Apr 4: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

April 4, 2022

Is working the new “not working” for older Canadians?

Writing for the Financial Post, Christine Ibbotson notes that her own research on retirement in Canada has found that more people than you would think are working later into life.

“According to Stats Canada, 36 per cent of Canadians aged 65 to 74 are still working full-time, and 13 per cent of those aged over 75 are also still working. I was surprised by this finding, and I am certainly not advocating working into your elder years or continuing to work until you die; however, obviously these stats show that a lot of Canadian retirees are not just sitting around,” she writes.

Ibbotson writes that this tendency to keep working past the traditional retirement age of 65 may be because older Canadians want to “feel purposeful.”

“Contrary to popular belief, there is no “right time” to retire and if you are in good health there is no real need for rest and relaxation every day until you die. Retirement was not intended for everyone, even though we now believe we all should have access to it. The 65-year age of retirement was chosen by economists and actuaries when social security was created, when life expectancies were much less than they are now, and only provides a generalized guideline,” she writes.

Continuing to work, she continues, has many added benefits, including “being socially connected, physically active, mentally sharp, and enjoying the benefits of additional revenue.” You may, she writes, have fewer health problems if you continue to work into your later years.

While it’s true that many of us still work part time into our 60s and beyond (raising a hand here) not because we need the money, but because we like it, that’s not always the case for everyone.

Some of us work longer than 65 because we don’t have a workplace pension, and/or have not saved very much in registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) or tax free savings accounts (TFSAs).

Recently, we looked up the average RRSP balance in Canada and found that it was just over $101,000. The average Canada Pension Plan payment (CPP) comes in around $672 per month, and the average Old Age Security (OAS) at $613 per month (source, the Motley Fool blog).

Ibbotson is correct about working beyond age 65 – we do it because we love the work and the income, but for those without sufficient savings, we may be working because we need the income. If you have a retirement savings program at work, be sure to sign up and take maximum advantage of it. If you don’t a great option for saving on your own is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

A personal note here – this writer’s wife is planning her SPP pension for next year. By contributing close to the maximum each year, and regularly transferring $10,000 annually from her other RRSPs, her nest egg has grown to the point where she plans to select one of SPP’s lifetime annuity options. Her first step was to get an estimate of how much per month she will receive from SPP; she has applied for her Canada Pension Plan, and apparently Old Age Security starts automatically when she hits 65 next year.

We’ll keep you posted on how this goes, but it’s exciting for her to plan life after work, with the help of SPP.

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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.


Your Retirement Income Blueprint – a “do it properly, do it better” resource

March 31, 2022

From the get-go, where author Daryl Diamond describes his book as being a “do it properly” or “do it better” book on retirement income planning, rather than a “do it yourself” volume, a wonderfully written tome filled with valuable insights begins.

Your Retirement Income Blueprint makes great strides in explaining that retirement is not really “the back nine” of life. Retirement, he explains, is “not simply a continuation of the same thing (pre-retirement)… the playing field changes because there are such substantial differences between the planning approaches, investment strategies, risk-management issues and sheer dynamics of these two phases in someone’s life.”

There’s a lot to cover in a short review, so let’s look at some of Diamond’s retirement income gems.

Early on, Diamond explains the importance of having “a formal income plan, or blueprint, to show what your assets can realistically be expected to provide in terms of sustainable cash flow.” In other words, do you have enough income, from all sources, for an adequate retirement? Retiring without sufficient income, he warns, “can be a very unfortunate decision.”

On debt in retirement, he notes “ideally, you want to be debt free at the time you actually retire,” because otherwise, “you will have to dedicate income toward servicing the debt. And that is cash flow that could be used to enhance your lifestyle in other ways.”

Another great point, and this was one that Save with SPP personally used when planning retirement, is the idea of making a “net to net” comparison of your pre-retirement income versus post-retirement.

“That difference between your gross employment income and gross retirement income may appear quite significant, however, some analysis of your earnings statement may narrow this disparity. Compare what you are bringing home on a net basis with what your net income will be in retirement. You may find the difference in net pay is not as significant as you thought.”

The book provides a chart showing gross employment income being 33 per cent greater than retirement income – but only about 12 per cent different on a net basis, because the retiree isn’t paying into Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS), a company pension or company benefits.

Diamond points out that the investment principles for retirement saving differ from the retirement income, or “using your nest egg” years.

“When people begin to draw income from their portfolios, their focus changes from ‘rate of return’ to ‘risk management,’” he writes. “Capital preservation becomes the number one issue, because with capital preservation, you also have sustainable income,” he adds. The goal is longevity of your income – meaning, not running out of money.  

Diamond sees annuities as a way to ensure you don’t run out of retirement income. The book shows how your CPP, OAS and company pension – along with an annuity purchased with some of your retirement savings – can create a guaranteed lifetime monthly amount for your core, basic expenses. The rest of your income can be used for discretionary, fun expenses, he explains.

Diamond isn’t opposed to the idea of taking one’s Canada Pension Plan benefits early. He advises us all to “assess whether or not there is merit to do so in your own situation.” He makes the point that while many of us live long lives, some of us don’t, so deferring a pension carries a risk.

He sees the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) as becoming “one of the great tools at our disposal. I look for ways to help retirees fund their TFSA accounts to the maximum, whether that be through taking CPP early, withdrawing additional amounts out of registered accounts or even moving other non-registered holdings systematically into them.”

He suggests that using one’s registered retirement savings early in retirement may be preferable to deferring them until the bitter end at 71. “Deferring all of your registered assets can create real tax problems in the future and could eliminate main credits and entitlements that you would otherwise have been receiving,” he explains.

Near the end of this excellent book, Diamond alerts retirees to what he calls the “three headwinds” that can “be a drag on” any retirement income solution – taxation, inflation, and fees. Attention should be paid to all three factors when designing a retirement income solution, he writes.

When you retire, Diamond concludes, it’s when “your ticket gets punched… and baby, you had better enjoy the ride.” The three commodities that will support a great retirement are your state of health, your longevity and “your income-producing assets and benefits.” Only the last commodity is one that you can fully control, he says.

This is a great book and highly recommended for those thinking about retirement.

Do you have a handful of different registered savings vehicles? Consolidating them in one place can be more efficient than drawing income from several sources. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan allows you to transfer in up to $10,000 per year from other registered vehicles. Those funds will be invested, and when you retire, your income choices include SPP’s family of annuities. Check out SPP today!

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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.


Mar 28: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 28, 2022

What the return of inflation will look like for wages, debt and savings

Writing in the Financial Post, noted financial writer Jason Heath takes a look at what the return of inflation will mean for us.

He reports that in February, the consumer price index (CPI) jumped by 5.7 per cent, which “is the biggest increase since August 1991, when inflation was six per cent.”

Since that long-ago peak, he writes, inflation has fallen to much lower levels. Over the last 30 years, it has averaged 1.9 per cent, Heath explains. And, he adds, the Bank of Canada over the intervening years has put policies in place, as required, to keep the brakes on inflation.

Managing inflation through central bank policy is a lot like turning around an ocean liner – you have to make small adjustments over a long time frame. For interest rates, corrective action takes place “typically within a horizon of six to eight quarters,” or a year and a half to two years, he writes.

Despite that effort, our old friend is back, and not just here in Canada. Inflation rates are at 7.9 per cent in the U.S., 6.1 per cent in India, and at 5.9 per cent in the “Eurozone,” he writes.

He then takes a look at its likely impacts.

Higher wages: First, he writes, employers need to look at wage increases. Hourly wages have increased by just 1.8 per cent since 2020. “If inflation remains persistently high, workers whose earnings cannot keep up with the rate of inflation are effectively getting a pay cut,” he notes. They’ll need more wages to pay for the higher price of goods and services, he explains.

Higher interest on debt: If you are carrying a lot of debt, higher interest rates will cut into your cash flow, he writes.

“That cash flow decrease may not be immediate but many mortgage borrowers will see their amortization period increase as more of their monthly payments go to interest and their debt-free date is delayed. This is an important consideration for young homebuyers if they are going to balance their home ownership goals with other priorities like retirement,” he writes.

Even an increase of two per cent in borrowing rates, Heath explains, could add 13 years to your mortgage if you don’t change your monthly payment amount.

Inflation protection for retirees: Heath points out that government pensions – the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security – are indexed, and are increased annually based on the rate of inflation. This, he says, is a “powerful” hedge against inflation.

Interest rates are a consideration for those living on savings. If interest rates on your investments don’t keep up with inflation, it will take less time for your portfolio to decline to zero. But if interest rates are higher than inflation, you may still have tens of thousands of dollars in savings 25 or 30 years after you start drawing down your savings.

“In the short run, higher inflation is concerning and can lead to uncertainty. The Bank of Canada is likely to continue to increase interest rates to counter the higher cost of living. There is a risk the rate increases have taken too long to start or may now happen more quickly than expected, and that may have implications for savers, retirees, the economy, and the stock market,” he concludes.

Save with SPP was a youngish reporter in 1991, and remembers that the guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) was still a big tool in one’s investment portfolio in those days, as was the Canada Savings Bond. While interest on such products had been double digit a decade earlier, it was still nice to get five or six per cent interest each year without having to invest in riskier stocks or equity mutual funds.

And while it is exciting to imagine our wages going up by five per cent or more, it is rendered less exciting when the cost of everything is also going up. It was strange, on our recent trip to Whitby to see our new grandbaby, to be “excited” to find gas at the pump for under $1.70 per litre.

What’s a retirement saver to do? If you are following a balanced approach, with exposure to multiple asset classes, you should fare pretty well in a challenging investment environment. An example of that is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s Balanced Fund. It has eight distinct and different investment categories in which to place your savings “eggs,” including Canadian, U.S. and Non-North American Equity, Bonds, Mortgages, Real Estate, Short-Term Investments and Infrastructure. If one category is having challenges, it is quite likely that others are performing well – that’s the advantage of a balanced approach. 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.


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.


Mar 21: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 21, 2022

How much is “enough” when setting an early retirement savings target?

Writing for the GoBankingRates blog, John Csiszar takes a crack at a challenging topic – how much is “enough” when setting your retirement savings goals, particularly if you want to retire early?

“While the fantasy of early retirement sounds great, the reality can be difficult to achieve. If you retire early, you’ll need much more than a standard retirement nest egg to fund the extra years that you will be retired and not working,” he writes.

Drum roll, here – Csiszar next tells us that since a “standard” retirement nest egg should contain one million eggs (all eggs are U.S. denominated in his article), then an early retirement nest egg should cost “$2 million or more, to fund a long, early retirement.”

He then does the math. For those wanting to retire at age 40, they need to first understand that their retirement (according to Internal Revenue Service stats for the U.S.) could last around 45.7 years.

In order to have a “modest” $40,000 income for life starting at 40, you would need to save $1.84 million once you hang up the name tag for the last time.

To get that $1.84 million, he adds, you would need to start saving $92,000 a year beginning at age 20. And even if you could manage that feat, Csiszar adds, you would need to have average investment returns of seven to 10 per cent annually.

Well, OK. What about early retirement at 50?

Csiszar does the math on that idea, with the same goal of having $40,000 in income annually. Americans aged 50 at retirement can expect 36.2 more years of life, so you’ll “only” need $1.448 million in savings. And you’ll need to save $88,266 annually from age 30 to 50 to get the job done.

These are scary numbers, but let’s not overlook the fact that most Canadians will get a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefit at retirement, and may also qualify for Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (the latter is for lower-income retirees). These don’t start at age 40 or 50, of course, but you can get CPP at 60 and OAS at 65.

The average CPP payout in Canada, according to our friend Jim Yih at the Retire Happy blog, is $645 per month. That’s $7,740 per year. If you were to retire at age 65, and live for 20 years, the CPP (assuming you got the average rate cited here) would provide you $154,800, and that’s not including the inflation increases you would receive each year.

The Motley Fool blog tells us that the average OAS payment in Canada is $613.53, or $7,362.36 per year. If you were to start collecting OAS at 65, and received this average amount for 20 years, you would have received $147,247.20. Again, that figure doesn’t include inflation increases.

These are estimates based on average payouts; what you will actually get depends on your own earnings and employment history. But the point is, these two federal programs can provide a significant chunk of your nest egg – you are not completely on your own in your savings program.

We can save on our own in registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), and another The Motley Fool blog post shows that the average RRSP balance in the country is $101,555.

Saving a million bucks sounds impossible, but maybe, it’s not as big a mountain as it appears.

Those with company pensions as well as RRSPs, tax free savings accounts, and other savings, can get closer to the target. The value of your home can be a savings factor if you decide to sell and downsize for your golden years.

If you do have a company pension plan, be sure to contribute to the max.

With a committed approach to saving, and assuming you can get decent investment returns with low fees, we can all get a little closer to that “standard” savings level. For those without a company pension plan, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, which currently allows you to save $7,000 annually toward retirement (you can also transfer in up to $10,000 a year from other RRSPs). The SPP has a stellar investing track record – the average rate of return has been eight per cent since the plan’s inception in 1986. And while past rates of return don’t guarantee future rates, the SPP has been helping people build their retirement security for 36 years. Check out SPP today!

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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.


Mar 14: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 14, 2022

Few Canadians “defer” their Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Security to a later start date

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Patrick Brethour reports that “only a tiny fraction” of Canadians are deferring public retirement benefits like the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), “a decision that could cost each of them tens of thousands of dollars in foregone payments.”

You can collect CPP as early as age 60, but can defer receiving it until age 70, he explains. While CPP benefits are reduced if you start collecting them while you are age 60 to 64, “CPP benefits increase by 0.7 per cent for each month of deferral past age 65, hitting a maximum increase of 42 per cent at age 70.”

You can also defer your Old Age Security (OAS) payments, he notes.

“Deferring the OAS is slightly less lucrative, with those payments rising by 0.6 per cent for each month of deferral, to a maximum of 36 per cent at age 70. A person who was eligible for the maximum regular payments under CPP and OAS and who opted for a full five years of deferral would receive an additional $10,168 a year excluding clawbacks, based on current rates,” he writes.

Citing data from Employment and Social Development Canada, the Globe report notes that 62 per cent of us start our CPP while age 60 to 64. Twenty-seven per cent start it at age 65. Seven per cent start it while age 66 to 69, and just four per cent start it at 70.

For OAS, “the picture is even more lopsided,” as almost no Canadians defer their payments – 93.6 per cent of us start it at 65.

So why aren’t more people deferring until age 70 (and getting up to $10K more per year), as experts like Dr. Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald have urged?

The article cites several reasons for not waiting – many “can’t afford the delay,” and start receiving benefits as soon as they can. For poorer Canadians who lack other retirement savings, the federal payments are “a lifeline,” the article notes, adding that senior poverty rates for Canadians “fall as they enter their 60s” due to receiving CPP and OAS.

Next, if you don’t expect a long life, deferring the benefits is a poor idea. Save with SPP has had relatives and friends who passed away before even reaching age 70.

Finally, those of us still working as we hit age 65 tend to opt to receive CPP, because if we don’t, we still have to pay into it without getting any additional benefit from it.

Save with SPP’s circle of friends and family is split on this issue. Those without workplace pensions took CPP as soon as it started. Some who did have a pension started it at 60, asking “why leave money on the table?” Others with workplace pensions that have a “bridge” benefit (which ends at 65) have long planned to start CPP and OAS when the bridge benefit ends. We have one friend who started CPP at 60 and is now about to turn 67 and is still working (and still paying into CPP). We have one relative who plans to take her CPP at 70 to max out the benefit, even though she is not working steadily at the moment.

It would seem it’s a personal choice for most people, based on their unique financial circumstances. The one important takeaway here is simply to know that you do have the option to get a bigger payment if you choose to start it later.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan allows you to collect your benefits at any time you choose between age 55 and 71. The SPP’s Retirement Guide provides full details on your options for your SPP account when it comes time to retire, including SPP’s range of lifetime annuities. And you don’t have to stop working (as is the case with most company pension plans) to start collecting SPP! 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.


Debt can squeeze the spending power of seniors: Scott Terrio

March 10, 2022

Scott Terrio knows all about the issues facing senior retirees.  Terrio, who is Manager, Consumer Insolvency at Hoyes, Michalos Licensed Insolvency Trustees, recalls doing “a lot of speaking engagements for senior groups” about money and debt. He said “retired people, who have lived a long time, ask a lot of questions (about finances), and they are certainly not a retiring bunch.”

Save with SPP spoke recently with Terrio by phone.

He says that debt is a problem for retirement, “both at the front end and the back end.” Debt can certainly encroach upon the money people want to set aside for their retirement, he explains, but it is even a bigger problem for those who are actually retired.

“Life is expensive,” says Terrio. As interest rates declined, and people’s equity grew, retirees – most living on a fixed income — began taking on debt for the first time. Seniors, he explains, began tapping into their equity for “various things,” such as helping the kids and grandkids get ahead and buy homes. These days, many have tapped into credit to pay for day to day living, he says.

Today’s retired seniors began making use of their equity, but at the same time, began to live longer. “People are living much longer than ever before. Retirement can last for 30 years or more.”  That can be costly, Terrio says. “The cost of (long term care) will kill you financially,” he says. “Care is very expensive – thousands a month – and that adds up if you live into your 90s.”

Retirees typically get into trouble gradually, he says. A lot of newly retired seniors don’t realize that they will usually owe income tax unless they have their pensions and government benefits adjusted to withhold more tax. “They are used to being on payroll, where someone takes the tax off for you. That doesn’t happen when you’re retired, and you can find yourself in a hole.”

Owing the Canada Revenue Agency for unpaid taxes isn’t usually a huge debt, but if you don’t have money to pay it, it can be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he explains.

It’s having to pay for things like taxes that starts seniors looking at credit, and debt, he notes.

Once you use up your credit card room, “the banks love giving lines of credit and higher credit card limits to seniors, who tend to have equity, and since nine of 10 of them tend to pay it back.”

That’s why the expected jump in interest rates is also concerning, Terrio says.

“When interest rates go up, they have a direct effect on lines of credit,” he says. “Even an increase of $100 a month in interest payments is bad news for a senior. Now they have to pay that every month. And since the real rate of inflation is probably six, seven or even eight per cent, everything you’re buying is now more expensive and you have less money to spend. That’s the main issue.”

Debt is not something people get into on purpose. “In any age category, very few get into debt intentionally. It’s a gradual creep, usually driven by events such as loss of a job, sickness, divorce. You can maybe absorb one of these things at a time, but two – no way.”

As well, older Canadians want to help their children and grandchildren save for education and housing. “We are seeing the greatest intergenerational wealth transfer of all time,” Terrio says. And that can use up savings and leave people with debt as their only option.

The problem with debt is that it no longer is seen as a bad thing, Terrio says.

Maybe, he says, older folks once saw debt as shameful, but it is “not a shame thing” for many Gen X, Gen Y or millennials. “The younger people get accustomed to it, they less they are bothered by it.”

The problem, he concludes, is that debt “is seen as cash flow as opposed to debt.” People need to remember that credit card and line of credit money “isn’t your money… it’s the bank’s money.”

We thank Scott Terrio, who many years ago worked in Swift Current for a major farm equipment company, for taking the time to speak with us. Did you know that the money in your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account is locked in until you reach retirement age, and is also creditor-proof? If you run into financial troubles on your way to retirement, your SPP nest egg will be unaffected. It’s another great feature of the SPP.

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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.


Mar 7: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 7, 2022

Is inflation causing Canadians to fear they aren’t saving enough for retirement?

Writing for the Canadian Press, via Canoe, Christopher Reynolds notes that inflation is causing the price of almost everything to go up – including retirement.

Citing recent research from the Bank of Montreal, Reynolds notes that “Canadians are losing confidence they’ll have enough cash to retire as planned,” with fewer than half believing they can hit their savings target.

That’s because inflation is boosting the value of that theoretical retirement piggy bank, he writes. “The average sum (Canadians) anticipate needing has increased 12 per cent since 2020 to $1.6 million,” he writes.

Last year, he continues, 54 per cent of those surveyed felt they would reach their savings targets; the most recent research shows that number has dropped to 44 per cent.

“Inflation,” states Robert Armstrong of BMO Global Asset Management in the article, “is starting to impact their views on how much they need to save for retirement.”

The price of housing, the article continues, is “another source of angst,” with the average home price in Canada rising to a record $748,450 in January. That’s a year over year jump of 21 per cent, the article notes.

Those who don’t own their own homes not only face higher rents, but don’t have the “automatic nest egg” associated with being able to sell one’s principal residence without paying capital gains taxes, the article notes.

Another problem retirement savers face is the shortage of good workplace pension plans, Reynolds writes. Only about 25 per cent of Canadians are covered by defined benefit pension plans, which provide a guaranteed monthly lifetime income. Just seven per cent enjoy being members of defined contribution plans (like the Saskatchewan Pension Plan), where future payouts depend on how much is saved and invested.

Those numbers, the article continues, are “still far below those of the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s when the rates were consistently above 40 per cent.” That information, Reynold adds, comes from Statistics Canada.

Jules Boudreau of Mackenzie Investments tells the Canadian Press that these factors – inflation, high housing prices, and a general decline in workplace pension plan coverage – put a lot of pressure on younger retirement savers.

“The personal retirement portfolio of a young worker is much more critical, because their retirement hinges entirely on it — and that can create more anxiety, more uncertainty,” Boudreau states in the article. As well, the article concludes, many younger people are not focusing on long-term retirement savings, such as registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), but on “short term” things like getting a home, furnishing it, and starting a family.

While the average RRSP balance in Canada as of 2020 was $101,155 – a figure that is growing – the Motley Fool blog says that seemingly high amount will only generate about $3,500 of income per year. And it’s far short of the $1.6 million target mentioned by Reynolds in his article.

If you are part of the majority of working Canadians who lack a pension or retirement program at work, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be just what you’ve been looking for. The SPP is a do-it-yourself, end-to-end defined contribution pension plan. You can contribute up to $7,000 every year, and SPP will invest your contributions in a low-cost, professionally managed pooled fund. When it’s time to unshackle yourself from the rat race, SPP has a number of options for turning those savings into income. Make SPP part of your personal retirement program 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.


Four pillars key to “optimal well-being in retirement,” Edward Jones survey

March 3, 2022

Save with SPP recently reached out to Andrea Andersen, Principal, Western Canada Leader and Financial Advisor at Edward Jones for the company’s thoughts on a recent survey on retirement carried out by the firm Age Wave. Here are her answers to our questions.

We were interested that “purpose” is seen as one of the four pillars along with health, family and finances. This suggests that maybe the research shows people are looking for more meaning in their retirement than perhaps in the past. Is that your impression too and can you expand on why purpose has become (apparently) more important?

Absolutely – one of the biggest insights from our study was that the majority of retirees say that all four pillars—health, family, purpose and finances—are interdependent and essential to optimal well-being in retirement. We were also surprised to see just how crucial purpose is to retirees, as 92 per cent surveyed said that having purpose is key to a successful retirement. 

One reason for the prioritization of purpose is that scientific research has shown that having a sense of purpose can actually reduce the risk of cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease and depression, and is essential to a long, healthy and potentially cost-saving retirement. Another reason we found was that having purpose helps retirees feel both useful and youthful. Nearly all (93 per cent) retirees say it’s important to feel useful in retirement, and 87 per cent also say that being useful helps them to feel youthful.

Retirement is a time of enormous freedom, but that same freedom from work and family responsibilities can also create a missing link when it comes to how to live a life filled with purpose. During the pandemic, we’ve seen many retirees have taken on new roles and responsibilities, such as providing childcare to grandchildren, shopping for higher risk neighbours, and providing emotional comfort to family and friends. These stepped-up roles have given retirees a greater sense of purpose and connection.

The idea that COVID is causing some people to postpone retirement is interesting, but we were also interested to learn that 20 million Americans and two million Canadians stopped making retirement contributions during the pandemic. What caused this – lack of employment and tight finances? Pessimism about the timing of their retirement? We’d be interested in your views on why people paused retirement savings.

Our study showed that the pandemic’s effect on finances has not been equally distributed by age, wealth, gender, or retirement status. The greatest negative impact has been felt by Gen Z and Millennials and the least by Silent Gen, who have the safety nets of pensions, Social Security, and other means to provide financial security.

One of the biggest financial challenges we saw impacting Americans and Canadians alike during the pandemic is what’s been dubbed the “she-cession,” or the deepening of the economic gender gap. Women were more likely to lose their job or exit the workforce due to the challenges of COVID-19. They have also been far more likely to take on the lion’s share of time spent caring for family members, including home-schooling children and providing eldercare to parents. One of the outcomes of this is that only 41 per cent of women planning to retire said they were saving each month for retirement, compared to 58 per sent of men.

Pressing short-term financial needs have also taken precedence over longer-term goals. Combined with the existing gender pay gap, the headwinds facing women saving for retirement present a serious challenge. It’s crucial for women – and anyone facing retirement savings shortfalls – to work with a trusted financial advisor to determine a holistic financial plan to prepare for short and long-term financial goals.

The healthspan vs lifespan findings were equally fascinating, we had not heard it expressed that way before. The idea that a significant chunk of retirement may be in poor health doesn’t seem to get discussed often. Do you have any additional thoughts on that topic – should people, for instance, think about planning for a period of poor health where their care costs will be higher?

We know that money is an essential ingredient in retirement planning, but it’s not the only one. On average, the World Health Organization reports that the gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, defined by the years lived in full health and free from disability, is 10.9 years for Canadians. That discrepancy tends to fly under the radar when pre-retirees are counting down the days until they can pursue their retirement dreams.

Saving for long-term care is a priority for many of my clients, who have seen older relatives suffer from medical issues – from suffering from a broken hip to cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease. These situations can leave retirees needing assistance from short-term hospital stays to full time care through hospice. For those concerned about the rising costs of long-term care and the potential financial impact it may have on them and their families, it might be worth considering long-term care insurance.

An advisor can help you identify which long-term care costs might be covered by your existing insurance and where additional coverage is needed. It’s important to weigh the benefits of insurance with its costs versus the risk of not having it and needing it. There’s always the possibility that you’ll pay for coverage you’ll never use, but I recommend it for clients who may not have the coverage to pay for these potential needs.

Finally, what surprised you most about the findings of this research?

I think the most surprising finding from the study was that 77 per cent of those planning to retire wish there were more resources available to help them plan for an ideal retirement beyond just their finances. This is hugely important as the vast majority of retirees surveyed say that in addition to saving for retirement and managing finances in retirement, it is important to think about all the other factors that contribute to a healthy retirement.

This research reminds me to challenge clients to think about the other aspects of their retirement planning outside of the finances. I now make sure to respectfully ask clients about their non-financial retirement goals, from where they will live to which activities will give them a sense of purpose, to get the conversation flowing.

We thank Andrea Andersen for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’re interested in saving for retirement – but aren’t all that sure how to go about it – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be the answer you’ve been looking for. Send SPP your pension contributions, and they will be professionally invested, grown, and at retirement, paid out to you as retirement income, with the option of receiving a lifetime 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.