Forbes

What are people going to do once the pandemic is over?

January 21, 2021

We all know what we’re not doing thanks to the pandemic – but what sorts of things will we all be doing once that first blessed day of COVID-free living begins?

According to the New York Times, the very first thing for many will be getting back in touch with family and friends.

“Oh, to be able to shake hands again. We have lost the simple way we show respect for one another, to say thank you, to signal agreement. Our elbows will never be up to the job,” Audrey Jessen of Florida tells the Times. In the same vein, the newspaper reports, hugging grandma, hugging your brother, going out on date and kissing, and the joy of hanging out in groups are all atop people’s post-COVID to-do lists.

Ditto for “getting out of the house,” the Times adds.

At The Conversation blog, there’s optimism that the pre-COVID decline in cooking at home will continue to be reversed after the pandemic.

“Our survey showed a rise in home cooking from scratch during lockdown. Both home cooking and confidence in cooking have been linked to better diet quality, and practising cooking increases confidence,” the blog says. The folks at The Conversation believe this COVID-induced trend won’t fade away when the pandemic does.

Neither, reports Forbes , will “virtual collaboration” in the workplace, a.k.a. teamwork via the Interweb. It should also continue to be a way to stay in touch with people post-pandemic, the magazine contends.

“Millions of Americans stayed home for Thanksgiving, and their virtual parties weren’t terrible,” says online collaboration expert Adam Riggs in the Forbes piece. “With millions of remote workers connecting virtually, Americans have seen how video conferencing technology has improved over time, which has also impacted how we virtually network,” he states in the article.

Riggs predicts that since the pandemic will continue for quite a while, the use of videoconferencing and networking apps will continue and will ultimately remain a tool in the communications arsenal when the COVID all-clear signal is finally given.

Many are counting the days until outdoor events, like musical festivals or sporting events, will again be able to be held in front of massive crowds.

The Independent quotes U.K. festival organizer Sacha Lord as saying “if we have another year like 2020, we’ve got serious problems.” The music festival industry had its worst year ever last year, the article notes.

Let’s see if we can hear the common theme in all of this. Yes, we want to go back to how things were, but also, some of the new ways we were forced to do things may survive into the When It’s Over era. For instance, it’s said that thanks to more handwashing, sanitizer use, and mask-wearing than ever before, our flu season was one of the mildest on record.

So let’s conclude that the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel will be a brighter, different one than the dark days of the current winter. Better days ahead, as they say.

Many of us have little bits of retirement savings here and there, scattered in different pockets from our time at different jobs. If you’re a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, did you know that you can often transfer your benefits from other registered or unlocked plans to SPP? Up to $10,000 a year can currently be moved into your SPP account from other plans – that way, you can have all your retirement income coming from one source! Check out this and other SPP features in the SPP Membership Guide.

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.


Jan 4: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

January 4, 2021

Seniors – many lacking pensions and facing depleted savings – struggle to find work

Many of us of a certain vintage – say boomers in their late 50s and early 60s – plan to work as long as we can before entering retirement.

But a report by the Globe and Mail suggests that these days, as we recover from the pandemic, jobs for older workers aren’t as easy to come by as they may once have been.

“As we survey the damage from the COVID-wrecked economy, we may find that the employment prospects for older workers are getting thin just as the supply of mature job-seekers starts to climb,” writes the Globe’s Linda Nazareth.

First, she explains, things have changed for older workers.

“The old model of work, with the notion of leaving with a gold watch and a pension for life, is over. According to Statistics Canada, 52 per cent of the employed population was covered by a pension plan in 1977, a figure that had fallen to 37 per cent by 2018. Making up the difference with private savings does not always work out, and 2020 has offered a stark reminder that volatile markets, recessions, job losses and illness can wreak havoc on the best-laid plans,” she writes.

So, she notes, without pension income or savings, the other option is to keep working.

“No surprise, then, that the labour force participation rate (the percentage of the population either working or looking for work) of those aged from 55 to 64 has been trending higher for years, climbing from 63.6 per cent in November, 2010, to 66.6 per cent in November of this year,” Nazareth writes.

The rub, unfortunately, is that the kinds of jobs older workers are now holding down may not be there once the “K-shaped recovery” is fully underway, Nazareth explains.

“Many will be caught in the sectors and occupations that find themselves in the downslide of the K, including occupations in the struggling hospitality sector, but also those in a wide swath of manufacturing and services. Automation and a competitive global economy were already taking things in that direction but picking up the pieces after the pandemic will only make things worse and increase the potential for a spate of very-much involuntary unemployment,” she warns.

She concludes the article by hoping that a full economic recovery will lead to new types of jobs to aid the older workers in their job search.

In the U.S., reports Forbes magazine, it’s a similar situation.

The unemployment rate among workers 65 and older was an alarming 10.8 per cent, the article reports. Worse, it’s lower-income workers who are most affected, the article explains.

Writer Christian Weller concludes that there are basically two camps in the U.S. “Some could glide towards a comfortable retirement after working at good wages and saving enough during the preceding years. Others were left to fend for themselves as jobs became scarce and health risks became widespread since they had too little in wealth to weather the multitude of emergencies and start retiring earlier than planned. The pandemic starkly illustrates the massive retirement gulf that epitomizes the U.S.’s aging society.”

So let’s sift through this. Basically both authors are saying that older citizens with a pension or retirement savings to fall back on are doing better than those without, and that finding and keeping a job when you’re older may not be a slam dunk.

What can we do about it if we aren’t older? Saving for retirement seems a good way to cushion your future self against shifts in the job market. If you are fortunate enough to have a pension at work, be sure you are maximizing your contributions to it. If not, you’ll need to be self-reliant, and build your own retirement nest egg. A good place to start the savings journey could be the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, celebrating its 35th year in 2021. 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.


Sep 21: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

September 21, 2020

Is having a life coach for retirement the next new thing?

For nearly all of us, retirement is something we imagine as a wonderful life after work is done – and as well, something we should be saving money to pay for.

An article in Forbes magazine suggests that “the transitions surrounding retirement can lead to a time of anxiety and questioning.”

The article cites a 2019 study from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. as noting “much of this angst may stem from a loss of identity, family tensions and a sense of loneliness. Financial factors often play a role too. Living on a fixed income can be rough and the cost of living may exceed expectations.”

These factors, coupled with the general uncertainty due to the pandemic, can make “a retirement date that’s nearing seem daunting,” the article notes.

But, Forbes reports, there’s a solution to retirement anxiety – getting a life coach.

“You may be familiar with life coaches, who help people evaluate themselves, grow and implement lifestyle changes. Often, a life coach will provide a working plan to help improve a specific area of your life,” the magazine tells us.

“Retirement coaches frequently act as life coaches, with a specific focus on the retirement years. Like other life coaches, retirement coaches may specialize in certain things, such as finances or behavior,” the Forbes article explains.

New retirees can face obstacles that they don’t expect, states Monte Drenner, a Florida-based life coach interviewed by Forbes for the article.

The social networks built through work have to be rebuilt, he says. Travel plans may not be financially achievable – the dream is more expensive than savings permit, Drenner tells Forbes.

It’s important for them to realize that retirement is a phase of life and not a break from work, Drenner says in the article. ““Many people bring a vacation mindset to retirement,” he explains – but that thinking can lead to dull days if nothing much is planned in the time between travel dates.

Another life coach quoted in the article, Kay Goshtabi of San Diego, says self-awareness is something many new retirees need to attain.

“The majority of my clients who are reinventing in retirement tell me that this is the hardest challenge they have faced to date,” she tells Forbes, adding that before retiring. “people have not stopped to figure out who they are.”

It’s important, she says, to set realistic expectations about retirement. “I look at it as a marathon and not a sprint,” she says.

The article gives some examples of how you might reinvent yourself in retirement by working part-time at something you like, or developing projects to help your family such as a family-focused cookbook. Write down your “dreams, wishes and interests” prior to retirement to help keep you on track when you’re there, the article concludes.

It’s true that retirement is what you make of it, but some dreams are more expensive than others. That’s where the Saskatchewan Pension Plan can be of assistance. It’s like a personal pension plan you can leverage as your main retirement savings tool, or to augment benefits you’re getting from work. The SPP grows your savings and offers you many income options when it’s time to start chasing dreams, such as the ability to get a lifetime pension. Be sure to 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.


Aug 27: Best from the blogosphere

August 27, 2018

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

Asking the question “what is retirement really like”
Everyone who is working, or frankly, just getting older, eventually wonders what it would be like to be retired. It is very difficult to imagine what “there” looks like.

Save with SPP had a look around to see how people describe the so-called “golden years.” What are they really like?

Forbes magazine recently covered a survey on this topic, and their top three results were quite interesting. Retirees said that “boredom is not a problem.” One retiree said “I have to remember (repeatedly!) that I can’t do everything I want, even in retirement.”

Second on their list was the revelation that retirees “often downsize and cut their living costs – by choice.” The typical survey respondent “is living quite comfortably on about half of his or her pre-retirement income,” the article notes.

Rounding out the top three is the fact that retirement “requires some big adjustments for married couples.” In order to avoid one spouse supervising the other, “me time” is essential, the article notes.

US News and World Report also covered the “what is retirement like” question, and their findings were similar. They found most new retirees want to continue to be active. Citing examples of doing part-time work or managing their own savings, the article says most retirees “would rather continue to be active after they retire from their career than relaxing around the pool all day.”

Retirement, the magazine notes, can be “a difficult transition if you are not prepared for it.” Those who were forced into retirement during the economic downturn of 10 years ago found they had less savings and “a lot of heartburn,” the article adds. Some looked to part time work until more stable economic times returned.

On balance, the article says, having fun in retirement is very important. You can “volunteer, freelance coach, or (do) many other activities,” the article notes. It’s a way to help avoid missing the “structured routine of work,” the article states.

What will your retirement be like? The conclusion is that it’s up to you. Having a plan for retirement savings and for turning those dollars into future income is also a good underpinning for your future life after work. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan can help you on both fronts.

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

 


Jul 16: Best from the blogosphere

July 16, 2018

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

How to “gear down” and move from work to retirement
We hear about saving for retirement, and we hear about life after work – but what about those key transition years?

An article in Forbes recommends 10 key steps to transition from work to retirement.

First, author Nancy Anderson writes, you should take more vacation. Most of us take two or three weeks off per year, but “when you retire, you suddenly have 52 weeks of unoccupied time on your hands.” Getting used to more time off while you are still working, she notes, makes good sense – and why wait until you are retired to travel?

Second, she recommends trying to work less than full time in your last years on the job. A US study, Anderson writes, found that one in five Americans reported their employers “allowed workers approaching retirement to switch from full-time to part-time work.” Again, she notes, the idea is to get used to having more time to yourself – gradually.

Next, Anderson advises spending four full seasons in the place where you want to retire. “It’s much different living in a tourist destination than vacationing there,” she warns. Make sure you are OK with your new, forever home, she advises.

Her fourth point – “transition to retirement by making new friends who also enjoy your favourite activities” – emphasizes the need to have strong social connections when you retire. And as a fifth point Anderson advises that people “rekindle old hobbies or start new ones.”

Point six – if you are thinking of moving when you retire, consider doing it now rather than at 65. “Great jobs in popular destinations are hard to come by, but not impossible,” she writes. Similarly, if you want to do some expensive renovations, tip seven is to do them while you are still working and not while retired, when you are living on less.

Practice living on less before you actually do is point eight, and focusing on your most important relationships is tip nine. Her final advice is to “try something new” each week of your retirement. “You never know what wonderful experiences lay ahead of you. A little planning can help you to be better prepared to enjoy them,” she concludes.

Famous quotes about retirement
The Rethink Retired blog contains a number of great quotes from famous people on the topic of retirement. Here is a sample:

“Retire from work, but not from life. – M. K. Soni

The key to retirement is to find joy in the little things. – Susan Miller

“Age appears to be best in 4 things: old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read. “– Francis Bacon

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 West Life pilots employer RRSP match for student loans

January 25, 2018

Canadians enter the workforce with an average of nearly $27,000 in student loan debt. Such high amounts of debt typically take 10 years to repay, which means many delay saving for traditional life goals like home ownership, starting a family or retirement.

“So often it’s a choice between paying down student debt or making contributions to a retirement plan, but there is only so much wallet share available and student loans have to be paid off first, “ says Great-West Life Senior VP of Group Customer Experience and Marketing Brad Fedorchuk.

That’s why in January 2018 GWL is piloting a first in Canada — a voluntary retirement and savings program with select invited employers in their distribution network and their eligible employees. As participating members pay down their Canadian and provincial government student  loans, they will receive an employer-matched contribution to their group retirement savings plan. The goal of the program is to allow members to save for retirement while they focus on paying down their student debt.

Employees will send documentation verifying their outstanding student loan to GWL plus quarterly statements confirming payments have been made. “Once we have verification of student debt repayment, we’ll create a report for the employer so employer matching RRSP payments can be made, Fedorchuk says.

The level of matching (i.e. dollar for dollar; 50 cents for every dollar) and any annual cap on matching will be based on the provisions of the existing group RRSP program. He continues, “Details still have to be worked out, but we envisage this program as a self-selected alternative to group RRSP matching for employees paying down student loans.”

With Americans owing over $1.45 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers, student debt repayment is emerging as one of the most popular new employee benefits. Some U.S. employers also assist students to pay off loans faster by helping them to consolidate or refinance their loans at a lower interest rate.

Although only 4% of U.S. companies offered student debt pay as down a benefit at the end of 2016, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, and employees are typically responsible for income taxes on the assistance received, it is expected that this percentage will grow. Fidelity, PwC, Aetna, Penguin Random House, Nvidia, First Republic and Staples are notable examples of early adopters, Forbes reports.

One advantage of GWL’s Canadian program is that by matching student debt repayments in the group RRSP, contributions are tax-sheltered. Also, subject to any limitations in the group RRSP plan design, employees can withdraw funds to participate in the Home Buyers’ Plan to buy or build a qualifying home for themselves or for a related person with a disability.

Fedorchuk acknowledges that it may be a challenge to encourage students to continue saving in the group RRSP when their student loans are paid off. Nevertheless, he believes that the pool of money accumulated in their RRSPs that they would not have had absent this program will be compelling. “Hopefully we can incent employees to continue contributing and receiving the match instead of shifting their monthly payments into ‘fun money,’ he says.

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Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Nov 27: Best from the blogosphere

November 27, 2017

Tim  Stobbs from CanadianDreamFree at 45 who met his FIRE (financial independence retire early) goal several months ago recently wrote:

“One particular lesson that has really hit home for me since I early retired is this: FIRE doesn’t change your core personality.  You see I had this lovely fantasy in my head that I would be more active and perhaps start exercising regularly when I left work. I would run or do yoga like every other day.  Of course, I’ve never made working out a priority earlier in life so this really hasn’t changed that much since I retired.” 

That must be why over 12 years since I left my corporate job and a year into semi-retirement my closets could still use a good cleaning and I struggle to make it to the gym three times a week.

That also may explain Why being rich makes people anxious. Kerry Hannon from the New York Times reports in The Toronto Star that multi-millionaire Thomas Gallagher who is retired from his position as vice chairman of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce World Markets says, “Emotionally, I don’t come from money; I got very lucky on Wall Street. I have more money than I had ever imagined, but I still worry — do I have enough, if I live longer than I thought?”

And financial anxiety among Canadians is not only surprisingly pervasive and but not limited to the very rich or the very poor.  Rob Carrick in the Globe and Mail discusses a survey by Seymour Management Consulting which reveals that One in two Canadians is a bundle of nerves about money. Low-income people are most stressed, but one in three people with incomes of $100,000 or more are on the list of worriers.

So How do you know when it is the right time to retire? Retire Happy’s Jim Yih says retirement readiness is not tangible. He notes that one of the most significant trends is that more and more people want to work in retirement, plan to work in retirement and/or are being pulled into work in retirement.

“There are more opportunities than ever to work in retirement.  In fact the new terminology that is not so new anymore is the idea of planning a PHASED RETIREMENT or a TRANSITIONAL RETIREMENT. Personally, I think it’s great and I think a lot of people are finding success with this idea,” he comments.

Retired actuary Anna Rappaport identifies the same trend in an opinion piece Moving To The Next Step: Reboot, Rewire, Or Retire? for Forbes. She suggests that while many people may seek to continue working at traditional jobs into their 70s or 80s, others may wish to leave their career positions to build new career paths. People who held senior roles during their careers often find rewarding a period of professional activity with less responsibility, before totally leaving the labor force. Some seek memberships on corporate and/or nonprofit boards. Other people seek volunteer or not-for-profit roles, working in areas that are meaningful to them.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.