Money saving tips

Ways to be prepared for power-robbing storms

June 9, 2022

It seems inevitable these days that some weather event – a tornado, an ice storm, or the recent crazy windstorm in Ontario – will knock out your power.  It’s an irritating thing that turns into deeper trouble if the power doesn’t come on in a few hours. Save with SPP took a look around to see what we can all do to be ready for the inevitable next outage.

A Global News report notes that 600,000 Ontarians lost power in a May storm, many for days and even weeks.  A long-term outage, the article notes, means no internet, no phone charging, food spoilage, no AC or heat, and nowhere to get gas.

The aftermath of a big outage “is a perfect time to think about being prepared, particularly if you weren’t prepared for this storm,” states David Fraser of the Canadian Red Cross in the Global article. “Let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but it is likely we could have more situations like this in the future.”

Fraser sees three key areas where preparedness pays off. You need a three or four-day supply of non-perishable canned food, and a manual can opener. Fill your bathtub to provide drinking water when the storm is hitting (and you still can), he recommends.  Stay in touch with the outside world via a battery or hand-cranked radio. If you have a traditional landline, it may still work with a non-cordless phone.   The third must-have is power – lots and lots of batteries in an easy-to-find location, and charged flashlights.

Generators, powered by gasoline, propane, or the kind that charge themselves from your house’s electricity and come on when power goes out, are also a great idea.

According to a CBC report, Ottawa-area resident Nabila Awad used a gasoline-powered generator to keep some power going into her home in the days following the storm. However, she notes, it cost about $40 in gas each day to keep the thing running, and with no water in the house, they still had to order in food.

Insurance companies will generally help pay the cost of running a generator when the power is out, and the cost of replacing spoiled food, Anne Marie Thomas of the Insurance Bureau of Canada tells the CBC. How much coverage you have depends on the policy, so it’s not a bad idea to check with your broker before you have a problem.

Owning or renting a small chainsaw and a sump pump can help you clear your property of downed trees and address flooding, Thomas adds. Call for help if you have downed power lines; don’t go near them.

Let’s recap. To prepare for a storm or outage, you need canned food, a manual can opener or Swiss army knife, a supply of water, some sort of radio, and maybe a landline phone. A small chainsaw and a sump pump might be handy. What else?

The Gizmodo site lists some other interesting options, including a counter-top generator that can power a small fridge for quite a few hours, rechargeable flashlights that you plug in to an outlet (easy to find), a solar-powered phone charger, and more. Genius.

In a way, emergency preparedness is a lot like saving for retirement. Taking the time to put together a little emergency kit before the power stops working is indeed akin to putting away a little of your “today” money for a tomorrow when you stop working.

If you don’t have a workplace pension and aren’t really sure about investing, an end-to-end, do-it-yourself retirement plan is within the reach of any Canadian with RRSP room – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP’s help, your “today” money can be grown into future retirement income. Check out this made-in-Saskatchewan marvel today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


Is there gold in your old, obsolete tech?

May 19, 2022
Photo by Elly Filho on Unsplash

Most of us have an old flip phone lying around, or a Windows 7 laptop gathering dust in the basement, or a collection of our old Palm devices from the early 2000s. All this tech – which no longer has a current use — has long been replaced with new and better stuff.

But is there any value left in all that old, obsolete technology? Save with SPP had a look around to find out.

Old cellphones, reports Yahoo! News, may still hold quite a bit of value.

“The trade-in value will depend on the type of phone, how old it is and its condition, but you may be able to get $100 (U.S.) or so for even a fairly dated iPhone model. An iPhone 8 64G in good condition is typically valued at $105 U.S., according to SellCell.com,” Yahoo! News notes.

Old laptops, the article continues, can be worth “$400 to $800 U.S.,” depending on “the model, the year, and its condition.”

Business Insider offers a few more suggestions. Remember the old Speak and Spell device – a sort of fun way to learn spelling for kids – from the 1970s? These old devices, manufactured by Texas Instruments, “can fetch anywhere between $50 and $100 U.S. on eBay, depending on its condition,” the publication reports.

Can you recall the days when a Sony Walkman was the way to make your music go mobile? These “wearable” little cassette players, first rolled out in 1979, are now worth “between $300 and $700 U.S. on eBay.”

An original iPhone in the box is worth up to $15,000 U.S., the article adds. And if you happen to have a rare Xerox Alto personal computer – one of the first to use a mouse – your 1973 vintage machine is worth $30,000 American, the article adds.

The Komando website reports that factory-sealed original Nintendo games can be worth a small fortune — $75,000 U.S. for an original copy of the Mega Man game, for instance.

An original Apple Macintosh computer will net you $2,000 U.S., and an old Commodore 64 computer will be worth $1,200 in good condition.

Save with SPP took a peek on eBay to see if our old Palm devices were worth anything. Surprisingly, they were listed from $35 to $55 Canadian. Our rare Samsung Windows Phone is similarly available for $25 to $35 in loonies. So, you never can tell.

If you are able to turn any old tech from trash into cash, a great destination for those dollars is a Saskatchewan Pension Plan account. Those old tech devices will serve your future self very well, as SPP will invest the proceeds from their sale, and over time, turn obsolete tech into future retirement income. Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


Fight inflation – and a bulging waistline – with these cheap fitness ideas

April 21, 2022
Photo by Surface on Unsplash

Many of us have spent the last couple of years on the sidelines, fitness-wise, thanks to the COVID pandemic, which led to gym closures and cancelled many fitness-related programs and events.

Now, just as things are getting back to normal, a wave of inflation is crashing over us. Save with SPP did a little research on ways to get fit that are also cheap.

According to the MyFitnessPal blog, you can still “live a healthy and fit life within the tightest of budgets.”

Their ideas include “forming an exercise group with friends and (setting) up meetings two to three times a week,” and to do workouts that “use your own body.”

“Free workout options include walking, push-ups, and walking up and down the steps of your house,” states strength and conditioning specialist Joe Cannon in the blog post.

Consider buying a set of resistance bands, the article notes. “You can get a premium set… for under $100. If you travel for business or pleasure, many of these resistance band sets come with a travel bag so you can toss it in your suitcase or vehicle and take it with you,” fitness specialist Mike Weik tells the blog.

Other advice includes leveraging the outdoors for a walk, a run, or “pullups or push-ups in a park,” and swimming at a community pool.

At the AARP’s website, ideas include building more walking into your everyday life, walking in place (stepping) while watching TV, doing push-ups on your stairs, and using a step tracker to check your progress. The site recommends bumping up your activity level to at least 150 minutes per week.

If you like working out at the gym more than doing things around the house, Microsoft News suggests setting up a home gym. The article recommends that you get some free weights, cardio equipment, along with related accessories and storage items.

Free weights include “barbells, weight plates, dumbbells, and kettlebells,” the article notes.

“The reason we love free weights so much is because they’re extremely versatile,” gym expert Cooper Mitchell states in the article. “You can do so much with a barbell and a pair of plates, from strength training to conditioning and everything in between. You can also target all muscle groups with free weights.”

Good accessories include a weight bench and a squat rack, the article adds.

You can usually find used elliptical trainers and/or foldable exercise bikes cheap online or at thrift stores, the article adds.

If you aren’t a big fan of exercise generally, there are still ways to build it into your everyday life, suggests the Nerdfitness blog.

Almost any movement counts, the blog notes. So park a little farther away from the store so you have to walk more. Stand up more often during the day. Take the stairs now and then. Even “fidgeting” as you sit can burn 350 calories a day, the article adds.

Among the 40 other ways of “exercising without realizing it” listed are hiking, geocaching (i.e., playing Pokemon Go), dancing, and even cleaning the house!

Save with SPP is a fairly active line dancer, and it’s a fun thing to do that doesn’t really feel like exercise. Once the winter’s over we also try to bike around the neighbourhood trails, and use the bike for small local errands rather than firing up the car.

Exercising for cheap is win-win. First, you are saving money; second, you are getting healthier. And, as a reward for your efforts, that saved money can be salted away for your future life after work. If you are saving on your own for retirement, a great destination for those fitness savings is your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account. Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


As pandemic continues, Canadians are seeing more of their home country

December 9, 2021

If there can be a silver lining in this dark cloud that is the pandemic, it might be the fact that so-called “domestic tourism,” or seeing Canada first, is on the upswing. According to the National Post, domestic bookings jumped 30 per cent in 2020 over 2019.

“What we are seeing in Canada is similar to what we have seen in North America and globally. People can’t travel abroad, so they are finding spaces within their own states or counties or countries to visit,” Chris Lehane of Airbnb told the Post last year. “We have seen a real increase in domestic travel.”

One reason for that, the CBC reports, may be the cost of an out-of-country vacation.

First off, the prices of air travel and car rentals “are on the rise,” the broadcaster reports, and as well, you may be made to take COVID-19 tests to get back home.

“Depending on where you’re travelling to, you may have to shell out for two COVID-19 tests, which can add hundreds of dollars to your travel costs,” the CBC reports. As this blog is being written the requirement for a test to go on a short trip to the U.S. has been dropped, but rules are still in place for longer trips.

The CBC story looks at the case of the Wilson-Paradis family of Peterborough, Ont., who planned a trip to Vegas earlier this year. At that time, however, it would have cost $1,000 for five PCR tests so they could fly back to Canada.  “It was very disappointing,” Ian Wilson told the CBC. “I’m not opposed to getting the test … but it’s the cost. It was just adding too much onto the trip for our family to afford.”

So, why not see Canada instead?

According to CP24, the Ontario government has announced a tax credit for Ontarians who plan a “staycation” within the province.  Ontarians planning an in-province vacation in 2022 could get a tax credit of $1,000 for an individual, and $2,000 for a family, if they “stay for less than a month at… a hotel, motel, resort, lodge, bed and breakfast or campground,” CP24 reports. The province, the broadcaster says, hopes the credit “will help the tourism and hospitality sectors recover and encourage Ontarians to explore the province.”

Our huge country, bounded by three oceans, has a lot to see – the beautiful B.C. coast and the Rockies, shared with Alberta. The vast blue skies and flowing wheat fields of the prairie provinces. Big city fun in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The east coast, with its sweeping seacoast vistas and amazing history and tradition. We have a lot to see right here at home.

And if you’re planning a little travelling once work is in the rear-view mirror, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan as a go-to resource. The SPP will take your contributions, invest them in a pooled, professionally managed investment fund featuring a low management expense, and grow them for you. When the day comes to turn savings into retirement spending, you have many options from SPP, including that of a lifetime pension.

Be sure to check out SPP!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


Could “minimalism” be a way to enhance both retirement saving and living?

October 14, 2021

Our father used to preach the value of having only one of everything, rather than multiple, redundant masses of stuff. It’s good advice that we should have followed.  Dad liked to have one pocket knife, one set of golf clubs, one good snow shovel, and so on. And everything had its place, and was replaced only if it broke.  His was what the Radical Fire blog would call a “minimalist” lifestyle.

Radical Fire’s Marjolein describes such a lifestyle as having “less clutter, less maintenance costs, less things to worry about… less, less, less!”  Marjolein writes that over the years, she accumulated a lot of things that “don’t bring me joy or happiness.” While her place was neat and tidy, her closets were packed to overflowing with “stuff.”

People tend to keep stuff in case they may need it again, but Marjolein says getting rid of unneeded and unused possessions is very liberating. You will, she writes, “spend less time on maintenance and cleaning,” and less searching through closets packed with stuff you don’t need for things you do.

Another advantage – you’ll have more money. You can sell off surplus stuff, and you will spend less on new stuff once you adopt a minimalist gameplan, she writes.   Before buying anything new, she now asks herself “do I really need this, will it bring me joy, can I afford it, and do I really want to spend my money on this?”

Other tips include shopping with a list and starting “small” on your voyage towards minimalism.

Writing in Canadian Living, Paula McKee quotes Joshua Becker (founder of the Becoming Minimalist website) as saying, of minimalism, that “while it is true that you will have less, it’s less of what you don’t need, and more of what you want, like time and money.”

Becker tells Canadian Living that “material belongings become more of a burden than a blessing” over time. He agrees with the idea of starting small on minimalism, noting that a little of it “is better than none at all.”  His approach is to look at all your stuff, and group it by “trash, give away, keep and relocate.” You can give unwanted goods to a charity, have a garage sale, drop things off at a consignment store, or sell things off online, the article suggests.

The rewards will be a home that is “easier to clean and keep organized,” more time to spend doing what you want, and more money to do it with, the article concludes.

Writing for the Next Avenue blog, Michelle Black takes a look at how minimalism impacts retirement.

Her story looks at the lifestyles of Amy and Tim Rutherford of Colorado, among others. They first sold off their big home and bought one that was one-third the size. As part of that process – less space – they chose to get rid of excess stuff, “donating carloads of items to Goodwill” and selling things online for “pennies on the dollar.”

They felt more at peace in their new, uncluttered home, the article notes. “To us, physical clutter equalled mental clutter,” Amy Rutherford tells Next Avenue. On the spending side, she estimates that where they once spent $115,000 a year maintaining the big house and its clutter, they now are spending a “third of that — $36,000,” Next Avenue reports. And that includes a whopping 100 days of annual travel, the blog stresses.

Let’s unpack all this. Imagine a sort of “one of everything” existence where everything has its place, and you can always find it. Then imagine continuing to live like this after you have done a purge of all redundant “stuff.” Envision closets that are not stuffed, storage lockers that are no longer necessary, and the pleasure of simpler housecleaning and more cash in your wallet. There’s a Zen feel to it all.

And if, during the purging of your unloved extra stuff, you happen to pocket a few bucks – or trim your monthly budget by downsizing – you can “declutter” some of that extra cash by saving it for retirement. After all, your future clutterless you will still need money for travel and other tidy fun. A great home for those extra dollars is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, where expert investing will grow them into future retirement income. They’ve been doing it for 35 years – why not check them out today?

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


How to get rid of clutter quickly and easily

September 16, 2021
Photo by Humairah L. on Unsplash

We accumulate so much stuff in our lives, to the point that eventually, many of us will find boxes of stuff in the basement that have remained unopened from the last, or maybe several, previous moves.

It’s daunting to see your place full of boxes of old stuff, and/or disused furniture, small appliances, TVs, and the like – it looks like so much work to get rid of it that it’s easier just to dust the clutter and close the door on it.

Save with SPP looked for help with this problem on the Interweb, and found some interesting suggestions.

The Simple Lionheart Life blog offers some great advice.

They recommend “frequency over intensity” when it comes to decluttering. “Even 10 minutes a day of decluttering will add up over time,” the blog advises. Schedule your decluttering sessions, and have clear goals for clutterless living in a decluttering plan, the blog adds. Another of the great tips (there are several more) is to target the areas of your living space where the clutter is the biggest headache.

The Quick and Dirty Tips blog offers a few more ideas. Here, the authors argue that clutter builds up “because it takes effort to put stuff away.”

A simple way to return things to their correct place is to take an empty box, make a pass through your office or home, and load up everything you encounter that’s in the wrong place. Pop it in the box, the authors suggest, and then when you make a second run through the house, put things where they belong as you pass by. Clever.

The Mommyhood Life blog advises that you create a “make trash, donate or sell” pile of things you aren’t using.

“A donate pile will be for any items that may be useful to another family in need. A sell pile will be for items that are in good shape and have value left to them. A trash pile will be for any items that obviously don’t fit in the sell or donate pile. This will help you get rid of clutter fast by not double thinking about an item, just toss it into a pile,” the blog states.

Other ideas from Mommyhood Life include tips on when to consider getting rid of something – such as, when did you last use it? Does it still help you? As well, get the whole family working on the same page with clutter, the blog says.

Over the years, Save with SPP has attacked clutter (on occasion) by a variation of the “trash, donate or sell” pile. Our pile was trash, donate or recycle. Because we were moving after 10 years in one place, we did a daily run through the house and added items to the three piles. We dropped off donatable items daily at the local thrift shop on the way to work. Trash and recycling went out on garbage day.

We also once employed the services of a junk removal company to clear everything out of the basement just before we moved. It was just like on TV – everything was gone very quickly and painlessly. Right now we are thinking of calling them back to get rid of our space-taking, non-used pool table.

Our neighbours regularly have yard sales to sell off their old stuff. A friend has found a company that will take his empties back for him, and give him a charitable receipt for it! There are companies that will buy your old golf clubs if you upgrade; there are shops that will buy your collectibles if you don’t want the hassle of trying to sell them off yourself online.

One idea that didn’t work was putting excess stuff in a storage locker. After a while you began to feel nagged by the idea that you were paying to hang on to boxes filled with heaven-knows what, old university essays from the 1970s, perhaps, or old sets of cheap crockery or pots and pans you forgot about after packing it up two moves ago.

The biggest obstacle to decluttering is getting going on it, so good luck and Godspeed!

If you make a few bucks from getting rid of your old stuff, a nice place to stash the cash is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can make one-time contributions to your SPP account via your online banking site, by sending them a cheque, or by using their website to make a credit card contribution. All those little piles of extra cash will then be invested professionally and converted to retirement income when you’ve finally scaled the wall and escaped from the office! Check out SPP today.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


How you can set up a “Pay Yourself First” plan

September 9, 2021

By now, practically all of us have heard about “pay yourself first” as a savings strategy.

The general idea is to put away some percentage of your earnings, and then live on the rest. It sounds simple in theory, but in practice, less so. To that end, Save with SPP took a look around the Interweb to get some ideas about how to actually get going on a “pay yourself first” plan.

The folks at MoneySense see several simple steps you need to take to put your plan into action.

First, they suggest, “zero in on your savings goals.” What are you paying yourself first for – to build an emergency fund, or save up for a down payment, or a wedding or (our favourite) retirement, the article asks.

There has to be a reason why you are directing money away from your normal, bill-paying chequing account, MoneySense tells us.

Next, they recommend, take pen to paper and figure out how much you actually can pay yourself first. Make a list of your monthly “must spends,” like “shelter, food, electricity/heat, phone, transportation, etc.,” the article says. What’s left over is “discretionary” money, which can be spent or saved, the article adds.

If you are saving for more than one thing, you need to figure out how much each month to put away for each category. Then comes the actual “doing” part – automating your savings plan.

MoneySense recommends setting up an automatic transfer each month that moves money from chequing into savings. This amount can be increased when you get a raise, the article notes. Savings should be directed to either a tax-free savings account (TFSA), a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), or a combination of both, the article concludes.

The Oaken Financial blog notes that guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) can be a good place to stash savings. GICs are locked in for a time, but pay a set amount of interest for a fixed term, the blog notes. High-interest savings accounts pay good interest but allow you to make withdrawals at any time, the blog notes.

The Golden Girl Finance blog says there are apps that take the difficult thinking part out of the saving equation. Wealthsimple, the blog notes, allows you to round up your credit card purchases, so you are actually paying a little extra, with that money being directed to your savings account. So you save a little as you spend, the blog notes.

Save with SPP notes that similar arrangements – where you pay a little extra on debit card purchases, or where a money-back credit card deposits the cashback directly to your savings account – exist at other Canadian banks.

Other ideas that have flashed across the screen of late:

  • Banking your raise. You were paying off the bills OK before you got the raise, so why not stick the difference between your former pay and your new pay into savings, and live off the rest? You were the day before the raise!
  • Banking your cost of living adjustment. Same concept, but for us lucky pensioners who get cost of living increases, why not direct the increase to savings and continue to live on what you were getting prior to the increase?
  • Starting small. You may not stick with a pay yourself first plan if it is overly ambitious. Uncle Joe always said bank 10 per cent and live on the 90 per cent; he did, and he did well, but Joe was a very disciplined spender. Better to start smaller, maybe two or three per cent, and phase it up.

So to recap – you either need to know how much you spend each month to figure out how much you save, or you need to just pick an affordable percentage of your earnings and set it aside. Once you have automated the process, you won’t miss the saved amount, which will grow happily in a savings account, a retirement account, or perhaps the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

Celebrating 35 years of operations, the SPP permits automatic contributions. They can set it up for you, or you can set up SPP as a bill on your bank website and set up the automation yourself. Either way, the money you direct to SPP will be put away for your future, invested professionally, and – grown – will await you after you get home from the retirement party!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


Things We Used to Need, But Don’t Any More

August 19, 2021

There was a great movie called The Intern a few years ago, where a 70-something guy rejoins the workforce at a start-up tech company. He wows the kids by toting a briefcase to work, and setting up his desk with fancy pen sets and a Rolodex.

It made Save with SPP wonder about things that were once “must haves” that we now see rarely – if ever.

An article in USA Today says technology has done away with the need for phone books, CD or record collections, and “cutting things out of the newspaper.”

Only grandparents, the writer notes, are likely to “find an article they like, snip it out, put it in an envelope, and send that little strip of newsprint to a relative.” Now, news is shared online, we use Internet searches to find service providers, and the majority of people stream their music, the article says.

Insider predicts that in the not-too-distant future, there won’t be print newspapers or magazines from which clippings can be clipped. Paper maps may also soon be a thing of the past, the article suggests. The writers also think “single-use” electronic items, like digital cameras, portable hard drives, and “standalone GPS” systems, will soon be in the “whatever happened to” file.

At the Too Old to Grow Up blog, under the tab “Nostalgia,” we are reminded of the once-cool Betamax videotape systems, encyclopedias, and video rental stores that now seem to recall a bygone era.

The article goes on to recall the days of floppy disks, film cameras, and pay phones. You can still find the odd pay phone, but far less frequently than in days of yore.

The BestLife blog notes that busy signals when you are phoning someone are now a relic of a forgotten era. “Back in the days of landlines, calling somebody and getting a busy signal used to be annoying,” the writers note. “But today, in an age of digital phones, we’d give anything to hear a busy signal.” The signal let you know whoever you were trying to reach was there, but on another call.

Dot-matrix printers used to be the industry standard years ago, but long have been replaced by faster, better inkjet and laser printers, the article notes. Remember when you used to get static on your TV between channels? No longer a thing in the digital age, we are told. Slide projectors, fax machines – gone, and mostly forgotten.

When this aging writer was a journalism student at Carleton in (gulp) the late ‘70s, it was an analog world. There was a room full of typewriters for us to use, and a cramped little phone room with wall-mounted dial phones for us to do the reporting stuff. We took notes in shorthand. If you wanted to get someone to comment on something, it was a bit of an effort – no Internet to search on, yet. A lot of times you were on the phone to operators at governments or big businesses, asking them who might be able to comment on, say, the rising price of gold, or inflation, or other ‘70s things. So much has changed.

One thing that has remained constant over the decades of technological progress is the need to save for retirement. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has kept up with the times – with My SPP, you can look up your account balance, and see the progress on your savings efforts, online, 24-7. If you are looking to squirrel away a few dollars today for fun in retirement in the long-away future, SPP may be the retirement provider you are looking for. They are celebrating 35 years of operation in 2021.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


As offices gear up for re-opening, will everyone want to return?

July 22, 2021

The summer of 2021 has seen the start of what looks like a return to normal. COVID numbers are down, vaccination rates are up, the economy is re-opening (carefully) and there’s talk again of travel, and of going back to the office.

Yet there’s also talk from some of NOT going back to the office? What gives? Save with SPP had a look around to explore this issue.

Research from Robert Half, an HR consulting firm, from April found that about one-in-three office workers “would quit their job rather than return to the office,” reports Western Investor.

More than half of those surveyed on the idea of returning to work said they “prefer a hybrid work arrangement, where they can divide time between the office and another location,” the article notes. Some of those surveyed did express concern that working from home has its downsides, such as the “loss of relationships with co-workers” and “fewer career opportunities and decreased productivity.”

Those who do imagine coming back want some perks, the article says, such as “greater freedom to set office hours, employer-paid commuting costs, a relaxed dress code and providing childcare.”

Ouch. What would the “dress for success” workaholics of the ‘80s make of this office aversion?

The numbers are similar south of the border. An article in Commercial Observer says that while 62 per cent of Manhattan workers were expected to return to the office, that leaves “one in three” who don’t plan to come back.

Only about 12 per cent of Manhattan’s 1.5 million office workers had returned to work by early summer and “39 per cent of people would be willing to quit their job rather than give up remote work,” the article says.

A more recent survey from Canada Life sheds some light on the concerns people have about re-entering office life.

Even given the dropping COVID numbers and higher vaccination rates, “46 per cent of Canadians working from home are anxious about the threat of the virus if and when they return to the office,” Canada Life reports in a media release.

Mary Ann Baynton of Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, who partnered on the research with Canada Life, explains this reluctance.

“For those working from home, this transition presents new and unique concerns, because they’ve been more isolated and have been able to limit their exposure to the virus for a long time. Employers need to understand what their teams are concerned about so they can effectively support them during this significant adjustment,” she states in the release.

COVID risk was by far the biggest concern identified in the research, the release notes – only 10 per cent were concerned about changes to their work-life balance, nine per cent about increased commuting, and less than one per cent about impacts to children and their care, the release notes.

From our informal research amongst friends and colleagues who have been working at home, there is certainly interest in having the flexibility to work from home – at least some of the time – going forward. If you’ve ever been crammed onto a train or subway car packed with commuters, or stuck in a 10-km long traffic jam each workday, or circling some lot in a fruitless quest for the last parking spot, it’s hard to look forward to starting all that up again. Only time will tell how it all plays out.

One thing that works as well at home as it does in the workplace is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can sign up as an individual, effectively creating a tailored, end-to-end pension plan for yourself that looks after not only investing your savings, but converting them to income later on. If you’re an employer, you can offer SPP at your workplace, creating a great way to attract new team members and hanging on to the people you’ve got! Why not check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.


How you can learn to save like Grandma

June 3, 2021

We always remember arriving at grandma’s house in Saint John, NB, back in the ‘60s, and being treated to homemade pickles, chow-chow, and even mayonnaise. Grandma’s house was fill of jams, jellies, and other preserves, and their impressive vegetable patch featured herbs, carrots, and much more.

Grandma bolstered her grocery supply with home cooking, preserves, and garden produce.

Save with SPP took a look around the Interweb to see if anyone else has gathered together saving tips from their grandparents – and we found quite a few.

At the Koho.ca blog, writer Brittany Bell lists budgeting – our grandparents knew enough to spend less than what they brought home – as well as prudent spending, and finding “simple ways to save.”

Other old-school saving ideas include coupon clipping, saving your change, buying grocery items in bulk and taking advantage “of all available deals and discounts” when shopping online or offline.

The A Cultivated Nest blog adds a few more.

Make your own, the blog advises – you can create your own “cleaning supplies, your own DIY beauty products, your own gifts.” We learn again about growing your own herbs and making your own preserves, but there’s also the idea of “cut your own” which makes sense – buy a watermelon and cut it up, and do the same with a whole chicken. Every cut made at the grocery store by staffers will cost you, the blog advises.

Other good tips include using cash and not credit, to “repair or upcycle” things rather than just throwing them away, and to consider buying used instead of new.

Country Living magazine rolls out some additional ideas.

Buy direct from the farmer, the article advises. Learn to sew so you can save on tailoring costs and minor clothing repairs. “Make meat an accent,” rather than the bulk of your meal plan, we learn. Make soup more often, we are told – it is filling, nutritious, and an easy way to use up leftovers. Start saving – “it’s never too late” and make it automatic, the article continues.

Finally, the article says, “eat in,” and enjoy your own cooking while saving money.

These all ring true when we think of our grandparents. As far as we can remember, none of them used credit cards – if they had them, they were for an emergency. They didn’t have lines of credit on their houses. So, when they wanted something, they had to save up for it. These are all still sensible ideas today.

If you want to retire, you’ll have to save up for it. If you have a pension plan at work, great – that’s a big part of the battle. But if you don’t, or if you want to augment your workplace savings, check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. The SPP gives you all you need to make your retirement savings plan automatic – you can make contributions automatically from your bank account, and increase them over time as you earn more. What you chip in is professionally invested at a very low cost, and can – when you retire – be paid out to you in the form of a lifetime annuity. Check out the SPP, celebrating 35 years of operations, today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

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.