COVID-19

July 19: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

July 19, 2021

Could our passion for savings defuse the expected end-of-COVID spending boom?

In an interesting and perhaps “contrarian” article, Leo Almazora of Wealth Professional asks if Canada’s return to being a nation of savers could actually have a downside.

“For many pundits and analysts, the light at the end of the tunnel that is the COVID-19 crisis has been the prospect of a surge in spending as vaccinations allow the unleashing of pent-up demand. But based on certain interpretations of savings data, that may not be the scenario that plays out,” he writes.

He notes that during COVID – with so many spending options removed from play – savings rates jumped to almost 20 per cent in many industrialized countries, including Canada.

It was expected, Almazora notes, that once economies began reopening, the urge to spend would overcome the tendency to save. But research cited from Barron’s magazine in the article shows that “even as economies have reopened, savings rates have stayed unusually high.”

Almazora’s article contends that there were two types of COVID savers – a “forced savers” group that, while keeping their employment, had very few options to spend their money on, and “precautionary savers,” who – worried by the pandemic – save for the “next downturn or economic calamity.”

There’s a third group, he writes, who have sort of got out of the habit of spending on hotels and restaurants, and won’t be spending as much on those things going forward.

This is a very insightful piece. Three groups are described, those who can’t spend their money, those who worry about a fourth wave or some other nasty financial surprise, and those who have been converted to a new obsession – frugality.

One would assume that the “can’t spend” group will be among the first to book vacation flights and resume travel. Those who Almazora describes as “preppers” for a possible further wave of problems presumably won’t join in the fun, nor will those who have decided cooking at home and cutting back on expenses was not only fun, but has led to a piling up of cash in their savings accounts.

It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out; it may take as long to return to a “fully normal” economy as it took COVID to derail “normal” and move us to a stay-at-home/no spend reality.

This writer recalls doing research on pension plan funding – where people sock away money for retirement via workplace plans – and hearing economists suggest the act of saving money was, in effect, negative for the economy in the now. Money saved today cannot be spent today, the argument went.

While this is factually correct, that viewpoint – savings can be bad – ignores the fact that the saved money is invested, often in job-creating Canadian companies and services, and then withdrawn and spent years later by the retirees. It’s deferred spending, in a way.

As a soon-to-be double grandparent, this aging scribe has reached the opinion that any savings is always a good thing. Emergency savings when the roof leaks or the fence falls down; long-term savings for retirement income and to help the grandbabies.

If you have a workplace pension plan, be sure to not only join it, but to contribute to it to the fullest extent possible. If you don’t have a plan – or if you are a small business thinking of offering one to your team – check out the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. This scaleable retirement product works as well for one person as it does for a larger group – and they’ve been delivering retirement security for 35 years.

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.


Has COVID affected Canadians’ ability to donate to charities?

July 15, 2021
Photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

A few years ago – before the pandemic – Global News reported that Canadians were cutting back on charitable giving.

Citing research from the Fraser Institute, Global reported that in 2017 Canadians donated just 0.54 per cent of their income to charity – less than half of what Americans donated (1.25 per cent) in the same timeframe.

Given the severe economic mayhem the pandemic has wrought upon us, Save with SPP wondered if charitable giving has taken an even further plunge.

It sounds like a recovery in charitable giving is underway, states an article posted in the Globe and Mail.

According to the article, authored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), “in the 12 months since March 2020 when the pandemic was declared, more than three-quarters of Canadians who had given previously to charity continued their philanthropy and gave larger gifts than in past years.”

And while only 70 per cent of Canadians made charitable donations in 2017, 76 per cent did in 2020, and “the average size of the gifts was much higher – up from $772 in 2017 to $965 in 2020,” the article adds.

The AFP’s chair Susan Storey is quoted as saying “Canada is a phenomenally, uniquely generous nation, and philanthropy, at its core, is about helping others and strengthening communities,” she says. “So, it’s not surprising that for those that could give, they did – and generously.”

The Canada Helps website says that while “year over year” giving grew, the overall rate of giving is expected to decline about 10 per cent due to COVID-19.

This site suggests that our charitable giving is more targeted during tough economic times.

Canada Helps reports that Canadians gave 1.6 per cent of their income to charity; however, the percentage of Canadians who make donations is down from the level of 24 per cent it reached in 2007.

Charities have had to be resourceful during the COVID-19 pandemic, when traditional avenues, such as displays in malls or street corners, weren’t available. Online donations are one solution, and in Ottawa, local branches of the Royal Canadian Legion used a drive-thru approach for last fall’s poppy campaign, reports CTV News.

“I think it’s a great idea. First off you don’t have the older veterans out in the cold and wet, obviously it’s keeping them safe from the people in the stores and malls,” Richard Coney tells CTV, praising the idea of a drive-thru poppy campaign.

Donations to Indigenous Peoples’ Charities – for example are up 2.25 per cent, as are donations to social services charities (up 2.2 per cent) and health charities (1.8 per cent).

If you’re able to help out the charity of your choice – and maybe have had to cut back due to the pandemic’s impact on your finances – consider resuming your contributions now that we are emerging from the darkness of the pandemic. There’s a lot riding on it for a lot of people.

Similarly, if you’d had to cut back on retirement savings during COVID-19, gear back into it as soon as you can. A nice feature of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan for its individual members is that you can gear up your contributions when times are good, and gear down when they aren’t. The flexible SPP – celebrating its 35th year of operations — is open to accepting monthly pre-authorized contributions, or a little bit at a time through the “online bill payment” section of most banks. It takes many small steps to complete a journey, after all!

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.


How the pandemic has changed the way we save and spend

June 10, 2021

As – touch wood – we begin to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, we ought to begin to see a return to normal, at least in terms of how we save money and how we spend it.

But the pandemic has changed the way we do those things, research by Save with SPP has found.

According to CTV News, the pandemic “has changed grocery shopping forever.”

It’s expected, for instance, that the trend towards online grocery shopping will continue even after the pandemic.

“The online buying, based on the numbers that we have now, I don’t think it’s ever going to go away,” Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, tells CTV. “I think more and more people will continue to buy food online, regularly, whether it’s through order and pick-up or to get the food delivered.”

And it’s not just big grocery stores, the article notes. The owner of a small Nova Scotia-based meat shop says she thinks online ordering and curbside pickup will continue after the all-clear is given on the pandemic.

The Times of India says there are six lasting money lessons from the pandemic that we all can learn.

“One thing that the pandemic has made us all realise is that we can all save way more than we think. We were forced to stop eating out, go shopping, partying, go to movie theatres or concerts etc. While these are the things we will want to do as things slowly go back to normal, we have had a glimpse of how much we can save if we do not indulge in them as often as we used to,” the article begins.

The point of having an emergency fund has been underscored by the pandemic, the Times notes. The job loss many of us experienced impacted our workplace benefits, prompting some to consider self-insuring, the article adds.

The pandemic also shows us the danger of high-interest debt – what happens with it when our work is reduced or outright ended.

“High-interest debt, like credit card or personal loan, is harmful to you financially even when you have a regular paycheque in your hand. The damage caused by them increases many folds if you are out of a job. Further, if you are unable to pay on time, the piling interest rate can increase the debt amount,” the Times tells us.

A Toronto Sun article provides seven tips – aimed at small business owners, but useful for all of us – based on lessons learned from toughing it out during the pandemic.

Keep track of your credit score, and pay down debt, the article advises. Diversify your investments. Stick to a budget, and set up an emergency fund, the article tells us. “You don’t want to be caught off guard when it comes to unexpected expenses,” we are told. Finally, the Sun says, get back on track with your retirement savings.

There’s a general theme to these messages, and it is a good one to listen to. We’ve been limited on spending, and are often involuntarily saving more, for more than a year. A spending “explosion” is expected when things are fully reopened. The experts here are warning us not to go overboard, to follow a budget, to continue to save, and to wade, rather than jump, back into the re-opened economy.

Retirement saving is a great thing to be doing in good times or bad. With the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, you are in control of how much you want to contribute to your future retirement. If money is tight, you can gear down; if money is more plentiful, you can contribute more. And the money you do contribute will be professionally invested for you. It will be waiting once you punch the timeclock for the last time. Check out SPP today.

Written by Martin Biefer

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


How we’re passing the time as the pandemic rolls along

April 15, 2021
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

For more than a year now, Canadians have had to deal with restrictions – sometimes fairly light, other times more of the “stay at home” variety – on what we can and cannot do.

Save with SPP took a look around to see what sort of things people are doing to keep busy at a time when so many of our usual activities are temporarily closed down or otherwise restricted.

A report from CTV News suggests that today’s situation is somewhat akin to the Great Depression of 90 years ago – so many people were out of work, or working reduced hours, that there was a huge growth in hobbies. “Stamp collecting, music making, woodworking and birdwatching” all grew in popularity in the 1920s, the article notes.

“In this time of uncertainty and instability, and a world and existence we no longer recognize, people need an anchor to familiarity and what once brought them comfort, stability, safety, and happiness,” clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere tells CTV.

Today’s pandemic hobbies include things like “tie-dying clothes, attending PowerPoint parties and partaking in TikTok challenges,” the article notes. These join more traditional activities such as walking and cooking, CTV reports.

Physical activity is of critical importance, even during the pandemic, reports CBC International.

Citing a report from the World Health Organization, CBC reports that “regular physical activity is said to be key to preventing and helping manage heart disease, diabetes and cancer and reducing depression and anxiety, cognitive decline and boosting brain health.”

The article suggests 150 to 300 minutes per week of “moderate to vigorous aerobic activity for all adults.” This can include walking, cycling, dance, play, and even “household activities like cleaning or working on your lawn and garden,” the article says.

“Every move counts, especially now as we manage the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus states in the article. “We must all move every day – safely and creatively.” 

Country Living magazine agrees that creative approaches to keeping active are being used – and some things that were more popular in the past have made a comeback.

The article lists such things as home gyms, handheld gaming consoles, jigsaw puzzles, swimming pools, and trampolines as ways you can do more without leaving home.

The Reviewed.com site adds a few more. TV choices, thanks to the many streaming services out there, are more numerous than ever before. Reading, arts and crafts, yoga, DIY home improvement projects and meditation are among the ideas listed.

Putting it all together, finding something to do will keep you feeling more positive – and more optimistic that we are starting to near the end of this bizarre, unhappy and eerily quiet crisis.

One activity that you might want to revisit during the pandemic is dusting off your retirement savings plan – if you have one. If your savings efforts haven’t started, are stalled, or if you want to add on to what you’re doing now, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, currently celebrating its 35th year of operations. Your pension savings, small or large, are expertly invested at a low cost, and grown for that future date when you walk away from the office for the last time. With an average rate of return of 8 per cent in the balanced fund since inception, SPP is an option you should take some time to check out!

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.


APR 12: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

April 12, 2021

Canadian millennials now focused on long-term saving: report

It’s hard to find many silver linings to the dark, terrible cloud that is COVID-19, but a report from Global News suggests the crisis has caused millennials to think longer-term when it comes to savings.

Carissa Lucreziano of CIBC tells Global that Canadians aged 24-35 “are very committed to saving more and investing.” That’s great news for this younger segment of our society, she states, “as actions now can have long-term benefits.”

The report also cites data from Semrush, an online data analysis company, as showing 23.6 per cent of millennials regularly visit their online banking websites, as compared to 20.7 per cent of older Canadians aged 35 to 44.

Semrush’s Eugene Levin tells Global this suggests younger people “are more conscious moneywise… they are using this time (the pandemic) to plan out their finances to either mitigate their financial insecurity or improve their financial security.”

Other findings – more people are searching for information on Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), and investment apps like Wealthsimple and Questrade, the article reports.

CIBC data noted in the Global report found that 38 per cent of millennials have decreased spending, 34 per cent plan to add to TFSAs or Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), and to establish emergency savings accounts.

While there is also interest in topics like payday loans and installment loans, the article finds it generally positive that younger people are thinking about long-term savings.

For sure it is positive news. Data from Statistics Canada reminds us why long-term savings are so important.

The stats show that as of 2019, 70 per cent of Canadians are saving for retirement, either on their own or via a workplace savings program – that’s up from 66 per cent in 2014, Stats Canada reports.

“Interestingly, this may reflect the fact that over the past five years, Canadians have become increasingly aware of the need to save for retirement,” reports Stats Canada. “For example, almost half of Canadians (47 per cent) say they know how much they need to save to maintain their standard of living in retirement—an increase of 10 percentage points since 2014 (37 per cent).”

Those who don’t save for retirement on their own (or via a workplace plan) will have to rely on the relatively modest government benefits, such as the Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan, and Old Age Security, the article notes. And surely, the terrifying pandemic era has more of us thinking about our finances, both current and future.

So that’s why it is nice to see the younger generation is focusing on these longer-term goals. The best things in life, as the song goes, are free, but many other things carry a cost. The retired you will certainly be thankful that the younger you chose to stash away some cash for the future.

If, as the article notes, you don’t have a workplace pension plan and are saving on your own for retirement, there’s a plan out there for you that could really be of help. For 35 years, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has been delivering retirement security; the plan now manages $673 million in assets for its 33,000 members. Check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer

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


Mar 29: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 29, 2021

We talk – endlessly, it seems – about the importance of building retirement security, either via a workplace pension, your own savings, government plans, and so on.

But a new report from Market Watch suggests there’s a new investment category that more of us need to focus on – the “psychological portfolio.”

The article quotes Nancy Schlossberg, author of Too Young To Be Old: Love, Learn, Work and Play as You Grow Old, as saying any retirement planners should think of “what they’ll do in retirement, and how they’ll interact with others.”

“You have your identity so tied to work, when you are no longer working, who are you?” Schlossberg stated at a recent live personal finance event. In other words, your future you may not be the same as the current version of you.

Schlossberg goes on to define six different ways you can define your own retirement path. According to the article, the six ways are:

  • adventurers, who take on a new job they’ve never done before
  • continuers, whose work is similar to what they did before
  • easy gliders, who take retirement day by day
  • involved spectators, who immerse themselves in fields without working at it full time
  • searchers, who aren’t sure what to do next, and
  • retreaters, who can’t figure out what to do

Whatever path you select will help you build your new post-work identity, Schlossberg notes in the article.

The article concludes by quoting Marty Kurtz of the Planning Center, who appeared on the same panel with author Schlossberg, as saying “do we have a good view of reality and do we understand what our expectations are? It is not just about the money, it is about money and life and how.. they work together.” 

Dividend investing – a good approach for volatile markets ahead?

Writing in the Financial Post , author Christine Ibbotson suggests dividend investing is a good way to address volatile markets.

“When (bond) yields are likely to stay low and markets have a tendency to have future volatility, dividend strategies should be revisited. Start moving more of your investments toward high-quality dividend payers and high-quality growth-name stock picks,” she writes.

Periods of low interest rates “have always typically benefited dividend investing,” and growth stocks in particular seem to do well in a low-interest rate environment, Ibbotson notes.

She says that while many investors expect a “bull market” after COVID-19 is finally addressed, there may be a lot of market swings before then. “There will be some unexpected volatility that will at times remain elevated in the coming months as investors continue to doubt the validity and sustainability of the bull,” she predicts.

Worried about navigating tricky markets? Consider joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, and letting expert investors navigate through waters choppy and calm. The SPP has averaged an eight per cent rate of return since its inception 35 years ago, and that management expertise is delivered at a very low rate. Check out SPP today!

Written by Martin Biefer

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


Are there some new ideas on how to keep us all safe from COVID?

February 18, 2021

We’ve all been told, repeatedly, about the various public health and safety measures we can follow to try and reduce the risk of catching COVID-19. Up to now, it has been physical distancing – staying two metres apart – plus masks, hand sanitizing, and staying at home as often as possible.

Some folks say these steps are causing other problems, particularly the idea of isolation.

Writing in the Toronto Sun, columnist Sue-Ann Levy asks “if Ontario residents are distressed and frustrated by the latest lockdown, think of what a living hell it must be for seniors confined to their rooms in long-term care and retirement homes for now what is going into our 11th month of pandemic restrictions.”

The article notes that isolation is particularly harmful for the mental health of seniors. It’s not great for the rest of us, warns an article in the Sarnia-Lambton (Ontario) Journal. Public health officials in the Southwestern Ontario city say they are seeing a rise in domestic abuse there.

“Social isolation, financial instability and reduced access to friends and family has increased both the level of violence and its intensity,” the article reports, quoting Ange Marks, executive director of the Women’s Interval Home in the area.

Similarly, an opinion article in the Chicago Sun-Times warns that remote learning also has downsides for the kids.

“Evidence from the first year of the pandemic in the United States suggests that the social isolation created by school closures has exacerbated an ongoing childhood mental health crisis,” warn five doctors from the Chicago area.

Even the masks themselves are getting into the headlines. Is one sufficient, a report in the National Post, or should we wear two?

“If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” states Dr. Anthony Fauci in the Post article.

That’s a lot to take in. Are there other approaches we can take that might be a little easier to handle?

Well, yes, people are hard at work on new approaches.

In Malaysia, reports Bernama, researchers are working on a new method to detect the virus using DNA and fibre optic sensors.

In Nova Scotia, reports Global News contract tracing will soon be much easier thanks to a new app that tracks restaurant patrons all over the province.

Up to now, the work of contract tracing has been done with dozens of different methods, but mostly pen and paper. “It is our hope that contact tracing will assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and help get us one step closer to a pandemic-free future,” states Gordon Stewart of the province’s Restaurant Association in the Global article.

Other research is being carried out on whether air purifiers might have a role to play in lessening the risk of COVID-19 infections, according to a second Global News report. The kinks of this approach are still being worked out, but it is believed that an air purifier with a HEPA filter, if correctly positioned, can help “remove viruses and germs from the atmosphere.”

We’ve all read about the various (and numerous) vaccines that are being rolled out, and administered across Canada.

Putting all this together, yes, the distancing and masking and isolation are tough medicine. But humans are an innovative bunch, and the same innovation that led to the rapid development of new vaccines is helping with new treatment approaches. That allows all of us to take a moment, now and then, to think of life after the pandemic.

The post-pandemic world, for many of us, will represent the run-up to retirement. If you don’t have a plan for retirement, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan could be a plan for you. Once you’ve joined up, you can contribute at any rate you choose, up to $6,600 per year (subject to available RRSP room). The SPP will invest that money (they’ve averaged an annual return of eight per cent since the plan’s inception 35 years ago) and, when work is done, can turn your invested cash into a lifetime income stream. Why not check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer

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


Pandemic has meant tough times for those who love cash

February 11, 2021

It wasn’t all that long ago that cash was considered the smart way to go, in terms of saving and budgeting.

Who can forget watching the great ‘Til Debt Do Us Part TV series, featuring Gail Vaz-Oxlade, where a key lesson to managing household budgeting was to save up change and bills in jars, one jar for food, one for fuel, one for entertainment, and so on. The jars of cash forced you to follow a budget, and credit cards and lines of credit weren’t allowed.

And what about the advice of American financier Mark Cuban about the dealmaking cash provides – he notes that “you’ll get better results if you negotiate with cash.” As an example, if you say “all I have is $40 cash,” maybe the vendor will settle for that instead of a higher amount. No such wiggle room exists with credit and debit cards.

But along came the pandemic to make the world tremble for cash users.

“More businesses are going cashless during the COVID-19 pandemic and are asking customers to use debit, credit or app payments as a precautionary measure,” notes the CBC. Some retailers are refusing to take cash altogether, others deal with it in a safer way, using tongs and little cash boxes.

The concern with cash is, of course, health-related; handing over bills and cash is a hand-to-hand action that does carry risk. Contactless payments are seen as safer.

In the U.K., contactless payment has risen by as much as 64 per cent of all transactions, reports MSN Money.

Major retailer Asda is now accepting payment from a wider range of mobile devices, and contactless payment limits – once quite small – have been ramped up, the article notes. The limit is now 45 pounds – about $78 Canadian.

Here at home, NFCW reports that Visa and MasterCard limits for contactless payments have jumped up to $250.

A final indicator of the cashless society is the use of automatic teller machines (ATMs). In the UK, reports PA Media via MSN. ATM use is down a whopping 60 per cent.

“When people do use a cash machine, they are typically withdrawing more money. The average cash machine withdrawal is now around £80, up from around £65 before the lockdown,” the article notes.

Seventy-five per cent of Brits surveyed say they are using less cash these days – and 14 per cent say they are keeping any cash they accumulate at home, perhaps in a piggy bank, for emergencies, the article concludes.

So King Cash has been dethroned, at least until the pandemic is over. No doubt the throne will be reoccupied one day when the pandemic is under control, and it’s safe to shop with a wallet filled with bills and coins.

Got some cash piling up? While saving it for an emergency is a great idea, so is saving it for your retirement. There aren’t as many people lining up at those green coin counting machines these days, so bring your piggy bank of coins there and convert it to bills. Those can then be tucked into your savings account via an ATM.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has a great “pay yourself first” feature worth knowing about. You can set up SPP as a bill in most online banking applications. Then you can pop those piggy bank dollars into your SPP as easily as you can pay the cable bill. Not a member of SPP? Check them out today – 2021 marks their 35th year of delivering retirement security.

Written by Martin Biefer

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


Dec 21: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

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!

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!

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.