Tag Archives: Canada.ca

Looking for ways to beat the pandemic blues

Let’s face it – the spring, summer and fall of 2020 have been quite a downer. We’ve been made to be holed up at home, are restricted in what we can do, where we can go and who we can see, and are continually worried about our jobs, our kids, and the bills.

The pandemic has hammered our mental health, reports Global News. “A survey done in conjunction with the Mental Health Commission of Canada found that a whopping 84 per cent of those surveyed felt their mental health had worsened since the onset of the pandemic,” the network reports.

“Similarly, an Ipsos survey done for Addictions and Mental Health Ontario found 45 per cent of Ontarians reported their mental health had suffered during the pandemic, with 67 per cent saying they expect those effects to be `serious and lasting,’” reports Global.

Save with SPP took a look around to see if there are any ideas out there on how to ward off these feelings of depression and anxiety.

According to Triathlon Magazine Canada, research from the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that “by being physically active, depressive symptoms decreased.” Even five minutes of activity did the trick, the magazine reports.

Other tips – develop, and stick to, a routine, the magazine suggests. Avoid the “western diet” of “processed meat, high-fat dairy products, and refined grains” as it is associated with increased risk of depression, the magazine advises. Their final suggestion is to try, even with the restrictions in place, to stay in touch with friends and family. “While tedious, Zoom calls are good for our mental health, but in person is far better,” say the folks at Triathlon Magazine Canada.

Over at Psychology Today magazine, Dr. Erin Leyba offers some additional tips.

Taking a warm bath at least twice a week “may help relieve symptoms of depression… even more than exercise does,” she writes.

Exercises like “jogging, cycling, walking, gardening and dancing” help increase your blood circulation, which in turn helps shift your brain’s reaction to stress. Doing nice things for friends and family will produce a “helper’s high” that makes our brains feel better, she writes. Examples are calling or face-timing an elderly relative, delivering groceries to someone, thanking front-line workers via cards or buying them lunches, or donating money to help those impacted by COVID-19.

Reading, as well as calling or video-chatting with friends are also positive steps to ward off depression, she writes.

The advice from the federal government is similar. Let your doctor know if you think you are suffering from depression, the feds advise, as depression “is a serious but treatable illness.”

Avoid isolation, the federal website urges.

“One-on-one interactions, such as going to a movie or out for coffee with a friend are also good forms of social contact. Being around others provides support, companionship and has a good effect on your general health,” the site notes, agreeing that physical activity and a healthy diet are also pluses.

These are all good pieces of advice that we all should take note of as we watch the pandemic play out. A colleague of ours once said that every crisis has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s nice to imagine the end of this one.

If saving for retirement is one of your worries, a solution may be joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. It’s great to have professionals running your investments (rather than trying to figure it out yourself), and the SPP grows your money at a very low fee. When it’s time to turn your savings into retirement income, SPP offers a variety of lifetime pension options via annuities. Check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Dec 2: Best from the blogosphere

Experts say retirement planning should start in one’s 20s

Ah, the joys of being in one’s twenties. You’re young, you’re healthy, you’re newly educated and you’re ready to make your way in the world of employment.

And, according to the experts, you should have your retirement planning well underway!

According to The Motley Fool blog via Yahoo!, “the saddest tale you can hear from baby boomers is the regret of having not prepared early for retirement.”

Not saving enough while young is something your older you will experience – in a negative way – later in life, the blog advises. “Many baby boomers found out belatedly that their nest eggs weren’t enough to sustain a retirement lifestyle,” the blog warns.

Without an early head start on saving, the Motley Fool warns, “you might end up with less than half of the money you’d need after retiring for good. The best move is to invest in income-generating assets or stocks to start the ball rolling.”

What stocks should a young retirement saver invest in? According to the blog, “Bank of Montreal (BMO) should be on the top of your list,” as it has been paying out good dividends since 1829. Other good dividend-payers recommended by the investing blog include Canadian Utilities (CU) and CIBC bank.

“The younger generation should take the advice of baby boomers seriously: start saving early for retirement. Apart from not knowing how long you’ll live, you can’t get back lost time. Many baby boomers started saving too late, yet expected to enjoy the same lifestyle as they did before retirement,” the blog warns.

So the takeaway here is, start early, and pick something that has a history of growth and dividend payments.

The bigger question is always this – how much is enough to save?

A recent blog by Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail mentions some handy calculators that can help you figure out what your nest egg should be.

Carrick says that while seeing a financial adviser is always recommended for goal-setting, the calculators can help. Three he mentions include The Personal Enhanced Retirement Calculator, designed by actuary and financial author Fred Vettese; The Retirement Cash Flow Calculator from the Get Smarter About Money blog; and The Canadian Retirement Income Calculator from the federal government.

You’ll find any retirement calculator will deliver what looks like a huge and unobtainable savings number. However, if you start early, you’ll have the benefit of time on your side. Even a small annual savings amount will grow substantially if it has 30 or 40 years of growth runway before landing at the airport of retirement. For sure, start young. Join any retirement program you can at your work, but also save on your own. If you’re not ready to start making trades, a great option is membership in the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You get the benefit of professional investing at a very low price, and that expertise will grow your savings over time. When it’s time to turn savings into income, SPP is unique in the fact that it offers an in-plan way to deliver your savings via a monthly pay lifetime annuity. And there are a number of different types of annuities to choose from. Check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Looking for the best fitness activities for older folks

Those of us who still remember buying Beatles records and wearing tie-dye (both still worthy things to do today, of course) are aware that we need to do regular exercise to keep the old machine ticking along. But what’s the best and even safest kind to do? Save with SPP took a look around the web for some answers.

The Government of Canada’s seniors website tells us the value of fitness as we age. “Physical activity improves health and well-being. It reduces stress, strengthens the heart and lungs, increases energy levels, helps you maintain and achieve a healthy body weight and it improves your outlook on life,” the site notes.

“Research shows that physical inactivity can cause premature death, chronic disease and disability,” the site adds.

The exercises the feds recommend include “walking once a day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator… and (to) walk, wheel or cycle for short trips.” Use cycling and walking paths in your area, and spend less time in front of the computer or the TV, the government recommends.

The Top 10 Home Remedies blog also is big on walking, noting that regular “moderate-intensity walking” helps reduce mobility disability by 2.6 years. They like swimming, which they say is, if done regularly, “related to better performance on the three executive functions (behavioural inhibition, working memory updating, and cognitive flexibility),” and can help the body’s balance, which in turn prevents falls.

Yoga, the blog says, done moderately can “help with weight loss, improve sleep quality, and delay the age-related effects of aging motor systems.”

Don’t forget about strength, notes the Live About Dot Com blog. “Strength exercises build older adult muscles and increase your metabolism, which helps to keep your weight and blood sugar in check,” the blog suggests. As mentioned, the blog says balance exercises “help build leg muscles, and this helps to reduce falls.”

Stretching exercises “can give you more freedom of movement,” and any cardio-type endurance exercise like “walking, jogging, swimming or raking leaves” will “increase your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time.”

In addition to the activities already listed here, the How Stuff Works blog touts the benefit of water aerobics (“a low-impact, full body workout”), tai chi, golf and gardening.

Save with SPP has tried most of these, and can say that the more regular exercise one does, the better report card one will receive from the doctor. Any time we’ve decided to take a few months off from exercise, it has resulted in a negative spell healthwise. When we get back into the gym, everything is a go again. Who knew?

Be sure to research your exercise plans well and have a plan that you will be able to follow. Your future you will thank you for the effort.

And your future you will be very pleased to receive income from retirement savings made by the current you. Like fitness, saving requires commitment and discipline and a little bit of sacrifice, but the rewards far outweigh these costs. Make saving a part of your monthly plans – and if you are looking for a full-service, one-stop retirement savings program, look no further than the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. They have all the tools you need to reach your goals.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Dec 24: Best from the blogosphere – Feds want input on how to make retirement more secure

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

Feds want input on how to make retirement more secure

Retirement security is a hard thing to define, particularly if you are not yet retired.

Some imagine it as an upgrade from working – you’ll have more time to do all the things you want, no more slogging away at the office. Others worry if they will have enough savings to fund the kind of life they have now – or even a more austere one.

Workplace pensions are far rarer than they were in decades past, leaving most of us to have to create our own retirement security.

The federal government, reports Wealth Professional, is opening public consultations on the growing problem of retirement security. It wants to take a harder look at pension regulations, as well as (and perhaps, the article says, in light of the Sears pension debacle), “insolvency and bankruptcy laws.”

The consultations want to “improve retirement security for Canadians” by looking at ways to ensure workplace plans are “well funded,” and corporate decisions are better aligned with “pensioner and employee interests.” The government, the article notes, talks about the improvements that have been made to government pensions, such as the OAS and GIS.

We learned recently that Canadians ought to have saved 11 times their salary by the time they are ready to retire. But in an era when workplace pensions are scarce, how can such saving be encouraged? And how do we ensure folks don’t dip into the savings before it’s time to live off them?

If RRSP savings were locked in people wouldn’t be able to withdraw money until they reach retirement age, and at that point, if funds were be converted to an income stream people would be assure of income for life.

A second idea might be to add a voluntary savings component to the CPP; this has been floated before.

Another idea might be to create investment funds for the OAS and the GIS. Right now these benefits are paid 100 per cent via taxpayer dollars. If, as is the case with the CPP, some of the dollars could be diverted to investment funds, maybe that taxpayer portion of future benefit costs could be reduced.

The real challenge is getting people to save more. One can argue truthfully that there are plenty of great savings vehicles out there that just aren’t being fully used. Could the feds offer some new tax incentives to put money away?

It will be interesting to see what the government finds out on this important topic.

If you don’t have a pension plan at work – and even if you do – it’s always wise to put away money for retirement, which will come sooner than you think. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers a simple, well-run savings vehicle that is flexible and effective. You decide how much to put away, you can ramp it up or down over your career, and you get multiple options on how to receive a pension when the golden handshake comes. Be sure to check it out.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22