Personal finance

Bartering – an ancient money-saving idea expands through 21st century technology

November 24, 2022

Let’s face it. The cost of a lot of things, particularly groceries and gas, has gone way up of late, leaving us all with a little less in the wallet to buy other things. That’s prompted a number of us to take a look at an old idea – bartering. Save with SPP took a look around to see what people are saying about this ancient take on trading goods and services for other goods and services, without the need for money.

“Bartering is a simple and cheap exchange of goods and services between people,” reports the Moneyless blog. “Bartering is also recommended if you want to live without money or if you want to save money. Bartering is also a fantastic way to get new stuff and it can be a good alternative to the monetary economy,” the blog suggests.

The chief idea of bartering is trading, the blog explains. It’s like “can you fix my computer? Then I’ll fix your curtains,” the article adds. However, thanks to 21st Century technology, the process has moved online.

The blog notes that there are online bartering sites where people offer to exchange “games… audio equipment, TVs or furniture” for other goods or services they specifically need. Some of these sites work with a credit system, and others “one to one,” meaning you trade your chair for someone’s table.

Save with SPP looked for a few Canadian barter sites, and found Swapsity, Barter Pay and First Canadian Barter.

The Budget And Invest blog looks at some of the advantages of bartering.  Bartering, the article says, “generates more business” by bringing your items to “a larger pool” of barterers. It also “reduces the cost of doing business” by virtue of it being a moneyless system – unsold items that remain on a store’s shelf, for instance, equate to lost money, the blog suggests.

Bartering helps “conserve cash” since you are trading items and services for the same, and not paying for them, and is “easy” since it has grown from individual dealmaking to online networking.

Forbes cites the example of Melissa Barker, who has launched a bartering business called WE Barker that has “5,000 people involved in 44 industries across 25 cities.”

“At the crux of WE is the bartering system, both small trades like writing a review to big trades like developing a website in exchange for public speaking coaching,” Forbes reports.

Another practical example comes from the Blogging Away Debt blog, which provides the testimonial of a woman named Hope, who has bartered for things like “Tae Kwan Do lessons, homeschool co-op tuition, competitive gymnastics training, and so much more over the years.”  She recently bartered for two full weeks of boarding for her seven dogs in exchange for redoing the kennel’s website.

Save with SPP has one fond memory of bartering. Back in the 1980s, we were driving an ancient 1975 Impala around Wainwright, Alta. One day, the engine blew. The mechanic across the street from work said it would cost $2,000 for a new one. Told a friend, he said a national chain might have rebuilt engines for $1,000. Told another friend (happily) about this saving, and he said try a wrecker, could only be $250. Finally, told my friend Don, and he said he and his brother had a car like mine in the barn and could switch out the engines for a case of beer. Now that’s the value of bartering!

The money you save by bartering might allow you to put more dollars in your retirement piggy bank. If you are daunted by saving money in today’s challenging markets, take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. As a member of SPP, you get the experience of their expert money managers at a very low fee – less than one per cent. They’ll grow your money over your working career, and when it’s time to give back the security badge, SPP can help you turn those savings into a stream of retirement income. Check them out today!

“Unretirement” trend sees older workers returning to their jobs

November 3, 2022

When star quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement in the offseason – and then “unretired” soon afterwards, resuming his career – he was probably not aware of the fact that he’s a trendsetter.

More and more of us are “unretiring,” reports Edward Jones . “’Unretirement’ represents a growing trend among Canadians living in and approaching retirement,” an article on the firm’s website reports.  Citing recent Age Wave research, the article notes “33 per cent of recent retirees struggle to find a sense of purpose in retirement with new-found free time. Most Baby Boomers want to be more active, engaged, exploratory and purposeful in retirement than their parents and grandparents.”

So, for some of these folks, this leads to a desire to return to work, the article notes.

“When retirees stop working, it can create a void, often more social than financial. When asked what they miss most about their work life, 39 per cent of retirees say it’s the people and social stimulation, with only 22 per cent saying it’s the pay. The loss of social connection can lead to harmful isolation,” the article notes.

Okay, missing the work colleagues and all the social interactions can be part of it. Another part of it can be not having enough money in retirement, reports The Express.

“Given that living costs are rising and pay growth is pretty strong too, we might expect to see more people coming back to work through the winter and into the new year, particularly with vacancies so high and with so many employers keen to recruit,” Tony Wilson of the Institute for Employment Studies tells The Express.

The latest U.K. data finds that one in eight pension-aged Brits, a total of 1.46 million pensioners, are “in work,” with those over 65 being able “to claim a state pension while still working.” A further six per cent of current retirees are said to be thinking of making a return to work “to top up their pension income,” the article notes.

Investment News, looking at the U.S. market, says it may also simply be the great number of unfilled jobs out there that is leading to older workers being “actively recruited” for a return to work.

“We need older workers to stave off inflation and get the economy back on track,” states demographer Bradley Schurman in the article. “They are a key ingredient to solving the massive imbalance in the demand and supply of labour, which has created the ideal environment for the Great Resignation to thrive and is a contributing factor to increasing prices.”

The article makes the point that the waves of resignations by younger workers in the latter stages of the pandemic crisis led to job openings not seen since the Second World War.

“Today’s employment pictures looks a lot less like the pre-pandemic years and a lot more like those during the post-World War II, when America relied on older workers to fuel growth,” states Schurman in the article.

So, putting this all together, there are three factors that may be driving the “unretirement” trend. First, some older folks miss being at work and interacting with colleagues. Second, many retirees find (particularly with high inflation on the upswing) that retirement isn’t as affordable as they thought – so they go back to work due to income needs. The third idea expressed here is that the Great Resignation has created vacancies, and recruiters are looking to retired, experienced workers to plug employment gaps.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, and certainly is not something we saw when our parents retired. Typically, they left at age 65 and “fully retired,” with most never working for wages ever again.

Whether or not you become an “unretiree” one day, you’ll still want to have some retirement savings in your piggy bank. If you don’t have a pension plan through your workplace or if your workplace wants to introduce a pension plan, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be worth a look. This open defined contribution plan is available to anyone with registered retirement savings plan room. SPP will carefully invest any contributions you make and can help you turn them into retirement income when you finally put down the hammer for the last time. 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.

Figuring out why many people don’t save

October 27, 2022

We spend ample time in this space talking up ways to save for retirement, but most studies suggest that the majority of us aren’t savers.

Save with SPP had a look around the Interweb to see why this seems to be the case.

At the Retire Happy blog, Jim Yih outlines several of the reasons that prevent people from being savers.

Citing research from Scotiabank that found that one third of Canadians “do not have a savings plan,” Yih says a lack of financial literacy is one reason behind non-saving. “For anyone that knows me, you know that I am very vocal about the importance and need for more financial education and literacy,” he writes. “The statistics are alarming when it comes to debt, savings and fiscal responsibility. One of the reasons for this is the lack of formal financial education.”

Other non-saving factors he lists in his blog post are having a “consumption attitude,” where people (and governments) tend to spend more money than they have; a “staggering” level of personal debt to pay for, and the complexity of financial markets for novice investors.

“Think about it. With over 9000 mutual funds, how can you possibly go through that many funds?” he asks.

The federal government’s consumer financial website lists several other factors. We tend to develop habits around spending, the article notes, such as always going out for lunch. We put off “things until later, especially things we don’t want to do anyway,” like starting a savings plan, the article continues. Many of us, the article adds, live in the now with money.

“We often downplay what we want in the future. We don’t think much about the future unless we have to. `I know I should keep my savings for when I retire, but I really need to remodel the kitchen this year,’” the article notes.

Among the other ideas in this article that of feeling that savings is like “doing without,” and the notion that putting money away for the future will somehow interfere with your ability to have fun in the present, the article adds.

The Insider by Finology blog throws in a few more. The lack of a budget, the blog suggests, is a key factor.

“Without a proper budget, it will be challenging to know where the money goes month after month, making it difficult to save money,” the authors note.

On overspending, the blog points out that those who don’t save will have serious problems if they ever face a job loss or an unexpected drop in income. Savings should be automated, a “set it and forget it” approach, the article continues.

“Some people need to be tricked into saving money because they don’t have the willpower to save without a push. If you’re one of them, then you need to automate your savings. By setting up automatic savings, you can ensure you meet your savings goals first and force yourself to live on what’s left,” the article advises.

The takeaway here seems to be that savings has to be a habit, one that you keep at systematically. Like eating healthier, or boosting your exercise, saving is not something that is necessarily fun – the benefits of it will appear down the road when you’ve been doing it for a while.

Start with a small, affordable amount of savings that you can live without in the present, and make that money automatically go from your chequing account to some sort of savings. Ramp it up a little bit as you earn more. A “pay yourself first” approach will benefit your future you enormously.

A destination for those hard-saved dollars could be the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. For more than 35 years SPP has been helping people build retirement savings. Check out SPP today and see how they can help you build a secure retirement!

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.

What’s on the agenda once you’ve escaped from work?

October 13, 2022

Those of us who are now retired will remember wondering what the heck we would get up to once we handed in our security badge and logged off forever.  It’s a mystery. We remember asking retired friends what it would be like, and were told “you’ll never believe you found the time to work.” A cryptic and mysterious answer, that.

So, what are retired folks getting up to? Save with SPP had a look around to see.

US News and World Report sets out the list of things folks ought to do in retirement. They suggest activities like fitness, “being financially savvy,” establishing routines, caring for pets, staying social, and to “commit to your health.”

Other ideas in the article include travel, getting new hobbies, working (part-time), considering relocating, studying your family tree, and so on. 

They recommend starting off with a retirement bucket list.  “Jot down the wishes you’ve been waiting to fulfill, ranging from travel spots to hobbies. Whenever you’re unsure of what to do next, you can revisit the list. Just be sure to keep the items within your reach, meaning they are financially feasible for your budget and fit your mobility range,” the article advises.

A colourful graphic on the Age UK site adds a few additional ideas, such as going on cruises, “seeing the Northern Lights,” enjoying time with the grandbabies, and the 60-ish notion of travelling the world in a VW mini-bus.

OK, so these are all great ideas. But are people doing them?

The Satisfying Retirement blogspot reports that “worries about having enough to do and not being bored are very much top-of-mind” for retirees. “After several decades of having time dictated by work, the thought of unplanned days stretching into the future is a little unsettling,” the post continues.

A number of retirees interviewed for this post say they do a lot of the same things, but can now take their time. Two hours at the gym provides time for talking to people and reading the paper, the post notes, whereas before, you had to rush through a working in 30-35 minutes to make time for shopping.

“I’ve had three boring days in two years,” retiree Jane P tells the blog. “We have an exercise or swimming class every weekday morning. We have a garden. I try to meet one of several friends for coffee or lunch each week. I’m a mediator in training and I try to have one mediation event set up each week. I have a blog and a blogging community. I play games on Facebook.”

According to the Intentional Retirement blog, maybe retirement doesn’t look night-and-day different from pre-retirement. The blog reviewed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data that found that “those in retirement spent less time on things like working, educational activities, and caring for others like their children. They spent more time on things like personal care, eating, household activities, shopping, leisure, civic activities and talking on the phone.”

The U.S. data, the blog notes, say it boils down to an average 2.5 hours per week more, for retirees, on leisure activities than their working cousins.

Time to try new things is the dividend that retirement pays. We wouldn’t have thought we would be spending hours and hours per week line dancing, but it’s opened up a lot of new friendships, is fun, and helps us stay sharper. All good. Try to take advantage of all the free time to try new things.

Having a little more retirement income will give you more options in retirement. Consider joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan to help boost your savings efforts. As of December 31, 2021, SPP has 32,409 members, manages $604.6 million in assets, has been delivering retirement security to Canadians since 1986, and is open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room. 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 tweak your investment strategy during times of inflation

September 29, 2022

While inflation rates may have peaked, we have seen it hit levels not seen in four decades, impacting the price of food, fuel, and other staples.

While higher interest rates are great news for savers, it’s not as clear what (if anything) investors should be doing about it. Save with SPP had a look around to see what people are saying about investment strategies in inflationary times.

According to Forbes magazine, there are “moves an investor can make right now that might alleviate their stress over inflation.”  The first idea, the magazine notes, is “to stay invested in equities.” Why? Because “a company facing rising costs, can simply offset them by raising prices, which raises revenue and earnings,” the article explains.

Any fixed income in your portfolio should be in the form of “high credit quality bonds,” but adding to this sector as rates climb is risky, Forbes warns. Consider investing in commodities via an exchange traded fund, the article suggests. Commodities include things like sugar, oil and gas, corn, pork bellies and other key goods.

Investopedia agrees that inflation “is generally a punch in the jaw for bonds,” and suggests increasing your exposure to equities by 10 per cent in inflationary times.  Other ideas from Investopedia include investing in international securities, from countries like Italy, Australia and South Korea. These are “major economies… that do not rise and fall in tandem with (North American) indices,” the article explains.

Real estate, the article continues, “often acts as a good inflation hedge since there will always be a demand for homes, regardless of the economic climate.” If actually buying real estate as an investment is beyond your means, you can still take part in the market via real estate investment trusts (REITs), the article explains.

“REITs are companies that own and operate portfolios of commercial, residential, and industrial properties. Providing income through rents and leases, they often pay higher yields than bonds,” the article notes.

Another idea from the Daily Mail is to consider being a bit of a saver within your portfolio to take advantage of high interest payouts.

“Britons are moving more of their cash into fixed-rate savings deals, with interest rates across the market rising on a daily basis,” the newspaper reports.

“A net £2.8 billion flowed into fixed-term cash deposits in July 2022, according to the latest figures from the Bank of England – the strongest flow seen since November 2010,” the magazine adds.

A second Forbes article talks about avoiding volatility in your portfolio.

“You want to buy stocks in companies that are likely—and I use that word ‘likely’ very carefully—to perform better than other companies in a rising rate environment,” BMO Nesbitt Burns’ John Sacke tells Forbes.

The article reminds us to keep an eye on our household budget and living costs in periods of inflation. In addition to thinking about your investments, the article suggests you “track your spending closely” and look for bargains.

Pay off any debt quickly in an environment when rates are going up, the article advises.

“StatsCan estimates the average consumer owes $1.73 in consumer credit and mortgage liabilities for every dollar of their income. This high debt-to-income ratio isn’t new, but the Bank of Canada’s current overnight rate of 2.5 per cent (which is 10 times higher than it was at the end of 2021) is making interest rates on loans higher, meaning those debts are even more expensive to pay off,” the article warns.

Other inflation-fighting tips include the use of cash-back credit cards and coupon clipping, as well as shopping apps.

Summing up what we found, there seems to be a belief that stocks are more likely to grow in value than bonds in a high-interest rate environment, and that real estate and international investments may be alternatives worth considering.

Now may be a good time to pick up a fixed-income investment with a guaranteed payout, like a guaranteed investment certificate. And at the same time, you have to watch your spending, and budget, to get through the choppy inflationary waters.

Save with SPP does not specifically endorse any of these strategies, and we recommend that you consider getting professional advice before making changes to your portfolio.

If all this is a little daunting, consider letting the Saskatchewan Pension Plan navigate the choppy investment seas for you. SPP’s Balanced Fund has exposure to Canadian and global equities and fixed income, as well as real estate, infrastructure, mortgages and other quality investments. Be sure to 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.

Pandemic workplace stress now leading to The Great Resignation, and mass retirements?

September 15, 2022

There have been reports from around the world about The Great Resignation – how the stress and strain of working through the pandemic crisis has prompted many to opt out of the workforce altogether.

In Canada, reports The Globe and Mail, the primary way that Canucks are leaving the workforce is via retirement.

“Last week’s July employment report from Statistics Canada revealed that a record 300,000 Canadians have retired over the past 12 months,” writes columnist David Parkinson. “That’s up nearly 30 per cent from the same time last year, and nearly 15 per cent from the months leading up to the pandemic in early 2020,” he continues.

One might think that older workers leaving the workforce – boomers and near-boomers finally giving back their ID badge and parking pass – might be good news for younger workers.

However, the Globe continues, there may also be a downside to this “retirement frenzy.” The article quotes economist Stephen Brown as saying “the sharp increase in retirees this year presents downside risks to our forecasts for employment, and with gross domestic product (GDP) growth already faltering, further raises the probability that economic activity will contract.”

The article links today’s record-low unemployment rate with a less-good stat, a falling job participation rate. In plainer terms, less joblessness, yes, but overall, less people working. “All this poses downside risks for GDP, particularly if retirements increase any further,” notes Brown in the article.

A clearer example of The Great Resignation’s impacts can be gleaned from an article in Manitoba’s Thompson Citizen. In Northern Manitoba, the article reports, recruitment bonuses of up to $6,750 – bonuses that continue on after hire – are being offered to try and get nursing positions filled in remote First Nations’ facilities. A lack of healthcare staffing has sparked a crisis in the area, the newspaper reports.

In Northern Ontario, the CBC reports, the mining and supply industry is also seeing “a shrinking and aging labour force,” and a “scramble” to fill open jobs.

“You’re going to see businesses closing because they can’t find enough people. And then it could also be putting more pressure on the people that are currently working,” Reggie Calverson of the Sudbury Manitoulin Workforce Planning Board tells the CBC.

There, technology is being deployed to automate some jobs – more AI, more robots, self-checkouts and virtual customer service, the CBC report notes.

And the younger workers left behind as their older colleagues “resign” or retire are indeed finding it a strain to pick up the slack, reports Time magazine via Yahoo!.

Many, the magazine reports, are “quiet quitting,” which is “the concept of no longer going above and beyond, and instead doing what their job description requires of them and only that.”

Employers in the U.S. and elsewhere fear that while “quiet quitters” will avoid job burnout by leaving at quitting time and not dealing with after-hours emails and meetings, overall productivity could be impacted at a time when there are fewer workers in the job pool.

How to incent workers who feel “unengaged?” A Globe and Mail piece by Jared Lindzon suggests more bonus pay, such as commissions, or even retirement-related incentives.

Many employers are considering offering matching contributions to their company’s retirement program, or setting up new programs, the article says.

It’s interesting to read that for some experts, a wave of retirements is negative for the economy. Canadian research from a few years ago suggests that retired workers do give the economy a boost via their pensions, which they tend to spend on goods and services and taxes.

A study last year carried out for the Canadian Public Pension Plan Leadership Council (CPPLC) by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis found that “every $10 of pension payments generates $16.70 of economic activity and makes a total contribution of $82 billion to Canada’s economy annually,” reports Benefits Canada.

OK, a lot going on here. People are retiring in droves, particularly those aged 55 to 65. It’s harder to fill jobs. Those in jobs are feeling overburdened, perhaps thanks to the fact that older colleagues have left and have not been replaced. While some fear this Great Resignation will negatively impact the economy, others who feel retirees are already helping out the economy may see this as more good news.

So let’s look at retirement savings in a new way. What can you, as an individual, do to help the Canadian economy in the future? Why, you can save for retirement and then, when you are there, spend your income on goods and services, while paying your taxes. That helps your local economy and your local and federal governments.

If you are in a workplace pension plan, you are on the right path. But if not – or you want to augment the plan you have – consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Consider joining the 400 businesses offering SPP and its 32,000 members whose retirement savings now represent an impressive $600 million.

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.

Simple Ways to Rebuild Your Credit After a Consumer Proposal

September 8, 2022

By Loans Canada

Have you recently filed for a consumer proposal and you’re looking to rebuild your credit? In this article we’ll look at what is a consumer proposal and simple ways to rebuild your credit later.

What is a Consumer Proposal?

A consumer proposal is an agreement that you make with your creditors to settle debts that you have owing. Through the assistance of a licensed insolvency trustee, you can file a consumer proposal. In fact, insolvency trustees are the only ones who can help you. You’re not able to file a consumer proposal on your own without one.

The trustee acts as your representative for you with your creditors. Your trustee negotiates with your creditors, with the goal of coming to an agreement and settling your debts owing. The trustee tries to please all sides and come up with an arrangement where everyone is happy. The creditors are happy because they are being paid, while you’re happy because you’re able to settle your debts for less than you otherwise would have.

Bankruptcy vs. Consumer Proposal

Although both terms are used interchangeably, a bankruptcy and consumer proposal are different. A bankruptcy and consumer proposal both offer you a fresh start with your finances. However, the consequences of a bankruptcy are a lot more long lasting.

With a bankruptcy, it stays on your credit report for about seven years. This is seven years after it is discharged. This means that it can affect your credit for many, many years.

A consumer proposal meanwhile may only stay on your credit report for three years. That means you are typically able to build your credit a lot faster than you would with a bankruptcy.

Now that you understand the difference between the two, let’s look at ways to rebuild your credit faster after a consumer proposal.

Secured Credit Cards

The first way to build your credit faster after a consumer proposal is by taking out a secured credit card.

A secured credit card is just like a regular one, except with a key difference. You’re required to make a deposit in order to get a credit limit. This gives the credit card issuer added reassurance that you’ll repay any balance owing.


Contrary to popular belief, it’s still possible to get a mortgage if you’ve filed for a consumer proposal. A mortgage represents a lot of money. As such, mortgage lenders want proof that you’ll be a responsible borrower after filing for a consumer proposal.

Before you apply for a mortgage, you’ll want to reestablish your credit. The simplest way is by signing up for at least two credit cards and not missing any payments on either for at least two years. When you do that, lenders are a lot more open to giving you a second chance.

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.

Some common RRSP mistakes we all need to avoid

August 4, 2022

Those of us who don’t have a workplace pension – or want to augment it – are pretty familiar with what a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is. However, there can be tricky things to watch out for when investing your RRSP savings. Save with SPP had a look around the Interweb to highlight some RRSP pitfalls.

The folks at Sun Life identify five RRSP no-nos. First, they tell us, is the mistake of putting cash in your RRSP to meet the deadline, and then not putting it into an investment of some kind. Be sure you invest the money in something – “stocks, guaranteed investment certificates, mutual funds, bonds and more” so that your RRSP contributions grow. Your money grows tax-free until you take it out, so you need to have growth assets, the article says.

Another problem identified by Sun Life is raiding your RRSP cookie jar.

“Making RRSP withdrawals before retirement to, say, cover bills or make big purchases can have lasting consequences. For one, you’re giving up the years of tax-deferred growth your money would have generated inside your plan.” As well, the article continues, you’ll face a double tax hit – a withholding tax is charged when you take money out of an RRSP, and then the income from the withdrawal is added to your overall income at tax time. Double ouch.

Other things to watch out for, Sun Life advises, are overcontributing (be sure you know exactly what your limit is), spending your tax refund instead of re-investing it, and not being aware of RRSP/RRIF tax rules on death.

The Modern Advisor blog cautions folks against making their RRSP contributions “at the last minute.” If you spread your contributions out throughout the year, you will get more growth and income from them, the article advises.

Other tips include making sure your beneficiary selection is up to date, and knowing that contributions don’t have to be made in cash, but can be made “in kind,” such as by transferring stocks from a cash account to an RRSP account.

The RatesDotCa blog adds a few more.

On fees, RatesDotCa points out that many RRSP products, typically retail mutual funds, charge fairly hefty fees. “Canadians pay some of the highest fees in the world,” the article notes. “Over many years, these fees can add up, further reducing your retirement plan. Be sure to ask for a thorough explanation of the fees you can expect, and how they will affect your retirement plan,” the article advises.

Other ideas from RatesDotCa include not repaying your RRSP if you do borrow from it, not taking “full advantage” of any company pension plan (meaning, contribute as much as you can to it), and retiring too early (the article notes that both the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security pay out significantly more if you wait until age 70 to collect them.

Save with SPP can add a few more, gleaned from our own “welts of experience” over 45 years of RRSP investing.

Don’t frequently move your RRSP from one provider to another. This is called “churn,” and can result in hefty transfer fees and generally reduces the long-term growth needed for retirement-related investing.

If you borrow to make an RRSP contribution, do the math, and make sure the loan amount is affordable. Sometimes the bank or financial institution will want the money repaid within a year.

Be sure your investments are diversified, and include both equities and fixed income, plus maybe alternative investments like real estate or mortgage lending. Typically, if one sector is down, others may be up.

If you don’t want to think this hard as this about RRSP investments, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Contributions to SPP are treated exactly like RRSP contributions for tax purposes. You can’t run into tax trouble by raiding your SPP account because contributions are locked in until you reach retirement age. SPP offers a very diversified portfolio in its Balanced Fund, and fees charged by SPP are low, typically less than one per cent. Since its inception in 1986, SPP has averaged eight per cent returns annually – and although past results don’t guarantee future performance, it is a noteworthy track record. 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.

Inflation creates housing and saving challenges and greater debt loads: Poverty Free Saskatchewan

July 28, 2022

Save with SPP reached out to Poverty Free Sask (PFS) via Joanne Havelock, to gain some knowledge about their views on inflation and its many impacts on life and retirement.

“Canadians have experienced a low wage economy since the late 1980s,” begins the PFS response, received via email.

“Inflation has been higher than wage increases throughout this period, negatively affecting savings rates. Many Canadians have had difficulty creating sufficient retirement savings. Following the 2008 Great Recession many seniors found themselves in even greater financial difficulty. This and future possible market downturns especially affect people with defined contribution pension plans. Although interest rates and living costs had been low for a number of years, the sudden and seven per cent plus high inflation of 2021-2022 is having an impact. Seniors today are hit hard by very high energy and food prices,” the group notes.

Here are the answers PFS has kindly provided to our specific questions.

Q. What does higher-than-usual inflation mean for people living on a low income, particularly seniors?

Higher costs may lead people who are fortunate to own a home to sell their home prematurely and move to rental accommodations, or to smaller rental units, or to live with relatives. Low-income seniors face difficulties regarding living accommodations. Subsidized housing may not be available everywhere, and eligibility requirements and suitability of location or building arrangements can pose barriers. The spaces for government subsidized personal care or long-term care are limited.

Seniors may have to choose between paying the rent, paying for food and paying for prescriptions or medical supplies.

Many seniors are caring for grandchildren or other family members, and they are doubly hit with inflation costs.

People who are low income as seniors may have been low income all of their lives, due to being from disadvantaged groups, and therefore may not have the physical or monetary assets built up to buffer inflation effects.

Q. Does higher inflation (higher costs) make it harder for people to save for the future (i.e., retirement).

It is clear that higher inflation makes it more difficult for people to save for retirement. Some people may be able to make choices in their spending that will still allow them to save. But many others are living paycheque to paycheque (if they have a steady job) or contract payment to contract payment. Then as a senior, they live from pension cheque to pension cheque. In addition, some seniors are still in the workforce because old age pension increases have fallen behind inflation over the decades.

Q. What do higher interest rates mean for those with high debt?

People with high debt will find their costs getting higher and higher. This can lead to higher personal bankruptcy and the associated stress.

Q. What steps can be taken by government/society to help those impacted by inflation?

Poverty elimination plans, involving government, business and the community, would prevent people living in poverty. Suitable and affordable housing is needed for low-income families and children, singles and seniors.

Education systems should accommodate everyone, including adult education and training. Improved employment practices would enable people from disadvantaged groups to obtain and retain jobs, and pay equity would help ensure women are paid fair and equitable wages.

Government and business could work on having reasonably priced grocery stores in all areas, and transportation options to stores. “Buy local” programs would strengthen local food sustainability. It is also important to preserve natural settings that provide medicines and food for northerners, Indigenous peoples and others.

Social assistance benefits should be increased to ensure people can adequately cover living costs. The rules should give more opportunity for people on assistance to work extra to meet their needs. The minimum wage should be increased, which might improve the possibility of savings.

Government could also protect people against rising costs by: GIS, OAS and CPP at least matching Consumer Price Index increases; a national pharmacare program; more reasonable public transportation costs; the re-introduction of inter-city transportation; and better education on managing credit and debt and saving for retirement.

Q. Any other thoughts on inflation and poverty?

Inflation hits people living in poverty the hardest. They are often on fixed incomes. Seniors, as they age, are not able to go out and earn extra money, even if they wanted to do so.

Provincial poverty elimination plans would improve the financial and social situation of people experiencing poverty and eliminate the existence of poverty, allowing them to have adequate incomes as seniors.

We thank Joanne Havelock of PFS for taking the time to respond to questions from Save with SPP.

If you don’t have access to a retirement savings program through your workplace, or are working independently as a contractor, consultant, or freelancer, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be the retirement savings program you’ve been looking for. SPP, which is open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings contribution room, allows you to save at your own pace. You can contribute any amount, up to $7,000 per year, to SPP, who in turn will invest your contributions to provide you with retirement income in the future. 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.

Do people visualize what retirement will be like?

July 7, 2022

We understand what saving for retirement means. But do people ever take the time to look ahead and imagine what retirement will actually look like?

Save with SPP took a look around the Interweb to see what people are saying about the unknown destination that is the end of work.  Writing in the Retire Happy blog, Wayne Rothe observes that while we are working, “we’ve earned good incomes and we’re used to spending lavishly. We wanted something, we bought it. We’ve lived in lovely houses, driven nice cars, taken great vacations and spoiled our children.”  They haven’t – or have not yet – thought about life after the workforce, he adds. “As a financial planner and a baby boomer, I know the sorry state of retirement expectations and retirement preparedness for many of my generation. I read lots on this topic and boomers have high retirement expectations but are on track to fall far short of their goals.”

OK, goals – but what are those goals?

The Canadian Budget Binder blog notes that when asked what “do you want your retirement lifestyle to look like,” the answer was not top of mind.

“We both blankly stared at each other and said, `I don’t know,’” reports the blog. “We didn’t know but what we did know was that we had to keep socking away money to max out our retirement savings for future reasons.”

“Depending on who you ask their retirement lifestyle might be painted as, resort-type community living (retirement villages), lavish holidays, mini-trips, restaurants, activities and organizations outside of the home,” the blog notes. “Others might be happy living a simple life in an apartment or their home hopefully mortgage free although for many reaching retirement years that’s not even happening.”

The blog sees being debt-free as a key to being able to leave the workforce.

Other ideas, according to the New Retirement blog are to “do the things that keep you happy,” be they little projects around the house or learning something new.

“You can make a difference to your own loved ones or volunteer and change lives in the community,” the blog continues. Other ideas outlined in the blog include travel, becoming an entrepreneur, being able to get away in the winter, gardening, writing, downsizing and being a consultant.

What we found – or more precisely, didn’t find – was an article that lists what the average person wants their retirement to look like. Thinking about this, that’s probably because those of us still working – a very structured thing, where you show up at a set time and do a task for so many hours a week, all for pay – can’t yet see what an open week, month, or year on a calendar might look like.

So the takeaway is that retirement, unlike work, is 100 per cent dependent on you and your own personal want list. No one is going to set out a retirement lifestyle for you, you have to establish your own. So developing a set of retirement goals – things you want to do when work is a memory – is, in a way, as important as the age-old idea of putting away some money to help you do it.

A nice way to save for retirement is through the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. This unique, end-to-end retirement program is open to any Canadian who has registered retirement savings plan room. And if you don’t have a pension plan at work, SPP can help fill that gap.  SPP will invest your savings at a very low cost, and when it is time to tick off boxes on your retirement to-do list, will convert those savings into income, including the possibility of a lifetime monthly annuity. 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.