COVID-19

AUG 1: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 1, 2022

More had pension coverage in 2020, but six in 10 don’t: Statistics Canada

New research from Statistics Canada shows that 57,000 more Canadians had registered pension plans in 2020 than in 2019, reports Investment Executive.

However, the article notes, 2020 – the first year of the pandemic – saw fewer workers overall due to COVID-19. So while a greater percentage of workers had pensions, the overall worker pool actually shrunk that year, the article notes.

Let’s dig into the other findings.

“Nearly 6.6 million Canadians had a registered pension plan in 2020, up by 57,000 (0.9 per cent) from 2019,” Investment Executive reports, citing Stats Canada data.

“The increases came in Quebec (33,000), Ontario (25,200) and British Columbia (16,800), while fewer workers in Alberta (-23,400) and in Newfoundland and Labrador (-3,500) had pensions,” the article continues.

Defined benefit pensions – the type where the payout is pre-determined, and is typically a lifetime pension that may offer inflation protection – represented “the lion’s share of pensions in Canada,” the publication notes. 4.4 million Canadians were covered by this type of plan in 2020, the article adds.

Defined contribution pensions – basically capital accumulation plans, where savings are invested and whatever is in the kitty at retirement is turned into income – accounted for 18.4 per cent of all registered pension plan members. The Saskatchewan Pension (SPP) is this type of plan.

Overall, the article reports, “almost four in 10 (39.7 per cent) workers in Canada were covered by a registered pension plan in 2020, up from 37.1 per cent in 2019.”

“The increase in the coverage ratio was due to a decrease in labour force numbers, attributable to the pandemic, rather than an increase in the membership in the registered pension plans,” StatsCan stresses in the article.

Participation in workplace registered pension plans has been in decline generally this century, Investment Executive reports. “This level of coverage was last seen in 2001 (40.2 per cent), then trended downward before having a peak year in 2009 (39.4 per cent), after which point it resumed its downward trend.”

There are a couple of takeaways from this article. First, it suggests that over six in 10 workers in Canada weren’t covered by a registered pension plan in 2020. That’s going to be a problem as more folks without pension coverage at work converge on their retirement years.

On the positive side, these days in the sorta-kinda post-COVID world, employers are finding it harder to attract and retain employees. Many are improving the benefits they offer their teams, including adding or upgrading pension programs. Let’s hope this more positive trend continues.

If you don’t have any kind of pension arrangement at work, fear not. There’s a great do-it-yourself option out there through the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room can sign up for SPP, and you can then contribute up to $7,000 annually to the plan. If you have an RRSP, you can move those funds to your SPP account – transfers of up to $10,000 a year are permitted. Your savings are professionally invested at a low cost in a pooled pension fund, and when it’s time to stop the whole work thing, you can arrange to receive some or all of your savings as a lifetime monthly pension via SPP’s annuity program.

Be sure to take a look at what SPP has to offer!

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.


JUN 27: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

June 27, 2022

Is inflation throwing a wrench in peoples’ retirement plans?

An article from Kelowna, B.C.’s Castanet site suggests that inflation is making older Canadians hit the pause button on their retirement plans.

The article cites a study commissioned by Bromwich+Smith and Advisorsavvy that found “54 per cent of older Canadians have put off retirement this year because of increases in the cost of living.”

Other results from the study, administered by polling firm Angus Reid, were equally eye-opening.

Four in 10 older Canadians “have delayed, or plan to delay, their retirement because they have too much debt, while 62 per cent have delayed retirement because they don’t have enough savings or investments,” the article notes.

And there are other reasons for delaying retirement, the survey found.

Twenty-six per cent said they are still supporting adult children. Twenty-three per cent “love my job too much to quit,” the article reports, with 21 per cent not wanting to retire due to the still with us (but hopefully going away) COVID-19 pandemic, Castanet reports.

Other reasons for delaying retirement including taking care of a spouse (13 per cent) or other family member (10 per cent), the article notes.

“Canadians are all feeling a bit exhausted from the last two years, between multiple waves of COVID-19 and a tattered economy,” states Laurie Campbell of Bromwich+Smith in the article. “For those close to retirement, 2022 might seem like the best year to do so. But with inflation still high and bank accounts and retirement savings being depleted, it might be wise to ask yourself, can I retire in 2022?”

Perhaps the most alarming stat in the article is this one – “63 per cent of survey respondents were worried about never being able to retire.”

Other concerns were the fear of running out of money in retirement (71 per cent), as well as the worry of having to go back to work after retirement (24 per cent).

“The results of the survey are somewhat dispiriting,” states Advisorsavvy founder Solomon Amos in the article. “There have been economic shocks throughout time, but the last couple years have tested many people, and put the importance of proper retirement planning into plain view.”

Finally, while “almost a quarter” of Canadians surveyed hope their homes will fund part of their retirement, those homes are now carrying quite a cost due to the combination of already-high home prices and rising mortgage rates. Twenty per cent of those surveyed (aged 18 to 34) are spending “50 to 74 per cent of their income on mortgage payments alone.”

If you don’t have a retirement program at work, it’s up to you to save for your retirement – and that can be difficult when the cost of everything seems to be going up. But there’s a solution.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a full service defined contribution pension plan that’s open to every Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room. You can arrange to make pre-authorized contributions to SPP, perhaps coinciding with your payday, so that you are paying your future self first.

SPP will invest those savings for you in a pooled fund, professionally managed at a low cost. And if you are worried about running out of money when you retire, SPP gives you the option of receiving a lifetime monthly annuity payment from some or all of your SPP savings.

If you know you should be doing something about retirement savings, but haven’t had the time, get in touch with SPP and they will help you get going on a program tailored to your requirements.

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 23: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 23, 2022

Newly-minted retirees finding golden years expensive, thanks to inflation

Writing in the Financial Post, Victoria Wells reports that new retirees – who jumped ship on work due to the pandemic – are finding their golden years more expensive than they expected.

She notes that many folks left their jobs earlier than planned due to COVID-19.

“One-third of Canadians who recently exited the workforce say they moved up their retirement date, according to a poll of people aged 55 to 75 for RBC Insurance,” she reports.

Thirty-four per cent of those responding to the RBC survey said they “left their jobs earlier than planned” due to the pandemic, the article notes. “Another 30 per cent of those who haven’t yet made the leap to retirement says they’re planning a change in date, either sooner or later, thanks to the pandemic,” her report adds.

But, the article notes, there’s a problem – retirement is getting pricey.

“One in four said they’ve ended up spending more than expected, and 41 per cent said they’ve been hit with surprise expenses, including expensive house repairs and rising costs of health care and transportation, or having to provide unexpected financial support for family,” Wells writes.

Meanwhile, she adds, “inflation hit 6.7 per cent in March from the same time last year, the highest gain since January 1991, bringing sticker shock for consumers at the gas pump and grocery store.”

Since then, inflation has continued to climb, reports Wells, and the Bank of Canada hasn’t ruled out further rate hikes to try and combat inflation.

With those newly retired reporting higher costs, will soon-to-be-retired workers try and hold on to their gigs?

“The events of the last two years are clearly affecting Canadians — including those nearing retirement,” states Selene Soo, director of Wealth Insurance and RBC Insurance, in the article. “And with the current high inflation rate added to the mix, many are feeling concerned about their purchasing power and increasing expenses.”

Inflation is a worry for 78 per cent of those surveyed by RBC Canada, the article notes. Statistics from a C.D. Howe Institute study, authored by noted retirement expert Bob Baldwin, show that house prices have doubled in the last 20 years. As well, the study (cited in the Post article) notes, retirement assets (registered retirement savings plans, tax-free savings accounts, and workplace pensions) have jumped to $158,000 on average, more than twice what they were in 1999, there’s still concern out there.

A shocking 25 per cent of those aged 45 to 64 have no retirement assets at all, the article notes. Those without workplace pension arrangements tend to have little to no TFSA or RRSP savings, states Baldwin in the Post article.

“These realities suggest that a minority of the future elderly may have trouble maintaining their standard of living in retirement,” he states in the article.

Wells has done an excellent job of pointing out a very serious issue – the growing lack of workplace pensions.

If you are fortunate enough to have a workplace pension arrangement of any kind, be sure to sign up for it and contribute as much as you can. This is especially true if you haven’t planned (or started) to save much on your own for life after work.

If you’re not sure how to go about saving for retirement, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be the option you are looking for. You can contribute up to $7,000 annually to SPP, and can transfer in $10,000 more a year from other retirement savings vehicles. SPP will look after the hard work – investing your money in volatile markets – and when the time comes to give back your security badge and parking pass, SPP will turn those savings into 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.


Fight inflation – and a bulging waistline – with these cheap fitness ideas

April 21, 2022
Photo by Surface on Unsplash

Many of us have spent the last couple of years on the sidelines, fitness-wise, thanks to the COVID pandemic, which led to gym closures and cancelled many fitness-related programs and events.

Now, just as things are getting back to normal, a wave of inflation is crashing over us. Save with SPP did a little research on ways to get fit that are also cheap.

According to the MyFitnessPal blog, you can still “live a healthy and fit life within the tightest of budgets.”

Their ideas include “forming an exercise group with friends and (setting) up meetings two to three times a week,” and to do workouts that “use your own body.”

“Free workout options include walking, push-ups, and walking up and down the steps of your house,” states strength and conditioning specialist Joe Cannon in the blog post.

Consider buying a set of resistance bands, the article notes. “You can get a premium set… for under $100. If you travel for business or pleasure, many of these resistance band sets come with a travel bag so you can toss it in your suitcase or vehicle and take it with you,” fitness specialist Mike Weik tells the blog.

Other advice includes leveraging the outdoors for a walk, a run, or “pullups or push-ups in a park,” and swimming at a community pool.

At the AARP’s website, ideas include building more walking into your everyday life, walking in place (stepping) while watching TV, doing push-ups on your stairs, and using a step tracker to check your progress. The site recommends bumping up your activity level to at least 150 minutes per week.

If you like working out at the gym more than doing things around the house, Microsoft News suggests setting up a home gym. The article recommends that you get some free weights, cardio equipment, along with related accessories and storage items.

Free weights include “barbells, weight plates, dumbbells, and kettlebells,” the article notes.

“The reason we love free weights so much is because they’re extremely versatile,” gym expert Cooper Mitchell states in the article. “You can do so much with a barbell and a pair of plates, from strength training to conditioning and everything in between. You can also target all muscle groups with free weights.”

Good accessories include a weight bench and a squat rack, the article adds.

You can usually find used elliptical trainers and/or foldable exercise bikes cheap online or at thrift stores, the article adds.

If you aren’t a big fan of exercise generally, there are still ways to build it into your everyday life, suggests the Nerdfitness blog.

Almost any movement counts, the blog notes. So park a little farther away from the store so you have to walk more. Stand up more often during the day. Take the stairs now and then. Even “fidgeting” as you sit can burn 350 calories a day, the article adds.

Among the 40 other ways of “exercising without realizing it” listed are hiking, geocaching (i.e., playing Pokemon Go), dancing, and even cleaning the house!

Save with SPP is a fairly active line dancer, and it’s a fun thing to do that doesn’t really feel like exercise. Once the winter’s over we also try to bike around the neighbourhood trails, and use the bike for small local errands rather than firing up the car.

Exercising for cheap is win-win. First, you are saving money; second, you are getting healthier. And, as a reward for your efforts, that saved money can be salted away for your future life after work. If you are saving on your own for retirement, a great destination for those fitness savings is your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account. 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.


Four pillars key to “optimal well-being in retirement,” Edward Jones survey

March 3, 2022

Save with SPP recently reached out to Andrea Andersen, Principal, Western Canada Leader and Financial Advisor at Edward Jones for the company’s thoughts on a recent survey on retirement carried out by the firm Age Wave. Here are her answers to our questions.

We were interested that “purpose” is seen as one of the four pillars along with health, family and finances. This suggests that maybe the research shows people are looking for more meaning in their retirement than perhaps in the past. Is that your impression too and can you expand on why purpose has become (apparently) more important?

Absolutely – one of the biggest insights from our study was that the majority of retirees say that all four pillars—health, family, purpose and finances—are interdependent and essential to optimal well-being in retirement. We were also surprised to see just how crucial purpose is to retirees, as 92 per cent surveyed said that having purpose is key to a successful retirement. 

One reason for the prioritization of purpose is that scientific research has shown that having a sense of purpose can actually reduce the risk of cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease and depression, and is essential to a long, healthy and potentially cost-saving retirement. Another reason we found was that having purpose helps retirees feel both useful and youthful. Nearly all (93 per cent) retirees say it’s important to feel useful in retirement, and 87 per cent also say that being useful helps them to feel youthful.

Retirement is a time of enormous freedom, but that same freedom from work and family responsibilities can also create a missing link when it comes to how to live a life filled with purpose. During the pandemic, we’ve seen many retirees have taken on new roles and responsibilities, such as providing childcare to grandchildren, shopping for higher risk neighbours, and providing emotional comfort to family and friends. These stepped-up roles have given retirees a greater sense of purpose and connection.

The idea that COVID is causing some people to postpone retirement is interesting, but we were also interested to learn that 20 million Americans and two million Canadians stopped making retirement contributions during the pandemic. What caused this – lack of employment and tight finances? Pessimism about the timing of their retirement? We’d be interested in your views on why people paused retirement savings.

Our study showed that the pandemic’s effect on finances has not been equally distributed by age, wealth, gender, or retirement status. The greatest negative impact has been felt by Gen Z and Millennials and the least by Silent Gen, who have the safety nets of pensions, Social Security, and other means to provide financial security.

One of the biggest financial challenges we saw impacting Americans and Canadians alike during the pandemic is what’s been dubbed the “she-cession,” or the deepening of the economic gender gap. Women were more likely to lose their job or exit the workforce due to the challenges of COVID-19. They have also been far more likely to take on the lion’s share of time spent caring for family members, including home-schooling children and providing eldercare to parents. One of the outcomes of this is that only 41 per cent of women planning to retire said they were saving each month for retirement, compared to 58 per sent of men.

Pressing short-term financial needs have also taken precedence over longer-term goals. Combined with the existing gender pay gap, the headwinds facing women saving for retirement present a serious challenge. It’s crucial for women – and anyone facing retirement savings shortfalls – to work with a trusted financial advisor to determine a holistic financial plan to prepare for short and long-term financial goals.

The healthspan vs lifespan findings were equally fascinating, we had not heard it expressed that way before. The idea that a significant chunk of retirement may be in poor health doesn’t seem to get discussed often. Do you have any additional thoughts on that topic – should people, for instance, think about planning for a period of poor health where their care costs will be higher?

We know that money is an essential ingredient in retirement planning, but it’s not the only one. On average, the World Health Organization reports that the gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, defined by the years lived in full health and free from disability, is 10.9 years for Canadians. That discrepancy tends to fly under the radar when pre-retirees are counting down the days until they can pursue their retirement dreams.

Saving for long-term care is a priority for many of my clients, who have seen older relatives suffer from medical issues – from suffering from a broken hip to cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s disease. These situations can leave retirees needing assistance from short-term hospital stays to full time care through hospice. For those concerned about the rising costs of long-term care and the potential financial impact it may have on them and their families, it might be worth considering long-term care insurance.

An advisor can help you identify which long-term care costs might be covered by your existing insurance and where additional coverage is needed. It’s important to weigh the benefits of insurance with its costs versus the risk of not having it and needing it. There’s always the possibility that you’ll pay for coverage you’ll never use, but I recommend it for clients who may not have the coverage to pay for these potential needs.

Finally, what surprised you most about the findings of this research?

I think the most surprising finding from the study was that 77 per cent of those planning to retire wish there were more resources available to help them plan for an ideal retirement beyond just their finances. This is hugely important as the vast majority of retirees surveyed say that in addition to saving for retirement and managing finances in retirement, it is important to think about all the other factors that contribute to a healthy retirement.

This research reminds me to challenge clients to think about the other aspects of their retirement planning outside of the finances. I now make sure to respectfully ask clients about their non-financial retirement goals, from where they will live to which activities will give them a sense of purpose, to get the conversation flowing.

We thank Andrea Andersen for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’re interested in saving for retirement – but aren’t all that sure how to go about it – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be the answer you’ve been looking for. Send SPP your pension contributions, and they will be professionally invested, grown, and at retirement, paid out to you as retirement income, with the option of receiving a lifetime annuity.

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.


Feb 28: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

February 28, 2022

Is “semi-retirement” a way to address a lack of readiness for “full” retirement?

Could the lack of adequate retirement savings prompt most of us to move to “semi-retirement” following the end of full-time work?

Writing for the GoBankingRates blog, Vance Cariaga notes that semi-retirement may be “where a lot of boomers might be headed, as employers try to convince older staffers to stick around longer in a labour market plagued by a shortage of workers.”

He notes that recent research by The Harris Poll in the U.S. reveals that only 48 per cent of employees believe their companies have “an adequate successor in place when they do retire.”

“One potential answer,” writes Cariaga, “is ‘semi-retirement.’ This might take several different forms, ranging from flexible schedules and consulting work to reduced hours,” he notes.

The Harris research found that “most employees would take part in semi-retirement if it were offered. Nearly eight in 10 (79 per cent) favoured doing so through a flexible work schedule, while 66 per cent said they would be willing to transition to a consulting role…and 59 per cent said they would be open to reduced hours and benefits. But only about one in five (21 per cent) said their employers offer semi-retirement options.”

The idea of encouraging older workers to hang around is a pretty big change. It’s not that long ago that retirement was mandatory at age 65, and most people completely left the workforce and entered the Golden Years without a backward glance. This practice is now known as “full retirement,” where the retirees do no work of any kind.

So what’s changed from long ago to now?

The article notes that two things are driving the new outlook for semi-retirement – the lingering effects of COVID-19, and a general lack of retirement saving.

Regarding COVID, Cariaga writes, “more than one-fifth of the survey respondents said the pandemic has caused them to delay their retirement plans, while about one-tenth said COVID convinced them to retire earlier than planned.”

However, he adds, “a much larger percentage — more than two-thirds — said they are worried about saving enough for retirement, making them prime candidates for work arrangements that would let them keep earning money.”

The article concludes by suggesting that employers “investigate all available alternatives to fill their payrolls.”

Save with SPP has friends and family members who are still working into their 60s and beyond. When we asked why, some said they wanted to max out their company pensions and government benefits by retiring at 70. Others still had younger kids in post-secondary and/or mortgages to finish off. Some just like working, love the people at work, and the fun of being part of a team. A few really like remote work and are hanging in while it is still available.

All valid reasons.

There is a factor to be aware of with the “let’s just keep working” approach to retirement planning, however. If, heaven forbid, one gets ill, or develops a physical problem that prohibits working, that retirement date may get moved forward, rather than into the future. So don’t lose sight of the importance of retirement saving.

If you have a pension plan at work – or you wish to supplement it – consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Once you’ve joined, you decide how much you want to contribute, and SPP does all the rest. SPP professionally invests your savings, building them over time, and can turn them into an income stream at any time once you reach age 55.

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.


Feb 14: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

February 14, 2022

RRSPs on the rebound: RBC poll

After hitting “a historic low” in 2021, a new poll suggests that 53 per cent of Canadians are now “using registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to save for their future,” reports BNN Bloomberg.

That’s a seven per cent jump from last year, the broadcaster reports, citing findings from a recent Royal Bank of Canada poll.

Interestingly, the research found that savers – even younger ones aged 25 to 34 – are okay with the idea of paying fees with their investment portfolio “if it will give an opportunity to earn higher returns,” the report notes.

“When assessing value, investment performance after fees is what really matters,” Stuart Gray, director of the Financial Planning Centre of Expertise at RBC, states in the article.

“It’s encouraging to see that younger Canadians understand how crucial this is in achieving your retirement savings goals and building a strong financial future,” he states.

What’s prompting younger Canadians to save more for their faraway retirements?

“The poll found 85 per cent of younger investors are worried about balancing their current financial situation and saving for the future as basic living expenses continue to rise,” the article notes.

But, Gray states in the piece, “it’s a good sign many Canadians are placing the spotlight on their investments, as it will help them manage future uncertainty around inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

If you are worried about when to jump into the world of investments, Apurva Parashar of Alitis Investment Counsel tells the Campbell River Mirror that the best time to get investing is now.

“A lot of people wait for the ‘perfect time’ to invest, or the ‘perfect investment’ that grows their portfolio to their long term goal in less than a year. But it’s better to treat investments as a slow and steady process,” she tells the Mirror.

Asked by the Mirror for her thoughts on people “saving for retirement, a down payment on a house, or other financial goals,” Parahar was very clear.

“Start as early as you can. Don’t wait for the perfect time, and don’t overthink it,” she tells the Mirror. “Trust the process.”

Save with SPP remembers being a young reporter in Thunder Bay when a colleague talked up the value of RRSPs. We got the message – anything you put away today, in your 20s, will be worth much more 40 years from now. And, the colleague said at the time, you’ll get a tax refund. It was the thought of the refund that actually pushed us towards RRSP saving.

So, let’s sew these ideas together. More than half of us have RRSPs, and even the young are willing to pay fees if they get investment performance. At least one expert says now is the time to start investing.

Enter the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. While last year’s sparkling 11.53 per cent rate of return is no guarantee of future performance, the SPP has returned more than 8 per cent (on average) annually since its inception 36 years ago. And while there are indeed investment fees, they are low – usually less than one per cent. You can start small, and ramp up your contributions as you get older and earn more, and can leave the professional investing decisions to the experts at SPP. Slow and steady can create a fine nest egg for when you unshackle yourself from the bonds of commerce.

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.


Feb 7: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

February 7, 2022

One-third of Canadians more worried about retirement now versus last year

New research from Scotia Global Asset Management (GAM) Canada, reported on by Wealth Professional, shows 32 per cent of Canadians are today “more worried about their ability to fund their retirement” than they were a year ago.

A further 45 per cent say “the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their retirement plans,” the magazine reports. Another poll from Scotiabank, its annual Worry Poll, recently found that a whopping 75 per cent of us are “worrying about their finances,” Wealth Professional explains.

The article says getting professional assistance may be a way to chase away the retirement saving blues.

“Confidence levels are boosted when working with a financial article,” the report notes, adding that “87 per cent of Canadians who met with an advisor in the past six months… (say) their advisor makes them feel confident that their investments will be OK.” That confidence level drops to 67 per cent among those “who did not meet with an advisor.”

“These results indicate that while investors are concerned about meeting their retirement goals, regular meetings with financial advisors significantly alleviate those concerns. In a continually changing environment, the value of advice prevails,” Neal Kerr, Head, Scotia GAM Canada, states in the article.

Further findings from the survey suggest that 86 per cent of respondents feel “their advisor keeps them on track to meet their goals, regardless of market changes,” and that 76 per cent feel “they are better off financially than if they managed their money on their own.”

The article concludes by urging advisors to seek out new clients, in an effort to show them “the future is brighter than they may think.”

Save with SPP has long been a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to advice, but now – in our senior years – we are seeing the benefits of getting legal, financial and other advice when warranted. We recently had to get the services of an immigration lawyer to clear up the citizenship status of a late relative. We employed a disability benefits specialist to help another relative who is recovering from a bad accident. Efforts to try and solve these problems on our own had been going nowhere; now both are either resolved or on the road there.

Another place where we tend to hate getting advice is on the golf course. Yet the three other players in our foursome are consistently improving while we flail away the same old way. They are equipped with fancy GPS watches that tell them the distance to the green, suggest what club to use, all while keeping track of their scores. Our watch tells us the time. They take lessons and practice. We warm up on the first tee only. They are getting ahead, we are staying behind. Hmmm.

One place where we enjoy the benefits of professional advice is in our Saskatchewan Pension Plan accounts. Do you know that SPP, whose Balanced Fund returned an impressive 11.53 per cent last year, features professional investing at a very low fee? While last year’s returns are no guarantee of what lies ahead for investments, it’s nice to know that someone other than oneself is at the rudder to pilot us through these turbulent economic times.

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.


As pandemic continues, Canadians are seeing more of their home country

December 9, 2021

If there can be a silver lining in this dark cloud that is the pandemic, it might be the fact that so-called “domestic tourism,” or seeing Canada first, is on the upswing. According to the National Post, domestic bookings jumped 30 per cent in 2020 over 2019.

“What we are seeing in Canada is similar to what we have seen in North America and globally. People can’t travel abroad, so they are finding spaces within their own states or counties or countries to visit,” Chris Lehane of Airbnb told the Post last year. “We have seen a real increase in domestic travel.”

One reason for that, the CBC reports, may be the cost of an out-of-country vacation.

First off, the prices of air travel and car rentals “are on the rise,” the broadcaster reports, and as well, you may be made to take COVID-19 tests to get back home.

“Depending on where you’re travelling to, you may have to shell out for two COVID-19 tests, which can add hundreds of dollars to your travel costs,” the CBC reports. As this blog is being written the requirement for a test to go on a short trip to the U.S. has been dropped, but rules are still in place for longer trips.

The CBC story looks at the case of the Wilson-Paradis family of Peterborough, Ont., who planned a trip to Vegas earlier this year. At that time, however, it would have cost $1,000 for five PCR tests so they could fly back to Canada.  “It was very disappointing,” Ian Wilson told the CBC. “I’m not opposed to getting the test … but it’s the cost. It was just adding too much onto the trip for our family to afford.”

So, why not see Canada instead?

According to CP24, the Ontario government has announced a tax credit for Ontarians who plan a “staycation” within the province.  Ontarians planning an in-province vacation in 2022 could get a tax credit of $1,000 for an individual, and $2,000 for a family, if they “stay for less than a month at… a hotel, motel, resort, lodge, bed and breakfast or campground,” CP24 reports. The province, the broadcaster says, hopes the credit “will help the tourism and hospitality sectors recover and encourage Ontarians to explore the province.”

Our huge country, bounded by three oceans, has a lot to see – the beautiful B.C. coast and the Rockies, shared with Alberta. The vast blue skies and flowing wheat fields of the prairie provinces. Big city fun in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The east coast, with its sweeping seacoast vistas and amazing history and tradition. We have a lot to see right here at home.

And if you’re planning a little travelling once work is in the rear-view mirror, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan as a go-to resource. The SPP will take your contributions, invest them in a pooled, professionally managed investment fund featuring a low management expense, and grow them for you. When the day comes to turn savings into retirement spending, you have many options from SPP, including that of a lifetime pension.

Be sure to check out SPP!

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.