Personal finance

What to do when the cost of everything is going up

June 16, 2022

By now, any of us who drive a gas-powered vehicle are experts in what inflation means. It’s when something that cost $60 in the winter costs $100 five months later.

Are there any tactics we can employ to help spending our hard-earned/hard-saved dollars more effectively during this crazy period of runaway prices? Save with SPP took a look around to see.

An article from Global News discusses the plight of mostly retired Mike and Marylou Cyr of Campbell River, B.C.

They are, the article notes, living on a fixed income consisting of workplace pensions and government benefits (the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security), Mike is still working a little. The couple looked first at reducing the costs of their insurance premiums, and switching to a cheaper telecom plan, the network reports.

With gas prices jumping $50 a tankful, the couple is now planning to sell off one of their vehicles and sharing the other, Global tells us. The other big jump for their spending is food, which has gone up more than $100 a month already, the article reports.  “I am very concerned with the inflation, the rising food costs, as well as the rising gas costs. I think those are two main things,” states Marylou Cyr in the article.

So to fight that, the Cyrs are growing their own veggies and have four laying hens to supply their own eggs, the article says.  “Maybe I’ll start canning again like our parents and grandparents did and store everything for the winter,” she tells Global. “If I could get a cow in the yard, I might do that, but I can’t.”

OK – trim insurance, telecom, go to one car, and grow your own food. Run some cattle if you can. What else can a person do?

According to CTV News, there are other ways to save on food. The network says folks are trying to buy grocery items that are on sale, buying items you use regularly in bulk, and targeting the groceries you use up rather than those you often throw out are good approaches.

Another way to save is through pooling costs, states University of Saskatchewan associate professor Stuart Smyth in the CTV report. “For example, (if) you’re buying 20 pounds of meat, but you’re splitting that up between three to four households, you’re saving some money that way,” he tells CTV. He underlines the importance of being a little more selective in shopping – target items that you tend to fully consume, rather than those you wind up throwing out. (An example in the Save with SPP home is yogurt; we always buy some because it is supposed to be good for us, and then almost never eat any before it expires.)

In addition to gas and food, other categories of consumer goods have been affected mightily by inflation, reports the Globe and Mail.

Meat is up 10.5 per cent versus 2021, and surprisingly, meat alternatives “like faux burger patties or plant-based ‘chicken’ nuggets” are 38 per cent more expensive than meat, the Globe notes.

Household appliances are up 23 per cent over the last two years, the article continues, and buying a typical soup and sandwich lunch “costs nearly $18 on average, up 24 per cent.” Other items that are particularly impacted by inflation include the cost of new homes and of housing in general.

We can’t fully protect ourselves from inflation. Following some of the steps outlined in these reports will at least help trim your spending.

Tips from Save with SPP’s own experience include shopping for clothes at consignment stores – you always pay less than at retail stores – and trying to brown bag lunch rather than having that $18 soup and sandwich. Friends like making fun of our $4 sand wedge from Value Village, but it gets us out of the bunkers right enough. All of these steps can help you save a few dollars, perhaps even enough to put away for retirement.

It’s interesting to read associate professor Smyth’s description of pooling purchases of meat. The same concept of “pooling” is a key way that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan reduces investment costs for its members. If you buy a stock on your own, there’s a fee for buying it and later, a fee for selling it. There might also have been annual fees to maintain your account. With SPP, you pool your savings with those of others in one big fund. That lowers the management costs to less than one per cent. It’s a great way to save on the cost of investment management, and SPP has an outstanding track record of steady investment returns. Check out SPP – available to all Canadians with RRSP room – 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.


Quebec academic calls for changes to RRSP and RRIF age limits

April 14, 2022

A university professor from Sherbrooke, Quebec is calling for a couple of changes to Canada’s system of registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs), in light of the fact that people are living longer.

Professor Luc Godbout, Professor, School of Administration at the Université de Sherbrooke, is also Chair in Taxation and Public Finance. He kindly agreed to answer some questions Save with SPP had about his ideas, which were published by the C.D. Howe Institute as an open letter to federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

His open letter was originally published in French.

The professor’s open letter calls for “simple changes” to the existing rules.

“The first would be adjusting the threshold age at which registered capital accumulation plans – such as the RRSP – must be terminated. The rule now is age 71,” he notes in the letter.

Under the current rules, his letter explains, RRSP holders must “transfer their RRSP or defined-contribution pension plan balances into a RRIF or a life annuity” before the end of the year in which they reach age 71. If they don’t, he explains, “the entire value is added to their taxable income in that year.”

The age limit of 71 was established in 1957, his open letter notes.   “This means that since the creation of the RRSP in 1957, the age limit of 71 has never been raised,” the open letter explains. “Yet, since 1957, the life expectancy of seniors in Canada has improved significantly. 

“Life expectancy at age 65 was 14.5 years during the period 1955-1957. It improved to 20.9 years in 2018-2020. But the RRIF rules have not moved,” he writes.

He remarks that recent changes to Old Age Security (OAS) benefits for those aged 75 and older “provides an opportunity to harmonize other elements around our living 75-year-olds.”

Why not, he asks, consider allowing Canadians to postpone their OAS payments to age 75, rather than the current age 70? And, he asks, why not move the limit for converting an RRSP to a RRIF to 75?

“This type of change would optimize the mechanics of pension plans, and also encourage Canadians to remain in the workforce, which improves health and also helps with Canada’s looming labour shortage,” his open letter concludes.

Save with SPP asked the professor a couple of questions about his open letter.

Q. You mention that moving the “end date” for RRSP contributions (and for DC plans) and RRIF conversion to 75 from the current 71 would encourage more people to stay in the workforce. Do you see the current age 71 rule as something that encourages the opposite – a deadline that encourages retirement?

A. It may not be an important factor, but it cannot play favorably in the heads of those who want to continue in the labour market, for example, a liberal profession.

Q. If your idea on changing the date is adopted, do you think government retirement benefits like the Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan and Old Age Security should also be changed?

A. Yes, but it is not an obligation to retire later, only to offer a possibility to delay the time when the pension begins, currently CPP between 60 and 70 years and OAS between 65 and 70 years.

Q. You note that while the RRIF age of 71 has been lowered (to 69) in the past, it has never been raised. Why do you think 71 is still the age, especially considering how things have changed since the rules came in in 1957, and retirement was mandatory at 65!

A. Because the scheme does not provide for the adjustment of this threshold to take account of the increase in life expectancy.

We thank Prof. Godbout for taking the time to answer our questions.

One way that a pension plan can deal with longer life expectancies of its membership is by providing the option of an annuity. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan provides a number of different annuity options for its retiring members – but all of them provide a lifetime monthly pension. 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.


Ways to tame the beast of personal debt

April 7, 2022

While higher interest rates can be good news for traditional savers, they are more likely to bring even more bad news to those of us who deal with household debt. And, according to Global News, that level of consumer debt rose to an alarming $2.2 trillion as of the fourth quarter last year.  

With inflation hitting levels not seen since the 1990s, a trend that will almost certainly lead to higher costs for borrowing and using credit, Save with SPP decided to find out what the experts say about speedy ways to get debt under control.

Writing for MoneySense, noted financial author Gail Vaz-Oxlade says getting “a sense of control over your money and your life” is not easy, but is well worth the effort.  She recommends we all do “a spending analysis to see where your money is going, so you can put it where it does the most good.” Next, she writes, “create a debt repayment plan that gets you out of consumer debt in three years or less, even if you have to get a second job.”

The third step, she adds, is “creating a balanced budget,” so that you know exactly how much you can afford to spend on things before you actually start spending. “Make yourself accountable by telling friends and family ‘sorry, it’s not in my budget this month,’” she adds.

Following these steps, she advises, will lead you to a future where you have “no debt, a balanced budget, and a big fat emergency fund.”

The Zilchworks.com site outlines a number of different strategies for eliminating debt.

Under the “annual percentage rate” strategy, you target the debt source (credit card or line of credit) that charges you the highest rate of interest first. “Once you’ve crushed the worst offender, you move on to the creditor with the next highest rate,” the site advises.

Other strategies outlined on the site are similar – put extra on one, pay it off, and repeat. This can be done, the site explains, in a number of ways – lowest balance first, highest balance first, lowest payment first, etc. In all strategies, the concept is a sort of snowball/avalanche effect – as each debt falls, you are paying more per month on the next targeted debt, and so on.

At Credit.com, a few additional strategies are outlined. “The first and most important step in getting out of debt is to stop borrowing money. No more swiping credit cards, no more loans, and no more new debt,” we are advised. “Resolve to live on a cash basis while you make your changes.”

Other advice is to “always pay more than the minimum amount” on your debts. “Make this an iron-clad habit,” the site advises. Another nice bit of advice is not to slip back into old habits once you have paid off your debt – make sure your post-debt budget focuses on you staying out of debt.

Save with SPP and debt are old friends who only recently have parted ways. Here are a few other ideas we picked up along the way.

  • The 95 per cent rule: If you don’t think you have an extra dollar to put on debt, this idea may help. Take five per cent of your take-home pay and put it immediately on debt. Then live on the balance. It is sort of like the Uncle Joe rule of saving 10 per cent of your income and living on 90 per cent, but tweaked so that it targets debt.
  • Get your credit cards out of your wallet: If you are maxed out most of the time, you probably pay the minimum owing, then spend with your card some more, and are maxed out again, with a higher minimum next month. Give the card to a spouse, or a relative, or trusted friend, and tell them not to give it back unless you have a real emergency. By not using the card, your minimum payments will gradually go down.
  • Stop making automatic payments for things on your credit card: If you are a super responsible person who pays off 100 per cent of your credit card each month, paying other bills, like utilities, or Internet, or streaming subscriptions via credit card is a good way to earn more cash back or points. But if you don’t pay off your balance each month, you are basically borrowing money to pay for living costs at maybe 25 per cent interest. It will catch up to you, and in the worst case scenario, you’ll bounce your bills due to having a maxed out card. Pay your bills a different way.
  • Save up for trips: If you are going on a trip, save up for it and pay it in advance, rather than paying as you go with a credit card. That way, you don’t come home to a huge bill, and avoid feeling financially punished for taking a holiday.

When you are in debt, talk to friends and family about how they dealt with it. Everyone, it seems, has had a brush with problem debt and have learned valuable lessons on how to turn credit problems around.

And, once you have defeated debt, you’ll have more money to put away for the greatest vacation of all – life in a post-work reality. An excellent companion on this journey is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. They’ll invest the money you contribute, at a low cost and with a stellar track record, and when it’s time to retire, will present you with your retirement income options. 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.


Move away from cities may have some unexpected side effects

March 24, 2022

It’s clear that the pandemic – which we all hope is entering its final phase – has made many Canadians rethink the idea of living in a big, crowded, city.

But, as people sell their condos and townhouses and move to larger living spaces in the nation’s smaller towns, cities, and rural areas, experts are predicting this mass migration may cause problems in the labour market.

According to a report by Julie Gordon of Reuters, published via Yahoo! News, “the pandemic-driven exodus… has depleted a core age group of workers from the already tight labour market.” This, her story explains, may drive up wages as companies struggle to replace these “missing” job seekers.

The folks leaving the cities are typically younger people with young children, the report notes. The exodus, she explains “has shifted mid-career workers – a key segment of the labour force – out of big cities, making it difficult to find established talent in sectors where in-person work is essential or preferred.”

The article notes that most people leaving are in their 30s and 40s – Vancouver saw 12,000 people leave the city in 2021, Montreal lost 40,000, and Toronto witnessed an eye-popping 64,000 people moving away.

It’s not just the pandemic that’s prompting people to pack up. The cost of housing is another huge factor. The average Toronto condo costs $1.2 million, while the average price for a detached house in the Ontario suburbs is “just” $800,000, the article notes.

A report in the Globe and Mail notes that nationwide, 3.8 million of us – or about one in 10 Canadians – are living in smaller urban centres.

Smaller centres are benefitting from the urban exodus, the article reports. Over in B.C., the city of Squamish has grown by an amazing 21.8 per cent in one year, and now has more than 24,000 new citizens. Other small centres experiencing big growth are the Ontario towns of Wasaga Beach, Tillsonburg, Collingwood and Woodstock.

“With the pandemic, the capacity of Canadians to do more (remote) work has certainly encouraged some Canadians to really move to these smaller urban centres and leave maybe larger urban centres,” states Laurent Martel of Statistics Canada in the Globe article.

A CTV News report says it’s not just affordability and a healthier, more open space that is attracting Canadians to rural areas.

“We’re seeing small cities, including small cities outside the orbit of large metropolitan areas showing some robust growth,” Tom Urbaniak, political science professor at Cape Breton University, states in the CTV report.

“This signals to me that Canadians are looking for some flexibility, places reputed for their quality of life and are finding it easier to work from different places.” In fact, the article adds, for the first time in more than 40 years, the Maritimes’ population grew at a faster clip than the Canadian Prairie Provinces.

Getting back to the land can breathe new life into smaller communities. Consider the wonderful efforts of Brad and Kendal Parker in restoring a 107-year-old farmhouse in rural Harris, Sask.

The CBC reports the Parkers left Saskatoon and took on the renovation of an old farmhouse that had been boarded up for 70 years.  Descendants of the folks that originally built the house in 1915, the Parkers say, are thrilled the old place is getting a new lease on life.

“It’s really something. One of the grandchildren shared a painting with me of the original homestead,” Kendal Parker tells the CBC. “They tell me it’s so wonderful this house is coming back to life and to have children running around.”

Building a new home is great, and so is building a retirement future. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan can help with the latter goal. It’s a great resource for anyone who doesn’t have a retirement program at work – or does, but wants to augment it. You can contribute up to $7,000 a year towards your retirement future through SPP! 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 beat inflation’s squeeze at the grocery checkout

March 17, 2022

With inflation now hitting the five per cent level for the first time since the pre-Internet, pre-home computer days, Save with SPP decided to seek out a few ways to try and save on the good old grocery bill.

Inflation is definitely taking a bite out of our food budgets, reports Burnaby Now. Citing recent research from Angus Reid, the newspaper reports 62 per cent of Canucks are “eating out less” and “are buying less produce to save on the grocery bill.”

More than 50 per cent of those living in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, B.C., Ontario and Atlantic Canada say it is “difficult to feed their households.” The article notes many shoppers are switching to “cheaper, lower-quality brands to compensate for lower food costs.”

OK, less fresh produce, generic brands – what else are folks doing?

A story in the St. Catharines Standard notes that shoppers are “trading down” from more expensive meats, like beef, to “pork or chicken.”

An article in Yahoo! Finance offers more than a dozen solid ideas on how to get more bang for the buck. Watch, the article advises, for “manager markdowns,” or specials, on pricey meats, poultry and fish that are nearing their expiry date – and be sure to have those for dinner that day.

Other ideas from Yahoo! include watching for sale flyers and using coupons, the use of grocery savings apps, and taking part in loyalty programs at your local grocery store. An interesting tip from the article is to avoid shopping “at eye level,” because it is typically the most expensive items that are placed where the eye falls. Who knew?

Other advice includes buying in bulk, as well as purchasing holiday items AFTER the holiday is over, so you get them at a discount and are set for next year.

The WebMD site offers up some additional classic grocery-saving tips.  Plan ahead, the site suggests. “Take inventory of what you have on hand so you don’t overbuy,” states Katharine Tallmadge, RD, in the article. Your list should be based on what you actually need, and should take into account how you plan to use up leftovers, the article adds.

Healthier foods, the article continues, are often cheaper. Swap your pop for cheaper flavoured water, the article advises. Other tips include buying produce in season, to “think frozen, canned or dried” to save, swapping vegetable sources of protein for more expensive meat, and the time-honoured concept of “waste not, want not.”

This last one is worth remembering. Our mothers made sure everything got used up, grocery wise, but these days, “Americans generate roughly 30 million tons of food waste each year,” WebMD reports. Don’t buy more than you need, the article concludes.

If you are able to shave a few dollars off your grocery bill, consider perhaps redirecting those loonies and toonies towards a longer-term goal – retirement! The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers a one-stop shop for your retirement; the SPP can invest your dollars, grow them over time, and then pay them out to you as retirement income in various ways, including the option of a lifetime monthly annuity.

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 a silver lining to be found if interest rates rise?

February 10, 2022

Many observers are worried about the return of higher interest rates. It will cost more, they warn, to renew a mortgage, or get a car loan. It may create a stock market downturn because the cost of borrowing (for corporations) will increase.

But is there any sort of silver lining to watch for in a higher-interest rate environment? Save with SPP took a quick look-see.

Noted Globe and Mail columnist Rob Carrick sees a couple of good things about higher rates.

First, he writes, “one thing higher rates can do is tamp down inflation, which lately hit a 30-year high at 4.8 per cent.” A higher rate, the article continues, may “encourage saving and discourage borrowing, and in turn spending,” all factors that slow the growth of inflation.  In fact, those of us with greyer hair remember a time when the federal government tried to wrestle inflation to the ground by limiting wage and price increases to six per cent in year one, and five per cent in year two! Those rates now look sky-high, but at the time, you could get a Canada Savings Bond that paid interest in the teens.

Carrick notes that higher interest rates may stop the runaway growth of housing prices, and feels might prompt more of us to pay off our record-high household debts. “Higher rates should be a prompt to reduce debt levels and thereby put households in stronger shape for financial challenges ahead,” he writes.

Finally, Carrick reports, higher interest rates will be a boost to savers. “Rates for savers have been suppressed by the Bank of Canada as part of its efforts to support the economy. When the central bank starts raising rates, savers will gradually receive a better return on their money,” he notes.

Over at Sapling, writer Victoria Duff makes a similar argument.  She notes that higher interest rates actually make things easier for large pension funds and insurance companies.  “Retirement funds, insurance companies and educational endowments benefit from higher interest rates, as does anyone who depends on bond investments for his income. These funds, as well as banks and other lending institutions, can meet their target investment returns through more conservative credit quality portfolios,” she explains.

Also important, she writes, is that countries with higher government-set interest rates “attract investment from other countries,” which can strengthen their currency. Similarly, governments that issue bonds to pay down debt will get a better return, which ought to help them retire debts more quickly, she notes.

Finally, higher interest rates are great for anyone shopping around for an annuity. According to the Get Smarter About Money blog, “if interest rates are high when you buy your annuity, your annuity payments will be higher than if interest rates were low. That’s because the financial institution predicts it can earn more (through higher rates) by investing your money.”  This is a complicated thought, but an important thing to know. If you are thinking of buying an annuity when you retire, your monthly income from it will be higher if interest rates are high at the time of purchase. Monthly income is lower if interests are low at the time of purchase.

Members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan can, at retirement, choose to convert some or all of their savings into one of many annuity options. All of them are designed to provide you with monthly income for life, and there’s also an option that provides lifetime income for your spouse should you die before they do. Annuities are a great way to ensure you don’t run out of money before you run out of time to spend it! 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 has pandemic changed our view on estate planning

January 27, 2022

Many of us spend a lot of time thinking about what we should do with our finances in order to set ourselves up for retirement. However, we spend so much time thinking about what we need to do to get there, we often forget that all our hard work and sacrifice needs to be protected after we are gone. The impact of the various strains of the COVID pandemic can serve as a reminder that our health is not to be taken for granted. A Government of Canada Survey in 2019, reported a disturbing pattern that has been consistent fact that almost half (45%) of Canadians don’t even have a will. 

Protecting your assets after you are not in a position to control them is essentially Estate planning. The goal of estate planning is to achieve the state of financial affairs at your death or later in your life when you wish to transfer family property to others. Similar to your financial plan, your estate plan should not be something you do once, then file away. It should be treated like a living, breathing bodyguard that may be called into action to protect your financial affairs if need be. As a result, you should maintain an on-going relationship and revisit it at least every 5 years, or more often, depending on various changes happening in your life.

A Last Will and Testament is an important part of your estate plan kind of like a bodyguard to your financial affairs after your death. A will is the badge that gives it authority and jurisdiction to dictate how your assets and property should be handled. Your will’s primary function is to specify to whom and when your assets are to be distributed.  You may want to leave specific properties (e.g. jewelry, furniture, car or shares in your business) to specific beneficiaries. In your will it should be indicated that you have designated one or more persons as your executor(s) (also called estate trustee(s)). The person should be someone you can trust to take charge of your affairs and distribute your assets in accordance with your desires as set out in your will. They should be able to act as a good member within the security team and follow the instructions of your will. The executor and estate trustee will normally apply to the court for “letters probate”, which will give court approval for then executor to take over your property, manage it and distribute it to your beneficiaries.  Probate can become very costly and at SPP we strongly recommend that you designate a beneficiary to your plan, as it can help.

If you do not make a will provincial law will determine how your assets are distributed. The result can vary significantly, depending on where you reside at the time of death. We have spent a lot of time in doors during this pandemic, isolated, worrying about our health and what life will look like in the future. Estate planning helps you maintain some control on the future and how you want it to be even if you are not here to see it.

Written by David Musisi

David Musisi, is a Retirement Information Officer at Sask Pension Plan in Kindersley, Saskatchewan and a long time professional in the Finance Industry. His interests are following the markets, travelling, soccer, music and spending quality time with his family.


Lifestyle resolutions for 2022

January 20, 2022

It’s inevitable that at the start of any new year, we sit back and make a mental list of things we can do to make our lives better.

Save with SPP had a look around to see what people are thinking about doing, resolution-wise, in 2022, excluding financial resolutions which we covered off in another post.

The Mirror notes that 46 per cent of U.K. men, and 51 per cent of the country’s women, have made a pledge to get fit in 2022. The newspaper suggests that eating “five fruit and veg a day,” as well as trying three new activities and cutting back on alcohol can help fitness goals.

Other top picks across the pond for resolutions were to be happy and to “stop being so hard on yourself,” The Mirror reports.

Closer to home, the Burnaby News offers up some environmental resolutions. “Learn something new about nature “and how to reduce harm to the environment and yourself,” the paper advises. Other tips – “spend more time with family and friends in nature,” and speaking up to help “promote environmental protection and social justice,” will help you and the world you live in, the News suggests.

Global News reports that a top resolution for Albertans is learning a musical instrument. “Music is really cool because it’s so multi-faceted,” James Zeck of the Lethbridge Music Academy tells Global News. “It’s a great way to sort of (intellectually) keep things fresh, it’s really good for your mind and your brain, but it’s also a great way to learn… personal accountability and diligence.”

Other top resolutions cited in the Global News story include “quitting smoking, getting finances in order… (and) spending more time with family.”

The Huffington Post, via Yahoo!, offers up some more, all framed in the suggestion that rather than focusing on resolutions to lose weight, resolutions should focus on steps to get you there.

These healthy resolution ideas include “stop assigning a moral value to your food,” as well as “move your body,” and “habit stacking.”

The food-focused resolution basically means that you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you slipped up and ordered a triple cheeseburger and a milkshake. But, the article points out, foods are not good or bad, and if you assign such moral values to food, you risk “conflating what you put in your mouth with your value as a person.”

“Habit stacking” refers to identifying good habits you have — and doing them more often.

“For example, you might decide to “meditate for just one minute while brewing your coffee,” the article states. “Do that until it becomes a daily habit, then you can stack on another one.”

Finally, the CTV tells us to not lose sight of the fact that any resolution is a directional hope rather than some sort of legalistic/moral contract.

“Resolutions help if we see them correctly,” Dr. Ganz Ferrance tells CTV. “If we see them as things we must hit otherwise we are failures, then they’re not. They’re just another tool for us to beat ourselves up with.”

So, putting this all together – if you set resolutions for 2022, pick things that are achievable steps to larger goals, rather than the harder-to-achieve large goals themselves. That way, your resolutions will lead to personal progress. As they stay, every long voyage begins with the first step.

A good example of “habit stacking” might be making contributions to your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account. If you are making the occasional contribution to your own retirement security, that’s great – but why not do it a little more often? Small amounts contributed today will add up to a bigger income when your future hands you your parking pass and makes that final commute home. 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.


Savings resolutions for 2022

January 13, 2022

The start of a new year often has us thinking of things we “resolve” to do – changes we want to make – in 2022.

Save with SPP had a look around the “information highway” to see what people are resolving to do on the all-important savings front.

From The Guardian , ideas include getting debt-free, starting a rainy day fund, and to “have a goal” for savings. The newspaper notes that debt is a real barrier to savings.

“There is no point trying to save if you are burdened by costly debts,” The Guardian reports. While savings accounts in the U.K. pay only about 0.2 per cent interest, the article continues, credit card, store card or overdraft debts may be “in excess of 20 per cent.”

Writing for the GoBankingRates blog via Yahoo!, John Csiszar suggests resolutions should include “bumping up your retirement plan contributions by one per cent,” reviewing your spending from 2021, and that you “don’t buy anything until you get rid of something else.”

Increasing your contributions to a retirement account (here in Canada, this might refer to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), or your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account) by one per cent is, Csiszar writes, an achievable goal. If you earn $50,000 a year, and are contributing five per cent to a retirement plan, he writes, bumping that up by one per cent will boost your retirement savings by $41.67 per month.

Back in the U.K., The Express recommends dropping costly habits, “start counting the pennies” (or nickels here in Canada), and following the 50/30/20 rule.

“Allocate 50 per cent for essentials, such as rent, mortgage and bills, 30 per cent for `wants’ such as hobbies, shopping or subscriptions, and 20 per cent for paying off debt or building up savings,” the article suggests.

Finally, MSN Money adds a few more – review your retirement plan contributions (to ensure you are contributing as much as you can), contribute to both “traditional” retirement savings accounts (here in Canada, an RRSP or SPP) as well as tax-free savings vehicles (for Canadians, the Tax-Free Savings Account) and increase any automatic savings you have going.

These are all great strategies. Another one to add is to live within your means. Don’t spend even a nickel more than you earn, because that overspending can snowball on you. Pay the bills, then pay yourself (and your future self), and spend what’s left over. As the bills go down, you’ll have more to save.

And the SPP allows you to make contributions the easy way – automatically. You can set up a pre-authorized payment plan with SPP and have your contributions withdrawn painlessly every payday. It’s easier to spread your contributions out throughout the year in bite-sized pieces than to try and come up with one big payment at the deadline. And the good folks at SPP will invest your contributions steadily and professionally, turning them into future retirement income. It’s win win!

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.


The different between collateral and conventional mortgage

January 6, 2022

Are you in the market for a mortgage and you’re not sure which one to take out? In this article we’ll look at the difference between collateral and conventional mortgages, so you can decide which one is the right one for you.

Collateral Mortgages

A collateral mortgage lets you borrow more money than your property is worth. A mortgage lender is able to do that because a collateral mortgage re-advances. This allows you to borrow additional funds as needed without needing your break your existing mortgage contract.

This is accomplished by registering a lien against your property. Lenders will register a lien for up to 125% of your property’s value. For example, if your home is valued at $700,000, you could register a lien for a maximum of $875,000.

When the charge is registered, you can leverage the equity as needed. The simplest way to do that is by setting up a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). HELOCs are a lot like mortgages. HELOCs offer a way to borrow money cheaply, but with even more flexible repayment terms. With a HELOC you’re able to make interest-only payments on your mortgage to minimize your cash flow.

You could also set up a readvanceable mortgage whereby the credit limit on the HELOC increases as you pay down your mortgage. You could use the extra equity to finance home renovations or to buy your next investment property.

Conventional Mortgages

A conventional mortgage is the mortgage you probably already know. When you put down at least 20% on a property, you’re eligible for a conventional mortgage. This is different than an insured mortgage when you put down less than 20% on a property.

Since you are putting down at least 20% on the property, you’re able to borrow at least 80% of its value with a conventional mortgage. The value of your property is based on how much it’s appraised for.

If it’s appraised for more than you paid, you can borrow based on the purchase price. However, if it’s appraised for less, you can only borrow based on the appraised value and you have to make up the rest from your own pockets if you want to still put at least 20% down.

If cash flow matters most to you, the 30 year amortization makes the most sense. Otherwise, if rate matters the most, the 25 year amortization is usually the way to go.

This post was written by Sean Cooper, bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage. Sean is also a mortgage broker at mortgagepal.ca.

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.