Debt can squeeze the spending power of seniors: Scott TerrioMarch 10, 2022
Scott Terrio knows all about the issues facing senior retirees. Terrio, who is Manager, Consumer Insolvency at Hoyes, Michalos Licensed Insolvency Trustees, recalls doing “a lot of speaking engagements for senior groups” about money and debt. He said “retired people, who have lived a long time, ask a lot of questions (about finances), and they are certainly not a retiring bunch.”
Save with SPP spoke recently with Terrio by phone.
He says that debt is a problem for retirement, “both at the front end and the back end.” Debt can certainly encroach upon the money people want to set aside for their retirement, he explains, but it is even a bigger problem for those who are actually retired.
“Life is expensive,” says Terrio. As interest rates declined, and people’s equity grew, retirees – most living on a fixed income — began taking on debt for the first time. Seniors, he explains, began tapping into their equity for “various things,” such as helping the kids and grandkids get ahead and buy homes. These days, many have tapped into credit to pay for day to day living, he says.
Today’s retired seniors began making use of their equity, but at the same time, began to live longer. “People are living much longer than ever before. Retirement can last for 30 years or more.” That can be costly, Terrio says. “The cost of (long term care) will kill you financially,” he says. “Care is very expensive – thousands a month – and that adds up if you live into your 90s.”
Retirees typically get into trouble gradually, he says. A lot of newly retired seniors don’t realize that they will usually owe income tax unless they have their pensions and government benefits adjusted to withhold more tax. “They are used to being on payroll, where someone takes the tax off for you. That doesn’t happen when you’re retired, and you can find yourself in a hole.”
Owing the Canada Revenue Agency for unpaid taxes isn’t usually a huge debt, but if you don’t have money to pay it, it can be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he explains.
It’s having to pay for things like taxes that starts seniors looking at credit, and debt, he notes.
Once you use up your credit card room, “the banks love giving lines of credit and higher credit card limits to seniors, who tend to have equity, and since nine of 10 of them tend to pay it back.”
That’s why the expected jump in interest rates is also concerning, Terrio says.
“When interest rates go up, they have a direct effect on lines of credit,” he says. “Even an increase of $100 a month in interest payments is bad news for a senior. Now they have to pay that every month. And since the real rate of inflation is probably six, seven or even eight per cent, everything you’re buying is now more expensive and you have less money to spend. That’s the main issue.”
Debt is not something people get into on purpose. “In any age category, very few get into debt intentionally. It’s a gradual creep, usually driven by events such as loss of a job, sickness, divorce. You can maybe absorb one of these things at a time, but two – no way.”
As well, older Canadians want to help their children and grandchildren save for education and housing. “We are seeing the greatest intergenerational wealth transfer of all time,” Terrio says. And that can use up savings and leave people with debt as their only option.
The problem with debt is that it no longer is seen as a bad thing, Terrio says.
Maybe, he says, older folks once saw debt as shameful, but it is “not a shame thing” for many Gen X, Gen Y or millennials. “The younger people get accustomed to it, they less they are bothered by it.”
The problem, he concludes, is that debt “is seen as cash flow as opposed to debt.” People need to remember that credit card and line of credit money “isn’t your money… it’s the bank’s money.”
We thank Scott Terrio, who many years ago worked in Swift Current for a major farm equipment company, for taking the time to speak with us. Did you know that the money in your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account is locked in until you reach retirement age, and is also creditor-proof? If you run into financial troubles on your way to retirement, your SPP nest egg will be unaffected. It’s another great feature of the SPP.
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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 28: Best from the blogosphereDecember 28, 2015
By Sheryl Smolkin
This is the last Best from the Blogosphere for 2015 and I’m taking a break, so the next one will be published on January 25, 2016. We wish all savewithspp.com readers a healthy, prosperous New Year.
As we look back on 2015 and ahead to 2016, there is much to think about. We have a new Federal government, the loonie is at an all-time low and Canadians have extended extraordinary hospitality to Syrians and other refugees from war-torn lands.
Here are some interesting stories we are following:
In TFSA vs. RRSP: How are Canadians saving? I interviewed Krystal Yee (Gen X), Tom Drake (Gen Y) and Bonnie Flatt (Boomer) to find out how Canadians are taking advantage of the tax-sheltered savings vehicles available to them.
In What Sean Cooper Really Achieved By Paying Off His Mortgage In 3 Years Robb Engen from Boomer and Echo tells us that Sean Cooper didn’t just pay off his $255,000 mortgage in three years; he taught us all a lesson in personal branding. Mr. Cooper, a pension analyst by day, mild-mannered blogger by night, took an almost Machiavellian-like approach by achieving fame through mortgage freedom at age 30.
Jim Yee offers some Year End Finance Strategies that will take advantage of ongoing changes to our tax rules. For example, in 2016, the new Liberal government will be lowering the tax rate on the middle income bracket from 22% to 20.5% so those individuals making more than $45,283/year but less than $90,563/year, deferring income to next year might save some tax dollars.
On the Financial Independence Hub, Doug Dahmer writes about the timing of CPP benefits. He says the CPP benefit for a couple can be in excess of $700,000 over their lifetime and the study demonstrates that the difference between starting your benefit at the least beneficial date and starting at the best date can be more than $300,000.
And finally, Rob Carrick at the Globe and Mail offers some thoughts on how to prepare for a frugal retirement. Frugality is assumed to be a virtue in the world of personal finance writing, but on the outside, frugality is sometimes a synonym for cheap. He refers to a blogger on Frugalwoods who argues that making the choice to be frugal is about asserting your independent thinking about money.
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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.
Jul 1: Best from the blogosphereJuly 1, 2013
By Sheryl Smolkin
This week we look at saving – why it’s difficult and what you can do to make it a little easier.
Having trouble saving? Gail Vaz-Oxlade says happiness is easier when you’re not worried about money, but even people who have far less than the average North American are happy.
A Monthly Financial Planning Checklist on Boomer & Echo will help you get organized and apply discipline to your financial and investment planning on a month by month basis.
Growing a nest egg can be particularly tough for members of Gen Y just starting in the workforce. Youngandthrifty.ca shares ideas for accumulating a decent net worth by age 30.
Sometimes saving money on the little things can add up over time. Freefrombroke.com runner and blogger Glen Craig discusses How to Save on Running Shoes, Gear, and Events.
One strategy many people are adopting to cut monthly bills is cutting the cord on cable TV and subscribing to Netflix.ca instead. In spite of criticisms of the Canadian Netflix service, last November HowtoSaveMoney.ca ran an interesting blog explaining why Netflix Canada doesn’t suck.
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.