. “It’s great that your kids can get into a home, but you must have a financial plan to look beyond the emotion to understand what helping kids means for you as you get older,” she tells the Journal.

Getting out of a mortgage and moving to a smaller place can have unexpected costs, Wells warns. Even though most Albertans have seen a lot of price appreciation over the years, selling a house these days can take longer than expected. And moving to a condo may mean you are paying high condo fees, she states in the article. There are also realtor fees to think about, she states.

“It’s a decision where you’ve seen the equity growth in the property, but when you start slicing away at it with different costs, you want to make sure you have enough left to survive through retirement,” Wells tells the Journal.

Let’s first of all commend Albertans for running their money well – if only 16 per cent of those surveyed are expecting to retire with debt, that’s a very positive sign.

According to The Tyee, Canadians are awash in debt. “Canadians now owe an eye-watering $2.2 trillion, or 178 per cent of disposable income — a measure that has doubled in the last 20 years. Personal bills now amount to more than our entire GDP, making us the most indebted citizenry in the G20 and fourth highest in the world. Over half of Canadians report they are only $200 per month away from insolvency, The Tyee reports.

We’ve tended, as a nation, to put everything on the house. First, our debt, and then, our retirement. It’s probably wise to have other options for retirement savings, since after all, you have too live somewhere. If you haven’t started saving for retirement yet, maybe because there’s no retirement plan at work, it’s never to late to start. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan can set you up for the road ahead with a low-fee retirement account that will grow your savings and turn it into much-needed retirement income down the line. Be sure to check them out today.

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

Nov 18: Best from the blogosphere

Crushing debt burden restricting our ability to save

If you are finding that bills are getting in the way of your ability to save, you’re not alone.

According to recent research from BDO Canada, reported on in Advisor’s Edge, one in four of us say “their debt load is overwhelming,” and 53 per cent of us are living “paycheque to paycheque.”

Ominously, a surprisingly high 27 per cent of Canadians say “they don’t have enough for their daily needs,” the article notes.

What’s the source of all this debt?

Credit cards are a problem, the article informs us. “Fifty seven per cent say they are carrying credit card debt.. and 31 per cent say the size of their debt is increasing.”

And while many of us are trying to pay down that choking debt, success is slow, the article notes.

“More than four in 10 (43 per cent) of Canadians say they are slowly paying off household debts, yet almost one-third admit they have delayed paying off their credit card because they couldn’t afford it,” the article notes.

Other sources of debt that are bedeviling us include mortgage debt (45 per cent), car loans (40 per cent), lines of credit (42 per cent) and student loans (15 per cent), the article says. Four in 10 of us have non-mortgage debt of more than $20,000, the article warns.

What are the impacts of all this debt?

Well, for one thing, there’s little money left to save for retirement, the article states.

“Almost four in 10 (39 per cent) of non-retirees admit to having no retirement savings (compared to 31% last year), including nearly one-third (32%) of baby boomers and seniors,” the article says. “Canadians attempting to save for retirement are growing increasingly pessimistic. The top reasons non-retirees have no retirement savings are that they can’t afford to save (38 per cent) or they need to pay off debts first (17 per cent).

This means, most surveyed say, that they will have to work longer than their parents did to be able to afford to retire. Others are banking on inheritance – not a safe bet given the expense of long-term care – to right their financial ship.

Let’s face it. We all know debt reduction is a daunting task, but one that has to eventually get done. But you can’t let it trump your retirement savings plan, particularly if you’re saving on your own for life after work without any sort of workplace plan.

Be sure to pay yourself first, even if it is just a little bit, and then manage the bills. If you can avoid racking up more credit, the balances will come down, the payments will flatten out, and you can gradually be on the plus side of the ledger.

Meanwhile, that little bit you can put away for retirement will steadily grow. Like a teeter totter, eventually you will move from the bottom to the top.

If you are saving on your own for retirement, a wonderful way to get there is through the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. They’ll grow your savings through professional investing at a low fee, and when the day comes to collect the moolah, they have a variety of interesting lifetime annuity options to choose from. They are worth a click to check out.

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