Money saving tips

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.

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!

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.

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!

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!

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 do experts see as the three best ways to save money?

June 18, 2020

Saving is such a broad topic. Books, TV programs, podcasts, educational courses and many other helping resources all exist to help us learn how to save.

But wading through all that audio, video and text can be pretty daunting. Save with SPP decided to do a quick combing of the sands of the Internet to search for a few nuggets of saving wisdom.

At the How Stuff Works blog, there are actually 10 top ideas presented, but let’s focus on the top three. First, the blog says, you must “make your money work for you.” The blog suggests that money left over after all the bills are paid can be invested in interest-bearing accounts and savings vehicles.

“You define the terms — how long it will take to mature — and that money goes away. When it comes back, it brings more money with it,” the blog explains.

The second tip offered here is “making – and sticking to – a budget” so that you know where the money you spend is actually going. You need to be honest, and fully aware, of “the money you make and the money you spend,” we are advised.

Coming in at number three is the importance of having an emergency fund. We all know all about that.

It’s a similar tale over at the Modern Mix Vancouver blog.

This blog advises that we “plan ahead; and look back.” A budget is great – if you are following it. So review your expenses every month, and plan as much as you can in advance. “Stock up on non-perishable items when they are on sale, like jars of pasta sauce, dried noodles, canned beans and chickpeas… and shop for fruits and veggies that are in season,” the blog suggests.

A second tip is to use loyalty cards. The author cites Starbucks, Sephora and Shoppers PC Optimum points as examples of where you can earn points to redeem on free stuff simply by signing up.

The third tip here is to “live credit-free and avoid interest fees.” Don’t carry a balance on those cards and if you have done so, work hard to pay off your debt – the interest you pay is significant.

At the My Canada Payday blog, the advice is tailored towards those of us who are struggling with our finances. Their first tip is to try and stretch your precious dollars.

“While saving money can be difficult when funds are low, there are generally certain steps that can be taken to truly get the complete bang for one’s buck,” the blog suggests. Look for a bank that offers low fees, the blog suggests – you’ll be surprised how much you can save.

A second idea is to sell off any items you’re not using, either online or through a yard sale. “Upon attaining these extra funds, putting them aside is a proactive way of getting used to saving money,” the blog advises.

Finally, if you’re having trouble making ends meet, the blog suggests looking for a way to “increase (your) earnings.”

You might be able to become an Uber or Lyft driver, delivering people or groceries, or you could look for online freelance projects, the blog suggests. This added income may be enough to lift your prospects, the blog concludes.

These are all sound ideas. Save with SPP will add one additional one that has worked over the years, and that is the concept of “paying yourself first.” Direct money from your paycheque into savings, whether it’s a retirement fund, an emergency fund, or a savings account, and then let that money grow. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount – you will be surprised how quickly the dollars will pile up.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan permits automated savings. You can set things up so that an amount is automatically transferred to SPP from your account at regular intervals, such as paydays. That way, you’ve done your savings before you have a chance to spend the money. 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. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Ways to stay in shape while the gyms are closed

April 23, 2020

Are you missing your weekly (or for some, daily) trip to the gym during the coronavirus crisis?

Save with SPP had a look around the Interweb to see how people are keeping fit when they are, by and large, confined to their own dwellings.

At the Patch blog, “bodyweight exercises… exercises that don’t require weights or machines,” are recommended. These can also be done anywhere, the blog tells us. Examples include the tried and true pushup, planks (familiar to yoga fans), and a similar “glute bridge.” The site recommends each exercise they list be done 10-15 times.

At The Health Site, the advice on exercise is particularly appropriate for the pandemic.

The site recommends carrying out some breathing exercises at home, so that you can “take precautions by boosting your lung power.” The post outlines deep breathing, “breathing through your diaphragm,” resistance breathing and other exercises. All of these, the blog suggests, will boost the strength of your lungs and “increase the amount of oxygen in your body” by filling and stretching your lung sacs.

TV station KHOU in Houston provides videos leading you through yoga, strength class, cardio class and a boot camp.

So does our own CBC, which provides videos for a couch workout, the “six minute Animal kingdom workout,” a towel workout, a workout for new moms, small-space yoga, and more.

Now why should we be looking up all these exercises when instead we could be watching Netflix or playing board games?

According to the Goodluck blog, keeping busy with exercise has many advantages. It improves your metabolism, it boosts your mental and physical energy, helps with your self-discipline and improves your sleep. The site strongly recommends that workouts take place in the morning.

We’re living through a very strange and scary crisis. Save with SPP has found that even getting out walking the dog seems to break the tension and reduces stress. Be sure, of course, to follow all public health guidelines and keep a safe distance from others if you’re walking, running, or cycling during these unusual times.

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

Here’s what you shouldn’t do once retirement arrives

March 26, 2020

We spend much time seeking out great value-adding, life-enhancing things one can do in retirement. But here’s a worried thought – what shouldn’t we be doing in our life after work?

Save with SPP had a look around with a different theme, this time – what not to do!

The USA Today newspaper lists a number of things to not do in your crucial first year of retirement.

A key mistake, the newspaper notes, is “not having a financial or life plan.” David Laster, a U.S. financial author, is quoted in the article as saying “only 42 per cent of workers try to calculate a budget before going into retirement. If you don’t do that, that leaves you vulnerable to some unpleasant surprises in retirement. And it can be painful.”

Other things to watch out for in year one, USA Today adds, are overspending, claiming government benefits too early (you get more the longer you wait) and being too conservative with investments.

At the Yahoo! Finance site, author Gabrielle Olya adds a couple more – ignoring inflation, and not seeking the advice of a financial planner.

“Although the inflation rate seems minimal, it still affects how far your dollar will go,” she writes. “This is especially true for money held in fixed savings accounts, which unlike money in certain investments, will lose value over time.”

Going it alone on finances, she warns, may mean you are “losing out on how to improve (your) financial readiness.”

The Gilbert Guide blog adds a few more, including having too many cars, moving at the wrong time, and getting “sold or scammed on services you don’t need.”

Try to avoid having multiple vehicles, the blog suggests. One will do for most retired couples.

Moving is a very important consideration as well, the blog notes. According to retirement specialist Bill Losey, who is quoted in the article, “many people relocate based on a couple of specific factors, such as low real estate costs or low taxes, then discover that other costs more than eat up their savings.”

Losey goes on to say in the article that if you make an expensive move – then change your mind and move back where you started from – the move is even more costly. Before choosing a retirement move, the blog advises, consider “hidden costs” such as property taxes, sales taxes, grocery costs, and other basics. Staying put may make more sense, the blog advises.

Save with SPP has noted a few other things. If you consider your retirement to be an unending vacation of travel, meals out, expensive hobbies and doing new things, you may run out of money before you run out of ideas. It is perhaps better to think of retirement as being a permanent weekend – you won’t be going into work, sure, but you won’t be jetting to the south of France either. You’ll be shovelling the driveway and trying to get the wretched filters to stay in the range hood after you’ve cleaned them. It’s important to be practical, and enjoy life within your means.

A nice feature for folks who save for retirement via the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is the fact that it offers life annuities when you retire. With an annuity, you get a pre-set payment every month for the rest of your life. You can never run out of money, and SPP allows you to provide for a surviving spouse or beneficiary as well, so you can pay that security forward. 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

10 Simple Ways to Save Big

February 6, 2020

With credit card bills coming in after the holidays, many Canadians are looking to save money. Saving money is a popular New Year’s Resolution, but unless you figure out how you’re going to save money, your goals like buying a home and saving towards retirement aren’t as likely to happen.

Saving money doesn’t have to painful. Here are 10 simple ways to save big in 2020.

  1. Disposable Products

Not only do disposable products cost money, they hurt the environment. Instead of using plastic cutlery, use metal cutlery. Skip the paper napkins and go with reusable cloth napkins. Cloth dishrags are a good alternative to pricey paper towels.

  1. Lottery Tickets

You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery (no, I’m not making this up). Instead of spending $5 a week on a lottery ticket, consider putting that money toward your savings.

  1. Smartphone In-App Purchases

Most apps these days are free, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch your spending here. The new trend is in-app purchases. If you’re having trouble solving a crossword puzzle, the app may offer you a hint that you pay for. To avoid the temptation, turn off in-app purchases or add a passcode so you think twice before paying.

  1. Fuel

Although the price at the pumps isn’t as high as it once was, it still makes sense to plan out your driving trips ahead of time. GPS makes doing this a lot easier. Plan out your errands so you’re not driving too far out of the way because you forgot to pick up milk and bread. Research driving techniques for fuel efficiency.

  1. Books, Blu-rays, Digital Movies and TV

When’s the last time you read a book or watched a movie more than once? Save yourself some money and use the public library. Most libraries in big cities have an excellent selection of books, e-books, movies and TV shows. If you don’t have cable, nothing beats Netflix.

  1. Deal Websites

Deal websites like Groupon are a great way to save money, as long as you don’t become addicted. Avoid buying stuff you don’t need by only visiting them when you plan to buy something. A further caution: only visit reputable websites. Avoid those with cheap copies of branded goods, expensive shipping costs to return items and short deadlines for refunds.

  1. Gym memberships

I’m all for people going to the gym and getting in shape, as long as they show up. But two-thirds of people with gym memberships never step foot inside a gym. If you’re joining a gym for the first time, consider hiring a personal trainer for the first couple of weeks to show you the ropes. Once you get the hang of things, why not exercise with a buddy to keep each other motivated? If your condo has a decent gym, you can skip the gym membership fees altogether.

  1. Premium Cable Packages

Do you really need 500-plus channels? Consider downgrading to basic cable or cut the cord altogether. Netflix and antennas are great cable alternatives.

  1. Utilities

Do you sometimes forget to turn down the heat when you’re leaving your home? In a typical home, about 60% of energy costs are from heating and cooling. Install a programmable thermostat, and in the wintertime set it so the temperature automatically goes up before you wake up, goes down when you leave home and then goes up again for when you arrive back home. Reduce the temperature by four to five degrees at night and when you’re away to save 15% on your heating bill.

  1. Ready Meals and Prepared Food

If you’re a foodie, it might be hard to imagine giving up your favourite dishes. You don’t have to—you just have to be willing to find thrifty alternatives. Instead of picking up ready-made dishes like pasta, lasagna and side dishes at the supermarket and paying top dollar, consider taking cooking classes and learn to prepare them yourself, if you don’t already know how. Weekdays can be hectic, so prepare your culinary masterpieces on weekends when you have more time.

 About the Author
Sean Cooper is the bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand Personal Finance Journalist, Money Coach and Speaker, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post and MoneySense. Connect with Sean on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Are snowbirds healthier than the rest of us?

September 12, 2019

It’s a sure sign of winter.

In late November, normally right after American Thanksgiving, a noticeable number of our Canadian seniors start packing up to head out. Their goal – avoiding the icy temperatures, daunting snowbanks and dark days of a Canadian winter.

Save with SPP will admit to a bit of envy here. Surely there is a health benefit to being a hardy Canuck and toughing out a Canadian winter? Isn’t there? Let’s see.

Au contraire, writes the Retire Fabulously blog. “Cold weather can be harder to endure as we get older,” the blog advises. “A slip on the ice could be more likely to result in injury for older folks, and shovelling show can become too physically taxing.”

The Travelers Country Club blog is definitive on the question, saying snowbirds are definitely healthier than those who tough out the winter.

“According to a 2010 study, enduring cold weather puts people at a greater risk of heart attack. Older people and those with previous coronary heart disease are more vulnerable to the effects of cold temperatures. Bundling up and cranking up the heat in your home can help but it’s not a long-term solution and it can be costly. Snowbirds live in warmer climates all year round, reducing their risk of weather-related heart issues,” the blog notes.

The Cranky Fitness blog sees benefits simply from the increase in outdoor activity snowbirds can enjoy.

“A two to three-fold greater volume of walking for pleasure, the most prevalent type of activity for both men and women, was reported in spring-summer-fall seasons, compared with winter,” the blog reports. As well, data from the Canadian Community Health Survey of 2004 found that the number of respondents who reported they were inactive “increased from 49 per cent in summer to 64 per cent in winter,” the blog reports.

So having less winter means having more spring and summer activities, the blog concludes.

Getting away from winter chores and icy sidewalks is one thing, but the Aging Horizons blog sees other advantages. Citing research from North Dakota State University, the blog says “researchers found seasonal migration provided snowbirds with a change in lifestyle and an extended network of friends, which boosted their quality of life.”

The Ingle International website says that while Canadians travelling abroad – mostly to the U.S. – will enjoy the warmer weather, they have to think about medical coverage while there. “Once you leave your province and enter another country, your medicare benefits stay behind and you become responsible for paying for your own medical costs. You will be lucky if your provincial medicare pays 10 cents on the dollar of any foreign hospital bills you generate,” the site warns.

As well, the blog notes, be sure to check with the federal government’s website on rules on how long you can live outside Canada.

From what we’ve seen here, it sounds like getting away from the winter may indeed make life last a little longer, if only through the boost in activity and less exposure to the toils and travails of winter. If you’re thinking of being a snowbird one day, you may want to put away a little cash today for future travels tomorrow. A wonderful opportunity to turn savings into retirement income is available to all Canadians by opening up a Saskatchewan Pension Plan account – be sure to browse on over 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