Category Archives: General

How we’re getting creative – and using tech – to stay in touch

Back in the 1960s when this writer was young, there were only a few channels available for staying in touch with the grandparents.

We’d pile into the car and drive down to Montreal to see dad’s parents, and Saint John to see mom’s parents, at least once or twice a year. During any holiday we’d line up around the family landline while mom placed a rare long-distance call so we could hear their voices. And we’d send cards and write letters.

These days, it’s not always easy or possible to visit. So what are people doing to stay in touch with family and distant friends during the pandemic?

At the Stream MD blog , a list of creative ways to keep in touch are presented. Video-streaming is now easily available from your phone and computer, and using Zoom or Teams or Facetime is an excellent and safe way to see family and friends, the article notes.

If you have Netflix or Prime Video, you can hold a “virtual watch party” and see a movie with your family and friends online, the blog advises. Other ideas from Stream MD include having shared music playlists and taking online courses together.

The Which? blog in the UK talks about holding virtual birthday parties for friends using Zoom.

“I went to a surprise party the other night: about 30 of us gathered to sing happy birthday to a friend and give him the birthday present we’d all clubbed together to buy him – some new DJ decks,” writes blogger Kate Bevan.

“But don’t worry – even though he only lives over the river from me in Clapham, I wasn’t actually there. And neither was anyone else, except for his flatmate,” all thanks to the use of Zoom, she reports.

In addition to Zoom, the article mentions the Google Duo phone app and Facebook Portal; the latter is “so simple to use that it’s worth considering if you have a family member who is unsure with tech.”

Tech is great, but there are other ways to achieve success, reports the Healthy Vix blog.

Get the kids to make “a handmade card” for the older folks, the article advises. “The children, especially, love to make a handmade card to send to their Nana or other family members. It’s really exciting for them to make a card and walk to the local letterbox to post it,” the blog explains.

Also, if the grandparents aren’t going to be able to figure out technology, or have no one to help them with it, go old-school, Healthy Vix advises. “There’s no need for elderly relatives to get their head around social media or confusing technology when a good old phone call will suffice. Keep things simple and call your loved ones for a good old chinwag when you can. Just hearing each other’s voices can help you feel in touch and connected, even when apart,” the blog suggests.

It’s been a strange year for visiting family who are in seniors’ apartments or nursing homes. At one visit we were greeted by a fully-PPE-protected (and friendly) staffer who took our temperatures and logged our contact details before we could have a one-hour, heavily sanitizer-ized visit with the wife’s mom. Our cousin had to visit her mom from behind a barrier, waving across a parking lot. Our neighbour talked to his elderly dad in London by driving down there and lying on the grass outside his nursing home window so he could yell hello through the window.

Whatever works should be given a try.

Did you know you can stay in touch with the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) from the comfort of your own living room? When you sign up for MySPP you can see a record of your contributions, your account balance, information on investment returns updated monthly, and can review your personal contact information. Let your fingers do the clicking and 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.

What are the big funds doing about investments during the pandemic?

Photo credited to: Chris Liverani

The pension industry has a big footprint.

With the top 300 pension funds around the world managing an eye-popping $19.5 trillion (U.S.) in assets – and with quite a few of those funds being Canadian-based – Save with SPP decided to take a look around to see what our own country’s pension leaders are saying about investment markets.

With $409.6 billion in assets, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is the nation’s largest pension fund. CPPIB has identified four sectors of the economy it thinks will grow in the near future – e-commerce, healthcare, logistics (aka shipping/receiving) and urban infrastructure.

CPPIB expects “massive changes” in those areas, CPPIB’s Leon Pederson tells Tech Crunch. And while CPPIB invests for the long-term, the four areas identified by their research might “indicate where the firm sees certain industries going, but it’s also a sign of where CPPIB might commit some investment capital,” the magazine reports.

The $205-billion Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) saw small losses in the first half of 2020, reports Bloomberg.

“Some of our hardest hit investments were among our private assets. Heavily-impacted segments were leisure and travel, including our five airports, and assets where consumer spending declined, which is our shopping malls and Cadillac Fairview,” OTPP’s CEO, Jo Taylor, states in the article.

However, losses were cushioned by the plan’s strong fixed-income returns, the article notes – in all, $7.9 million in income from its bond portfolio helped OTPP limit losses.

The $94.1 billion Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan’s (HOPP) CEO, Jeff Wendling, recently told Benefits Canada that the plan is considering looking at some new investment categories as it pursues its “liability driven investing” strategy. With a liability driven investing strategy, the investment target is not beating stock market indexes, but ensuring there is always enough money to cover every current and future dollar owed to pensioners.

“We’re very focused on liabilities, but what you do when interest rates are at really extreme lows, in our view, is different than what we did in the past,” he states in the article. HOOPP, he adds, is now looking at infrastructure investing, insurance-linked securities, and increased equity exposure to generate income traditionally provided by bonds.

Large pension plans like CPPIB, OTPP and HOOPP have enjoyed a lot of success over the years. The takeaway for the average investor is that the large scale of these plans allow them to do things the average person can’t – like directly owning businesses (private equity), or shopping centres and offices (real estate) in addition to traditional stock and fixed-income investments. The big guys are taking advantage of diversification in their holdings, and so perhaps should we all.

Individuals and workplaces can leverage the investment expertise of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Its Balanced Fund is invested in Canadian, U.S. and international equities, bonds, mortgages, and real estate, infrastructure and short-term investments. And the fund has averaged an eight* per cent rate of return since its inception in the mid-1980s. Check them out today.

*Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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.

Looking for ways to beat the pandemic blues

Let’s face it – the spring, summer and fall of 2020 have been quite a downer. We’ve been made to be holed up at home, are restricted in what we can do, where we can go and who we can see, and are continually worried about our jobs, our kids, and the bills.

The pandemic has hammered our mental health, reports Global News. “A survey done in conjunction with the Mental Health Commission of Canada found that a whopping 84 per cent of those surveyed felt their mental health had worsened since the onset of the pandemic,” the network reports.

“Similarly, an Ipsos survey done for Addictions and Mental Health Ontario found 45 per cent of Ontarians reported their mental health had suffered during the pandemic, with 67 per cent saying they expect those effects to be `serious and lasting,’” reports Global.

Save with SPP took a look around to see if there are any ideas out there on how to ward off these feelings of depression and anxiety.

According to Triathlon Magazine Canada, research from the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that “by being physically active, depressive symptoms decreased.” Even five minutes of activity did the trick, the magazine reports.

Other tips – develop, and stick to, a routine, the magazine suggests. Avoid the “western diet” of “processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and refined grains” as it is associated with increased risk of depression, the magazine advises. Their final suggestion is to try, even with the restrictions in place, to stay in touch with friends and family. “While tedious, Zoom calls are good for our mental health, but in person is far better,” say the folks at Triathlon Magazine Canada.

Over at Psychology Today magazine, Dr. Erin Leyba offers some additional tips.

Taking a warm bath at least twice a week “may help relieve symptoms of depression… even more than exercise does,” she writes.

Exercises like “jogging, cycling, walking, gardening and dancing” help increase your blood circulation, which in turn helps shift your brain’s reaction to stress. Doing nice things for friends and family will produce a “helper’s high” that makes our brains feel better, she writes. Examples are calling or face-timing an elderly relative, delivering groceries to someone, thanking front-line workers via cards or buying them lunches, or donating money to help those impacted by COVID-19.

Reading, as well as calling or video-chatting with friends are also positive steps to ward off depression, she writes.

The advice from the federal government is similar. Let your doctor know if you think you are suffering from depression, the feds advise, as depression “is a serious but treatable illness.”

Avoid isolation, the federal website urges.

“One-on-one interactions, such as going to a movie or out for coffee with a friend are also good forms of social contact. Being around others provides support, companionship and has a good effect on your general health,” the site notes, agreeing that physical activity and a healthy diet are also pluses.

These are all good pieces of advice that we all should take note of as we watch the pandemic play out. A colleague of ours once said that every crisis has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s nice to imagine the end of this one.

If saving for retirement is one of your worries, a solution may be joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. It’s great to have professionals running your investments (rather than trying to figure it out yourself), and the SPP grows your money at a very low fee. When it’s time to turn your savings into retirement income, SPP offers a variety of lifetime pension options via annuities. 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.

Urbanites flee to suburbs, country in light of the pandemic

In this peculiar era of social/physical distancing and avoiding crowds, it should probably come as no surprise that many city-dwellers are thinking of chucking city life for either the suburbs or the country.

According to the Toronto Sun, “nearly three in five people say living in a rural area is more appealing to them now than before the pandemic,” and the same percentage “say the same thing about living in the suburbs.”

“I think it’s too early to predict if it’s going to be a long-term trend or not…but we have all been locked up in our houses during COVID-19 and have had a lot of time to sit around and evaluate what’s important to us and we’re starting to see that shift outside of the major urban centres,” states Sean Morrison, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association, in the Sun article.

The article goes on to point out that it’s not just about avoiding crowded cities – the “work from home” aspect of the pandemic has also made getting a larger yard and perhaps a bigger house more attractive.

Commenting on the similar trend south of the border, Zillow’s Chief Economist Joshua Clark says the pandemic is at play in other ways.

Speaking to Realty Biz News, Clark notes “it may be tempting to conclude that urban renters who have been cooped up without outdoor space and unable to visit their favorite local bar are ready to commit to suburban life, and that is likely true for many. But that narrative ignores the job loss that has hit renters, who are disproportionately employed in the industries most affected, and has likely played a bigger role in recent moves.”

So those who were renting in the city may now only be able to afford to rent somewhere farther from the downtown core, he explains.

The Simple Dollar blog looks at the core question of whether or not it is truly cheaper to live outside of a city in a suburb or rural setting.  Buying a house, the blog reports, “can cost twice as much in the city versus the suburbs.” However, cities offer the best public transit, and groceries tend also to be cheaper downtown, the blog adds.

If you live far away from where you work, beware the perils of commuting, the blog warns.

“This means that if you are returning to your place of work from your home in the suburbs or a small town, you could be back to spending a great deal of time, money and stress sitting in traffic, which can take a toll on your health; Scientific American recently noted that long-distance commuters could suffer from physical maladies, including headaches and backaches, along with mental issues, ranging from sleep disturbance and fatigue to concentration issues,” the blog reports.

As one who has lived in the downtown of a major city, the suburbs, and in small towns in Ontario and Alberta, this writer can attest to the importance of the last point raised by Simple Dollar. A long commute to work – sometimes it can be hours each way – really takes it out of you. While most of us are working from home, that may not be the case forever – so think long-term if you are planning to move farther away from your place of work. If there’s a way to get to work without driving, that makes the suburban or rural property much more attractive.

You don’t have to travel to Kindersley, Sask. to open up a Saskatchewan Pension Plan account. Whether you’re downtown, flipping burgers in the ‘burbs or surveying your pasture, you can connect with SPP online to see if this plan is an option for you.  Once you’re a member, you can use MySPP to track the balances of your retirement accounts – all from the comfort of home.

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.

Important to support local restaurants as they struggle to re-open

As we glide along, waiting for things to be “normal” once again on the health front, it’s interesting to see the changes in how Canadians interact with restaurants.

Until very recently, restaurants were restricted to take out or delivery. Now we’re seeing them reopen, usually with limited seating, perhaps expanded patios, and so on. Things are still not back to where they were in early March, and may not be for a long time. Save with SPP took a look around the Internet to see what people are making of this.

There’s no question that the restrictions have been very, very tough on Canada’s restaurants, reports Retail Insider. Citing research from Restaurants Canada, the magazine reports that “seven out of 10 restaurants in the country are either worried or extremely worried that they won’t have enough liquidity to pay vendors, rent and other expenses over the next three months.”

While the many restaurants still open “for takeout and delivery have demonstrated an exceptional level of responsiveness and innovation while continuing to ensure the health and safety of their staff and everyone they serve,” notes Restaurants Canada’s Shannon Munro in the article, their efforts may not be enough to stave off “insufficient cash flow and insurmountable debt.”

Some provinces are realizing that restaurants have been placed in a very tough spot. In Ontario, reports CTV News, provincial officials plan to get rid of the usual red tape so that it is easy for restaurants and bars to expand their patios, so long as social distancing rules are accommodated.

“We want to make sure we get rid of as much red tape and as much cost as possible to allow people to serve their patrons,” Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey tells CTV.

Many jurisdictions that previously restricted or prohibited alcohol delivery and take-out (the latter is known as off-sales in Western Canada) have dropped those rules. In Ontario, Blog TO reports that Premier Doug Ford is considering making alcohol delivery and takeout from restaurants a permanent thing – one that benefits restaurants. “There’s going to be a lot of things, as we say, the new way of doing business — and not only in government, but in the private sector, too,” Ford states in the article.

If there’s a takeaway from all of this, it is the need to support our local businesses as much as we can during a very tough period. Besides ordering for yourself, another great idea is to get gift cards from restaurants to give out as presents to friends and family. Like other parts of the economy that have been slammed by this healthcare crisis, every dollar we spend on local dining helps a local business to stay afloat until better times return.

While you can’t buy gift cards for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, you do have a lot of flexibility as to how you can contribute. With SPP, you can either set the plan up as a bill and contribute via online banking, can set up direct deposit from your chequing account, or you can use SPP’s online form to contribute via your credit card. 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. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Taking a look back at some of the things we started doing more of during the pandemic

There’s no question that one day, when we are telling our future grandchildren about what the pandemic was like, we’ll be asked “so what did you do when you had to stay home?”

Now that we are beginning to see the end of some of the daunting restrictions that have closed restaurants, stores, gyms, the Legion, hockey rinks, golf courses and other key parts of our lives, it’s worth remembering what people got up to while stuck at home.

According to a story in Patch magazine, many of us have desperately been trying to buy more yeast and flour.

“For so many who’ve been holed up in quarantine, cooking — and especially baking — has meant either a return to the comforting recipes of childhood or a foray into a whole new world of culinary creativity. Baking bread from scratch, a long-ago tradition, is suddenly a focus, along with Zoom cocktail parties, Netflix binges, and morning gatherings around the TV to listen to New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo discuss coronavirus strategies, and yes, the meatballs and sauce of his childhood Sundays,” the story notes.

While various Internet-based teleconferencing apps, and drive-by birthday celebrations are a big deal, there are more basic ways to stay in touch with others, reports the CBC.

In the suburbs of Winnipeg, a group of seniors at a retirement home wondered how they would handle having to miss their usual weekly get-together in the facility’s restaurant.

“Every Sunday, dozens of people go onto their balconies or stand physically distanced in the courtyard at L’Accueil Colombien to bang on pots, ring bells and sing O Canada for about 15 minutes,” the CBC reports. And according to one of the founders of this new tradition, the goal is to stay in touch.

“I just thought of it because I had heard that somewhere, I think it was in France, at 6 o’clock they would come on their balcony and they would sing,” St. Vincent tells the CBC. “I’m not a singer, so I said, ‘Well, we can ring [bells], we can make noise.'”

Those of us who could continue working at home did, and for some it was quite an eye-opener, reports Global TV.

“A recent survey from Statistics Canada found that approximately 4.7 million Canadians who do not usually work from home did so during the week of March 22 to 28,” the network reports.

“I think this has been a revolution. It was something that was thrown at us, but we have found that working from home has really been working quite well,” consultant Barbara Bowes tells the network.

“I think that from an employer’s perspective, they can save so much money from rental spaces; they will seriously take a look at how they can balance how much time and who is in the office through technology. It is going to change the way we work altogether,” she says in the interview.

Another unexpected fringe benefit to the pandemic – a time when few are driving anywhere, since there is essentially nothing to do but shop for groceries, hit the drug store, or refresh your beer supply – is cleaner air, reports the Toronto Star.

“When you clean up the air, you see a reduction in mortality,” Stanford Professor Marshall Burke tells the newspaper. “It highlights the things we may want to change when we don’t have an epidemic.”

Finally, one last thing some of us are finding is that we aren’t spending as much money.

“If you add it all up, the average family is saving $1,700 a month when you factor in commuting costs, childcare costs, the amount of money folks are saving by not going out to eat, especially not going to the bars,” researcher Nick Johnson tells Milwaukee’s WISN.

It’s certainly been a strange time that none of us will ever forget, a once-in-a-lifetime thing – hopefully.

If you are among the fortunate few who have been able to keep working and have a few extra dollars left over, don’t forget to tend to your retirement savings. Those savings need a little care and occasional watering to grow, so any extra bits of cash you can spare today could be directed to your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account. You’ll be able to harvest those dollars, which will be professionally invested and grown, when you reach retirement age. Your future self-will, no doubt, thank you.

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. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) and COVID-19

March 17, 2020

As the global COVID-19 public health emergency continues to spread and create challenges for families and businesses worldwide, we wanted to share with you how SPP is addressing many of the same challenges that our members may be facing.

SPP represents over 30,000 members from across Canada and our principal concern is now on prioritizing the most critical operations such as pension payroll and actively monitoring investment managers. We are also focusing our resources so that we continue to remain available to serve our members in this challenging time despite travel restrictions, social distancing and other challenges that impact our traditional ways of doing business.

We have implemented the best practices of business continuity processes and remain prepared to serve our valued members during this time. However, it is important you are aware that our methods of supporting members and employers are changing to reflect the new pandemic guidelines.

Effective immediately, we have postponed all scheduled member and employer presentations in order to follow the social distancing advice issued by the Province. We are also limiting engagement with our members, employers and other stakeholders and encouraging these activities to be conducted by phone or email where possible. As this pandemic evolves, there may be additional changes to how we connect with members and we encourage you to check the SPP website and social media pages for any updates. We will absolutely reschedule any planned large group meetings, workshops or presentations once the threat has passed.

I would also encourage you to seek out information on www.saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus, the Government of Saskatchewan’s dedicated webpage on COVID-19. It includes the most up-to-date information and guidance for all Saskatchewan residents.

Please do not hesitate to contact SPP if you have any questions about your pension plan. We recognize that this may be a prolonged effort and wanted you to be fully aware of SPP’s commitment to continue serving you during this time.

Sincerely,

Katherine Strutt

General Manager

Market update as of March 12, 2020

The current market volatility illustrates the uncertainty facing investors, especially regarding when the markets will recover.  The following information has been provided by the Plan’s investment managers, TD Asset Management (TDAM) and Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel (Leith Wheeler).

TDAM: March 2/20 – Click here for the full article.

“With a number of major market events making headlines, including the S&P 500 Index declining approximately 13% from its recent highs, 10-Year Treasury yields hitting a new record low of 1.18%, and gold set to break multi-year highs, we want to highlight a few important points.”

“As we currently stand the major known unknown is how COVID-19 will evolve.  If the coronavirus doesn’t become a worldwide epidemic, then risk assets will likely recover quickly. But in a worst-case scenario where the outbreak morphs into a pandemic, the resulting market downturn could get somewhat worse.”

“We are of the view that the most probable outcome is the economic impact of the virus will be short lived for the following reasons:

  • As economic activity is suppressed, we believe it is driving global inventory levels to fall rapidly. Low inventory levels should create pent up demand that will boost economic growth in the following quarters.
  • The Peoples Republic of China will move away from financial de-risking and return to aggressive fiscal and monetary easing in order to help ensure a swift domestic economic recovery.
  • It is important to remember that prior to the viral outbreak, the global financial outlook for 2020 was generally positive as market participants felt that the economic momentum had slowly turned the corner after a soft 2019.
  • In addition, and unlike the global financial crisis of 2008, economic imbalances are generally smaller now than a decade ago.
  • And finally, global monetary policy remains highly accommodative.

We expect these factors to support a rebound in capital markets once the virus has run its course or has been contained.”

Leith Wheeler:  March 2/20 – Click here for the full article.

“Why did markets fall?  The most straightforward answer is that markets have become increasingly concerned that the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) could materially reduce global economic growth.”

 “How did markets fall?  The first place that recession fears show up is in the fixed income markets.  This past week government bond prices rose, showing both a demand for certainty and a view that central bank will need to lower rates further in 2020 in order to support the economy.  The premium required to hold corporate bonds also increased, reflecting investor nervousness about carrying the risk of default – but only rose back to levels seen in recent months.

The recent declines in equity markets have been global in nature, as the coronavirus mutated from a health scare to a financial one.  Both high – and low – quality stocks dropped, irrespective of how exposed they might be to changes in economic growth, how vulnerable they might be to fluctuations in their cash flow (i.e. highly indebted and new cash companies alike), what their growth profiles is, their level of management skill and so on.”

“The coronavirus may  fizzle out in a month, or it could get much bigger.  We could see trade flows normalize, or we could see a further global economic slowdown. “

“[W]hen you are investing for the long term, market fluctuations – even large ones that persist for quarters or even years – will just prove to be bumps on the way to your ultimate goal.  Market corrections are a normal occurrence, but lenders and investors always find a bottom; business builders move on and build again; and markets rise again – ultimately to new highs.”

“As long term value investors, we have the benefit of knowing the value of businesses without the benefit of a stock quote, so our homework pays off when others are losing their heads and selling good companies out of fear.  We use these corrections as opportunities to buy those quality businesses when they’re on sale.  Beyond that, it’s business as usual.”

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Katherine Strutt

General Manager

Retirement isn’t just about money – it’s about making use of all the free time

If you Google “retirement + plan” you will find lots and lots of information about stashing some of your cash in a safe investment haven so you can crack into it in retirement.

But there’s more to retirement than just the money side of things (even though that aspect is very important). Save with SPP took a look around to see how people go about setting goals for retirement – making use of the newfound time they now have, in abundance.

According to the Kiplinger blog, just as you may have created a financial plan for retirement, you also need to make a plan to live out your dreams, and to “make the next 20 or 30 years purposeful.” 

Sometimes, work slots us into roles that aren’t really aligned with what we think we are about, the blog explains.  “Many times, work is what you do and not so much who you are,” states Catherine Frank of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in North Carolina. “Retirement is an opportunity to create a life that reflects more closely who you are,” she tells the Kiplinger blog.

The blog quotes one retiree, retired professor Ronald Mannheimer, who decided to work on his fitness, and volunteer, but found he still had gaps in his day. “Keep open time to explore, to perhaps research what you may want to do next,” he tells Kiplinger “But you should be able to look forward to a calendar of activities.”

OK, so we want to spend time doing things that we have always wanted to do. What if we can’t think of any?

There’s a helpful list at Financial Advisor magazine. They suggest becoming a teacher’s aide, working in retail, working as a tour guide, being a driver, volunteering (or working for a non-profit), and athletics, among other ideas.

There are more ideas over at Marketwatch, including “taking up a sport,” getting a hobby, starting a business, and (of course), travel.

The Retirement Field Guide reminds us what not to do – don’t waste time “watching too much TV,” while “having an empty calendar,” or you will find you’ve become a hermit. They offer similar ideas for retirement activities, including learning new skills (say, music), being a mentor, joining or starting a club, and many more.

It’s very, very hard to visualize retirement while you are still working. Very hard.  It’s not like being on vacation. If anything, it’s like every day is the weekend. The advice from the various bloggers cited here is sound – take some time now, while you are working, to think about what you want to do with your hard-earned time. Talk to folks who are already over the wall and enjoying retirement, and you’ll be surprised how busy they have become.

Even doing only things you like often requires a bit of cash. A tremendous resource for creating retirement income is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. The SPP is pretty unique – it’s an open defined contribution pension plan. You can contribute up to $6,300 a year towards your retirement, and SPP will grow your savings (with professional investing at a low cost) until that wonderful day when you move into fitness and hobbies full time. Then, you can collect those grown-up savings in the form of a monthly, lifetime pension cheque. 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. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Is there a trick to sticking to resolutions?

Here we are, rolling along through the second month of a new decade, and already many of us have left our various New Year’s resolutions well behind. In the dust, even.

Save with SPP scoured the internet for an answer to this question – are there any tactics out there to help you keep your resolutions? What do the experts say?

The MSN Money blog has several ideas.

First, the blog recommends, “the way to achieve your big dreams is to start small… no one begins by lifting heavy weights seven days a week, they start with light weights and build muscle over time.”

Another suggestion from MSN Money is to develop “daily habits that support the results you want in the future.”

At the Men’s Journal site, there’s more interesting advice.

They suggest bribery as a resolution-meeting aid. “Say what? Yep, make a pact with yourself that you’ll get those new ski goggles only after you complete a month’s worth of consistent progress toward your new year’s fitness resolution,” the magazine suggests.

Another good bit of advice is setting written, specific goals, Men’s Journal advises. “I want to get fit” is not specific enough, instead you should write down “I want to run a mile in less than eight minutes and do 10 pull-ups.”

Other ideas include getting support for your efforts on social media, signing up for specific events, and forgetting perfection. “If you get sick and need to take a week off of training, or you get slammed at work and literally can’t carve out a block of time to get in the pool, acknowledge it and move on. Literally. Get back into your routine as soon as possible rather than staying away because of one small blip,” the magazine suggests.

The Toronto Star has a few more for us to ponder.

Don’t be afraid to “switch up your plan” if it isn’t working, and examine you’re plan to “look at why you’re failing.” If the plan’s not working, change it, the Star advises. The paper advises you to be realistic in goal-setting, and to “make new habits,” so that you have things to do instead of the old bad habits you are trying to break.

Save with SPP can add a couple ideas to this list. Start small, and then ramp up over time. If you’re saving money, or paying off debt, this is a good tactic – chipping away works over time. This approach is good for a lot of things.

So if you’re lagging behind in a New Year’s goal of saving for retirement, take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Unlike a workplace pension plan, where contributions at some pre-set amount are deducted from your pay, you can start as small as you want and then step up your contributions when you can. You contributions are professionally invested at a low fee, and when it’s time to retire, SPP can set you up with a lifetime pension. 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. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22