Category Archives: Blogosphere

Aug 20: Best from the blogosphere

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

Using “behavioural science” to help boost retirement planning
For far too many of us, the words “retirement planning” conjure up a frustrating jumble of spreadsheets, calculations, application forms and sums of money we don’t have. Easier, we think, to change the channel and worry about something else.

Recently the Ontario Securities Commission researched these “barriers to retirement” and came up with a new idea – the use of behavioural science tactics to aid the planning process. The OSC’s research is featured in a recent article in Benefits Canada.

It’s more of a “nudge approach.” One idea the report suggests is scheduling a retirement planning meeting at work. The individual must then choose to opt out of the meeting or just go with the flow and attend, the article notes. Another similar approach is to bring the future closer by showing people a variety of retirement activities and asking them to choose their favourite one.

“Keeping people from being overwhelmed or feeling other negative emotions is also important to the planning process,” the article notes.

One suggestion not touched on in the article might be to make your retirement savings automatic. Rather than rounding up dollars at the RRSP deadline, why not have a pre-set amount deducted each payday? That sort of automated savings approach is possible with the Saskatchewan Pension Plan; check out their website for full details.

A toast to the better days ahead
We’ve all been to lots of retirement parties. Here are some great retirement toasts, courtesy of the Public Speaking Advice blog, that you may be able to make use of at the next “farewell to work” event you attend.

“We don’t know what we’ll do without him but we’re about to find out.”

“May we always part with regret and meet again with pleasure.”

“May the best of happiness honor and fortune keep with you.”

“A bad day at fishing is still better than a good day at work.”

“Here’s to your health and your family’s health. May you live long and prosper.”

That last one has a bit of a Star Trek/Mr. Spock ring to it, doesn’t it?

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

Aug 13: Best from the blogosphere

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

Canadians living longer – here’s how to avoid running out of money
Retirement is about accumulating savings and then “decumulating” them, or living on them for the rest of your life.

While it’s fairly easy to set a savings goal, the harder part is figuring out how long you’ll live, according to a recent article in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

“For planning purposes it is advisable to assume a long life,” the article notes, citing Statistics Canada figures showing that Canada’s life expectancy “ranks among the top in the world.” There are 19.4 per cent more folks aged 85-plus as of 2016 versus 2015, the article notes, and in that same period there has been a 41.3 per cent increase in those aged 100 and older.

“The longer the life, the more likely you will run out of money,” the article warns.

There is a nice way around that problem, called a “longevity risk” in the pension business. You can convert some or all of your savings into an annuity. An annuity will guarantee you a payment amount that will be paid each month for the rest of your life. That way, if you live for a century or longer, you’ll still be getting income.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers an interesting variety of annuities, to find out more, check out their retirement guide.

Some selected sayings about retirement
What is it like to be retired? Save with SPP had a look at The Joy of Being Retired blog, and found a few choice comments.

  • “Gainfully unemployed – and proud of it too.” Charles Baxter, from Feast of Love
  • “The money is no better in retirement but the hours are!” Author unknown
  • “Retirement – when you quit working just before your heart does.” Author unknown
  • To these, we will add a few we’ve heard:
  • “I know I ain’t doing much – doing nothing means a lot to me.” Bon Scott, AC/DC singer
  • “I will be fully retired when the mortgage is.” Anonymous SPP blogger
  • “The older I get, the better I used to be.” Golfer Lee Trevino
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 30: Best from the blogosphere

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

No generation is winning at retirement savings: research
You might think that one segment of society – the young, perhaps, or the middle aged, or even the old – would be on top of things with retirement saving.

But research suggests that ALL generations are having a tough time with it. According to recent research from Franklin Templeton Investments Canada – reported by the Canadian Press — all generations “appear to be facing challenges saving for and financing their retirement.”

What are the challenges? The article says longevity – the fact that everyone is living longer – is a big one. Parents of Gen Xers, the article notes, are “living longer and spending more of their money on things like health and travel.” That means there will be less to leave to their kids, the article reports.

Interest rates are the second problem. “Canadians have increasingly large levels of debt which become harder to carry as interest rates rise,” the article quotes Franklin Templeton Canada’s Matthew Williams as saying. More expensive debt repayment means less money for saving, the article suggests.

Finally, many of us just aren’t saving. “A quarter of Canadian Gen Xers haven’t saved anything for retirement,” the article notes. Barriers to saving for them include low income, high living costs, student loans and mortgages, the article reports. But it’s not just Gen Xers who are having problems. A surprising 23 per cent of pre-retiree boomers have saved nothing for retirement, the article states, with that figure rising to 50 per cent among younger millennials.

It’s never too late to start saving for retirement, and no amount is too little. A great way to help fund your retirement is to sign up for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. If you’re already a member, bump up your contributions a little bit each year. You’ll be happy you did when life after work arrives.

What’s best about being retired?
For most of us, it is almost impossible to visualize what life will be like once we have punched the timeclock for the very last time.

A great blog post by Dave Bernard for US News and World Report breaks it down, listing three chief changes retirees will notice.

First, the post notes, you will finally have time to exercise. Bernard writes that now he can control “when and how” he exercises, rather than having to sneak off to do it at lunch. A second point is the sudden unimportance of weekends – they are just another day when you aren’t working. And finally, he says his creative energy has never been higher. It’s not so bad living on the other side of the fence!

 

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 23: Best from the blogosphere

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

Actual retirement savings lag even our own targets
Canadians think they should be putting away 14 per cent of what they make for their retirement. Only problem is, the same research found that on average Canucks are saving 12 per cent.

These numbers come from recent international research, conducted by Schroders, published in Benefits Canada magazine. The article found Danes were the only nationality surveyed who put away more than they think they need to save – 13 per cent savings versus a target of 12 per cent. While Canadians undersave by two per cent, Chileans, who figure they need 19 per cent savings but put away 13 per cent, have an even bigger savings gap.

Worse, the survey found most people underestimate what they will need in retirement for basic expenses. The article notes that Canadians think they will spend 42 per cent of savings on basic living expenses, but in reality, the figure is closer to 59 per cent.

“There is a real danger that people globally are underestimating the proportion of their retirement income that will need to be allocated to basic living expenses and the amount of money they will need to live comfortably in retirement, particularly in the current environment of low returns and increasing inflation,” states Lesley-Ann Morgan, global head of retirement at Schroders, in the article.

Have you done this math? If you’re thinking now that you are not putting away enough for retirement, consider joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. If you’re an SPP member and in the same boat, why not ramp up your contributions a bit? Better to be an oversaver than an overspender – at least according to the research!

The simplest retirement plan ever?
An article from Reuter Benefits boils retirement down to three thoughts.

First, the article notes, select the age when you want to retire. When you are at that age, the article then asks, add up your expected expenses. Then add up your expected income from all sources. If you have more expected income than expected expenses, you are good to go.

If you are not good to go, then you need more savings and less expenses. The article also recommends the use of a financial planner to help you finalize your plans.

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 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