Financial Post

May 30: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 30, 2022

SPP touted as a do-it-yourself retirement program

A recent Financial Post article outlines a major problem – how so many Canadians lack a workplace pension plan – and then shows how the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) can provide a do-it-yourself option.

The article, written by Sigrid Forberg, notes that the old days of working your entire career for one company, and then getting a pension from them, are “long gone.”

While 5.5 million Canadians were covered by “either a defined benefit or a defined contribution plan” by the end of 2019, that means that “only 37 per cent of Canadians are covered by a pension plan – leaving the other 63 per cent to save for retirement on their own.”

In the article, Wendy Brookhouse of Black Star Wealth in Halifax looks at the options those without workplace pensions have for saving.

“There are a lot of preconceived notions, there’s lots of rules of thumb out there that may or may not serve people, you know … ‘you need a million dollars to retire,’ or ‘you need X per cent of your pre-retirement income,” says Brookhouse.

Workplace plans make the savings simple, as an amount is deducted directly from your paycheque. But if you don’t have a plan at work, putting away money on your own “might feel like a big sacrifice,” Brookhouse states in the article.

Brookhouse recommends regular savings on your own, via either a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), a tax free savings account (TFSA), or even life insurance.

Or, the article continues, Canadians without workplace plans could take a look at the SPP.

“Another option for those without workplace pension plans is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP). This plan was created by the Saskatchewan government in 1986 to help fill the gap for residents of the province who didn’t have access to a professionally managed pension plan. The program has since been expanded to all Canadians,” the article notes.

“The goal was to provide a collective non-profit — a trusted collaboration where people could finally get the really low fees they typically would get through a professionally managed plan,” states SPP’s executive director Shannan Corey in the article.

“In 2022, you can put up to $7,000 into the fund, depending on your personal RRSP contribution room. The fund currently has 33,000 members, with about $600 million invested. The historical returns are about eight per cent and annual fees are less than one per cent,” the article states.

With SPP, your contributions are locked in until you reach age 55, the article notes. At that point (or any time before you reach age 71) you can decide to convert your SPP savings into income, either by drawing the income down and/or receiving an SPP annuity. Saskatchewan residents have the added option of a variable benefit, the article explains.

“Our plan was designed for people who had gaps,” says Corey in the article. “The flexibility that we offer can really help people navigate those ups and downs a little better.”

Without having some sort of do-it-yourself retirement program in place, your options might be limited to working longer. The article cites the views of an actuary who argues that government pension benefits, which currently must be collected by age 70, should be allowed to be deferred to age 75. Do we really want to keep working that long?

Save with SPP can attest to the effectiveness of the SPP program; both this writer and our better half are members. There are no pre-set contributions, you can contribute in dribs and drabs up to $7,000 per year. So for us, small lottery wins, insurance payouts on dental visits, rebate cheques, and bottle deposits are sources of retirement savings. We also take advantage of making lump sum transfers from our other RRSPs into SPP.

Now, with retirement in sight for the boss, our SPP estimate says we are on track for a $500 monthly lifetime annuity payment for her next year.

SPP invests your money at a very low fee compared to typical retail mutual funds, and you are getting investing expertise at a time when markets are volatile and even a little scary. It’s an option that anyone lacking a workplace plan should check out – an all-Canadian pension solution built with Saskatchewan ingenuity! 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.


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.


May 2: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 2, 2022

Volunteering gets top grades from retirees: survey

So you’ve been a saver, taken advantage of any workplace pension program you have, and have arrived at the finish line – retirement!

But without the need for a commute or transit ride to work, seeing the gang there for lunch and coffee, and then noodling through the day on the way back home, what’s a person to do with all the free time?

According to a recent article in the Financial Post, the answer may be to become a volunteer.

In a recent survey of members of the group ROTERO, the Post reports, “62 per cent of… members agreed that volunteering contributes to the enjoyment of retirement life.”

ROTERO, the article explains, “has been a voice for teachers, school and board administrators, educational support staff and college and university faculty in their retirement. The organization promotes healthy, active living in the retirement journey for the broader education community. Its vision is a healthy, active future for every member of the education retiree community in Canada. Volunteerism is a big part of that.”

Some of the other findings the Post reports from the survey of ROTERO’s 81,000 members are:

  • 64 per cent of members volunteer regularly, compared to “the Canadian average for this age group, which hovers at around 40 per cent according to Volunteer Canada.”
  • Most who volunteer average 20 hours per month.
  • Asked why they volunteer, “members cited things like a desire to give back and make a difference (71 per cent), the social interactions related to the volunteer role (66 per cent) and the chance to make new friends and meet people (60 per cent).”
  • A total of 72 per cent of those surveyed said they also volunteered before they retired.

“It gives a sense of purpose, an opportunity to meet and interact with others, and to contribute to the well-being of our neighbours however we can,” states one RTOERO member in the article. Or, as another member put it in the Post piece, “It feels good to help.”

Save with SPP has been embedded among the retiree population since leaving full-time work eight years ago and concurs with the views of the Post article. Most of us, while working, were part of a team and an organization that had some sort of purpose or goal that everyone played a part in. It’s not the same once you log out for the last time, but volunteering can provide you a new set of downs in terms of goals, objectives, teamwork and meeting new people.

If you want to volunteer in retirement, you’ll need to be sure you have enough income to afford to quit working! The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers you a nice way to save for retirement – or to augment any savings you already have. With SPP’s voluntary defined contribution plan, you can contribute up to $7,000 a year towards your future – and you can transfer in up to a further $10,000 a year from other eligible retirement savings vehicles, such as a registered retirement savings plan. You’ll be amazed how your account balance can grow. Check out this made-in-Saskatchewan marvel 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.


Apr 4: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

April 4, 2022

Is working the new “not working” for older Canadians?

Writing for the Financial Post, Christine Ibbotson notes that her own research on retirement in Canada has found that more people than you would think are working later into life.

“According to Stats Canada, 36 per cent of Canadians aged 65 to 74 are still working full-time, and 13 per cent of those aged over 75 are also still working. I was surprised by this finding, and I am certainly not advocating working into your elder years or continuing to work until you die; however, obviously these stats show that a lot of Canadian retirees are not just sitting around,” she writes.

Ibbotson writes that this tendency to keep working past the traditional retirement age of 65 may be because older Canadians want to “feel purposeful.”

“Contrary to popular belief, there is no “right time” to retire and if you are in good health there is no real need for rest and relaxation every day until you die. Retirement was not intended for everyone, even though we now believe we all should have access to it. The 65-year age of retirement was chosen by economists and actuaries when social security was created, when life expectancies were much less than they are now, and only provides a generalized guideline,” she writes.

Continuing to work, she continues, has many added benefits, including “being socially connected, physically active, mentally sharp, and enjoying the benefits of additional revenue.” You may, she writes, have fewer health problems if you continue to work into your later years.

While it’s true that many of us still work part time into our 60s and beyond (raising a hand here) not because we need the money, but because we like it, that’s not always the case for everyone.

Some of us work longer than 65 because we don’t have a workplace pension, and/or have not saved very much in registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) or tax free savings accounts (TFSAs).

Recently, we looked up the average RRSP balance in Canada and found that it was just over $101,000. The average Canada Pension Plan payment (CPP) comes in around $672 per month, and the average Old Age Security (OAS) at $613 per month (source, the Motley Fool blog).

Ibbotson is correct about working beyond age 65 – we do it because we love the work and the income, but for those without sufficient savings, we may be working because we need the income. If you have a retirement savings program at work, be sure to sign up and take maximum advantage of it. If you don’t a great option for saving on your own is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

A personal note here – this writer’s wife is planning her SPP pension for next year. By contributing close to the maximum each year, and regularly transferring $10,000 annually from her other RRSPs, her nest egg has grown to the point where she plans to select one of SPP’s lifetime annuity options. Her first step was to get an estimate of how much per month she will receive from SPP; she has applied for her Canada Pension Plan, and apparently Old Age Security starts automatically when she hits 65 next year.

We’ll keep you posted on how this goes, but it’s exciting for her to plan life after work, with the help of 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.


Mar 28: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 28, 2022

What the return of inflation will look like for wages, debt and savings

Writing in the Financial Post, noted financial writer Jason Heath takes a look at what the return of inflation will mean for us.

He reports that in February, the consumer price index (CPI) jumped by 5.7 per cent, which “is the biggest increase since August 1991, when inflation was six per cent.”

Since that long-ago peak, he writes, inflation has fallen to much lower levels. Over the last 30 years, it has averaged 1.9 per cent, Heath explains. And, he adds, the Bank of Canada over the intervening years has put policies in place, as required, to keep the brakes on inflation.

Managing inflation through central bank policy is a lot like turning around an ocean liner – you have to make small adjustments over a long time frame. For interest rates, corrective action takes place “typically within a horizon of six to eight quarters,” or a year and a half to two years, he writes.

Despite that effort, our old friend is back, and not just here in Canada. Inflation rates are at 7.9 per cent in the U.S., 6.1 per cent in India, and at 5.9 per cent in the “Eurozone,” he writes.

He then takes a look at its likely impacts.

Higher wages: First, he writes, employers need to look at wage increases. Hourly wages have increased by just 1.8 per cent since 2020. “If inflation remains persistently high, workers whose earnings cannot keep up with the rate of inflation are effectively getting a pay cut,” he notes. They’ll need more wages to pay for the higher price of goods and services, he explains.

Higher interest on debt: If you are carrying a lot of debt, higher interest rates will cut into your cash flow, he writes.

“That cash flow decrease may not be immediate but many mortgage borrowers will see their amortization period increase as more of their monthly payments go to interest and their debt-free date is delayed. This is an important consideration for young homebuyers if they are going to balance their home ownership goals with other priorities like retirement,” he writes.

Even an increase of two per cent in borrowing rates, Heath explains, could add 13 years to your mortgage if you don’t change your monthly payment amount.

Inflation protection for retirees: Heath points out that government pensions – the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security – are indexed, and are increased annually based on the rate of inflation. This, he says, is a “powerful” hedge against inflation.

Interest rates are a consideration for those living on savings. If interest rates on your investments don’t keep up with inflation, it will take less time for your portfolio to decline to zero. But if interest rates are higher than inflation, you may still have tens of thousands of dollars in savings 25 or 30 years after you start drawing down your savings.

“In the short run, higher inflation is concerning and can lead to uncertainty. The Bank of Canada is likely to continue to increase interest rates to counter the higher cost of living. There is a risk the rate increases have taken too long to start or may now happen more quickly than expected, and that may have implications for savers, retirees, the economy, and the stock market,” he concludes.

Save with SPP was a youngish reporter in 1991, and remembers that the guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) was still a big tool in one’s investment portfolio in those days, as was the Canada Savings Bond. While interest on such products had been double digit a decade earlier, it was still nice to get five or six per cent interest each year without having to invest in riskier stocks or equity mutual funds.

And while it is exciting to imagine our wages going up by five per cent or more, it is rendered less exciting when the cost of everything is also going up. It was strange, on our recent trip to Whitby to see our new grandbaby, to be “excited” to find gas at the pump for under $1.70 per litre.

What’s a retirement saver to do? If you are following a balanced approach, with exposure to multiple asset classes, you should fare pretty well in a challenging investment environment. An example of that is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s Balanced Fund. It has eight distinct and different investment categories in which to place your savings “eggs,” including Canadian, U.S. and Non-North American Equity, Bonds, Mortgages, Real Estate, Short-Term Investments and Infrastructure. If one category is having challenges, it is quite likely that others are performing well – that’s the advantage of a balanced approach. 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.


The different between collateral and conventional mortgage

January 6, 2022

Are you in the market for a mortgage and you’re not sure which one to take out? In this article we’ll look at the difference between collateral and conventional mortgages, so you can decide which one is the right one for you.

Collateral Mortgages

A collateral mortgage lets you borrow more money than your property is worth. A mortgage lender is able to do that because a collateral mortgage re-advances. This allows you to borrow additional funds as needed without needing your break your existing mortgage contract.

This is accomplished by registering a lien against your property. Lenders will register a lien for up to 125% of your property’s value. For example, if your home is valued at $700,000, you could register a lien for a maximum of $875,000.

When the charge is registered, you can leverage the equity as needed. The simplest way to do that is by setting up a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). HELOCs are a lot like mortgages. HELOCs offer a way to borrow money cheaply, but with even more flexible repayment terms. With a HELOC you’re able to make interest-only payments on your mortgage to minimize your cash flow.

You could also set up a readvanceable mortgage whereby the credit limit on the HELOC increases as you pay down your mortgage. You could use the extra equity to finance home renovations or to buy your next investment property.

Conventional Mortgages

A conventional mortgage is the mortgage you probably already know. When you put down at least 20% on a property, you’re eligible for a conventional mortgage. This is different than an insured mortgage when you put down less than 20% on a property.

Since you are putting down at least 20% on the property, you’re able to borrow at least 80% of its value with a conventional mortgage. The value of your property is based on how much it’s appraised for.

If it’s appraised for more than you paid, you can borrow based on the purchase price. However, if it’s appraised for less, you can only borrow based on the appraised value and you have to make up the rest from your own pockets if you want to still put at least 20% down.

If cash flow matters most to you, the 30 year amortization makes the most sense. Otherwise, if rate matters the most, the 25 year amortization is usually the way to go.

This post was written by Sean Cooper, bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage. Sean is also a mortgage broker at mortgagepal.ca.

About the Author

Sean Cooper is the bestselling author of the book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians. He bought his first house when he was only 27 in Toronto and paid off his mortgage in just 3 years by age 30. An in-demand Personal Finance Journalist, Money Coach and Speaker, his articles and blogs have been featured in publications such as the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Financial Post and MoneySense. Connect with Sean on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.


May 3: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 3, 2021

A staggering $1 trillion in Canadian inheritance money will be transferred this decade

Writing in the Financial Post, columnist Jason Heath notes that we are headed for all-time records when it comes to inheritances in this country.

“Estimates of expected Canadian inheritances over the next decade are as high as $1 trillion,” he writes, adding that that figure could be driven even higher by stock prices and real estate values.

While articles (and books) have been written about the idea of “dying broke,” it appears most Canadians don’t follow that view. Heath notes that 47 per cent of adults over 55, in a 2019 survey by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, feel that leaving their kids an inheritance was “the right thing to do.” Similarly, he writes, 55 per cent of millennials felt their parents had an obligation to leave them an inheritance.

The idea of leaving money for the kids isn’t always talked about in retirement planning circles, notes Heath.

“Many people spend their working years scrimping and saving to be able to afford to retire. Inheritance pressure after retiring may limit spending in retirement. It insinuates that workers need to save for not only retirement, but also their apparent inheritance obligation to their children,” he writes.

If you are going to be receiving an inheritance, Heath suggests you not be in a rush to make decisions about it.

“Some recipients see it as a windfall and spend it frivolously. Others see it as blood money and feel a great burden when they inherit,” he explains.

He recommends doing nothing with the inheritance for a time – leave it in the bank for six months, he suggests.

If you are on the giving end of an inheritance, you can consider giving money to the kids while you are still around to see them enjoy it, Heath adds.

“Some people would rather see their family enjoy an inheritance while they are still alive. Making gifts to children or grandchildren can be a great way to do so. There are no tax implications of a gift of cash to an adult child or grandchild,” he explains.

Just be sure, he warns, that you are not “passing along too much too early… so as not to risk your own financial security.”

The article goes on to look at some of the complexities of leaving an estate – “the choice of beneficiary designations, use of trusts, implementing an estate freeze, or insurance strategies can… reduce tax and probate costs.”

Did you know that benefits from the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be payable to eligible beneficiaries upon your death?

If you die before you retire, the balance in your SPP account will be paid to your beneficiary.

If you die after you retire, any benefits payable depend on your choices at the time of retirement.

The SPP Retirement Guide provides details on the three types of annuity you can choose from when you start your SPP pension. While the life only annuity doesn’t offer survivor benefits, the refund life annuity can result in a payment to your beneficiary if you die before receiving annuity payments equal to your account balance at the time the annuity was chosen. The joint and last survivor annuity provides a pension equal to 100, 75 or 60 per cent of what you were receiving to your surviving spouse.

If you choose to transfer your benefits out of SPP when you retire, no death benefits are available from the plan.

These survivor benefits can ensure that a measure of the security SPP has been delivering for more than 35 years can continue to a beneficiary or spouse. 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.


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!

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.


Debt – a problem that takes the shine off your golden years.

March 18, 2021

There’s an old saying that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. You could almost add a third category – debt – to that list, and Canadian seniors are dealing with more late-age debt than ever before.

Statistics Canada figures show that in 2019, “Canadian household debt represented 177 per cent of disposable income, up from 168 per cent in 2018. That means the average Canadian household owed $1.77 for every dollar they earned.

The same report found that while seniors are doing better with debt than those under age 65, a surprising 22 per cent say they are “struggling to meet their financial commitments.”

Similarly, reports the Financial Post, research from debt agency Equifax “found the average debt, not including mortgages, of Canadians 65 and over was $15,651 in the second quarter of 2017, still low compared to the Canadian average of $22,595. But senior debt grew by 4.3 per cent over the past year, outpacing every other segment of the population over 18.”

South of the border, the problems are similar. According to Forbes magazine, “the percentage of elderly households—those led by people aged 65 and older—with any type of debt increased from 38 per cent in 1989 to 61 per cent in 2016.”

“People who carry debt into retirement, especially credit card debt, confront more stress and report a lower quality of life than those who do not,” the Forbes article notes.

Debt relief expert Doug Hoyes of Hoyes & Michalos notes that carrying debt into your senior years will almost certainly be a struggle.

He writes that there are “many reasons why people carry debt beyond their 50s, and into their 60s and even 70s,” and he adds that it is “unrealistic to think it’s as simple as seniors living beyond their means.” Contributing factors to senior debt can include layoffs and benefit cuts, the challenge of supporting adult children, and caring for aging parents, he writes.

“Once retired, a fixed income takes its toll, unable to keep up with both debt payments and living costs,” writes Hoyes.

Hoyes says there are some debt warning signs you shouldn’t ignore:

  • Your monthly credit card and other debt balances are rising
  • You can only make minimum payments
  • You use a line of credit to pay the mortgage, rent or other bills
  • You think about cashing in your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to pay off debt

He suggests several courses of action for seniors struggling with debt, such as consulting with a credit counsellor and working out a payment plan, or looking into a government debt relief program for seniors.

Don’t, he warns, tap your RRSP to pay off debt.

“Most registered retirement plans are protected in a bankruptcy or consumer proposal in Canada,” he writes. “We caution people against draining their retirement nest egg if this only partially solves your debt problem.”

Summing it up, while debt is easy to rack up – and we’re all used to dealing with it – it is far less manageable when you’ve left the workforce and are living on less. If you can’t pay off all your debts before you retire, at least pay off as much as possible – your retired you will thank you. Did you know that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers you a way to turn your retirement savings into a future income stream? By choosing from the many different SPP annuity options, you are assured of that income in retirement, no matter how long you live. That can be very helpful if you have debts to pay off along the way.

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.


Mar 8: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 8, 2021

At a time when some have “mountain” of savings, few focus on RRSPs: study

One of the oddest side effects of the pandemic has been the fact that for those fortunate enough to be able to keep working throughout it, savings are starting to pile up.

According to the Financial Post, the overall Canadian saving rate has reached “historic highs.” So, the article says, “you might think it would be a bumper year” for Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs).

Apparently not. Citing research from Edward Jones, a brokerage firm, the article reports that “52 per cent of Canadians say they do not plan to contribute to their RRSPs,” with 44 per cent saying it’s the pandemic that is preventing them from doing so.

As well, the Edward Jones research found that of the 31 per cent who said they would invest in their RRSPs, less than a third – again, 31 per cent – said they would invest the maximum.

Now, normally you’d look at all this and say, yeah, no one has the money for RRSPs this year – pandemic, hours cut, stores closed, travel and restos no longer possible, etc.

But the article notes that Canada’s overall savings rate “is at the second highest (level) since the early 1990s as locked-down residents with little to spend their money on, squirrel it away.” By the third quarter of 2020, the Post reports, our savings rate had soared to 14.9 per cent, compared with just three per cent in 2019.

So those with savings are packing it away at a clip not seen since the early 1990s. Save with SPP remembers those years fondly, as interest rates that were in the high teens in the late 1980s were still hitting the mid-teens by the early 1990s, making those old Canada Savings Bonds a great investment.

But there’s no such investment attraction today, and the Post feels that those who are hanging onto their dollars are doing so because of “economic uncertainty.”

“What the research shows is that Canadians have had to make financial compromises like deferring retirement contributions for other more immediate priorities and are storing away cash they can easily access in response to economic uncertainty,” states David Gunn, president of Edward Jones Canada, in the Post article.

This, the article informs us, makes sense given similar results from earlier Edward Jones research, as well as a Morneau Shepell poll that found 27 per cent of Canadians “say their financial situation is worse than those (15 per cent of those polled) who say it is better.” Looking around the country, Morneau Shepell found the most financial pessimism in Alberta, with Saskatchewan residents being the most optimistic about their finances.

While it is completely understandable that those without extra cash would have to cut back on retirement saving, it’s less clear for those who are sitting on money as to why RRSPs aren’t in favour. After all, you get a tax deduction for the RRSP contributions you make. More importantly, it’s not like retirement savings are some sort of bill you have to pay – it’s an investment in your future. You’ll eventually get all the money back and then some, thanks to investment.

If you are lucky enough to be sitting on some extra cash this year, consider the possibilities and look to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan as a destination for those dollars. Founded 35 years ago, the SPP has posted an impressive eight per cent rate of return over that period, demonstrating a history of savvy investing. Your contributions, just like an RRSP, are tax-deductible, and the money saved and invested will come back to you in the form of lifetime income down the road. Don’t deny your future self retirement security – check out the 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.