March 11, 2024

Do our brains work against us when it comes to saving?

Writing for CNBC, Jasmine Sukanin reports that our barriers to saving for the future may be all in our head.

What now?

“There are the many psychological pitfalls our minds are subject to when it comes to saving, investing and taking the actions that will benefit us long-term,” she notes.

If, she writes, retirement is something that is far away for you – maybe 30 or 40 years from now – “many would rather treat themselves to things they can enjoy right now instead of socking away money for a future that’s decades away.”

This, she explains, is called hyberbolic discounting, and refers to the fact that most of us prefer decisions leading to immediate rewards rather than decisions leading to future rewards.

Another factor that can cause our brains to reject a new plan, like starting to save, is that “people often have a tendency to stick with their current situation, since it is easier to keep things as they are than it is to take steps to make a change,” she writes.

This, she writes, is called the status quo bias.

“People tend to say, `yeah, whatever’ to situations where sticking with their default or current circumstance doesn’t immediately hurt them or cause a large loss. So they continue paying $10 for a gym membership they don’t use, let the dirty clothes pile up in the corner of their room and let the package sit until it’s past the return date,” she explains.

Summing up this one – it’s easier to do nothing than it is to start something new, even if that new thing is saving for retirement.

A related condition identified in Sukanin’s article is called the planning fallacy.

“We tend to underestimate how long it will take to complete a future task, often despite knowing that previous similar tasks have taken longer to complete than planned,” she explains.

In a retirement saving scenario, this results in people who “put off saving for retirement until their 30s and 40s, thinking that they should be able to amass as much as they’ll need for their golden years in just two decades.”

So, we think we can play catch up on retirement saving. But, Sukanin continues, that “catch up” thinking is joined by another problem, which is not knowing how much we need to save for retirement.

“According to the Journal of Accountancy, 54 per cent of (American) people underestimate how much money they will need to retire. Underestimating how much money you need for retirement and how long it will take you to save that money can be a recipe for an underfunded nest egg,” she warns.

So, we tend to live in the now with money decisions, don’t like making changes (like saving) and/or put our saving off until our middle years, making it hard to save enough. Phew!

It’s important to start saving for retirement, at any age. If you have a retirement program at work, be sure you are contributing as much as you can.

If you don’t, take a good look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Once you join SPP, you decide how much to contribute, and SPP does the rest, providing low-cost, pooled investing with professional management and a sparkling track record.

And when you actually do retire as an SPP member, you can choose to receive a lifetime monthly annuity payment, or take advantage of SPP’s Variable Benefit, where you decide how much to take in income, and when!

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.


October 23, 2023

These four strategies can help you retire early

A recent CNBC article, asks Certified Financial Planner Michael Powers to offer up some savings strategies that he says — if they are followed — can help make your retirement an early one.

The first one, Powers tells CNBC, is one we hear quite often — pay yourself first.

“Paying yourself first is a strategy where you save a portion of your income before you spend anything, rather than spending first and then saving what’s left over,” the article explains.

We love this advice. If you think of your savings as a bill that must be paid each month, you’ll be regularly putting away money for the future without really thinking about it.

And that leads to the second strategy endorsed by Powers — automated savings.

“When you spend first and only save what’s leftover, you run the risk of overspending and not leaving much room to save,” the article warns. If you are able to, instead, automatically contribute to a savings arrangement (the article cites an employer retirement savings program as an example) on pay day, it becomes “much easier to put aside 10 per cent to 20 per cent of your (paycheque) before you even have the chance to spend it.”

Some employer retirement programs will match the money you contribute, the article adds.

If you don’t have a workplace retirement program, you can save money in your own registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), Tax Free Savings Account, Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) account, or other non-registered savings vehicle. (The article is written for a U.S. audience and discusses similar U.S. savings vehicles for individuals.)

Power’s third point is one folks often overlook — “knowing your retirement number,” the article notes. The retirement number “is the amount of money you’ll need to keep yourself afloat when you’re no long working,” the article continues.

The majority of people don’t know what this number is, the article adds.

“A 2019 report from the Department of Labor explained that only 40 per cent of Americans have calculated how much money they’ll need for retirement. And when you don’t know how much money you’ll need, you may not save enough and run the risk of outliving your retirement funds,” the article warns.

So how to figure out this number?

Powers tells CNBC “you can calculate this number by estimating what your total yearly expenses in retirement would be, then subtracting how much you think you’ll receive through sources of income you expect to earn in retirement, like (government retirement benefits) and income from rental property. What’s left over is the amount of money you’ll need to withdraw from your savings and investments each year in order to cover all your expenses. Multiply this number by 25 (or you can divide it by 0.04) and you’ll be left with the amount of money you need to have saved before you’re able to comfortably retire.”

Powers’ last strategy, the article says, is that you should start saving for retirement early.

“The sooner the better,” Powers tells CNBC. “You want the magic of compound interest to be on your side, so the sooner you can start saving something, the easier it will be down the road. If your account balance grows at a rate of seven per cent per year on average, it will double roughly every 10 years thanks to compound interest.”

So, to recap — pay yourself first. Make it automatic. Know your retirement savings “number.” And start early.

If, as the article suggests, there’s a retirement savings program available at your work, be sure to join it and contribute to the max. If you don’t have such a program, have a look at what SPP can do. You can start as early as age 18. You can make savings automatic, either through pre-authorized contributions or by setting SPP up as a bill and making automatic contributions that way. You can figure out what your SPP savings will provide with our Wealth Calculator. That calculation will help you figure out your Retirement Number (along with tallying up your other sources of future retirement income).

SPP has been helping Canadians build a secure retirement for over 35 years. 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.

Asking those 90+ their tips for a long, happy life

October 5, 2023

It’s no secret that Canadians are living longer lives than ever. According to Macrotrends, life expectancy in this country is now, on average, 82.96 years — in 1950, it was around 68 years.

What may be more of a secret is the tips that those age 90 and beyond know — what things they do and live by that account for their extremely long lifespan. Save with SPP took a look around to see what the extremely elderly think are key tips for living a long and happy life.

When the CBC looked into this topic, they found there was no single “right way” to go.

“For each healthy-living centenarian who stayed active in family and community, you’ll find an equally aged whisky-loving example who smoked unfiltered cigarettes and shunned company,” the broadcaster reports.

Toronto resident Mohammed, 110 at the time CBC interviewed him, had three tips, the report notes. “Stay active. Chew your food longer than you thought possible, and eat fruit every morning.”

Toronto’s Zoltan Sarosy, 107 years young, “stays sharp by reading the news and emailing friends and family — he bought his first computer at age 95,” the CBC notes.

Finally, the CBC says that Agnes Fenton of New Jersey, now 111 years old, “says a daily beer and whiskey are her keys to longevity.”

Writing for CNBC, minister Lydia Sohn says her preconceptions about the elderly “went out the window” once her work brought her in touch with many long-lived members of her community.

While her many interviews with the elderly did uncover common regrets — not having as good a relationship as they could have with kids, not putting kids on the right career path, and regrets about “not being a better listener,” there was consensus on what helped make a long life a happy one.

“According to my 90-something interviewees, the secret to happy and regret-free life is to savour every second you spend with the people you love,” writes Sohn.

“Put another way, when I asked one man if he wishes he had accomplished more, he responded, `No, I wish I had loved more,’” she continues.

The seniors she met may have had regrets, like not having enough time with their late spouses or family members, but all liked to “laugh like crazy, fall madly in love and fiercely pursue happiness,” the article concludes.

Okay, so attitude is essential — look forward, not back. What other tips do people have?

Across the pond in the U.K., the Guardian offers up a few more ideas.

Falkirk’s Jean Miller, age 94, worked in a salon up until a year ago and says it is essential “to keep active and interested in things.”

“The moment you stop and sit in a chair is when you struggle,” she warns. “Life is an education and if you don’t learn as go along then that’s bad. I’ve learned to see things in a different way over time. My biggest lesson is to be more patient. I used to worry about things but now I don’t. I’ve realized there’s a rhyme and reason for everything. In life you’ve got to take things as they come.”

Pam Zeldin, 94, from Manchester tells the Guardian “my main advice for people who want to live to a good age is to look after your health and live moderately. Also, get enough sleep, and don’t drink to excess.” Her older sister, who she lives with, still enjoys a little gin and tonic in the evening, she confides.

Finally, in an article in the New York Post, entrepreneur Sahil Bloom shares the advice he got from older people — via social media — when he asked for their life advice prior to his 32nd birthday.

Among the responses were “now and then, break out the fancy china and drink the good wine for no reason at all,” the newspaper reports. “Tell your partner you love them every night before falling asleep,” another elderly person advised, since “someday you’ll find the other side of the bed empty and wish you could.”

Other gems included “do one good deed a day, but never tell anyone about it,” and to not delay difficult conversations. Finally, the article reports, the seniors advised him to “find the things in life that make your eyes light up,” and “laugh loudly and unapologetically whenever you feel like it.”

These are great little bits of advice. Recently our local TV news interviewed a 100-year-old, again asking him for his tips on longevity. He told the reporter that it was important to deal with problems promptly, and to resolve them, rather than hoping they will go away on their own. Also a nice bit of advice.

If we are going to live to see a birthday cake with 90 candles on it, our younger selves should be setting aside some money for that future birthday party. If you have a retirement program at work, be sure to sign up and contribute to the max. If you don’t, have a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, an open, voluntary defined contribution pension plan that any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room can join. You decide how much to contribute, and SPP does the heavy lifting of investing and growing that money. When it’s time to retire, your options include getting a lifetime monthly annuity payment based on some or all of your savings. 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 country has the most savers — and why?

July 20, 2023

Story after story talks about how X per cent of Canadians don’t have enough savings to pay an unexpected $2,000 bill — or how they live paycheque to paycheque.

So, fine. Maybe we don’t save as much as we’d like. But are there any nations that can make that boast? And if so, why — what’s making them save so well? Save with SPP had a look around to find out.

According to the Statista website, the Swiss are the world’s leading savers, socking away an impressive 23.1 per cent of household income as of 2020. They are followed closely by the Irish (21.6 per cent), the French (21 per cent) and the citizens of tiny Luxembourg (18.1 per cent).

Canada was 12th on this list.

Our grandfather was born in Basel, Switzerland and was a formidable saver.

Let’s focus, then on the top two, the Swiss and the French.

The Swiss, reports the BBC, are a bit unique in that they still like to use cash.

“In Switzerland, cash remains the dominant payment method. Here, there’s an assumption everyone carries cash, even in an increasingly digital economy. Most don’t get caught out buying a sandwich or paying for a haircut when the card payment machine is out of order,” the article notes. In fact, the broadcaster goes on, 70 per cent of Swiss financial transactions are in cash — 22 per cent are through debit cards, and just five per cent are via credit cards.

The relative lack of credit card use in Switzerland is quite instructive, particularly when contrasted with the record-high levels of credit card debt here in Canada. Less debt to pay down means more money to put in savings, perhaps?

A CNBC report found that in addition to having a cultural tradition of saving, the Swiss franc is a very valuable, stable currency. The average income in Switzerland is quite high, so people spend a smaller proportion of their overall earnings on “food and accommodation” versus folks in other countries, the article adds. Inflation, though high for Switzerland, was much lower than in other European countries, the article adds.

OK — the Swiss spend cash, even commonly using 1,000-franc banknotes, they are fairly wealthy, and so spend less of their overall income on necessities like food and shelter. That leaves more money for savings.

What about the French? In France, reports the Tilly Money blog, citizens enjoy “one of Europe’s most generous state welfare systems,” including “substantial unemployment benefits, a world-class healthcare system” and “one of the youngest retirement ages in Europe.” As we’ve read, there are still protests going on about changing the state retirement age to 64 from 62.

“The majority of the population put their savings into a financial investment ‘Livret A’ account, where the interest rate is low and fixed by the State but is also guaranteed by the State and tax free. Their second love is, of course, ‘investir dans la pierre’ – or what we would call investing in bricks and mortar,” the article continues.

According to the bank BNP Paribas, “middle-aged households (30 to 59 year olds) save more than younger and older generations.”

So for France, then, you not only have generous state benefits for retirement, unemployment and health, but a government-backed savings account and a focus on investing in real estate.

So, some interesting traits emerge her for our friends in Switzerland and France who are high savers. They like to use cash and not credit cards. They tend to have higher incomes and thus are less impacted by rising food and shelter prices. Government benefits are generous, and in France at least, you can save in a fund where your rate of return in guaranteed by the government. Both the French and Swiss seem to have a cultural tradition of saving.

It’s interesting to see how the other half lives — and saves!

Here in Canada, government retirement benefits are pretty basic. If you want a little more money to help fund your retirement lifestyle, personal savings is the way to go. A great tool to help you boost your retirement savings is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP will take your contributions and invest them in a pooled, professionally managed fund, run at a very low cost. When it’s time to start your retired life, SPP will present you with a variety of income options for your savings, including the possibility of a lifetime monthly annuity! 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.

Book argues passive income can liberate you from work and ease you into retirement

October 20, 2022

What if you had enough income from passive sources – investments, rental income, coin-operated machines, and royalties – that you no longer needed to have a job for income?

That’s the theory behind the book Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement by Rachel Richards, who sets out a detailed and very creative “how-to” gameplan on ways to create sources of passive income.

She begins by asking us to imagine “a world that makes no demands of you. You don’t have to worry about money…. You can hop on a plane tomorrow and go to Costa Rica if that’s what your heart desires.”

People traditionally don’t think of building passive income sources (while they are younger) as a way to achieve financial independence, she writes. Instead we are counselled to save lots of money – say $2 million – to retire by 65. She cites CNBC as reporting that “one in three Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement,” with boomers (on the precipice of retirement) having only $24,000 and change saved.

Richards writes that she and her husband have set up $10,000 in monthly passive income. Since reaching age 27 she no longer works for wages, and her husband only works remotely when he feels like it. “We are free,” she exults, adding “words can’t describe the liberation and joy we feel every day.”

Before rolling out ways to create sources of passive income, Richards spends time on why the “nest egg” approach of saving for retirement that may have worked in the past is not as suitable for today. It’s because the nest egg approach, she writes, which worked in the 1950s, does not factor in increases in household expenses, lifestyle pressure, life expectancy, government benefit adequacy, pensions (the lack of them), rising education costs and the increased hourly work week.

Few people can save the $2 million experts recommend. And there’s less help from employers than there was in the past, she explains.

“Pensions are quickly becoming a thing of the past,” she writes. “The ones that still exist today aren’t even that great.” She notes that in the USA and elsewhere, defined benefit pensions that offered a guaranteed monthly income have been replaced by capital accumulation programs without any such guarantees.

So, what’s the alternative to the nest egg approach? It’s passive income, regular income “that is maintained with little or no work. Passive income is the key to being free: freeing up our time, freeing up the location we must be in, freeing up our lives from being financially dependent on our employer.”

The main types of passive income out there, she writes, are “royalty income, portfolio income, coin-operated machines, ads and e-commerce, and rental income.”

Royalty income, she explains, is generated for authors of books and eBooks, composers of music, through loading photos onto a stock photo website, creating downloadable or print-on-demand content, creating online courses, developing an app or software, franchising something, and mineral rights.

We have a friend who writes plays for a publisher. He gets paid every time the play is performed, and the more he writes, the more royalties he gets. The same concept works for other shareable content, the book explains.

The book provides detailed “how-to” steps on how to get going on any or all of these potential revenue streams. Very creative stuff.

On the investment side, you can get passive income from stocks, via dividends, and bonds. With stocks, she writes, “the higher the dividend yield, the higher the risk.” Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, you might want to look at “a dividend-yielding exchange-traded fund (ETF).”

On bonds, she notes that in the past, bonds offered double-digit yields and were a simple way to make a strong income. She notes that you’ll get regular interest with a bond and its face value in the end “only if you hold it until maturity.” If you sell it before it matures, you could lose money (or gain). Bond ETFs are a way to go if you again don’t want to have all your bond investments in a single company, she continues.

Real Estate Income Trusts (REITs) “are a great way to get your feet wet with investing in real estate. You can earn a piece of the pie without actually buying a property,” she explains.

Coin-operated vending machines can cost a lot, but once you invest in one, it’s a steady source of cash. “Location, location, location,” she advises, also noting that an older machine can be more affordable than a fancy new one with tap payment and other high-tech perks.

If you are in the position to go even bigger on coin-operated ventures, carwashes and laundromats are a very reliable investment that generates predictable cash flow, she explains.

On rental properties (including rental of rooms), the book notes that it’s a steady source of income. If, she explains, you were able to rent out a single-family property for $250 more than the mortgage, “then you are making $250 a month while your tenant pays your mortgage for you.” Once the mortgage is paid, “your cash flow jumps by hundreds of dollars.”

This is a very different way to look at retirement. In effect, Richards is advocating the idea of gradually replacing your work salary with various sources of passive income, until such time as you don’t need to work. We haven’t seen a book that looks at things quite this way – it’s well worth a read.

The book mentions that the traditional defined benefit pension is scarce these days. Did you know that your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account offers you the option of a lifetime, guaranteed monthly payment via one of several different annuity options? It’s how SPP can a reliable generator of passive income for the rest of your life! 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.

Are we moving away from cash – and is that really such a good thing?

December 2, 2021
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Those of us of a certain age can remember when cash was king. Back in the day, few had credit cards, “tap” purchases were decades away in the future, and – minus a mobile phone, which was still being invented – you needed change to make a phone call when away from your landline.

Bills were paid by cheque, or directly at your bank branch, where there was a massive lineup out to the street on pay day.

The pandemic seems to have speeded up an already “in progress” move away from cash. Save with SPP took a look around to see what people are making of this development.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Casey Plett notes that the idea that we are becoming “a cashless society” has turned into “a common belief… as if currency were simply one of so many Old World analog relics circling the drain before they gurgle into oblivion.”

Her article notes that during the early days of COVID-19, the use of cash “was phased out entirely” by many institutions over fears that money might actually help the pandemic spread more quickly. Even though such concerns have now been addressed, the use of cash has not resumed at pre-COVID levels, she notes.

“But a cashless society is not a foregone conclusion,” Plett writes in the Globe. “And while it may seem like a fuddy-duddy Luddite concern – the equivalent of clinging to one’s touch-tone phone, perhaps, or making a plea for beepers – a complete societal changeover to non-cash payment would not, in fact, be a good thing.”

She says a fully cashless society would be “inequitable” for those – such as the vulnerable and the homeless – who don’t have access to the banking system. Her article cites figures from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives showing that an astounding one million Canadians (as of 2016) were “bankless,” and five million more “underbanked.” This latter group may have a bank account, but no credit or other banking services.

She also points out that cash can be indispensable when the Internet goes out, your credit card is locked for mysterious reasons, or if there’s a power outage (remember 2003). Cash, she writes, “is a refuge of privacy,” in that your purchases with it aren’t tracked or marketed. She concludes by saying it would be unwise for governments to move away from it altogether.

Even before the pandemic was an idea, the National Post was predicting the end of cash would arrive five years ago in 2016.

The Post cited research from 2016 showing that 77 per cent of respondents “preferred to pay for purchases by debit or credit card,” and that 65 per cent said “they rarely buy anything with cash anymore.”

In that article, Rob Cameron of Moneris is quoted as saying ““I do think people will continue to use cash because it’s been around so long…. But this growth in contactless (payments using credit cards or mobile apps) I think is going to lead towards that end of cash.”

Figures from the Bank of Canada show that there is a trend away from cash. As recently as 2009, the bank reports, 54 per cent of transactions were made using cash. By 2013 that number dipped to 42 per cent and by 2017, 33 per cent.

“So, does this mean that Canadians are giving up on cash?,” asks the Bank of Canada. “The short answer is no. Canadians still rate cash as easy to use, low in cost, secure and nearly universally accepted, and it’s the preferred payment option for small-value purchases like a cup of coffee or a muffin.”

Well, maybe. Last word on the topic goes to economist Eswar Prasad, who tells CNBC that “the combination of cryptocurrency, stablecoins, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and other digital payment systems will lead to the demise of [physical] cash.”

The takeaway here is that all of us need to try and stay current with new trends. Cash is being joined by many other ways to pay. Even when we were out distributing poppies for the Legion in October we found that many people did not have any cash, or had to run to their cars and dig around for change. So, the Legion has begun to roll out “tap” poppy boxes.

Personally, we think cash will never entirely fade away. Think of big trends in music – punk, disco, progressive rock. Sure, you don’t see chart-topping music in those categories any more, but it is still being played, and in some corners of the globe, being developed.

No matter how you choose to spend it, you will appreciate having some form of currency when you retire. If you are saving on your own for retirement, consider the help of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. The plan offers an end-to-end pension service; and once you are a member, you can contribute to your savings by cheque, through online bill payment, with automatic deposits, or even with a credit card. Be sure to check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

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


June 7, 2021

In Japan, has 70 become the new 60?

Here in Canada, 70 is the latest you can start taking your Canada Pension Plan payments, and a date when you can begin thinking about what to do with your registered retirement savings plan.

But in Japan, according to HRMAsia, it’s the new retirement age – up from age 65.

Companies, the magazine reports, will now be “required to retain workers until they are 70 years old.” The reason for this legislative change, we are told, is two-fold. Due to the fact that Japan has a falling birthrate and an aging population, there’s a labour shortage. The aging population is also driving up the cost of pensions, the article notes.

The legislation’s main focus is allowing workers to stay on the job longer. The old retirement age of 65 is no more, the article says, and legislation permits workers to stay on past the new, higher age limit of 70, or to work in retirement as freelancers.

It’s an interesting decision. Here in Canada, there was talk at one time – and later, federal legislation – that would have moved the start of Old Age Security to age 67, for some of the same reasons the Japanese are citing. While the present government reversed this plan, we are now experiencing some of the same issues Japan is experiencing. It’s something to keep an eye on.

Could we see an era of super inflation once again?

When we tell the kids that we once lived through an era where wage and price controls limited our pay raises to six per cent – and where mortgages and car loans had teenage interest rates attached to them – their eyes doubtless glaze over at this litany of impossible-sounding boomer factoids.

Could the crazy interest rates we saw in the ‘80s ever return?

One U.S. professor says yes. Speaking to CNBC in an article carried in Business Insider, Prof. Jeremy Siegel of Wharton says “I’m predicting over the next two, three years, we could easily have 20 per cent inflation with this increase in the money supply.” The increased money supply Stateside is due to “unprecedented” fiscal and monetary stimulus, he states.

Money supply is up 30 per cent since the beginning of 2021.

“That money is not going to disappear. That money is going to find its way into spending and higher prices,” Siegel states in the article.

“The unprecedented monetary expansion, the unprecedented fiscal support, you know, I think excessive, was first going to flow into the financial markets, into the stock market, and then once we’re reopening, and we’re right at that cusp, it was going to explode into inflation,” he concludes.

When you’re saving for retirement, it’s usually a very long-term deal. You may not starting drawing upon any of your savings until you are 70, and there’s a chance you will still be banking on retirement money until you are in your mid-90s. So a balanced approach, a portfolio that has exposure to Canadian and international stocks, bonds, real estate and other sectors is the way to go to avoid having all your nest eggs in the same basket. If you don’t want to take on nest egg management yourself, rest assured that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is there to manage things for you. Their Balanced Fund has averaged an impressive eight* per cent rate of return since the plan’s inception 35 years go.

*Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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.


December 21, 2020

How will the pandemic affect your retirement?

As we prepare to start a new year, it appears that there is a faint light visible at the end of the tunnel that is the pandemic. Vaccines have been developed that appear promising and hopefully they’ll start to be in distribution by the time you are reading this.

That said, the pandemic has had a serious impact on all of us, and especially on our plans for retirement. An interesting article in Espresso covers the topic in detail. Here are some of their key findings.

Those relying on their own savings, rather than a pension plan from work, for retirement may have to postpone their retirement “by up to five years,” the article reports. This is because of the shellacking our economy – and our savings – took due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

But in an unusual twist, the article continues, “some people in their 50s and 60s are being forced to retire early.” Many of these folks are people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the article notes.

Many of us with adult children are having to help them out more than usual due to the crisis, Espresso reports. “If you want to help your kids out,” states financial planner Lawrence Sprung, speaking to U.S. network CNBC, “make sure you don’t give them an amount that is greater than, or outside the scope of your normal excesses.” The implication is that if you raid your retirement cookie jar to help the kids, it will mean you’ll retire later or with less.

And, Espresso reveals, the opposite situation – kids helping parents – has also become more common. Research from the American Association for Retired People “found that roughly a third of adults in their 40s to 60s had offered financial support to their parents in the last year.”

While Espresso warns that some of us will retire with less, others will retire with more savings than planned. “A significant number of Americans – including more than half between the ages of 55 and 64 – are spending less money during the pandemic,” the article tells us.

One thing that’s become popular as we all sit around at home more is renovating the old home office. Be careful, advises Espresso. South of the border, the average kitchen renovation costs $56,000, but tends to add only $38,000 (on average) to resale prices.

The article advises older people to consider part-time work, launch a business, or to delay government retirement benefits for as long as possible. “It’s worth it to wait until (you can) receive full benefits,” Espresso suggests.

Finally, the article says, if your savings have taken a hit in the short term, “focus on the long-term plan.” Markets can rebound so don’t let short-term bumps in the road cause you to “act irrationally,” Espresso says.

Members of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan have flexibility when it comes to retirement savings. If you’re out of work and can’t contribute, you can take a pause. If you’re one of the lucky ones who is finding they have more money to save these days, consider adding a few extra dollars to your SPP account. The experts running SPP’s finances always focus on long-term investing, and that’s allowed SPP – which celebrates its 35th year of operations in 2021 – to have an average rate of return since inception of over 8 per cent. That’s quite an achievement when you consider that the last 35 years includes Black Friday in 1987, the “tech wreck” of 2001-2, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-9 and our current pandemic! Be sure to check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

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

Will some COVID-related practices live on after the pandemic ends?

December 17, 2020

If there’s one word that sums up the soon to be departed 2020, it’s “pandemic,” which according to a CityNews, is not unsurprisingly the “word of the year” from the folks at Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people.

Save with SPP decided to find out what other trappings and trimmings of the pandemic may live on in 2021, and the years following it.

Let’s start with masks – hard to find in February and March, everywhere today. Will we still wear masks when the pandemic is over? Quoted in a Yahoo! Life article, Dr. Amesh Adalja of John Hopkins university in the U.S. thinks it is quite possible.

“A COVID-19 vaccine is likely not going to provide sterilizing immunity the way the measles vaccine does,” he tells Yahoo! Life. “We’re going to still need to take protective measures for some time period, potentially until a second-generation vaccine is developed.”

Research shows that mask wearing in winter helps prevent flu, the article says – so maybe we’ll think about masking up even after the pandemic is completely over.

Next, what about working from home – could it be here to stay?

Writing in Canadian Facility Management & Design magazine Annie Bergeron suggests that “as a result of COVID-19, the workplace will be forever changed.”

She predicts a “hybrid” future, where people will be able to spend “extended time working from home.” She cites a recent Gensler survey in the U.S. which found that while many workers want to return to the office, they “also want a future in which they have more choice and agency that they did before the pandemic.”

Bergeron doesn’t think everyone will work from home forever, though. “There are many indicators that work-from-home arrangements are not sustainable for culture, innovation and talent development,” she writes.

HRMorning says productivity isn’t as good in a work-from-home environment. “Just half of employees who’ve worked from home since the pandemic started are as least 80 per cent as efficient as they were on site,” the article notes, citing research from Stanford.

Another feature of the pandemic has been online videoconference via Zoom, GoToMeeting, Teams, and other applications. Will in-person meetings go the way of the dodo bird?

Perhaps not. Zoom’s share price has fallen exponentially as vaccine progress rises, reports CNBC. Other “stay at home” stocks like Netflix and Amazon are also declining, suggesting the need for these services may dwindle once people start going back to the office again.

There are plenty of other changes on the way. Office towers will eventually bustle with people, benefitting the many struggling businesses that serve them. We’ll pack hockey rinks and football stadiums once again. There will be concerts, parades, and big family gatherings. Let’s hope, as 2021 starts, that this better future is not too far away.

While online meetings and tapping away for work from your kitchen may soon be memories, there’s still important work you can do for your future from the comfort of home. Saskatchewan Pension Plan members should check out MySPP. This online resource isn’t about work, but your life AFTER work. You can keep track of your account, watching it grow, and can get your various tax slips and statements. You can even use SPP’s website to contribute to your pension. Check it out – and if you’re not a member, take a look and consider joining 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.

Pandemic has dethroned cash as the monarch of personal finance

May 14, 2020

Your parents say it, the experts say it, people who are wealthy say it – if you’re buying something, pay with cash, not credit. And even debit cards can come with hidden fees, they say.

But this crazy pandemic situation has us all tap, tap, tapping away for groceries, for gas, for a box of beer, and any of the other services we can actually spend money on. Could this represent a sea change for the use of cash, or is it just a blip? Save with SPP had a look around the Interweb for a little fact-finding.

Proponents of cash include Gail Vaz Oxlade, author and TV presenter who has long advocated for using cash for expenses, rather than adding to your debt.

“I’m a huge fan of hers and have read every book and watched every episode of Til Debt Do Us Part, Money Moron and Princess… the premise of the system is to use cash only (no plastic), storing it in envelopes or jars, sticking to a budget, tracking your spending, and once the money is gone, there’s no more until next month’s budget,” reports The Classy Simple Life blog.

It’s true – we have read her books and if you follow her advice your debts will decrease.

Other cash advocates include billionaire Mark Cuban. He tells CNBC that while only 14 per cent of Americans use cash for purchases (pre-pandemic), he sees cash as his number one negotiation tool. “If you want to take a yoga class, and they say it costs $30, say `I’ve only got $20,’” he says in a recent Vanity Fair article. More than likely, he notes, they’ll take the cash.

Cash is great because it is (usually) accepted everywhere, there’s no fees or interest associated with using it, and it has a pre-set spending limit – when your wallet is empty, you stop spending. But these days, cash is no longer sitting on the throne of personal finance.

Globe and Mail columnist Rob Carrick notes that more than six weeks into the pandemic he still had the same $50 in his wallet that he had when it started.

“Paying with cash is seen as presenting a risk of transmitting the virus from one person to another – that’s why some retailers that remain open prefer not to accept it. Note: The World Health Organization says there’s no evidence that cash transmits the virus,” he writes. In fact, he adds, the Bank of Canada recently asked retailers to continue to accept cash during the crisis.

A CBC News report suggests that our plastic money may indeed present a risk, and that the COVID-19 virus may survive for hours or days on money. The piece suggests it is a “kindness” to retailers to pay with credit or debit, rather than cash.

“Public officials and health experts have said that the risk of transferring the virus person-to-person through the use of banknotes is small,” reports Fox News. “But that has not stopped businesses from refusing to accept currency and some countries from urging their citizens to stop using banknotes altogether,” the broadcaster adds. The article goes on to point out that many businesses are doing “contactless” transactions, where payment occurs over the phone or Internet and there is not even a need to tap.

Putting it all together, we’re living in very unusual times, and this odd new reality may be with us for a while. If you are still using cash, it might be wise to wear gloves when you are paying and getting change. Even if you aren’t a fan of using tap or paying online, perhaps now is a time to get your grandchildren to show you how to do it. The important thing is for all of us to stay safe – cash may be dethroned for the short term, but things will eventually return to normal, and it will be “bad” to overuse credit cards again.

And if that cash has been piling up during a period of time when there’s precious little to spend it on, don’t neglect your retirement savings plan. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers a very safe haven for any unneeded dollars. Any amounts you can contribute today will grow into a future retirement income, so consider adding to your savings 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. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22