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Using “behavioural science” to help boost retirement planning
For far too many of us, the words “retirement planning” conjure up a frustrating jumble of spreadsheets, calculations, application forms and sums of money we don’t have. Easier, we think, to change the channel and worry about something else.
Recently the Ontario Securities Commission researched these “barriers to retirement” and came up with a new idea – the use of behavioural science tactics to aid the planning process. The OSC’s research is featured in a recent article in Benefits Canada.
It’s more of a “nudge approach.” One idea the report suggests is scheduling a retirement planning meeting at work. The individual must then choose to opt out of the meeting or just go with the flow and attend, the article notes. Another similar approach is to bring the future closer by showing people a variety of retirement activities and asking them to choose their favourite one.
“Keeping people from being overwhelmed or feeling other negative emotions is also important to the planning process,” the article notes.
One suggestion not touched on in the article might be to make your retirement savings automatic. Rather than rounding up dollars at the RRSP deadline, why not have a pre-set amount deducted each payday? That sort of automated savings approach is possible with the Saskatchewan Pension Plan; check out their website for full details.
A toast to the better days ahead
We’ve all been to lots of retirement parties. Here are some great retirement toasts, courtesy of the Public Speaking Advice blog, that you may be able to make use of at the next “farewell to work” event you attend.
“We don’t know what we’ll do without him but we’re about to find out.”
“May we always part with regret and meet again with pleasure.”
“May the best of happiness honor and fortune keep with you.”
“A bad day at fishing is still better than a good day at work.”
“Here’s to your health and your family’s health. May you live long and prosper.”
That last one has a bit of a Star Trek/Mr. Spock ring to it, doesn’t it?
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
A pair of surveys recently released by Tangerine Bank and TD Bank show that many millennials started saving for retirement in their early 20s, but they do not have a clear understanding of how much to save or how their RRSP savings can be used in future.
A new survey by Tangerine found that the younger generation of Canadians is getting the message to start saving early and build a nest egg for retirement. Despite being in the early stages of their career or still in school, the survey revealed that 62% of millennials (those 18-34) have started saving for retirement and almost half (46%) said they started before the age of 25.
These results are even more impressive when compared to data collected from the 81% of older working Canadians aged 35-65 who are currently saving for retirement. When asked when they began saving, only 18% reported to have started before the age of 25.
Of those 38% of millennials not yet saving for retirement, many (62%) say it’s because of their low salary or not having enough money, and another 23% said it’s because they are saving for a big ticket item like a house, a wedding, or travel.
Nevertheless across the different age groups, the survey’s findings were uniform when it comes to financial literacy. Fifty eight percent of both millennials and older working Canadians felt they did not learn enough about saving for retirement before they started.
This is consistent with the findings of a late 2015 Environics poll conducted for TD bank which found that many millennials are unaware that RRSP funds cannot be used for other items such as making a charitable donation (64%), paying childcare expenses (60%), financing a car (52%), making a personal loan (51%), renting an apartment or purchasing a second home (50%).
Half (50%) of all millennials surveyed by TD correctly identified that RRSP funds can be used for first time home purchase, although just 28% were aware they can be used to fund full-time education as a mature student.
“Saving enough money for a down payment on a home can be difficult for many younger Canadians, so the ability to withdraw up to $25,000 from an RRSP, or up to $50,000 for a couple, can help make it easier,” said Linda MacKay, Senior Vice President, Personal Savings and Investing at TD Canada Trust. “Building up an RRSP from the earliest possible moment not only helps you save on income tax now, but could also help get you into your first home more quickly and lower your monthly mortgage payments down the road.”
But Lee Bennett, Senior Vice President, TD Wealth Financial Planning says there are pros and cons and long-term implications of using RRSP funds to buy a home or pursue further education, including giving up the potential growth of RRSP savings until that money is repaid into the plan. As with any significant investment decision, she recommends investors consult with a financial planner who can help explain what’s best for each individual.
MacKay agrees, adding that it’s important to have a bit of know-how and understand clearly what an RRSP can – and cannot – be used for in order to avoid incurring tax penalties for improper withdrawals and to be able to maximize the amount of money that can be saved. She says this applies particularly to millennials who, as the TD survey shows, have many misconceptions about how an RRSP fund can be used.
Engen says that instead of having 3-6 months worth of expenses sitting in a savings account for an emergency fund, a better way for Millennials to combat the threat of job loss – or job uncertainty – is to build up multiple income streams outside of their traditional day jobs.
There are plenty of articles that focus on things women need to know about life after work. But in a role reversal, on Retire Happy Donna McCaw writes about Issues that Men Face in Retirement. Her interviews with a number of men about their experiences with retirement reveal that for many, identity issues are paramount. Those who do not replace the status, position, role and job satisfaction with something else once they are no longer employed can have a real challenge regaining a sense of who they are and how their lives are meaningful.
In Diving Canadian Dollar Has Made Holiday Travel More Expensive, Sean Cooper quantifies the cold, hard facts about how poor performance of the loonie as against the U.S. dollar has made travel outside Canada a much more expensive proposition. With lower gas prices, he says this just could be the year to take the family on a road trip to learn more about what our beautiful country has to offer.
Globe and Mail personal finance guru Rob Carrick believes It’s time to get real about retirement planning. He poses the questions: What’s retirement really like from a financial point of view? How likely is an unexpected financial crisis, and how do people cope financially? How big a deal are health care costs? How feasible is it to plan on working in retirement?
According to Carrick, the answers to these questions can be found in a new report issued this week by the Ontario Securities Commission and prepared by Brondesbury Group, a consulting firm. It’s called Financial Life Stages of Older Canadians.
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.
Whether you are starting a business, writing a book or spearheading a charitable cause, you may need to raise money. Crowdsourcing or crowdfunding web sites allow you to globally market your campaign well beyond the boundaries of your own community or province.
For example, you can raise money on Indiegogo for just about anything including community, health-related and environmental projects. In fact, in June 2012 Max Sidorov, a Toronto college graduate used Indiegogo to raise over $700,000 to send tormented school bus monitor Karen Klein on a vacation, with lots to spare.
In another recent project, Courtney B.C. resident Shawn Wood almost tripled his initial goal of $5,000 to finance a dream wedding for his fiancé Emily Niinmets who has terminal lymphoma.
And even celebrities are getting in on the act. In a six week campaign, author Margaret Atwood raised U.S. $94,995 (original target $85,000) to develop an online event space where artists and performers can connect with fans and aficionados called Fanado.
You can opt for one of two funding models.
With flexible funding, you pay 4% to Indiegogo if you reach your target amount, or 9% if you do not. This encourages people to set reasonable goals and promote their campaigns through other forms of social media.
A fixed funding option also costs 4% if you reach your objective, but if you do not, you receive nothing and your contributors are refunded.
Currency exchange fees may also apply and there is a 3% fee for credit card processing plus a $25 wire fee for non-U.S. campaigns.
Your campaign is built online using the Indiegogo platform and will typically include one or more videos and text. One-click social media integration, direct email and announcement features are designed to help spread the word, raise awareness and increase funding. Indiegogo also uses an algorithm they call the “gogofactor” to select the most active campaigns featured on its homepage.
Kickstarters is another popular crowdfunding site limited to raising money for creative projects. The catch is that unless you raise all the money you need, you don’t get any of it. If the project is successfully funded, the credit cards of all contributors are charged on the same day and Kickstarters deducts a 5% fee.
Until recently it has been largely inaccessible to many Canadians as participants had to satisfy the requirements of Amazon Payments including having a U.S. bank account and a major U.S. credit or debit card.
However, with the recent launch of Kidstarters Canada, this popular platform is more accessible to creative Canadians. For example, The Aesthetic Studio of Toronto has raised $96,708 (original goal $55,000) to develop little customizable robots and entrepreneur Y.Z. (full name not provided) has raised 147% of the money he needs to develop a token card designed to hold 8 Toronto Transit Commission tokens and fit into your wallet’s credit card slots.
A research report released last year by industry publication The Daily Crowdsource says crowdfunding has gone from a $32 million market to a $123 million market in the past two years.
Ninety-three per cent of successful campaigns offer donors incentives for contributing. For example, Toronto-based Matthew Ogelsby’s drive to raise $10,000 to expand his comic book series, “Romantically Apocalyptic Books of Captein” generated $51,873. For a $10 donation, contributors got pdfs of two previous books. CDs, greeting cards and an autographed print were added to the package for larger donations.
Kickstarters reports that the average crowdfunding campaign tries to raise $5,000 and 56% of all campaigns fail. With an average campaign target of $3,700, 80% of Indiegogo projects fail.
“The most successful campaigns are proactive, have a good pitch and find an audience that cares,” says Indiegogo spokesperson Rose Levy. “The campaigns with the greatest challenges are those where participants think all they have to do is post their story and the money will pour in.”
The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission has recently passed equity crowdfunding rulings that allow backers to reap eventual financial returns on investments. The investment scale for businesses and start-ups is much larger than for typical donation-based crowdfunding campaigns.
The Ontario Securities Commission issued a progress report stating their interest in moving forward with the development of a regulatory framework for equity crowdfunding. However, the report highlights the difficult balance that must be attained to provide investors with adequate protection against the risks of investing through this new marketplace without imposing excessive regulatory burdens on issuers and funding portals that would unduly impede the effectiveness of this means of raising capital.
Have you had a personal experience with crowdfunding as a donor or a fundraiser? Share your tips with us at http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you use one of our money-saving ideas.
If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks: