Tag Archives: CBC

Sept 24: Best from the blogosphere

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

Debt beginning to restrict retiree cash flow
When the boomers’ parents got set to retire, they advised their kids to – like them – be sure to not bring a penny of debt into retirement. They dutifully paid off their $25,000 mortgages, saved in their double-digit interest GICs, and merrily rode into retirement.

Easier said than done for those of us who are younger.

According to Which Mortgage, citing Equifax Canada statistics, the debt on Canadian credit cards alone is a whopping $599 billion. As interest rates on those cards begin to tick up, people are less and less able to pay the full credit due each month, the article notes. In fact, only around 56 per cent do pay the full amount owing, and the rest are nudging into delinquency, the story continues. And the total debt of Canadians including mortgages is $1.83 trillion, the article says.

So we’re not able to emulate our parents and grandparents.

A CBC story from earlier in the year found that 20 per cent of retirees are still paying mortgages, and 66 per cent are “still carrying credit card debt.” On average, the report says, citing Sun Life data, Canadian retirees had $11,204 in non-mortgage debt.

Experts disagree as to whether this means retirees are facing hardship. Theoretically, as long as they can still pay off the bad debt (credit) and good debt (mortgage) they will eventually be OK. But an obvious lesson for younger retirement savers is this – try not to be like your parents, and try to get to retirement without debt. You have to try and do both.

A rule of thumb that Save With SPP has heard over the years re debt and retirement savings is the 80/20 rule. While you are young, direct 80 per cent of extra money onto killing debt, but put away 20 per cent for retirement. The same ratio works for retirees trying to pay down debt. You can tweak things once the debt is gone.

A nice way to build your retirement savings gradually while killing off debt is through the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can start small and increase your savings rate over time.

Top retirement goals
The Good Financial Cents blog talks about “good retirement goals that everyone should have.”

These include:

  • Have a well stocked emergency fund
  • Get out of debt completely
  • Plan to retire early
  • Have multiple income streams

Some great advice here. It is very difficult to visualize life in retirement when you are still working, so planning is a great ally to a low-stress future.

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

 

What apps are the most helpful for retirees?

A bunch of us old guys were shooting the breeze after a round of golf when the topic of apps came up – what apps did we find the most helpful/useful, and why?

Going quickly around the room, our gang liked Microsoft Translator, which you can get here. This is a handy app if you’re going out of the country and is a lot of fun to fool around with – it talks to you in many languages and goes slow to help you learn better.

More practically, all of us liked having a good blood pressure log app, here are a few, to track our BP results, and to share with the doc. Some of the newer BP machines can actually send your results directly to your app, one of our golfers noted.

One of us had MapMyRide, a cool app for tracking your bicycle ride – it counts off every kilometre you ride, giving you time and speed, shows you a route map at the end, and sends you monthly stats on how you have been doing.

We all had banking apps, fitness/calorie trackers, investing apps, and apps to watch TV (Netflix, CBC, etc.) which made Save with SPP wonder what other retirees have on their phones.

According to the A Place for Mom website, EyeReader by Netsoft is a great magnifying app. Hold your phone over a book, a menu or other printed text and it not only magnifies it, it lights it up.

A CBC news story mentions Fongo, a free Canada-wide phone app that lets you make calls using WiFi. The story quotes Diane Thomson, who lives in Ontario, saying that “It’s amazing…I can call my family back in Nova Scotia for free.”

The SeniorNet blog likes an iPhone app called Park and Forget, which logs where you parked your car in a parking garage so you can find it later.

Many seniors don’t really get how phones, tablets and apps work. For them, there is the Oscar Senior app which provides an easier-to-use interface that simplifies the process of using mobile communications. In other words, an app that helps you understand how to work your phone.

There are, of course, zillions of apps out there and this represents only a small sampling. If an app eliminates time-wasting note-taking, helps you remember things, or makes it easier to stay in touch with family and friends, it may be worth checking 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

Great accomplishments can come late in life

While sitting by the lake with a couple of old friends recently, talk turned to the idea that getting old means you’ll do less and learn little. “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” our friend said sadly, shaking his head.

But those old sayings may be past their best-before date, because many seniors are finding that their “golden” years are personal best years.

Take Vancouver’s B.J. McHugh. According to an article on the CTV News website turning 90 was no big deal for this accomplished athlete.

“McHugh owns several 10-kilometre, half-marathon and marathon records for seniors, including her latest: the fastest marathon time by a runner over 90. McHugh smashed the record by two hours at the Honolulu Marathon in December, with a time of 6:47:31,” the article states. This from a woman who did not take up running until her late fifties, the article adds.

Regina’s Ted Turner, according to a CBC article, was active and still golfing as he approached age 90, but was also a busy historian and author. “A few years ago he wrote a book on the Wheat Pool called Beyond the Farm Gate. He’s now working on another project about the agriculture building at the University of Saskatchewan,” the article states. “I think that as I mature, I can get better at a lot of things,” Turner told the CBC.

Finally, there’s the story of Quebec’s Laval Boulanger. According to another CBC report, Boulanger had a terrible workplace fall – a drop of 15 metres – back in 1943 when he was just 18. He very nearly died from his injuries, the report says, but recovered and made a unique vow. He decided that if he lived until age 90, he would skydive.

At the successful conclusion of his dive, he said “I’m free… my mind is free.”The moral of these stories is quite simple. The third period of life is a long time, and there’s no reason to try to just kill the clock. It’s a time to try new things, to learn, to have fun, and to surprise yourself.

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

April 23: Best from the blogosphere

On April 10, 2018 the Saskatchewan government tabled its 2018-19 budget. It forecasts revenues at $14.24 billion, with spending at $14.61 billion, leaving a $365 million deficit.

Provincial sales tax remains steady at 6% but the PST exemption has been eliminated for used light vehicles with the exception of used vehicles sold privately and purchased for less than $5,000. Exemptions will also be made for used vehicles gifted between family members.

However, the budget does restore the trade-in-allowance when determining PST. This means PST is only applied to the difference between the value of the trade-in and the selling price of the vehicle being purchased.

The PST exemption on Star Energy Appliances has also been discontinued effective April 11th. PST will also be applied to the retail sale of cannabis, although revenue generated from this has not been included in the budget because there is still considerable uncertainty as to how much will be raised.

The Saskatchewan Party government announced a 3.5% wage reduction to public sector employee compensation in last year’s budget, amounting to a projected savings of $250 million, but that plan does not appear in this year’s budget.

The government is aiming for $70 million in compensation savings over the next two years. It says this will be achieved through “efficiency initiatives” and “overtime management.” Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer told CBC, “There are no layoffs related to this budget.”

There will be $5.77 billion more for health care spending in the new budget with the biggest chunk for the newly created Saskatchewan Health Authority. The province is also committing $11.4 million in new money for mental health initiatives, which the province said will cover the cost of hiring 40 new full-time positions. Furthermore, HIV medications will now be 100%  covered at an additional cost of $600,000. In addition, children under the age of six with Autism Spectrum Disorder are now eligible for $4,000 in government money per year, which is a total investment of $2.8 million.

The Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement designed to help low income families and people with disabilities pay their rent will be replaced by a program co-developed with the federal government slated for implementation in 2020. As of July 1, 2018, the province will stop taking applications, but clients enrolled before then will continue to receive benefits.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Gifts elderly friends and relatives will appreciate

Whether elderly relatives and friends are still living in the family home, an apartment or they have moved to a retirement home or long term care, like anyone else, they love receiving holiday gifts. However, because at this stage most are thinking about downsizing, if they have not already done so, the last thing they need is more stuff. Here are some suggestions for practical gifts older loved ones may appreciate.

Cleaning service: House or apartment cleaning is no fun for young or old. And it can become particularly onerous for people with mobility issues. You can purchase gift certificates from local cleaning services such as Molly Maid in Saskatoon. Of course if you are among the minority who enjoy cleaning, you can make up your own gift certificates for one or more house cleaning sessions.

Online grocery shopping/pick up: Shopping for groceries on a regular basis can be time consuming and exhausting. Even getting out to shop can be a real problem in slippery winter weather, particularly for people who no longer drive their own car. If you live in Regina or other cities with similar services, introduce your favourite senior to online grocery shopping available from the Superstore and offer to pick up their orders.

Meal preparation/sharing: Before my Mom moved into long term care, we use to make and freeze soups and other tasty meals for her in small portions. But what she liked even better was when we brought ingredients over and cooked a meal we could share together. As a back-up, meals on wheels are available in some parts of the province.

Telephone for hearing impaired: There is nothing more frustrating for hearing impaired people than not being able to either hear their telephone ring or understand the caller. Amazon offers a large selection of telephones with amplification features and big buttons to make entering telephone numbers easier. Similar handsets and portable phones may also be available from local vendors.

Mobile alert system: A great fear for both older or disabled seniors and their family members is that they will fall or have a household accident and not be able to summon help. There are various medical alert systems on the market where the client wears a personal health button on a bracelet or a lanyard. We had the Philips Lifeline for my mother when she was at home. Here’s how it works.

Magazine subscription: Magazine subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving. There is a publication to go with every hobby or interest, i.e, quilting, sewing, woodworking, cooking, famous people or current events. Sign up for a one year or longer subscription and the recipient will think of you every time a copy appears in the mailbox.

Beauty treatments: There is nothing that feels better than getting a haircut and styling from a professional. Manicures and pedicures are also relaxing and can last for weeks. Local vendors are always happy to sell gift certificates as holiday gifts. The Regina company Driving With Scissors makes home visits, which is ideal for seniors who are housebound or would rather not brave the winter weather.

Photo books: In the age of smart phones and selfies, few of us ever print the pictures we collect on our phones. However, many if not most of the older seniors you know are not computer savvy. Of course my 82-year old aunt is the exception. She just loves sharing pictures on the iPad one of her grandchildren passed up to her.  Nevertheless, even she would treasure a hard copy photo book with family pictures which can be ordered from many sources online and personalized with artwork and text.

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Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Aug 21: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

If you want to take a break from swimming and sunning in the waning days of summer, here is our latest selection of personal finance vides for your viewing pleasure.

There was a lot of panic recently after the Bank of Canada finally raised its overnight rate after seven years. In her  latest video, Jessica Moorhouse gives a quick recap on what this interest rate hike was all about and what you should do about it (especially if you’re in debt!).

The Globe and Mail’s personal finance columnist Rob Carrick offers several ideas to reduce the impact of the interest rate increase on your finances. If you have a mortgage, he suggests paying down the principal, even with money you were planning to put into an RRSP.

Father Jonathan Chevreau and his daughter Helen are interviewed on CBC Business news about what it is like when “boomerang kids” move home years after they left the first time.

Click here to listen

Kornel Szreibjer, host of Build Wealth Canada interviewed Randy Cass CEO of Nest Wealth, a robo advisor service. Robo-advisors are a class of financial advisers that provide financial advice or portfolio management online with minimal human intervention. For more ways to listen to the podcast click here.

 

And finally, couples manage finances in different ways. MoneySense profiles three different couples who talk about their financial goals and steps they have taken to meet them.


Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

July 31: Best of savewithspp.com interviews

Over the last 6+ years I have had the privilege of blogging for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan twice a week. That means there are over 500 articles archived on this site that you can access on topics that range from retirement savings to income taxes to how to save money.

Whether you have recently started following savewithspp.com or you have been with us from the beginning, you may not be aware of the wealth of information  in our archives. Therefore, beginning with this week, on an occasional basis I will offer links to some of my favourite “blasts from the past.”

Today’s selection includes a series of savewithspp.com podcast interviews.

I interviewed SPP General Manager Katherine Strutt in both January 2012 and February 2015. “The SPP gives members access to top money managers they may not be able to access on their own. SPP also gives members a strong investment product at a very low price,” Strutt said in the most recent interview. “The costs of running our plan are around one percent or less, and this compares to fees in a retail mutual fund that can be anywhere between two and three percent.”

In a July 5, 2012 podcast Derek Foster, author of several books including The Idiot Millionaire and The Wealthy Boomer explained how he retired at the young age of 34 and supports his wife and five children on $40,000/year. He also talks about the advantages of saving for retirement with SPP as opposed to an RRSP.

The Wealthy Barber David Chilton spoke to us in October 2012 long before he joined and then left the popular CBC series Dragons’ Den. He offered strategies for cutting down on discretionary savings to free up more money for savings. Using cash instead of mindlessly swiping a debit or credit card is one of his favourites.

The 2014 series of podcast interviews featured financial bloggers including Retired Syd who left work behind at age 44. Her original budget for retirement turned out to be overly generous, partly because she was kind of careful the first few years since she was so nervous watching the stock market go down. But as of the date of the interview, she and her husband were still spending less than their original retirement budget.

And finally, after I read most of the books in the Joanne Kilbourne mystery series, in March 2015 I interviewed the author and Saskatchewan success story Gail Bowen.  Also a retired professor and playwright, Bowen’s writing career did not begin until age 45. She is still writing in her 70s – truly a role model for all of us who are pursuing encore careers.


Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Jul 24: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

When you are finally ready to come inside to beat the heat on a hot, steamy July day, here are some personal finance videos and podcasts for your viewing and listening pleasure.

CBC’s Asha Tomlinson interviews consumer advocate Ellen Roseman who answers questions about what Air Canada’s break up with Aeroplan could mean for you.

On the Money Mastermind Show, Linda P. Jones (Be Wealthy & Smart) interviews Hilary Hendershott from Profit Boss Radio. Although  Hendershott was working as a certified financial planner, she was unable to pay her own bills during the 2008 financial crisis. She worked her way out of this crisis and now offers her solutions to others.

Trips to the grocery story keep going up with the price of food. The CBC’s Marivel Taruc looks at how you can save some money on your grocery bill with the help of your smartphone.

In a Save your #@%* money video for the Financial Post, Melissa Leong hits the streets to find out the stupidest ways people lose money.

And finally, perennial favourite Jessica Moorhouse shares some of the ways she and her husband manage money together without getting into heated arguments.


Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

May 29: Best from the blogosphere

I got married in November, but the fact is that the spring and summer are the prime season for weddings. Whether you are planning a wedding or have been invited to attend one this year, it probably didn’t take you long to realize that weddings are not cheap.

Of course, the all time classic budget wedding story that went viral is Kerry K. Taylor’s How to get married for $239.00. This is based on the cost of a marriage license and services of a marriage commissioner in B.C. several years ago. While she threw in a few extras, getting married on the family farm and ruthlessly paring down the guest list kept the wedding costs to hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.

In a 2014 CBC article, Nisha Patel offered additional tricks to trim wedding costs. She suggests ditching pricey paper invitations in favour of a digital solution. She also recommends that you “Say yes to a cheaper dress,” and “Say no to expensive extras from photo booths to late night snack bars when you have already provided dinner.”

While still lavish by most standards, the wedding profiled by Wedding Chicks on How Much Does a DIY Wedding Cost has lots of great ideas like making almost everything yourself, scouting out pre-owned items, spray painting decor to match with the theme and baking the sweets for the dessert table. Bouquets included blush pink garden roses, snow-white dahlias, and a mixture of wildflowers from a nearby fresh cut flower farm.

Participating in a wedding party or even just attending as a guest can also be an expensive proposition, particularly if you have to buy an outfit and travel to the event as well as paying for a hotel and costly engagement, shower and wedding gifts.

Pattie Lovett Reid gives six financial tips for wedding guests. In general, she says the closer the relationship, the more you should spend. “The old rules say to estimate how much the couple spent on hosting you, i.e. the price of your plate. But the new rules say to spend whatever you think is appropriate depending on your relationship with the couple,” says Constance Hoffman, the owner of etiquette and professional skills firm Social and Business Graces.

In 5 rules of gift giving on The Knot, group gifts are encouraged based on a survey of married couples who said their favorite gifts were big-ticket items purchased by a group of their friends that they would most likely never be able to afford on their own.

How You Can Reduce The Financial Stress Of Attending A Wedding? Book travel early. Consider unique gifts like pre-arranging an experience the couple can enjoy on their honeymoon like a local excursion or a surprise picnic on the beach. Wear what’s already in your closet. And if the wedding weekend includes several events, try wearing the same outfit but dressing it up with a pashmina or different jewelry.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

May 1: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

As soon as the sun comes out and daytime temperatures hover above zero, Canadian gardeners get itchy to plant flowers and vegetables. But depending on the part of the country and how far north you live, the optimum dates for planting differ. And if you take a chance and put in your garden too early you run the risk of having delicate seedlings ravaged by an unwelcome frost.

Here are links to some helpful information about gardening in Saskatchewan:

The goal of the  Northern Saskatchewan Gardening Manual is to encourage people to grow gardens, specifically in Northern Saskatchewan where many people still think that the climate is too harsh for growing a prosperous garden. This manual can help you to:

  • Start and maintain a healthy and prosperous garden in Northern Saskatchewan
  • Start gardening in containers
  • Start gardening in raised garden beds
  • Learn more about gardening, plant basics, and/or
  • Work as part of a group to create a community/shared garden.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac Planting Dates Calculator for Saskatoon not only tells you when to sow vegetables indoors and plant in the ground, but also when to harvest — and it is customized to your location based on the nearest weather station. For example, lettuce can be planted outside in early May but wait until the first of June for peppers. You can also receive planting reminders and a copy of this planting calendar by email.

LandscapeSaskatchewan.com says when planting vegetables, find an area, which will receive at least five to six hours of direct sunlight daily. Take into consideration: the amount of space you have available as some vegetables need more growing room than others; your own requirements for canning, freezing or table use; local frost dates and climate conditions. For a longer harvest period, plant vegetables at staggered time intervals.

Interviewed by CBC last year, Rick Van Duyvendyk, the owner of Dutch Growers Garden Centre in Saskatoon suggested that customers try watermelons or cantaloupes for a change. “Put them in a pot [then] put them outside during the May long weekend,” he said. “Once you get to September, cover them with a frost blanket. Two weeks into September, you’ll have watermelons that are 17 pounds.”

And also on CBC News l Saskatchewan, landscape designer Heather Lowe, the owner of Heather Lowe: Landscape Design in Regina offered 5 tips on how to add beautiful fall colour to your garden. She says don’t worry about matching colours, because in nature all kinds of colours blend together beautifully. “You can plan a garden around any season but try to have it be at peak beauty in the season you use it most,” she concludes.


Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.