Gen-Zers

Feb 22: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

February 22, 2021

Canadians cutting back on retirement saving due to the pandemic?

There’s no question that the pandemic, now into its second year, is wreaking havoc on most people’s financial plans.

A report from Benefits Canada, citing research from Ipsos, found that “one quarter of Canadian employees say they’ve needed to cut back or stop contributions to their savings and retirement plans.”

One in 10 of the survey’s respondents say “they have reduced or frozen contributions to their retirement savings,” and 13 per cent “have cut back or stopped” savings for non-retirement purposes, such as vacations, clothing, household items, and “rainy day” savings.

While 70 per cent say they are “confident” about their financial management during what the article calls “tumultuous times,” 59 per cent “are worried about the effect of the pandemic on their savings and retirement plans.” Younger Canadians, the magazine reports, are even more worried – that’s 73 per cent of Gen-Zers and 67 per cent of millennials. Fifty-two per cent of boomers share their worries.

It would be interesting to ask this same group a little more about what their savings plan is, assuming they have one. While those with a workplace pension do have a sort of built-in retirement savings plan – as long as they are working – do those who don’t have some sort of savings budget or automated plan?

An article in USA Today stresses the importance of this kind of planning.

“One of the common misconceptions about achieving financial success is that it requires complexity, sophistication and intricate effort. Sure, you might want to construct a detailed analysis of investment allocations, debt-payback schedules or whatever, but you probably don’t need to,” the article explains.

“Sometimes, just a handful of straightforward guidelines, consistently followed, can do the trick,” USA Today reports.

Citing U.S. research, the story notes that a simple rule of thumb for saving is “save as much as you can,” and to separate saving from spending. You should, the article says, try to set aside between 10 to 30 per cent of your monthly earnings as savings.

(Our late Uncle Joe always said 10 per cent was his rule of thumb – put that away as soon as you get paid, and live off the other 90 per cent.)

That sort of advice is echoed in another of the findings from the research – the need to “pay yourself first.” The article picks up on this theme. “Learn to set aside money as soon as you get paid,” we are advised.

Let’s put it all together. Most of us are worried we’re not saving enough for retirement. But unanswered is the question, are most of us making savings easy through automation and paying ourselves first? The idea of setting aside a percentage of your earnings for savings, and then spending the rest, works even if your earnings are reduced. If 10 per cent is too much, try five per cent, or even 2.5 per cent. You can always ramp it back up again later.

If you don’t have a pension program at work, then you are the person your future self will rely on to set aside retirement savings while you are working. This sounds daunting, but doesn’t need to be. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan allows you to contribute in a number of ways, including pre-authorized payments from your bank account. That way, you are paying your future self first! Check out SPP, celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2021, 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.