Canada Pension Plan

Jan 2: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

January 2, 2023

CPP benefit seen as modest in an environment where many lack workplace pensions

Writing in The Globe and Mail, David Lawrence provides a reality check for those of us thinking federal retirement benefits will cover our retirement costs.

He notes that the maximum benefit available from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for a new recipient in 2022 is $1,253.59 per month. But worse, not everyone gets the maximum — Lawrence writes that the average CPP payment this year is a mere $727.61 per month.

The traditional “three pillars” of Canadian retirement, he writes, are changing. While government pensions like CPP and Old Age Security (OAS) provide one pillar, and personal savings another, the third is pensions, which Lawrence says are not generally accessible to those who are self-employed or working on contract.

In fact, many people just don’t have a workplace pension, the article notes.

“While it used to be that clients were maybe worried that their pension wasn’t going to be enough, over the past 15 years we’ve encountered more clients who simply don’t have a pension [through their employer],” Tom Gilman, senior wealth advisor and senior portfolio manager with Gilman Deters Private Wealth at Harbourfront Wealth Management Inc. in Vancouver, tells the Globe.

Those who do have a pension are “more confident” about their retirement cost of living than those without, Gilman states in the article.

He also tells the Globe that your personal “income tax profile” should help you decide whether a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is a better retirement savings vehicle for you than the usual alternative, the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). Some people need the tax deductions associated with an RRSP more than others, the article explains.

Those who are going to live off their investments need to think about how best to structure their portfolio, states Laura Barclay of TD Wealth Private Investment Counsel in Markham, Ont., in the Globe article.

“For her, the holdings that best mimic a pension plan with stable, long-term payments are high-quality, blue-chip dividend-paying stocks,” the article notes.

Barclay tells the Globe she advises her clients to look for “high-quality companies… with growing earnings,” and that also pay dividends. Diversification is also important, she states in the article.

Harp Sandhu, financial advisor with the Sandhu Advisory Group at Raymond James Ltd. in Victoria, tells the Globe he takes a “tortoise” approach with his own retirement investments — “slow and steady wins the race,” the article notes.

If you are starting to save for retirement while older, don’t pick risky investments with high returns in the short term to try and catch up, Sandhu tells the Globe. Things can go wrong with such investment choices, he tells the newspaper.

If you ever have an opportunity to join a pension plan or retirement savings arrangement through work, be sure to join, and contribute as much as you can. When retirement savings is a deduction from your paycheque, you’ll quickly forget about it and will be happy, when you retire, that you’re getting more than just standard government retirement benefits.

If there isn’t any retirement program available for you, perhaps because you work on a casual or contract basis, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be of interest. Any Canadian with available RRSP room can join. If you have bits of pieces saved in multiple RRSPs, you are allowed to consolidate them within the SPP — you can transfer in up to $10,000 per year. Check out SPP today — it may be the retirement solution you’ve been searching for!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

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


What’s it like working after retirement — and some general retirement learnings

December 15, 2022

We’ve reached that age — early 60s — where we have as many friends and family retired as working. The age-old question posed to us by our younger contacts is simple: what’s it like to be retired, and to not be working?

Well, first off, the only folks we know who are fully retired — meaning, living off a pension and/or retirement savings — tend to be a little older than us. We have an old friend, Bob, who was able to retire at 55 with a workplace pension and told me he has played lots of guitar, golfed, travelled, and apart from being a course marshal in return for discount rounds, has not worked a lick in retirement. He told me he took his Canada Pension Plan (CPP) the month he turned 60. “Why leave money on the table,” he asks.

A couple of golf buddies, who are around the same age as us, are still working away without plans to retire until their 70s. One has lots of savings so the transition won’t be that big a deal, the other doesn’t have savings but can collect a federal government pension and hopes to continue working as a consultant. So, no specific plan to exit the workforce in the here and now, but a general directional plan for five or six years out.

The eldest great-grandma in our tribe is living happily off her savings in a retirement apartment, and has taken up new hobbies and games, and met new friends, while rolling along in her early ‘90s. She is able to collect Old Age Security.

The folks we know around the ‘hood are largely retired government employees or teachers, either living on their own pension or on a survivor pension. Most are doing well and a number of them (enviably) are wintering in sunnier climes.

Apart from one dog-walking friend who retired, ran out of savings, and went back to work, no one we know complains about having a lack of retirement income. This is interesting, since this writer spent much time doing communications support on research about this particular topic.

We don’t find people complaining about their workplace arrangements or government pensions, other than to occasionally grumble that the inflation increase wasn’t very much.

Things fellow retirees have warned us about are coming true:

  1. Understand the rules about CPP survivor benefits — you won’t receive your partner’s full CPP entitlement upon their death, but may get topped up to what they were getting. Factor this reality into your income planning.
  2. The trickiest part of having multiple streams of income is taxes, and you won’t always be able to offset your tax bill through contributing to a retirement savings program. Figure out a plan for the taxes on your income, even if it is having more taken off at source.
  3. A good trick, if you have a registered retirement income fund and must withdraw from it, is to take any money you don’t need and contribute it to a Tax Free Savings Account. Many of our friends say their kids are using TFSAs as a primary retirement savings tool to avoid having their future retirement income taxed. Good for them!
  4. Our late Uncle Joe sold his house and then moved into a condo before his early 70s. He then downsized from the condo to a seniors’ apartment. When he went to his reward, there was no house to sell and the related problems, and all his belongings were relatively easy to pack up and distribute. Joe always lived on 90 per cent of what he made, which is also very good advice.
  5. If you aren’t doing something other than watching the news, you will have a short retirement. Join new things, meet new people, try something you haven’t, and good times may follow.

The final thing we’ve learned is that worrying about things doesn’t help anyone. On our local news recently, a 111-year-old veteran said his advice was to be happy, and that “if you have a problem, get it fixed” rather than worrying about it. We’ll take his word for it and try to live his example.

The CPP and OAS programs are great, in that they retire you with a basic retirement income, probably enough for core expenses. If you don’t have a workplace pension to augment that government layer, take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP). SPP has been building retirement futures since 1986, and can help you start saving for the days when work is a memory. 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.


Nov 28: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

November 28, 2022

Younger Canadians doing better than you’d think on finances: RBC poll

New research from RBC, reported on by Wealth Professional, suggests that young people are taking their finances – including saving for retirement – quite seriously.

A whopping 83 per cent of young adults aged 18 to 24 say “financial stability is key to overall happiness,” while 59 per cent say “they’re very or extremely engaged with their finances, compared to just 47 per cent of parents who think they are,” Wealth Professional reports.

“Canada’s young adults are planning and saving for their future,” Jason Storsley, senior vice-president of Everyday Banking and Client Growth at RBC, tells Wealth Professional. “The survey results showed about 32 per cent of young adults are saving for a house, and about a fifth of them (19 per cent) are already saving for retirement as well,” he states in the article.

Chief concerns among young adults, the magazine continues, are “the high cost of living (70 per cent) and inflation (54 per cent).” Sixty-seven per cent admit feeling “stressed about their finances,” and 58 per cent “worry about having too much debt.”

It sounds to us like the younger generation is being very responsible about money, and that their parents and grandparents may be underestimating that fact.

“It does feel like there is a disconnect between kind of what parents’ perception is and what youth are actually willing to do with respect to side hustles,” Storsley states in the article. “I think we sometimes underestimate the resourcefulness of our youth, and how they are stepping up to meet some of the challenges they are facing today.”

Some good news for younger Canadians is that when they get older, the payout from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) will be higher.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, noted actuary and financial author Fred Vettese explains that both the contribution rate and benefit payout rate from CPP are on the rise.

“The maximum pension payable will ultimately be 50 per cent greater in real terms than it was in 2019, but the actual increase will be less if one didn’t always contribute the maximum. It will take more than 40 years before the expansion is fully phased in,” he explains.

A chart included in the article shows a steady increase coming for the next 30 years, which is positive news for younger people who will hit age 65 in the late 2040s and 2050s.

If you’re 18 to 24, perhaps still a student or early on in your work career, you may not have access to a pension through the workplace. But the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has you covered.

Any Canadian adult with registered retirement savings plan room can join, and your membership means access to a voluntary defined contribution pension plan that has been delivering retirement security since 1986. With SPP, your contributions are prudently invested at a low cost and grown between today and the long-off future date when you untether yourself from the labyrinth of work. 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.


Nov 14: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

November 14, 2022

Avoiding the top 10 mistakes in retirement

Writing in the Times-Colonist, wealth advisor/portfolio manager Kevin Greenard highlights 10 things that can go wrong for retirees – and steps you can take to avoid those problems.

It’s critical, his column begins, to “not underestimate” the impact of inflation on retiree purchasing power. With inflation recently running as high as 8.1 per cent, he recommends “determining an appropriate asset mix, an optimal number of holdings and position size, ensuring appropriate diversification to manage concentration risk, taking a disciplined approach to rebalancing, and managing your time horizon for investing.” In other words, account for inflation in the design of your investment portfolio.

Next, he talks about longevity – you need, he writes, to factor in the possibility that you may live as long as, or longer, than your parents. “If you have one, or both, parents who lived well into their 90s, or are alive and in their 90s, then it’s prudent to plan that you too will live into, or past, your 90s,” he writes.

Greenard says his firm always assumes a conservative future return rate of four per cent. If you withdraw funds assuming a rate of return that is too high, you can deplete your money too quickly and have little to no money left 25 years into retirement.

He also talks about the risk of being “too conservative” with investments. Those of us who “store cash under the mattress” or invest only in safe, interest-bearing investments like Guaranteed Investment Certificates can actually lose money over time compared with those who take a little more risk with their asset mix. “The key is to find a happy medium that you are comfortable with, and invest only in good quality, non-speculative investments,” Greenard writes.

It’s a fine line, he adds – those who take on too much risk can also have problems. “We have seen many scenarios where significant sums of money have been lost as a result of investing in speculative, high-risk holdings, or having not managed concentration risk by holding excessive position sizes,” he explains.

Other problems that can be addressed include a lack of communications about retirement goals, failure to map out cashflow needs, and not starting a retirement savings plan early enough.

“If you have put off saving for retirement, we encourage you to start today. To benefit from compounding growth, the sooner you can start, the better off you’ll be for it in the long run,” he advises.

His final points are the importance of having an estate plan and a “total wealth plan,” as understanding your overall wealth goals will make planning the retirement component much easier.

Greenard makes some very good points in this column. We have neighbours and friends who over-decumulated from their retirement savings in the early years of retirement and had to either go back to work or adjust (downward) their lifestyle costs.

The best advice we ever received about retirement income was to do a “net to net” comparison, work income versus retirement income, which ties in to what Greenard writes about knowing your cash flows.

When you factor in the lower taxes you pay when retired (generally), and the fact that you are no longer paying into the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, a workplace pension or other retirement arrangements, you may find like we did that the income “gap” between working and retiring isn’t as huge as a “gross to gross” comparison might suggest.

If you haven’t started saving for retirement, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a resource you need to be aware of. SPP is an open defined contribution pension plan that any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room can join. Once you are an SPP member, you can contribute any amount annually up to $7,000, and SPP will prudently invest your savings at a low cost. At retirement time, SPP have several income options, including an in-house line of lifetime annuity payments. 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.


OCT 3: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

October 3, 2022

Canada no longer a top 10 country for retirement security: Natixis survey

A “decline in financial well-being and happiness” is cited among the reasons why Canada is no longer a top 10 nation in retirement security.

Writing in the Financial Post, Victoria Wells reports Canada has dropped to 15th place (from 10th place last year) on the Natixis Investment Managers ranking of the countries that offer the highest level of retirement security.

“The main reasons for the drop, Natixis IM said, are a decline in financial well-being and happiness, increased tax burdens, a rapidly aging population and environmental factors, such as a lack of biodiversity,” Wells reports.

She further notes that this dip in retirement security levels coincides with “soaring inflation, aggressive interest rate hikes and a wobbly stock market,” all factors making 2022 “one of the worst years ever to retire.”

In the article, Dave Goodsell of Natixis notes that the study found 65 per cent of Canadians surveyed are “underestimating their life expectancy,” and “61 per cent haven’t considered how much inflation will impact their finances.” A further 60 per cent, he states in the article, “aren’t planning for additional healthcare costs” as they age.

Another problem for the retirement system, the article reports, is the strain on the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) system as “the number of seniors boom in relation to younger workers who pay into CPP.”

“Investment strategies, financial planning, employee benefits and policy considerations will all need to factor in a new funding equation that accounts for inflation, interest rates and increased longevity,” Goodsell states in the article.

The top three countries for retirement security are Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland, the article concludes.

Another factor not noted in this article is the huge increase in retirements in this country. The Peterborough Examiner reports that retirements are up 50 per cent in Canada versus last year. The Examiner cites Statistics Canada data from August that showed 307,000 Canucks had retired in the last 12 months, versus 233,000 a year earlier.

As well, the Examiner article reports, 12.9 per cent of Canadians say they are planning to leave their jobs for retirement soon – that figure again is from August of this year.

So, summing it up, a record number of Canucks are heading out of the workplace for the last time, despite the fact that markets are unstable, inflation is at decades-high levels, and interest rates are soaring – the latter bit of news being good for savers but bad for debtors.

It’s worth noting that the CPP has a massive contingency fund, run by CPP Investments, that currently has $523 billion in assets according to a recent news release. So if we ever do get to a point where the contributions to CPP made by workers aren’t enough to pay CPP pensions, there’s a large keg of money that can be tapped at that time.

However, it’s best to have multiple streams of retirement income to rely on in the future. If you have a workplace pension you are ahead in that game. If you don’t, or want to augment your overall savings, a helpful tool is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, a defined contribution plan that’s open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings room. Contributions you make to SPP are pooled, invested professionally at a low cost, and are grown prudently until you are ready to convert savings to retirement income. 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.


Some common RRSP mistakes we all need to avoid

August 4, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The RatesDotCa blog adds a few more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

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


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.


May 16: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 16, 2022

End RRIF mandatory withdrawals, RRSP end dates, and create national RRSP: Pape

Well-known financial author Gordon Pape has been observing the Canadian investment and retirement savings system for many decades, and has come up with a four-point plan to make retirement more effective for Canada’s greying population.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Pape observes that there are now seven million Canadians aged 65 and over.

“This has the makings of a massive demographic crisis,” he writes. “Where are the future workers going to come from? Who is going to support our rapidly aging population? What will happen to the tax base as people leave the work force and reduce their spending?”

He then suggests that one way to address the problem would be to encourage more Canadians to work past age 65, a plan that would “require a massive overhaul of our retirement system,” but that is “doable.”

As a starting point, he notes that the trend towards more working at home, born from our experiences with the pandemic, may be a good “carrot” for encouraging older Canadians to keep working. Working from home is preferable for most, he says.

But other carrots are needed as well, he writes.

Eliminate mandatory RRIF withdrawals: Currently, he writes, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) must be “wound up by Dec. 31 of the year in which you turn 71,” and are then mostly converted into registered retirement income funds (RRIFs). With RRIFs, he explains, you are required to withdraw a minimum amount annually, an amount that grows until you are 94 and must withdraw 20 per cent of the RRIF.

“RRIF withdrawals are a huge disincentive to work after age 71. Added to regular income, the extra RRIF money can quickly push you into a high tax bracket,” Pape writes.

“The solution is legislation to end mandatory withdrawals entirely. Let the individual decide when it’s time to tap into retirement savings and how much is needed. The government will still get its tax revenue. It will just be delayed a few years,” he posits.

End RRSP wind up at 71: A second “carrot,” he writes, would be to change the age that RRSPs must be closed, currently age 71. Why, asks Pape?

“RRSP contributions are tax deductible. Making RRSPs open-ended would therefore create an incentive to continue saving in later years, when people may have more disposable income (no mortgage, kids moved out). That would result in more personal savings, which should result in fewer people requiring government support in later years,” he writes.

Create a national RRSP: Pape proposes that a national RRSP – to be run by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board – be created. “It would provide Canadians with first-rate management expertise, at minimal cost,” Pape writes.

This idea is needed, Pape says, because many people don’t know how to invest in their RRSPs and lack the advice they need to do so.

Allow CPP and OAS to be deferred longer: His final idea would be to allow people to start their Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security later than the current latest age, 70. Again, this is to accommodate folks who want to work longer and don’t need the money as “early” as 70.

These ideas all make a lot of sense if the goal is to help people working longer. The idea of being able to withdraw RRIF funds as needed rather than based on a government mandatory withdrawal table is sensible. After all, who wants to withdraw money – effectively selling low – when markets are down? And if one is working into one’s 70s, why take away the effective tax reduction lever of RRSP contributions?

Let’s hope policy makers listen to some of Pape’s ideas. Gordon Pape spoke to Save with SPP a while ago, and he knows his stuff. He also spoke with our friend Sheryl Smolkin in an earlier Save with SPP column.

If you don’t have a workplace pension plan, investing on your own for retirement can be quite daunting, especially in times like these where interest rates are rising and markets are falling. Fortunately, there is a way to have your money professionally invested at a low cost by money managers who know their way around topsy-turvy conditions – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You’ll get professional investing at a low cost, and over time, your precious retirement nest egg will grow and be converted to an income stream when the bonds of work are cut off for good. 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.


May 9: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 9, 2022

Canada’s workforce greys as boomers hit the road to retirement

The Canadian workforce is “older than it has ever been,” reports the CBC, citing information from the latest national census.

“More than one in five working adults is now nearing retirement, says Statistics Canada — a demographic shift that will create significant challenges for the Canadian workforce in the coming decade,” reports the network.

There are more people aged 55 to 64 in the workforce than those aged 15 to 24 entering it, the article notes.

And that’s a big change.

“In 1966, there were 200 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians aged 55 to 64, but that has now been flipped on its head. In 2021, there were only 81 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians in the 55 to 64 age group,” the CBC report continues.

Boomers, the report explains, began retiring around 2011. The fact that so many of us are boomers – retiring ones at that – is “the single most important driver of Canada’s aging population trend,” the CBC notes.

It’s expected that the number of folks aged 85 and over will triple by 2051, with one quarter of the population being over 65 by that date.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, Canada’s fertility rate hit an “an all-time low of 1.4 children per woman,” the CBC report adds, citing Statistics Canada data. There are six million young people under 15 in the country compared to seven million of us who are 65 and older.

This greying trend raises a number of concerns.

First, the article says, the traditional “transfer of knowledge” from older workers to younger ones won’t be easy to achieve if there is a shortfall of young folks entering the workforce.

Next – a question not posed in the article – we have to wonder if this grey wave of retirees will have sufficient retirement savings. The Canada Pension Plan, for example, uses CPP contributions from working Canadians to help pay the pensions of retirees, so a change in the ratio of working to retired Canadians could have consequences on that program. (The CPP Investment Board has set aside a massive contingency fund to deal with this exact problem, so that’s reassuring.)

Third, a point raised in the CBC video that links to the article, is the cost to society of looking after all those older folks, particularly as they hit their 80s and beyond. We may see a need for more long-term care spaces or a more determined effort to boost homecare – and both things will carry a future cost.

Younger folks may find that better jobs become more widely available, which is a silver lining to the issue.

Retirement can last many decades and carries a hefty price tag. If you have access to a workplace pension plan or retirement program, be sure you are signed up and contributing the most that you can. If you don’t have a workplace program, the saving responsibility is on your shoulders. Joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a great option. Let the experts at SPP navigate the tricky waters of investment; they’ll grow your nest egg and when the day comes that work is an afterthought, SPP can turn your savings into steady retirement income. 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.


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!

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.