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OCT 17: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

October 17, 2022

A new negative twist from inflation – it’s cramping our ability to save

We’re all aware of the terrifying ups and downs we see for the price of things like gas and groceries, but a new study suggests inflation is also cramping our style when it comes to saving.

The study, carried out by BDO Debt Solutions, was summarized in a recent media release.

“The survey, which examines the affordability and financial health of Canadians, found more than three-quarters of Canadians (78 per cent) say their personal finances have worsened due to inflation, while just over half (54 per cent) say they’re living paycheque to paycheque – an increase of three percentage points over 2021,” the release notes.

On the savings front, the news is just as grim.

“Six in 10 Canadians are also either saving less, or not at all – especially for retirement – than they were in 2021,” the release reports.

“With inflation and rising costs, affordability challenges have returned to, and in some cases, surpassed pre-pandemic levels. It’s concerning to see that Canadians are experiencing more financial difficulties today compared with the last three years,” states Nancy Snedden of BDO Debt Solutions in the media release.

Costs are rising for households, the survey results note. More than one-third of Canadians – 35 per cent – say “it’s challenging to feed themselves and their family,” while 52 per cent are finding the cost of transportation “difficult,” the release continues.

Since the cost of essentials like food and transportation has jumped, there is less money left over for saving, the release explains.

“More than four in 10 Canadians have also cut savings for retirement, while 71 per cent say saving for retirement is a challenge – an increase of six percentage points over 2021,” the release states.

“As a result, 64 per cent of Canadians now say they are not on track to save enough for retirement – a jump of four percentage points in the last year – of which nearly half say they are very far behind. Among those aged 18 to 24, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) say they have no retirement savings at all,” the release adds.

“Overall, 32 per cent of Canadians say they have no idea what their retirement plan will be, and one-third claim they will never stop working (through part-time/occasional work), despite wanting to retire,” the release concludes.

If the solution is to continue working rather than saving, it’s worth noting that a recent Global News report found that retirements are up in high-pressure job sectors like “healthcare, construction, retail trade, and education and social assistance.” Most are retiring before age 65, the article notes, and the overall retirement rate is up 32 per cent over last year.

From that, one can infer that those who want to keep working instead of saving for retirement may find the work too stressful to carry on past 65 as planned – alternatively, they could find they aren’t healthy enough to continue working long into old age. That underscores the need to insure yourself against future money shortfalls through retirement savings.

If you can’t afford to save as much as before, that’s understandable. But save what you can, because those savings will provide future income that will help your “20 years down the road” you to cover the cost of living.

If you have a pension or retirement program at work, be sure to contribute to the max. If you don’t – or you want to bolster the savings plan you have – take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

With SPP, you can start small, and tick up your savings when better times return. SPP can grow those savings and turn them into a source of retirement income when work is done. Check them out 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.


Keeping inflation at bay and saving on “back to school” items

September 1, 2022

The leaves are starting to change colour, the nights are cooler, and our little kids and grandkids are queueing up for the school bus once again.

But this year, with a backdrop of the highest inflation rate in decades, what are parents and grandparents to do when it comes to saving on back to school items? Save with SPP scoured the Interweb for some savings ideas.

Inflation, reports the CBC via the MSN website is a bit of a double whammy. First, we spenders have less coins in the wallet. “I just don’t have as much money to go around,” single mom Monica Belyea tells the CBC. And second, prices for school items have gone up. Or, as the CBC notes, there can be “shrinkflation,” where the price of something, say pencils, has not actually gone up, but you are now getting fewer pencils.

Tips from the CBC article include “shopping at home” to see if you can round up many of the needed school items from last year’s purchasing, as well as “carefully comparing prices between stores, waiting to buy certain items when deals are more abundant, and using coupon-code apps when online shopping.”

Pat Hollett of the Barrie, Ont.-based Canadian Savings Group suggests starting simply. “Don’t don’t grab the first thing you see. Shop around and pay the lowest price you can for the same item,” she tells the CBC “Price match where you can … Try other brands, if they’re cheaper.”

Her top tip is to “employ multiple techniques at once,” and shop “using coupons, cash-back offers and points, and tapping points cards to reduce prices as much as possible,” the CBC reports.

Writing for the Nerd Wallet blog via Yahoo! Finance, Hannah Logan notes that 36 per cent of Canadians surveyed are expecting they’ll spend more on back to school items this year than they did in 2021.

Her article recommends price matching.

“Price matching is a service provided by some retailers and grocery stores. Essentially, it means the store will honour a competitor’s lower price on a product, as long as it meets the parameters of their price-matching policy,” she writes.

“Some retailers are so eager to win your business (and confident in their prices) that they’ll not only match a competitor’s price, but offer to beat it by a certain amount or percentage. This could add up to big savings, especially if you’re shopping for big ticket items or multiple students,” the article continues.

Other saving tips outlined in her article include the idea of “buy now, pay later,” using money-saving apps, looking to see if your province offers any assistance (in B.C., certain kids’ clothes and school supplies may be tax exempt), and using “the right” credit card that offers cash back or other rewards.

Global News adds a few more back to school tips. If, the article suggests, your kids’ clothes are large enough to at least last through September, buying clothes in October – when sales begin – will be much more reasonable.

If you need electronics for the kids – such as tablets or laptops – think about going the “used” or “refurbished” route, the article suggests.

“Stores… can provide refurbished electronics at a cheaper rate than buying new, and shopping around local buy-and-sell communities or even swap groups can find you the equipment you need on a budget,” the article suggests.

If you know a kid is going to need a new laptop for the coming school year, start saving up for it months ahead, the article advises.

And if you do manage to outfit the kids with all they need for school – and save a few bucks in the process – a good home for those savings is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP, your retirement savings are invested for the long term at a very low cost, growing into a future stream of retirement income. SPP is open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room – consider signing up 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.


What to do when the cost of everything is going up

June 16, 2022

By now, any of us who drive a gas-powered vehicle are experts in what inflation means. It’s when something that cost $60 in the winter costs $100 five months later.

Are there any tactics we can employ to help spending our hard-earned/hard-saved dollars more effectively during this crazy period of runaway prices? Save with SPP took a look around to see.

An article from Global News discusses the plight of mostly retired Mike and Marylou Cyr of Campbell River, B.C.

They are, the article notes, living on a fixed income consisting of workplace pensions and government benefits (the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security), Mike is still working a little. The couple looked first at reducing the costs of their insurance premiums, and switching to a cheaper telecom plan, the network reports.

With gas prices jumping $50 a tankful, the couple is now planning to sell off one of their vehicles and sharing the other, Global tells us. The other big jump for their spending is food, which has gone up more than $100 a month already, the article reports.  “I am very concerned with the inflation, the rising food costs, as well as the rising gas costs. I think those are two main things,” states Marylou Cyr in the article.

So to fight that, the Cyrs are growing their own veggies and have four laying hens to supply their own eggs, the article says.  “Maybe I’ll start canning again like our parents and grandparents did and store everything for the winter,” she tells Global. “If I could get a cow in the yard, I might do that, but I can’t.”

OK – trim insurance, telecom, go to one car, and grow your own food. Run some cattle if you can. What else can a person do?

According to CTV News, there are other ways to save on food. The network says folks are trying to buy grocery items that are on sale, buying items you use regularly in bulk, and targeting the groceries you use up rather than those you often throw out are good approaches.

Another way to save is through pooling costs, states University of Saskatchewan associate professor Stuart Smyth in the CTV report. “For example, (if) you’re buying 20 pounds of meat, but you’re splitting that up between three to four households, you’re saving some money that way,” he tells CTV. He underlines the importance of being a little more selective in shopping – target items that you tend to fully consume, rather than those you wind up throwing out. (An example in the Save with SPP home is yogurt; we always buy some because it is supposed to be good for us, and then almost never eat any before it expires.)

In addition to gas and food, other categories of consumer goods have been affected mightily by inflation, reports the Globe and Mail.

Meat is up 10.5 per cent versus 2021, and surprisingly, meat alternatives “like faux burger patties or plant-based ‘chicken’ nuggets” are 38 per cent more expensive than meat, the Globe notes.

Household appliances are up 23 per cent over the last two years, the article continues, and buying a typical soup and sandwich lunch “costs nearly $18 on average, up 24 per cent.” Other items that are particularly impacted by inflation include the cost of new homes and of housing in general.

We can’t fully protect ourselves from inflation. Following some of the steps outlined in these reports will at least help trim your spending.

Tips from Save with SPP’s own experience include shopping for clothes at consignment stores – you always pay less than at retail stores – and trying to brown bag lunch rather than having that $18 soup and sandwich. Friends like making fun of our $4 sand wedge from Value Village, but it gets us out of the bunkers right enough. All of these steps can help you save a few dollars, perhaps even enough to put away for retirement.

It’s interesting to read associate professor Smyth’s description of pooling purchases of meat. The same concept of “pooling” is a key way that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan reduces investment costs for its members. If you buy a stock on your own, there’s a fee for buying it and later, a fee for selling it. There might also have been annual fees to maintain your account. With SPP, you pool your savings with those of others in one big fund. That lowers the management costs to less than one per cent. It’s a great way to save on the cost of investment management, and SPP has an outstanding track record of steady investment returns. Check out SPP – available to all Canadians with RRSP room – 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.


Ways to be prepared for power-robbing storms

June 9, 2022

It seems inevitable these days that some weather event – a tornado, an ice storm, or the recent crazy windstorm in Ontario – will knock out your power.  It’s an irritating thing that turns into deeper trouble if the power doesn’t come on in a few hours. Save with SPP took a look around to see what we can all do to be ready for the inevitable next outage.

A Global News report notes that 600,000 Ontarians lost power in a May storm, many for days and even weeks.  A long-term outage, the article notes, means no internet, no phone charging, food spoilage, no AC or heat, and nowhere to get gas.

The aftermath of a big outage “is a perfect time to think about being prepared, particularly if you weren’t prepared for this storm,” states David Fraser of the Canadian Red Cross in the Global article. “Let’s hope it doesn’t happen, but it is likely we could have more situations like this in the future.”

Fraser sees three key areas where preparedness pays off. You need a three or four-day supply of non-perishable canned food, and a manual can opener. Fill your bathtub to provide drinking water when the storm is hitting (and you still can), he recommends.  Stay in touch with the outside world via a battery or hand-cranked radio. If you have a traditional landline, it may still work with a non-cordless phone.   The third must-have is power – lots and lots of batteries in an easy-to-find location, and charged flashlights.

Generators, powered by gasoline, propane, or the kind that charge themselves from your house’s electricity and come on when power goes out, are also a great idea.

According to a CBC report, Ottawa-area resident Nabila Awad used a gasoline-powered generator to keep some power going into her home in the days following the storm. However, she notes, it cost about $40 in gas each day to keep the thing running, and with no water in the house, they still had to order in food.

Insurance companies will generally help pay the cost of running a generator when the power is out, and the cost of replacing spoiled food, Anne Marie Thomas of the Insurance Bureau of Canada tells the CBC. How much coverage you have depends on the policy, so it’s not a bad idea to check with your broker before you have a problem.

Owning or renting a small chainsaw and a sump pump can help you clear your property of downed trees and address flooding, Thomas adds. Call for help if you have downed power lines; don’t go near them.

Let’s recap. To prepare for a storm or outage, you need canned food, a manual can opener or Swiss army knife, a supply of water, some sort of radio, and maybe a landline phone. A small chainsaw and a sump pump might be handy. What else?

The Gizmodo site lists some other interesting options, including a counter-top generator that can power a small fridge for quite a few hours, rechargeable flashlights that you plug in to an outlet (easy to find), a solar-powered phone charger, and more. Genius.

In a way, emergency preparedness is a lot like saving for retirement. Taking the time to put together a little emergency kit before the power stops working is indeed akin to putting away a little of your “today” money for a tomorrow when you stop working.

If you don’t have a workplace pension and aren’t really sure about investing, an end-to-end, do-it-yourself retirement plan is within the reach of any Canadian with RRSP room – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP’s help, your “today” money can be grown into future retirement income. 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.


Book’s goal is to help you get back in control of your finances

May 26, 2022

If you’ve ever felt pushed around by your personal debt, and how it interferes with your life plans, then Money Like You Mean It, by Erica Alini of Global News, is the book for you.

The reason, she begins, that so many of us “have so much debt” is not just because “of the choices we’ve made or because of our individual circumstances.” The fact that we live in a world where it is extremely easy to borrow has created a reality where Canadians hold over $2 trillion in household debt.

“That’s roughly equal to the size of our entire economy… (or) the value of all the goods and services we produce as a country,” she explains.

Credit cards have never been easier to get, and “with a typical annual interest rate of 20 per cent, they can sink you into debt really quickly.”

Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) can be even easier. Alini quotes Scott Terrio, who recently chatted with Save with SPP, on this topic. HELOCs are dangerous because “your ability to borrow is often tied to your home equity – the portion of your house you truly own.” Your home’s equity grows as you pay down your mortgage, so HELOCs run counter to that trend. The average Canadian with a HELOC has a credit limit of $180,000 and owes “a whopping $67,000,” she writes.

But Alini offers some ways you can fight back. Her “Money-Bucket System” helps you to earmark money for short-term and long-term savings while having off what you need to manage essential payments like rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, property taxes and debt.

Long-term savings should be in an investment account (for things like retirement) while short-term savings (vacations, an emergency account) should be in easier-to-access savings accounts.

This approach will set you up to chip away at debt while saving for the future. It won’t be easy, she warns. “You’re going to be in a fight against debt your whole adult life, whether you’re paying it off or trying to stay out of it… try to spare yourself the mental struggle as much as you can.”

A chapter on housing offers a great overview of owning versus renting. There’s also the idea of saving on housing costs by moving somewhere cheaper. Be careful, Alini advises. While “you’ll be able to buy a bigger home, and life isn’t quite so stupid expensive,” you could also face “of a soul-sucking commute or having to big up on a big-city job and the earnings and career potential that may go with it.”

After an interesting look at work – including whether or not freelance jobs are really worth the time and effort – Alini turns to retirement, which she calls “one of the trickiest parts of personal finance.”

Three trends have emerged that are making it harder for Canadians to afford retirement – “the gradual disappearance of employer pensions, the fact that we increasingly live longer but also take longer to land a decent job, and low interest rates.”

Fifty years ago, full-time employment “often came with the promise that your employer would take care of you in retirement,” usually through a defined benefit (DB) pension. Such pensions “guarantee you a certain level of income in old age – often based on length of service and rank – for every year of retirement until death.” But the percentage of Canadian workers with such plans has dropped from 40 per cent in 1977 to just 25 per cent by 2018, she says.

More common these days are defined contribution plans (like the Saskatchewan Pension Plan) where the payout is based on how well contributions have been invested. Some employers match contributions made by employees. “A plan where you put in five per cent of your monthly compensation and your company pitches in another five per cent is like having 100 per cent guaranteed return, because the employer’s contribution doubles your own. That’s nothing to sneeze at,” Alini writes.

Those of us without a workplace pension plan “will have to save our way to retirement by ourselves… this means figuring out how much to save and where to put the money,” she writes.

If you haven’t started saving for retirement, the time to start is now, Alini writes. “The sooner you start, the easier it’s going to be to reach financial independence. And by easier, I mean exponentially easier.”

The book then provides great information on your savings options – registered retirement savings plans, tax free savings accounts, and the tax implications of investing in non-registered vehicles. The solid section on investing includes a key summary on assessing your appetite for risk.

Alini concludes by stating “I hope this book has helped you understand why it sometimes feels so hard to achieve financial goals that our parents’ generation largely took for granted. And I hope this helps you set aside any shame, guilt, or self-blame. Instead, I want you to embrace the challenge and fight back.”

No workplace pension? No problem. Consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP members can contribute $7,000 annually to SPP, and can transfer in up to $10,000 from other retirement savings vehicles. SPP will grow your money at a low fee, with professional investing, over time. When it’s time to get out and retire like you mean it, you’ll have a nice stream of retirement income thanks to 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.


Ways to tame the beast of personal debt

April 7, 2022

While higher interest rates can be good news for traditional savers, they are more likely to bring even more bad news to those of us who deal with household debt. And, according to Global News, that level of consumer debt rose to an alarming $2.2 trillion as of the fourth quarter last year.  

With inflation hitting levels not seen since the 1990s, a trend that will almost certainly lead to higher costs for borrowing and using credit, Save with SPP decided to find out what the experts say about speedy ways to get debt under control.

Writing for MoneySense, noted financial author Gail Vaz-Oxlade says getting “a sense of control over your money and your life” is not easy, but is well worth the effort.  She recommends we all do “a spending analysis to see where your money is going, so you can put it where it does the most good.” Next, she writes, “create a debt repayment plan that gets you out of consumer debt in three years or less, even if you have to get a second job.”

The third step, she adds, is “creating a balanced budget,” so that you know exactly how much you can afford to spend on things before you actually start spending. “Make yourself accountable by telling friends and family ‘sorry, it’s not in my budget this month,’” she adds.

Following these steps, she advises, will lead you to a future where you have “no debt, a balanced budget, and a big fat emergency fund.”

The Zilchworks.com site outlines a number of different strategies for eliminating debt.

Under the “annual percentage rate” strategy, you target the debt source (credit card or line of credit) that charges you the highest rate of interest first. “Once you’ve crushed the worst offender, you move on to the creditor with the next highest rate,” the site advises.

Other strategies outlined on the site are similar – put extra on one, pay it off, and repeat. This can be done, the site explains, in a number of ways – lowest balance first, highest balance first, lowest payment first, etc. In all strategies, the concept is a sort of snowball/avalanche effect – as each debt falls, you are paying more per month on the next targeted debt, and so on.

At Credit.com, a few additional strategies are outlined. “The first and most important step in getting out of debt is to stop borrowing money. No more swiping credit cards, no more loans, and no more new debt,” we are advised. “Resolve to live on a cash basis while you make your changes.”

Other advice is to “always pay more than the minimum amount” on your debts. “Make this an iron-clad habit,” the site advises. Another nice bit of advice is not to slip back into old habits once you have paid off your debt – make sure your post-debt budget focuses on you staying out of debt.

Save with SPP and debt are old friends who only recently have parted ways. Here are a few other ideas we picked up along the way.

  • The 95 per cent rule: If you don’t think you have an extra dollar to put on debt, this idea may help. Take five per cent of your take-home pay and put it immediately on debt. Then live on the balance. It is sort of like the Uncle Joe rule of saving 10 per cent of your income and living on 90 per cent, but tweaked so that it targets debt.
  • Get your credit cards out of your wallet: If you are maxed out most of the time, you probably pay the minimum owing, then spend with your card some more, and are maxed out again, with a higher minimum next month. Give the card to a spouse, or a relative, or trusted friend, and tell them not to give it back unless you have a real emergency. By not using the card, your minimum payments will gradually go down.
  • Stop making automatic payments for things on your credit card: If you are a super responsible person who pays off 100 per cent of your credit card each month, paying other bills, like utilities, or Internet, or streaming subscriptions via credit card is a good way to earn more cash back or points. But if you don’t pay off your balance each month, you are basically borrowing money to pay for living costs at maybe 25 per cent interest. It will catch up to you, and in the worst case scenario, you’ll bounce your bills due to having a maxed out card. Pay your bills a different way.
  • Save up for trips: If you are going on a trip, save up for it and pay it in advance, rather than paying as you go with a credit card. That way, you don’t come home to a huge bill, and avoid feeling financially punished for taking a holiday.

When you are in debt, talk to friends and family about how they dealt with it. Everyone, it seems, has had a brush with problem debt and have learned valuable lessons on how to turn credit problems around.

And, once you have defeated debt, you’ll have more money to put away for the greatest vacation of all – life in a post-work reality. An excellent companion on this journey is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. They’ll invest the money you contribute, at a low cost and with a stellar track record, and when it’s time to retire, will present you with your retirement income options. Check them out 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.


Lifestyle resolutions for 2022

January 20, 2022

It’s inevitable that at the start of any new year, we sit back and make a mental list of things we can do to make our lives better.

Save with SPP had a look around to see what people are thinking about doing, resolution-wise, in 2022, excluding financial resolutions which we covered off in another post.

The Mirror notes that 46 per cent of U.K. men, and 51 per cent of the country’s women, have made a pledge to get fit in 2022. The newspaper suggests that eating “five fruit and veg a day,” as well as trying three new activities and cutting back on alcohol can help fitness goals.

Other top picks across the pond for resolutions were to be happy and to “stop being so hard on yourself,” The Mirror reports.

Closer to home, the Burnaby News offers up some environmental resolutions. “Learn something new about nature “and how to reduce harm to the environment and yourself,” the paper advises. Other tips – “spend more time with family and friends in nature,” and speaking up to help “promote environmental protection and social justice,” will help you and the world you live in, the News suggests.

Global News reports that a top resolution for Albertans is learning a musical instrument. “Music is really cool because it’s so multi-faceted,” James Zeck of the Lethbridge Music Academy tells Global News. “It’s a great way to sort of (intellectually) keep things fresh, it’s really good for your mind and your brain, but it’s also a great way to learn… personal accountability and diligence.”

Other top resolutions cited in the Global News story include “quitting smoking, getting finances in order… (and) spending more time with family.”

The Huffington Post, via Yahoo!, offers up some more, all framed in the suggestion that rather than focusing on resolutions to lose weight, resolutions should focus on steps to get you there.

These healthy resolution ideas include “stop assigning a moral value to your food,” as well as “move your body,” and “habit stacking.”

The food-focused resolution basically means that you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you slipped up and ordered a triple cheeseburger and a milkshake. But, the article points out, foods are not good or bad, and if you assign such moral values to food, you risk “conflating what you put in your mouth with your value as a person.”

“Habit stacking” refers to identifying good habits you have — and doing them more often.

“For example, you might decide to “meditate for just one minute while brewing your coffee,” the article states. “Do that until it becomes a daily habit, then you can stack on another one.”

Finally, the CTV tells us to not lose sight of the fact that any resolution is a directional hope rather than some sort of legalistic/moral contract.

“Resolutions help if we see them correctly,” Dr. Ganz Ferrance tells CTV. “If we see them as things we must hit otherwise we are failures, then they’re not. They’re just another tool for us to beat ourselves up with.”

So, putting this all together – if you set resolutions for 2022, pick things that are achievable steps to larger goals, rather than the harder-to-achieve large goals themselves. That way, your resolutions will lead to personal progress. As they stay, every long voyage begins with the first step.

A good example of “habit stacking” might be making contributions to your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account. If you are making the occasional contribution to your own retirement security, that’s great – but why not do it a little more often? Small amounts contributed today will add up to a bigger income when your future hands you your parking pass and makes that final commute home. 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.


Sep 27: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

September 27, 2021

Preparing emotionally for retirement may be as important as the financial side

An interesting report from Global News suggests that “preparing emotionally” for retirement may be almost as important as the financial side of things.

In the article, Edmonton retiree Donald Smith tells Global News that he “had trouble the first couple of years (of retirement)… I’m sort of like the racehorse that wants to still keep running.”

He found that he “really didn’t know what to do with himself.”

In the article, Shelly Adam reported similar feelings. After retiring at age 56, she found herself going back to work just two months later on a casual basis. “When everyone else is working what are you going to do?” she asks the broadcaster.

In the end, they both found plenty to do through joining the SouthWest Edmonton Seniors Association, Global reports.

There are regular meetings, including a coffee chat group, the article notes, as well as a book club, choir, arts and crafts, games and cards, and much more.

Both say the social connections they have made through the group are “very important,” Global reports.

University of Calgary psychology professor Candace Konnert tells Global that “emotional planning for retirement often gets overlooked.”

“The focus has been on the financial preparedness and people underestimate, kind of, the social and psychological issues in retirement,” states Konnert in the article.

“We have this term called the ‘sugar rush of retirement.’ That’s that sort of six-month period, sort of post-retirement where you’re just euphoric,” she tells Global.

“You don’t have obligations, your time is unstructured, you can choose to do whatever you want,” she states in the article. “Then after that sometimes people have difficulty coming to terms because they simply don’t have a plan.”

Without a plan, Konnert tells Global, the odds of facing anxiety or depression in retirement can increase. You need a plan on how you are going to spend your time once work is over, she states, and it is “crucial” that your plan includes “being socially engaged with friends or through activities.”

Your plan also needs to be flexible, as your health may change as you age. “Your retirement plan at 66 may not be the same at 76, 86, or even 96,” she tells Global.

Looking at our own circle of 60+ friends, this advice is being heeded. A retired engineer friend has become an avid vegetable gardener, and has taught himself how to carry out his own home renovations; he and his wife are constantly busy. Others are getting back into things they used to do – music, art, golfing, skiing, and more. While it’s true that you will lose some of your old work connections, there’s ample time to make new ones.

All those post-retirement activities will carry a cost, of course, so it’s important to set aside some money today for a fulfilling post-work experience later. For 35 years, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has been delivering retirement security; perhaps they can do the same for you. Have a look at 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.


Has COVID affected Canadians’ ability to donate to charities?

July 15, 2021
Photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

A few years ago – before the pandemic – Global News reported that Canadians were cutting back on charitable giving.

Citing research from the Fraser Institute, Global reported that in 2017 Canadians donated just 0.54 per cent of their income to charity – less than half of what Americans donated (1.25 per cent) in the same timeframe.

Given the severe economic mayhem the pandemic has wrought upon us, Save with SPP wondered if charitable giving has taken an even further plunge.

It sounds like a recovery in charitable giving is underway, states an article posted in the Globe and Mail.

According to the article, authored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), “in the 12 months since March 2020 when the pandemic was declared, more than three-quarters of Canadians who had given previously to charity continued their philanthropy and gave larger gifts than in past years.”

And while only 70 per cent of Canadians made charitable donations in 2017, 76 per cent did in 2020, and “the average size of the gifts was much higher – up from $772 in 2017 to $965 in 2020,” the article adds.

The AFP’s chair Susan Storey is quoted as saying “Canada is a phenomenally, uniquely generous nation, and philanthropy, at its core, is about helping others and strengthening communities,” she says. “So, it’s not surprising that for those that could give, they did – and generously.”

The Canada Helps website says that while “year over year” giving grew, the overall rate of giving is expected to decline about 10 per cent due to COVID-19.

This site suggests that our charitable giving is more targeted during tough economic times.

Canada Helps reports that Canadians gave 1.6 per cent of their income to charity; however, the percentage of Canadians who make donations is down from the level of 24 per cent it reached in 2007.

Charities have had to be resourceful during the COVID-19 pandemic, when traditional avenues, such as displays in malls or street corners, weren’t available. Online donations are one solution, and in Ottawa, local branches of the Royal Canadian Legion used a drive-thru approach for last fall’s poppy campaign, reports CTV News.

“I think it’s a great idea. First off you don’t have the older veterans out in the cold and wet, obviously it’s keeping them safe from the people in the stores and malls,” Richard Coney tells CTV, praising the idea of a drive-thru poppy campaign.

Donations to Indigenous Peoples’ Charities – for example are up 2.25 per cent, as are donations to social services charities (up 2.2 per cent) and health charities (1.8 per cent).

If you’re able to help out the charity of your choice – and maybe have had to cut back due to the pandemic’s impact on your finances – consider resuming your contributions now that we are emerging from the darkness of the pandemic. There’s a lot riding on it for a lot of people.

Similarly, if you’d had to cut back on retirement savings during COVID-19, gear back into it as soon as you can. A nice feature of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan for its individual members is that you can gear up your contributions when times are good, and gear down when they aren’t. The flexible SPP – celebrating its 35th year of operations — is open to accepting monthly pre-authorized contributions, or a little bit at a time through the “online bill payment” section of most banks. It takes many small steps to complete a journey, after all!

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.


Pandemic has meant many adult children returning to the nest

May 13, 2021
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

With an end to the pandemic in sight, we are all hopeful that things are about to start returning to normal.

One trend that’s been happening since last year, reports Global News, is “young adults (being) forced to move back in with their parents.”

Factors like campus closures or lack of employment are reasons why the kids may return to the nest. Another factor might be the fact that housing is so unaffordable these days.

What should parents do to make the best of such a situation?

Noted financial author and commentator Kelley Keehn recommends setting “some ground rules” before the kids move back in.

“Are they paying rent? If they’re unemployed are they looking for work? When they do get back on their feet do they need to pay back the bank of mom and dad?” she states in the article. If these details aren’t clear right off the top, “resentment can set in,” the article warns.

The trend of kids returning home is big south of the border as well, reports the Huffington Post. Numbers of Americans aged 18 to 34 returning home are rising, and parents – who might have been thinking of downsizing – are now thinking about going bigger on their homes to make room for the kids.

A total of 26 per cent of millennials live with their parents in the U.S., up from 22 per cent before the recession of 2007, the article notes.

But there’s good news – the kids moving home are taking advantage of the situation to boost their education, and ideally snare a better job, the article concludes.

The PsychCentral blog says there can be a lot of positives for the relations between parents and kids when they move home, but parents need to stay calm about the unexpected change.

“Don’t freak out,” the publication advises, and blame the kids for not trying hard enough to be independent. Have conversations about “what is OK and what isn’t OK” in your house, and remember your kids aren’t teenagers and will be expecting more freedom than in the past. Try to make sure the kids are contributing, even in some small way, towards the costs of living, and set up a timetable for their stay, the article adds.

WebMD expands on that point, advising us not to “fall back into mommy mode” and realize that the now adult kids have “different attitudes, needs, and eating, sleeping or partying habits than they did when they were younger.”

Save with SPP can add this important thought for parents – the kids are almost certainly doing this move as a last resort. Few adult children truly want to move home. So, if you do get a second chance to live with your kids, make the most of it – you’re helping them to get ahead in life by doing so.

Do your kids have a pension plan at work? If not, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be a smart option for them. A truly end-to-end retirement program, SPP takes your contributed dollars, invests them professionally and at a low cost, and then can convert those invested savings into a lifelong pension when you reach the golden handshake. SPP has been securing retirement futures for 35 years now – check them out 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.