Can my spouse join SPP?

By Sheryl Smolkin

If both you and your spouse have individual RRSP contribution room of at least $2,500, each of you can contribute up to the annual maximum to your own Saskatchewan Pension Plan accounts. You can also each transfer $10,000 a year from individual RRSPs to your personal SPP accounts.

However, if you have sufficient RRSP room and your spouse does not, your spouse can open an SPP account to which you are the contributor. You can contribute up to $5,000/year in total ($2,500 for each of you) into the two accounts and get a tax deduction for the whole amount.

When it comes to RRSP transfers to SPP, your spouse can only make a transfer from an RRSP in his/her own name. You cannot make a $10,000 transfer from your RRSP to your partner’s spousal account.

Two major advantages of a spousal SPP account are that you can contribute double the amount each year and income split at retirement. Also, if both of you elect annuity options and one of you dies first, the surviving partner will still have a stream of income.

Also check out:

Derek Foster: Idiot Millionaire CBC Radio Saskatoon interview – August 13, 12

A pension solution for your business Saskatchewan Broker – Winter 2011

Roseman: Want to save tax? Look to SPP Moneyville.ca – March 6, 2012

Talking to Gordon Pape

GordonPape podcast

Hi, my name is Sheryl Smolkin. I’m a lawyer and a journalist. Today I’m pleased to be continuing the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s new series of interviews with financial experts. My guest is Gordon Pape.

Gordon is an author of over 40 books, a newsletter publisher, journalist and all around financial guru. He writes regular columns for the Toronto Star and moneyville.ca among dozens of other media publications.

At age 75, he has just released a new book called Retirement’s Harsh Realities and it doesn’t look like he is planning to retire anytime soon. Today we are going to talk about annuities, and why an annuity purchase can be an important strategy for making your money last as long as you do.

Q. Everyone contemplating retirement has two key questions. How much will I need and how can I be sure I won’t run out of money? How would you answer these questions?

A. How much you need depends on the individual and the type of lifestyle you want to lead after retirement. A study done by Statistics Canada a few years ago found that people in their 70’s were spending about 95% of what they spent when they were in their 40’s. Yet conventional wisdom says you only need about 70% of your pre-retirement income if you want to maintain your standard of living. Based on those numbers it suggests that in fact you need more.

You need to look at your expenses in retirement and your sources of income such as CPP, OAS, an employer-sponsored pension plan if you have one and personal savings. There is no magic number.

You need to plan for the fact that people are living longer. Something to consider especially after the age of 80, is putting some money into a life annuity. It’s not a great place to put your money right now because interest rates are so low, but once the economy starts to pick up again and interest rates start to rise that’s the time to lock in a life annuity that guarantees you an income for as long as you live.

Q. Tell me how an annuity works.

A. You’ve saved money in a RRSP, you’ve converted it to a RRIF at 71 and the government requires that you draw down a minimum amount from that fund each year. As the years go by, unless you’re able to invest at a rate that keeps up with the rate of the minimum withdrawals, the value of the fund is going to eventually drop.

By the time you get to your early to mid 80’s, the depletion rate is too fast. You might consider using a chunk of you RRIF or all of it to purchase a life annuity from an insurance company, in exchange for a flow of income for the rest of your life.

The down side is you don’t have the money anymore. You won’t have an estate you can leave but it will be cash flow for the rest of your life

Q. Why have annuities fallen out of favour recently?

A. Low interest rates and the fact that people don’t like the idea of giving up their capital. They like to be able to control their money, so they can leave something behind for their children. When you buy an annuity you lose that possibility. However, you can buy annuity that guarantees the income for a certain period of time so if you die within the period your children will get some money.

Q. When is the best time to buy an annuity? Why?

A. The longer you wait, the more money you’ll get from the annuity. The company will pay you less money at 65 than 80 because your life expectancy is longer. If you can maintain a rate of return in your RIF around 6% then the optimum time would be within your 80’s.

Q. What questions should retirees and prospective retirees ask when they are shopping for annuities? What different kinds of annuities are available?

A. Research the amount of money that the various insurance companies are offering. There are tremendous variations in the rates that they are offering for the same kind of plan. There are annuity brokers who will do this for you and find you the best offer. There is no one company that consistently pays more than others. Desjardins has come up quite often, but not all the time.

It also depends on the type of plan – i.e. one company may offer money for a straight annuity with no guarantees, where as another company may offer a better rate for a joint and last survivor annuity which means it carries on until the last spouse dies

You also need to give some thought to the company itself – the solvency of each financial institution. There is an insurance fund that covers people in the event that their insurance policy goes belly up, but the fact is that you don’t want that to happen and don’t want to be forced on a fund that has limitations on it.

Q. What does it cost to use an annuity broker and who pays them?

A. The fee will be paid by the insurance company that you eventually do the business with. It’s like a mortgage broker.

Q. If someone came to you for financial advice, what portion of his assets would you advise that he put into an annuity?

A. It will depend on the individual and how large an estate they want to leave.

Q. What are the downsides of annuities?

A. The solvency of the company. Also, if you don’t get inflation protection, over a length of time obviously the purchasing power of the income that you receive is going to decline.

Inflation protection is expensive, in the sense you will get a lower monthly payment than if you do not have inflation protection. On the other hand it will guarantee that as the rate of inflation rises over the years, so will the annuity.

There are also “impaired annuities” for annuitants with a terminal illness. The annuity pays more because the purchaser has a shorter life expectancy.

Q. Would you invest in one yourself?

A. No, not at this point. I am managing my money well enough, and my wife and I have sufficiently large RRIFs that we don’t feel we need to buy that kind of insurance at this time of our life. Down the road when I am in my 80’s I may take a look at it.

Thanks Gordon. It was a pleasure to chat with you. I think Saskatchewan Pension Plan members will be very interested in your comments about annuities. They have the option of purchasing a competitively-priced annuity from the plan until age 71.

Why transfer RRSP funds to SPP?

By Sheryl Smolkin

In addition to maximum regular contributions of $2,500/year, SPP members can annually transfer up to $10,000 into their SPP account from existing RRSPs, RRIFs and unlocked RPPs. In 2012, over 200 members have already transferred $1.5 million into their SPP accounts.

Since these are direct transfers between plans, there are no tax implications. As part of the transfer process, members are asked for investment instructions directing money to either the balanced fund and/or the short-term fund.

Once funds are transferred into the SPP, all of the member’s assets benefit from the plan’s low investment fees (about 1.1 per cent) and competitive returns (7.8% since inception 26 years ago).

Furthermore, contributions are creditor-protected and cannot be seized, claimed or garnisheed in any way except in the event of a court order under a marital division or Enforcement of Maintenance Order.

Both regular contributions (up to $2,500/year) and additional amounts transferred into the SPP are locked-in and are used to provide you with a pension or lump sum at retirement.

If you have money in existing RRSPs or unlocked RPPs, consider transferring up to $10,000 each calendar year to your SPP account. It’s a cost-effective, stress-free way to enhance the benefit you receive when you retire from the plan.

SPP members may begin receiving benefits from the Plan any time after age 55 and must be retired from the Plan by the end of the year in which they reach 71. At SPP, “retirement” simply means you are receiving pension payments. You can still be employed and receive pension from SPP.

You can use this form to an initiate a transfer of funds to SPP.

 

Also see:

Backgrounder – Saskatchewan Pension Plan and Income Tax Act Changes

Roseman: Want to save tax? Look to Saskatchewan

MoneyTalk interview with Derek Foster : February 13, 2012

July 2012 returns

SPP posted a return of 0.18% to the balanced fund (BF) and 0.05% to the short-term fund (STF). The year to date return in the BF is 3.84% and in the STF is 0.27%.

Market index returns for July 2012 were:

Index July 2012 return (%)
S&P/TSX Composite (Canadian equities) 0.80
S&P 500 (C$) (US equities) -0.32
MSCI EAFE (C$)
(Non-north American equities)
-0.57
DEX Universe Bond (Canadian bonds) 0.66
DEX 91 day T-bill 0.06

Last chance to hear Canada's "Idiot Millionaire"

Canada’s “Idiot Millionaire”, Derek Foster, is coming to Saskatchewan!

Derek writes about SPP in “The Worried Boomer”

At age 34 Derek Foster left the workplace and has become Canada’s youngest retiree. Investing in simple stocks he has become know as an “idiot” millionaire. In is book “The Worried Boomer” Derek dedicated an entire chapter about Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

Join Derek, the Idiot Millionaire, at one of the following events to learn about his simple investment approach and how it can be a part of your journey into retirement.

Regina: August 13 – 11:30 am

Hosted by: Regina Chamber of Commerce
Lunch at Conexus Arts Centre Theatre lobby
200A Lakeshore Drive

Register: online at reginachamber.com or 1-306-757-4658
Costs:
Members: $35 pre-registered/Door: $40
Non-members: $50 pre-registered/Door: $55

Saskatoon: August 17 – 7:30 am

Hosted by: North Sask Business Assoc & Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce Breakfast at Saskatoon Club
417 21st St E

Register: by email info@nsbasask.com or 1-306-242-3060 register by 10 am August 16
Costs: All attendees $18

Bestselling Books:

  • Stop Working
  • The Lazy Investor
  • Money For Nothing
  • The Idiot Millionaire
  • Stop Working Too: You Still Can

Each attendee will receive a $10.00 coupon towards the purchase of one of Derek’s book available at the event.

Talking to Jonathan Chevreau

Jonathan Chevreau podcast

Hi, my name is Sheryl Smolkin. I’m a lawyer and a journalist. Today I’m pleased to be continuing the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s series of financial expert interviews with Jonathan Chevreau.

Jonathan was the personal finance columnist for the Financial Post from 1996-1998 and then for the National Post since its launch in 1998 until this year. He has recently been named Editor of MoneySense magazine.

Although he has authored or co-authored seven non-fictional financial books, his most recent work is “a novel about one couple’s turbulent journey to financial independence” called “Findependence Day.” And that’s what we are going to talk about today.

Welcome Jonathan.

Q. Is the expression “Findependence Day” a Chevreau original or has it been used before by others?

A. I would say it is a Chevreau original although at one point there was an unrelated film called Findependence Day. I just looked at the American Independence Day, played around with financial independence and came up with “Findependence Day.” The title came first, and then I thought I should write a book to go with it.

Q. You are known as a financial writer who writes serious articles and books about complex financial matters. What made you decide to write a novel?

A. I think like a lot of journalists there was always a secret closet novelist lurking because it seems like a more creative, long-term project than bashing out daily columns. Then there is always the example of David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber.

Q. Although Findependence Day is clearly fiction, some of your characters and concepts seemed very familiar to me, so I have to ask you:

  • Is Didi Quinlan of the television program Debt March based on Gail Vaz- Oxlade’s show ‘Til debt do us part?

Well like most fictional characters it’s a composite, I would say she’s was certainly one of three or four people, keeping in mind the book was also written for the US market. We have a lot of financial reality TV shows now. When I talk to American journalists they’re convinced I am talking about Suze Orman. But I would say that Gail is probably the single closest model.

  • Were you thinking of Stewart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe when you created “The Vinyl Cave?”

Actually, that was based on Kate Dunn’s Vinyl Museum around the turn of the century. Then Peter Dunn had two Vinyl Museum stores in Toronto – one was close to where I lived on the Lakeshore.

  • Did you draw on Finance Professor Moishe Milevsky’s characterization of people as either “stocks” or bonds” as discussed by the financial advisor Theo in the book?

I think I actually did credit Moshie’s book in the fine print or in “Theo’s library”at the end of the book.

Q.  In the opening chapter, television host Didi Quinlan tells the young couple Jamie and Sheena Morelli that she is going to drill two words into their skulls: guerilla frugality. Is this phrase also a Chevreau original and what does it mean?

A. Yes it is original. I came up with that expression in a column long before I wrote the book. To me it’s like guerrilla warfare. In order to save and invest you have to first get out of debt, and then you have to continue to be frugal in order to build wealth. What I mean by the term is “guerrilla warfare on the economic consumption front.”

Q. Another thing Theo, the financial planner in the book advocates is developing different streams of income on the road to financial independence. Does that mean moonlighting or working at more than one job? Is that practical for hard-working, busy parents?

A. Ideally you can always give yourself a raise. You can get a raise from your boss or change jobs and earn a higher amount. You can aIso take on extra work to earn another $10,000 or more on nights and weekends but this may be stressful and perhaps not the optimum approach if you have a young family.

Ultimately as you know anybody who is a retiree probably does have multiple streams of income – two or three pensions, government benefits and private savings in a RRIF. But when we’re in the wealth accumulation phase, if both partners are employed we tend to be dependent on one or two different sources of income.

You have to go from one or two salaries to these multiple sources of income when you become financially independent and ultimately when you are in full stop retirement.

Q. If you could identify one or two key messages in the book for people striving to achieve financial independence, what would they be?

A. If your goal is financial independence or findependence, the means is guerilla frugality. The two go together. So be frugal first to get rid of your debt and second to build wealth. These are the key takeaways in order to achieve what I call Findependence day.

Q.Have you reached your Findependence day, and if not what is the magic number?

A. I used to put anywhere from 57-64 on my blog, the Wealthy Boomer. Right now I’ve joined MoneySense magazine at 59 years old. I guess my partner and I have achieved financial independence of sorts, but we want to achieve a higher level. I am at the stage of working now because I want to, not because I have to. And as you know everything gets better the longer you wait.

I enjoy what I do and I don’t find there’s a big distinction between what I do evenings and weekends and what I do during the day. I’m up reading all this stuff on twitter and social media and I might as well get paid for it as long as I enjoy it and I’m healthy. The thing is, at some point, I may not have a willing client, or a willing employer even if I want to work to 70 or 75. At some point we all must have financial independence because our body or our minds won’t permit us to earn the single employment stream that most people rely on.

Thanks Jonathan. It was a pleasure to talk to you today. I read your book cover to cover and learned a great deal. I actually joined the SPP to get “another stream of income” although I have an employer-sponsored pension plan. If they haven’t already done so, I’m sure many SPP members will be interested in ordering the book from your website.

It was a pleasure Sheryl. There’s actually a question and answer about the Saskatchewan Pension Plan in the June issue of MoneySense.

Canada's "Idiot Millionaire" visits Saskatchewan

Canada’s “Idiot Millionaire”, Derek Foster, is coming to Saskatchewan!

Join Derek, the Idiot Millionaire, at one of the following events to learn about his simple investment approach and how it can be a part of your journey into retirement.

Regina: August 13 – 11:30 am

Hosted by: Regina Chamber of Commerce
Lunch at Conexus Arts Centre Theatre lobby
200A Lakeshore Drive

Register: online at reginachamber.com or 1-306-757-4658
Costs:
Members: $35 pre-registered/Door: $40
Non-members: $50 pre-registered/Door: $55

Saskatoon: August 17 – 7:30 am

Hosted by: North Sask Business Assoc & Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce Breakfast at Saskatoon Club
417 21st St E

Register: by email info@nsbasask.com or 1-306-242-3060 register by 10 am August 16
Costs: All attendees $18

Bestselling Books:

  • Stop Working
  • The Lazy Investor
  • Money For Nothing
  • The Idiot Millionaire
  • Stop Working Too: You Still Can

Each attendee will receive a $10.00 coupon towards the purchase of one of Derek’s book available at the event.

June 2012 returns

SPP posted a return of 1.58% to the balanced fund (BF) and 0.063% to the short-term fund (STF). The year to date return in the BF is 3.65% and in the STF is 0.218%.

Market index returns for June 2012 were:

Index June 2012 return (%)
S&P/TSX Composite (Canadian equities) 1.10
S&P 500 (C$) (US equities) 2.48
MSCI EAFE (C$)
(Non-north American equities)
5.32
DEX Universe Bond (Canadian bonds) 0.01
DEX 91 day T-bill 0.10

What if I move away from Saskatchewan?

By Sheryl Smolkin

If you’re age 18 to 71 years of age, you can join the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Participation is not restricted by where you live or membership in other plans. However, you must have available Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) room to contribute to SPP.

As a result, you can continue to contribute to SPP even if you leave the province. As long as you live in Canada, your SPP contributions will be tax deductible and grow tax free within the plan. Any payments out of the plan after age 55 will be taxable income.

Because SPP participation is not restricted to provincial residents, it is a particularly good retirement savings vehicle for organizations with employees in more than one province. Whether you are transferred from one end of the country to another or move to take a new job, you can continue contributing to the plan.

If you move outside of Canada before or after retirement, the tax treatment of SPP contributions and withdrawals may differ. You should seek tax advice from a lawyer or an accountant in the jurisdiction where you plan to move, either when you are still working or you retire.

Also read:
Who can join SPP
SPP member guide

Talking to Derek Foster

Derek Foster podcast

Hi, my name is Sheryl Smolkin. I’m a lawyer and a journalist. Today I’m pleased to be continuing the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s series of financial expert interviews, talking to Derek Foster author of six books including The Idiot Millionaire.

After spending his 20s backpacking across Europe, Australia and Asia, Derek left the rat race at age 34 when his investment strategy made him a millionaire. Today we are going to talk about his latest book, The Worried Boomer.

Welcome Derek.

Q1. Derek, you retired six years ago at age 34 and started a new career as a financial writer and motivational speaker. Was this all part of the plan? Did you ever imagine you would be so successful?

There was no a plan at all. The only thing I did was to begin investing religiously just before I started university. I put away $200 a month and it kept growing and growing. But as far as writing a book, once I retired I thought it was an interesting story so I wrote a book and it became a national best seller. I thought this was kind of great so I wrote a few more books.

Q2. Because you are your own boss, you have more time to spend with your family and do things you enjoy. How much time do you spend writing and speaking in a typical week or month?

It really varies depending on the season. I find I do a lot of my writing in the fall after summer vacation is over and the kids are back at school. But if I was to average it out, I would say probably around ten hours a week.

Q3. Everyone I talk to is worried that they will run out of money before they run out of time. How did you figure out how much money you had to save in order to retire at such a young age?

I think a lot of people put the cart before the horse. In other words, if you ask people how much money they need to retire, many will respond “oh you need a million dollars or two million dollars.”

But if you ask “how much money do you need to live on now?” they’ll generally say $50,000 a year or $100,000 a year. The interesting thing is that they tell me the annual income they need to live right now, but for retirement they fixate on this big lump sum of money.

I think you need an annual income when you retire. So essentially all you have to do is build up an annual income stream and once it equals what your expenses are going to be, you can stop working.

Q4. You have five children. You own a four bedroom, four bathroom house in Ottawa and your family has taken trips almost every year since you have retired on less than $40,000/year. How can you afford this lifestyle? What don’t you do?

I think the main thing I don’t do is that I don’t work. It’s going to sound kind of strange, but working is the most expensive way to make money in Canada. When you’re working at a regular job, you pay Canada Pension, you pay employment insurance, you also pay income tax at the top marginal rate. And those are just the direct costs of working.

There are a whole slew of indirect costs of working. You might need to pay for a wardrobe, union dues, commuting costs, parking costs or child care expenses if you’re at that stage in life. So I basically realized that working was too expensive and I couldn’t afford it so I stopped working.

That was a big part of it, and the other thing too is that I’m not really a “stuff” guy. I don’t find I buy a lot of gadgets. For example I’ve never owned a cell phone. In my twenties I spent a year travelling around Australia and New Zealand. I had the time of my life and all my worldly possessions were contained in one backpack. So I think that’s another part of it as well.

Q5. How would you respond to people who say that they are already living so close to the line that there is nothing left over for savings?

I think sometimes people look at saving enough money for retirement as if they have to achieve the whole thing all at once. Make it simple. Start with $2 a day. Take a toonie every day from your change and throw it into a jar. At the end of the month you’ll have sixty bucks. Keep doing that month after month. If you started when you were twenty and stopped at the traditional retirement age of sixty five, you’d end up with something like $628 000 just by saving toonies which is a pretty good start. If you up that to $5 a-day you’ll have one and a half million dollars which is very good start. So start small.

Q6. You invested in the stock market to make your million, yet so many people over the same period lost almost everything. What’s your secret? How do you pick stocks?

I am not really that smart a guy so what I did is I tried to copy other people. The absolute best investor in the world is a guy by the name of Warren Buffet, and I read a lot of what he had to say about investing and copied him.

And the approach, which is really quite simple, is invest in only companies that are easy enough for a six year old to illustrate with a crayon. You want companies that sell the same boring product year after boring year. An example would be Colgate toothpaste. I mean if I invest in Colgate toothpaste all I have to rely on is that you’re going to keep brushing your teeth, and I think that’s a fairly safe bet.

Now if you look at the company they’ve paid uninterrupted dividends since 1895 so basically for 117 years, anybody who has ever owned Colgate stock has received their dividends. Which is great, so focus on those kinds of companies. Forget the casino approach where you’re looking for the next hot thing. I mean ten years ago a lot of people chased Nortel and that didn’t work out very well. Again, keep it simple.

Q7. The Worried Boomer is a primer on various types of financial instruments in which people can invest their retirement savings for retirement, but you also devote a chapter to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. What do you think are the advantages of saving in the SPP instead of in an RRSP?

There are a couple different advantages. The first one is it’s very easy. I enjoy sitting down and reading annual reports and considering where to invest, but surprisingly some people don’t enjoy that. But the SPP allows them to just make a contribution and forget about it. It’s basically a set and forget kind of plan, which is good for a lot of people.

The second factor that I really like is that the costs are really low. If you invest in traditional mutual funds you’ll pay much higher fees than you will with the SPP. The differences can be huge. We’re talking tens, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars difference just by saving on the fees.

And the third factor is that it has a very good long-term track record. I think returns have averaged around 8% over the last 25 years which is really, really good. Also in the 2008 stock market downturn the SPP fund it went down much, much less than the overall markets did.

Q.10 Do you think your savings will last for the rest of your life or do you anticipate having to going back to work for someone else some day?

No I don’t anticipate having to go back to work because I rely on dividends. Let’s suppose my money is a seed and I’ve planted a tree with it. Now the traditional investor lets his tree grow for a few years and then he wants to chop it down for fire wood and make a big gain. I am not doing that.

What I’ve done is I’ve planted a tree that’s bearing fruit every year. Every year I harvest the fruit. The next year I do it again. That’s essentially what I’m doing with the dividends. The money just keeps re-appearing every year. It’s almost like I have a little printing press downstairs, down in my basement where I’m able to print new money every year as I need it. So no I don’t really anticipate ever really running out of money.

Thanks Derek. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. I’m sure listeners will be inspired by your story and look forward to hearing more about you and your family’s financial adventures in the years to come. The worried Boomer and Derek’s other five books can be purchased from his website at www.stopworking.ca.