Money saving tips

Combing the Interweb for the best retirement savings tips

October 6, 2022

Years ago, when we were working away at Lakehead Living in Thunder Bay, Ont., a colleague asked us if we were contributing to a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).

“What’s that?” we asked. And once it was explained that you would get a tax refund for contributions made to an RRSP, the 25-year-old us was in – starting off at $25 per month.

What’s the best retirement savings tip out there? Save with SPP decided to have a look.

Start saving today, advises the Merrill division of Bank of America. “Start saving as much as you can now and let compound interest — the ability of your assets to generate earnings, which are reinvested to generate their own earnings — have an opportunity to work in your favour,” the bank advises.

At the InvestedWallet blog there are two tips of note – to “fund your retirement account with side hustles,” and to “ditch the lavish vacations.”

Using “side hustles,” such as “flipping furniture, using a 3D printer to make money, or completing freelance gigs” is a great way to boost savings – direct your profits there, rather than to buying furniture or taking trips, the blog advises. And on big annual trips, Invested Wallet suggests cutting back on “destination” vacations (the average vacation in the U.S. costs $1,145 per year) and instead, doing something affordable during time off and putting the saved cash into retirement.

The Forbes Advisor offers up a couple of good tips – get rid of your debt now, and not after you are retired, and “practice retirement spending now.” The first one needs no further explanation – debt is harder to pay off when you are living on less.

The “practice” tip is intriguing. Basically, the article suggests that most retirees will live on 80 per cent of what they were earning before retiring. We had a friend who was fearful about living with her first mortgage. So her husband said look, let’s bank the difference between our rent and the mortgage in the run-up to buying the house, and live on the reduced income. This idea worked, her fears were abated and by now we’re sure that house is paid for.

At Sun Life, a variety of tips are included, with a sound bit of advice being “take full advantage of your employee pension plan.” A lot of times, the company pension plan may be optional. You don’t have to join. But if you don’t, you are missing out on putting away money for retirement, often with an employer match.

If you are in a defined benefit pension plan, be sure to find out if there are ways to purchase service for periods of time when you were off on a maternity or parental leave. Your future you will thank you later.

We’ll add a few others we have gleaned over the years.

Make your saving automatic – contribute something towards your retirement every payday, and up it when you get a raise. You will be paying yourself first.

A nice place to put your Canada Revenue Agency tax refund is back into your SPP or RRSP account. You’re making the refund tax-deductible.

Start small. We started with $25 a month nearly 40 years ago. Don’t think you have to start off big, or you may never start off at all!

If you haven’t started saving yet, a wonderful resource to be aware of is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. It’s open to any Canadian with RRSP room. With SPP, you can contribute any amount you want, up to $7,000 per year, and can transfer up to $10,000 a year from other RRSPs. SPP will pool your contributions, invest them at a low cost, and grow them into a future source of 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.


Keeping inflation at bay and saving on “back to school” items

September 1, 2022

The leaves are starting to change colour, the nights are cooler, and our little kids and grandkids are queueing up for the school bus once again.

But this year, with a backdrop of the highest inflation rate in decades, what are parents and grandparents to do when it comes to saving on back to school items? Save with SPP scoured the Interweb for some savings ideas.

Inflation, reports the CBC via the MSN website is a bit of a double whammy. First, we spenders have less coins in the wallet. “I just don’t have as much money to go around,” single mom Monica Belyea tells the CBC. And second, prices for school items have gone up. Or, as the CBC notes, there can be “shrinkflation,” where the price of something, say pencils, has not actually gone up, but you are now getting fewer pencils.

Tips from the CBC article include “shopping at home” to see if you can round up many of the needed school items from last year’s purchasing, as well as “carefully comparing prices between stores, waiting to buy certain items when deals are more abundant, and using coupon-code apps when online shopping.”

Pat Hollett of the Barrie, Ont.-based Canadian Savings Group suggests starting simply. “Don’t don’t grab the first thing you see. Shop around and pay the lowest price you can for the same item,” she tells the CBC “Price match where you can … Try other brands, if they’re cheaper.”

Her top tip is to “employ multiple techniques at once,” and shop “using coupons, cash-back offers and points, and tapping points cards to reduce prices as much as possible,” the CBC reports.

Writing for the Nerd Wallet blog via Yahoo! Finance, Hannah Logan notes that 36 per cent of Canadians surveyed are expecting they’ll spend more on back to school items this year than they did in 2021.

Her article recommends price matching.

“Price matching is a service provided by some retailers and grocery stores. Essentially, it means the store will honour a competitor’s lower price on a product, as long as it meets the parameters of their price-matching policy,” she writes.

“Some retailers are so eager to win your business (and confident in their prices) that they’ll not only match a competitor’s price, but offer to beat it by a certain amount or percentage. This could add up to big savings, especially if you’re shopping for big ticket items or multiple students,” the article continues.

Other saving tips outlined in her article include the idea of “buy now, pay later,” using money-saving apps, looking to see if your province offers any assistance (in B.C., certain kids’ clothes and school supplies may be tax exempt), and using “the right” credit card that offers cash back or other rewards.

Global News adds a few more back to school tips. If, the article suggests, your kids’ clothes are large enough to at least last through September, buying clothes in October – when sales begin – will be much more reasonable.

If you need electronics for the kids – such as tablets or laptops – think about going the “used” or “refurbished” route, the article suggests.

“Stores… can provide refurbished electronics at a cheaper rate than buying new, and shopping around local buy-and-sell communities or even swap groups can find you the equipment you need on a budget,” the article suggests.

If you know a kid is going to need a new laptop for the coming school year, start saving up for it months ahead, the article advises.

And if you do manage to outfit the kids with all they need for school – and save a few bucks in the process – a good home for those savings is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP, your retirement savings are invested for the long term at a very low cost, growing into a future stream of retirement income. SPP is open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room – consider signing up 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.


Looking for tricky ways to boost your retirement savings

June 30, 2022

We’re living through some very weird times. First we get a pandemic that keeps many of us from working for an extended period of time, and the rest of us with nothing to spend our money on. Now we’re facing crazy inflation that is making even routine purchases very expensive.

Are there any tricky ways to put away a few bucks for retirement out there? Save with SPP decided to seek out a few new tricks – ideally ones we haven’t covered off before.

A GoBankingRates article posted on Yahoo! offers up 42 savings tricks.

One is to watch the fees in your retirement savings accounts, the article suggests. Here in Canada, this would be in registered retirement savings plans – RRSPs – or Tax-Free Savings Accounts, TFSAs. Do you have mutual funds that charge a high fee, say two per cent or even more? Maybe you can switch to a lower-fee exchange traded fund (ETF). Other ideas include renting out a spare room or an unused garage for extra savings cash, “shopping around” for the best possible insurance rate, and the idea of “putting every tax refund into savings.”

“It’s tempting to use the extra money from your tax refund on a new toy or vacation,” the article states. “But these spurts of cash provide the perfect opportunities to give your retirement savings a big boost.”

The My Money Coach blog has some great ideas, including freeing up money for savings by paying attention to your pre-retirement cash flow.

“A very important key to saving for retirement in Canada – that many have lost sight of – is to earn more than you spend,” the blog explains.

If you are following a budget and still have little room for savings, the blog continues, “the next thing to do is to up your income. You can ask for a raise at work, or you can apply for a job that offers a higher pay and better benefits. You can also pick up extra shifts or take on a second job during the weekends or evenings, if your schedule allows it.”

Other ideas to boost cash flow (and create more savings) are “a side business or freelancing,” the blog notes. “Capitalize on one of your passions and see where it takes you.”

From the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) site comes a little bit of savings psychology advice.  “Try this little trick to motivate yourself,” the site suggests. Simply change the name of your savings solution. Seeing “My world trip,” “Better living” or “Playa del Carmen 2030” every time you log into… e-banking or (a) mobile banking app will remind you of your big dream, and give your motivation a boost,” states Daniel Bregenzer of UBS.

Other tips from UBS include making it “harder” to access your savings account so the temptation to spend it is lessened, “like keeping a box of chocolates out of sight,” and making savings an automatic habit.

Save with SPP can add a couple more.  First, if you get a cash gift card – say it’s issued as a rebate on a purchase of tires, or contact lenses, or whatever – did you know that you can use that gift card to make contributions to your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account? SPP allows you to make credit card contributions, and we have used gift cards quite a few times over the years. Here’s the page where credit card contributions can be made.

And, if you have a cashback card, what better place for the cash than your retirement savings plan – just set up SPP as a bill payment on your bank website or app, and when the cash is deposited, contribute it.

Whatever way you can wring a few extra bucks out of your living costs will work, and your future self will greatly enjoy the work your current self has put in!

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.


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.