CTV News

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.


What activities are folks planning for a pandemic winter?

November 12, 2020

Many of us have long had problems dealing with the cold and darkness of a Canadian winter. But this year, we will be adding in the problems of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Save with SPP took a look around to see how folks are planning to spend their first full winter of the pandemic.

Since one strategy to surviving the pandemic is to be outdoors, sporting goods businesses are reporting very brisk business in winter recreation equipment, reports CTV News.

“It’s been quite a marked change from the normal August and early September sales,” Paul Zirk, general manager of The Destination Slope and Surf Outfitters in North Vancouver, tells CTV. “It’s been really up and it’s been really focused on winter sports. This year, our track as far back as mid-July was ski-focused and winter-focused and at some weeks triple what we expected.”

Hot sellers include skis and snowboards, snowshoes, and heavier winter clothing, the article notes.

The Real Simple blog rhymes off 49 different winter activities that you can try this year.

Sledding, hiking, skating, snowball fights, and stargazing are on the list, as well as things like enjoying a family night in front of “a roaring fire,” enjoying winter favourites like hot cocoa and mulled wine, and cozying up with a bowl of homemade soup. The article also lists crafty ideas, like making a birdfeeder or knitting a scarf.

Global News reports that it is important, during the upcoming colder months, to avoid isolation. Psychologist Dr. Ganz Ferrence tells the broadcaster that people “should be planning now for what they’ll do to stay busy and safe once the temperature dips below zero.”

Ideas include skiing – downhill or cross-country — snowshoeing, skating and tobogganing. If you’re too old or not well enough for outdoor activities, at least get outside, urges Dr. Ferrence.

“Just to get that fresh air, that sunshine, whatever it is, seeing that the rest of the world still exists is much better than just giving in to being shut-in,” the doctor says.

Be sure to stay in touch with friends and family during the winter, when visiting is limited by poor travel conditions. Using online tools like Zoom to meet loved ones is a great idea, Dr. Ferrence says. “The best is face to face — being able to touch and feel and everything — the next level though, is this. Being able to see somebody and look in their eyes, see their facial expressions, their tone of voice,” he tells Global News. “Underneath that is phone.”

One group of Canadians that has long chosen against toughing out our winters – Snowbirds – may find this to be a tough season, reports the Globe and Mail.

With border restrictions in place, and COVID-19 outbreaks at high levels in popular winter vacation states like Florida, many Snowbirds may have to give up their travel plans this year, the article reports.

Renee Huart-Field and her husband live in P.E.I. and normally vacation in Florida’s Gulf Coast. Because their dogs usually come to Florida too, they aren’t keen on flying, and the border crossings by vehicle are severely limited, the article notes. So they must decide whether to winter on the Island, or travel elsewhere in Canada.

“People sort of think well, gee, must be nice to have that dilemma. But it’s not,” Huart-Field tells the Globe and Mail. “As you get older, the winters become harder… It’s a health thing.’”

If you’re a retiree and hope to do a little travelling, and have some fun in the winter sun, a little retirement income goes a long way to helping you reach those goals. If you’re still a long way from retirement, there’s plenty of time to start saving – and a wonderful option could be the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. The SPP is quite unique, in that it not only offers you a savings program for your working years, it helps you convert those dollars – grown through SPP’s professional investing team – into an income stream once you’re done with the workforce and ready for the leisureforce. 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.


Important to support local restaurants as they struggle to re-open

June 25, 2020

As we glide along, waiting for things to be “normal” once again on the health front, it’s interesting to see the changes in how Canadians interact with restaurants.

Until very recently, restaurants were restricted to take out or delivery. Now we’re seeing them reopen, usually with limited seating, perhaps expanded patios, and so on. Things are still not back to where they were in early March, and may not be for a long time. Save with SPP took a look around the Internet to see what people are making of this.

There’s no question that the restrictions have been very, very tough on Canada’s restaurants, reports Retail Insider. Citing research from Restaurants Canada, the magazine reports that “seven out of 10 restaurants in the country are either worried or extremely worried that they won’t have enough liquidity to pay vendors, rent and other expenses over the next three months.”

While the many restaurants still open “for takeout and delivery have demonstrated an exceptional level of responsiveness and innovation while continuing to ensure the health and safety of their staff and everyone they serve,” notes Restaurants Canada’s Shannon Munro in the article, their efforts may not be enough to stave off “insufficient cash flow and insurmountable debt.”

Some provinces are realizing that restaurants have been placed in a very tough spot. In Ontario, reports CTV News, provincial officials plan to get rid of the usual red tape so that it is easy for restaurants and bars to expand their patios, so long as social distancing rules are accommodated.

“We want to make sure we get rid of as much red tape and as much cost as possible to allow people to serve their patrons,” Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey tells CTV.

Many jurisdictions that previously restricted or prohibited alcohol delivery and take-out (the latter is known as off-sales in Western Canada) have dropped those rules. In Ontario, Blog TO reports that Premier Doug Ford is considering making alcohol delivery and takeout from restaurants a permanent thing – one that benefits restaurants. “There’s going to be a lot of things, as we say, the new way of doing business — and not only in government, but in the private sector, too,” Ford states in the article.

If there’s a takeaway from all of this, it is the need to support our local businesses as much as we can during a very tough period. Besides ordering for yourself, another great idea is to get gift cards from restaurants to give out as presents to friends and family. Like other parts of the economy that have been slammed by this healthcare crisis, every dollar we spend on local dining helps a local business to stay afloat until better times return.

While you can’t buy gift cards for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, you do have a lot of flexibility as to how you can contribute. With SPP, you can either set the plan up as a bill and contribute via online banking, can set up direct deposit from your chequing account, or you can use SPP’s online form to contribute via your credit card. 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. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Sept 10: Best from the blogosphere

September 10, 2018

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

Retirement may be good for your health
While most of us focus on the financial side of retirement – the question of saving enough for the “golden years” and then making it last to the finish line – there is arguably an even more important factor to take into account. That factor is the relationship between retirement and good health.

A recent University of Sydney (Australia) study found that retirees “become more active, sleep better, and reduce their sitting time” once they have left the workplace behind.

The retirees followed were also less likely to smoke, the study found.

An earlier U.S. study found “the retirement effect on health is beneficial and significant,” reports CTV News. This study linked a reduction of stress (no more work) to a reduction in smoking, and more time for exercise.

The National Bureau of Economic Research found “positive long-run effects both in subjective well-being, or happiness, and in the objective health measures,” reports The Fiscal Times via Yahoo!

“Retirement is a good time in life that many people look forward to,” states Aspen Gorry, one of the study’s authors, in The Fiscal Times article.

Less stress, more time to take care of your health, better sleep – you can’t put a dollar value on that. So when planning for retirement, take into account the fact that getting out of the workforce may be the best thing you’ve ever done for your health.

Changing things up in retirement
An article in US News and World Report lists “10 Retirement Lifestyles Worth Trying.” And what are some of them?

Going back to school, the article notes, is so popular south of the border that “a growing number of colleges are building retirement communities on or near campus.”

Retirement also lets you stay at home, to “experience what the days feel like when you don’t have to hurry,” the article points out. Other ideas include volunteering, starting a second career, or enjoying the thrill of become a devoted frugality buff.

What you do with retirement is of course up to you. Having a good retirement savings plan is an important underpinning for those years of freedom. If you don’t have a plan at work or on your own, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan can help.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

 


Great accomplishments can come late in life

August 30, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22