Registered Retirement Savings Plan

OCT 10: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

October 10, 2022

Could The Great Retirement be followed by the Great Returnship?

Will high inflation, volatile investment returns and soaring interest rates tempt new and recent retirees into “returnship,” or returning to the workplace?

That’s a view expressed in an article by Brian J. O’Connor, writing for SmartAsset via Yahoo! Finance.

“Retirees who find themselves hit by higher prices, lower stock returns and big health care bills might consider boosting their bank accounts by heading back to work – and employers are waiting to welcome older workers back with open arms,” he writes.

“Big health bills” are more of a U.S. problem than one we Canadians face, although long-term care costs can be eye-opening even here.

The article suggests having the option of returning to work could be a “linchpin” for your retirement plan. That’s because your work experience is more highly valued than ever thanks to the lack of new folks coming up the system to fill your job, the article continues.

“These employees are valuable because they are seasoned, and that’s not always easy to find today,” Charlotte Flores of BH Companies states in the article.

The article goes on to note that of the five million Americans who left the U.S. workforce during the pandemic, “more than two-thirds were over 55.” Now there are five job openings for every three U.S. workers.

“Employers are not only eager to hire experienced older workers, but they’re also open to bringing in retirees who’ve been out of the workforce for several years,” the article continues.

This rehiring of otherwise retired workers is called a “returnship,” the article explains. Large U.S. companies, such as Goldman Sachs, Accenture, Microsoft and Amazon have developed “returnship” programs.

“The programs are designed to give returning workers training, mentoring, a chance to learn or brush up on skills and lessons on how to navigate the current work culture. The trend is so strong that there even are “career-reentry” firms that specialize in connecting employers with returning workers, such as iRelaunch, which works with 70 companies offering returnships, including posting openings,” the article states.

Another benefit of going back to work after retirement, the article says, is that you can either “delay or reduce withdrawals from retirement accounts,” a decision that “stretches out your retirement nest egg to lessen your longevity risk.”

Here in Canada, that certainly would be true of any withdrawals from a Tax Free Savings Account or from a non-registered investment account. We have heard of defined benefit pension plans in Canada that permit you to stop receiving pension payments (temporarily) if you return to work – and let you resume contributions. We haven’t heard of there being ways to temporarily pause withdrawals from a registered retirement income fund (RRIF), however.

Many observers here in Canada have talked about making it possible to delay RRIF withdrawals, and continue to contribute to RRSPs, until later in life. Save with SPP spoke to Prof. Luc Godbout on this topic in the spring.

It sure seems like the old days of full retirement – our dad left work at 62 and never did a single lick of work again for the remaining 27 years of his life – may be gone forever. Not saying that’s a bad thing – a little work keeps your mind sharp and social contacts alive – but the concept of full retirement at 65 does not appear to be as likely in the 2020s as it was 30 or 40 years ago.

Whether or not you plan to fully retire in your 60s, 70s or later, you’ll need some retirement income. Most Canadians lack workplace pension plans and must save on their own for retirement. Fortunately, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is available to any Canadian with RRSP room. This do-it-yourself pension plan invests the contributions you make, pools them and invests them at a low cost, and at retirement, turns them into an income stream. You can even get a lifetime annuity! Check out this wonderful retirement partner 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.


Combing the Interweb for the best retirement savings tips

October 6, 2022

Years ago, when we were working away at Lakehead Living in Thunder Bay, Ont., a colleague asked us if we were contributing to a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).

“What’s that?” we asked. And once it was explained that you would get a tax refund for contributions made to an RRSP, the 25-year-old us was in – starting off at $25 per month.

What’s the best retirement savings tip out there? Save with SPP decided to have a look.

Start saving today, advises the Merrill division of Bank of America. “Start saving as much as you can now and let compound interest — the ability of your assets to generate earnings, which are reinvested to generate their own earnings — have an opportunity to work in your favour,” the bank advises.

At the InvestedWallet blog there are two tips of note – to “fund your retirement account with side hustles,” and to “ditch the lavish vacations.”

Using “side hustles,” such as “flipping furniture, using a 3D printer to make money, or completing freelance gigs” is a great way to boost savings – direct your profits there, rather than to buying furniture or taking trips, the blog advises. And on big annual trips, Invested Wallet suggests cutting back on “destination” vacations (the average vacation in the U.S. costs $1,145 per year) and instead, doing something affordable during time off and putting the saved cash into retirement.

The Forbes Advisor offers up a couple of good tips – get rid of your debt now, and not after you are retired, and “practice retirement spending now.” The first one needs no further explanation – debt is harder to pay off when you are living on less.

The “practice” tip is intriguing. Basically, the article suggests that most retirees will live on 80 per cent of what they were earning before retiring. We had a friend who was fearful about living with her first mortgage. So her husband said look, let’s bank the difference between our rent and the mortgage in the run-up to buying the house, and live on the reduced income. This idea worked, her fears were abated and by now we’re sure that house is paid for.

At Sun Life, a variety of tips are included, with a sound bit of advice being “take full advantage of your employee pension plan.” A lot of times, the company pension plan may be optional. You don’t have to join. But if you don’t, you are missing out on putting away money for retirement, often with an employer match.

If you are in a defined benefit pension plan, be sure to find out if there are ways to purchase service for periods of time when you were off on a maternity or parental leave. Your future you will thank you later.

We’ll add a few others we have gleaned over the years.

Make your saving automatic – contribute something towards your retirement every payday, and up it when you get a raise. You will be paying yourself first.

A nice place to put your Canada Revenue Agency tax refund is back into your SPP or RRSP account. You’re making the refund tax-deductible.

Start small. We started with $25 a month nearly 40 years ago. Don’t think you have to start off big, or you may never start off at all!

If you haven’t started saving yet, a wonderful resource to be aware of is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. It’s open to any Canadian with RRSP room. With SPP, you can contribute any amount you want, up to $7,000 per year, and can transfer up to $10,000 a year from other RRSPs. SPP will pool your contributions, invest them at a low cost, and grow them into a future source of retirement income. 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.


SEPT 26: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

September 26, 2022

Canadians “retiring in droves,” with nurses and truckers leading the way

For decades, economists and pundits have predicted that a “grey tsunami” of boomer retirements would cause all kinds of collateral damage, such as increased healthcare costs and hikes in government spending on things like Old Age Security.

Well, according to Reuters, we may be about to find out if those decades-old predictions might come true.

The Reuters article calls it The Great Retirement.

“Canada’s labour force grew in August, but it fell the previous two months and remains smaller than before the summer as tens of thousands of people simply stopped working. Much of this can be chalked up to more Canadians than ever retiring,” the Reuters article reports, citing data from Statistics Canada.

And, the article continues, it’s not so much older Boomers who are hitting the silk on work, but “a record number of Canadians aged 55 to 64” who have retired in the last year.

“That is hastening a mass exodus of Canada’s most highly skilled workers, leaving businesses scrambling, helping push wages sharply higher and threatening to further drag down the country’s sagging productivity,” Reuters adds, citing the views of economists.

“We knew from a long time ago that this wave was coming, that we would get into this moment,” states Jimmy Jean, chief economist at Desjardins Group, in the Reuters article. “And it’s only going to intensify in the coming years.”

“The risk you have, and in some sectors you’re already seeing it, is that people are leaving without there being enough younger workers to take over. So there’s a loss of human capital and knowledge,” Jean tells Reuters.

Another slightly alarming stat revealed in the Reuters piece is that those of us who are still working are older, with one in five Canadian workers being age 55 or older. So there are many, many more workers who are entering the retirement zone.

So who specifically is retiring? Reuters says nurses and truckers are leading the way to the exits. An eye-popping 34,400 folks have retired from healthcare jobs since May, the article reports, and the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s Catherine Hoy says many of these retirements were unexpected.

The pressure on healthcare workers, particularly nurses, was intense during the pandemic – and the same is true for truckers, the article notes.

Older truckers – who, like nurses, were crucial workers during the early pandemic years – are leaving the profession, creating vacancies and a huge demand for new blood in the field. Many truckers are hired right after completing their training, the article notes.

“Without trucks and people to drive trucks … goods will sit at ports and in warehouses as opposed to getting to the destination where they can be consumed,” warns Tony Reeder of Trans-Canada College in the Reuters article.

This is a very revealing article. We have noticed that almost everywhere we go, help wanted signs are out. As well, you see certain places – local restaurants are an example – that have cut back their hours due to a lack of staff. It will be very interesting to see how this wave of Boomer retirements plays out – hopefully it will create the chance for better jobs for younger people.

You can’t, of course, contemplate retirement without having some sort of plan to finance your golden years. There are many ways to save, including workplace pension programs, but not every Canadian has access to a pension. If you are looking for a way to save on your own for your work-free future, take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. It’s available to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room.

With SPP, you can contribute any amount you want (up to $7,000 per year), and you can transfer up to $10,000 from other RRSPs into SPP. SPP’s role will be to grow your savings for you via low-cost, pooled investing. And once you’re ready to escape the work world, SPP has several options for your retirement income needs, including the chance of getting a lifetime monthly annuity payment. 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.


SEPT 19: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

September 19, 2022

Focusing on what can go right in retirement

We’ve read, endlessly, about what can go wrong in retirement – running out of money, inflation eating away the value of your income, and so on – so today Save with SPP decided to focus instead on what can go right with retirement.

It’s not as easy to find good news on the subject, but an article from a few years ago from Sun Life looks in detail at retirement success.

The article cites a poll taken last decade as indicating that “having an active lifestyle” is most important to “Zoomers,” defined as those aged 45 plus.

“Today’s retirees aren’t spending their days in front of a TV. They’re walking, running, travelling, returning to school, volunteering and working part-time,” the article states.

The article looks in detail at the retirement life of Dennis Watson and his wife Sue Lamb. Dennis tells Sun Life that for him, retirement is “sleeping in, reading more, golfing more and travelling,” adding that “life’s good.”

What did he credit for his retirement success story? Planning. “People don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan,” he notes in the article.

Here are the key elements of his plan.

First, he started saving early. “Starting with my first part-time job, I saved about $1,000 a year, putting money every month from my pay into my tax-sheltered registered retirement savings plan (RRSP),” he tells Sun Life. He said that even putting a little money away each year will add up after four decades, the article continues.

Dennis also “borrowed money to max out my annual RRSP contribution” and “used my income tax refund to pay down my mortgage.”

As his savings grew, he began to invest his money in “quality stocks – banks, insurance, telecommunications companies,” and made sure his family was adequately covered by insurance, the article adds.

As he got near the end of his working life, he consulted a financial planner to set out his retirement plan, the article tells us. That gave both he and his wife Sue a full outline of the assets they have, the investments and the income they produce, their insurance company, and a look at all sources of retirement income, well in advance of the golden handshake, the article states.

“Retirement is the next stage in life. Embrace it, and enjoy it for all it’s worth. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, so don’t go to the grave wishing you had done that one thing you always wanted to do. I worked hard for 40 years, so that I could enjoy the next 20 years — or more!” he tells Sun Life.

There’s a lot of positive information here. We like the twin ideas of systematic, regular retirement savings contributions and the idea of using tax refunds to plunk extra down on the mortgage (or other debt).

The takeaway is that if you start small, and later, begin to try and max out on your RRSP contributions, over time you will have a sufficient nest egg and can plan your exit from the work world.

Knowing what you’ll get from other sources, such as workplace or government pension plans, is also part of the puzzle.

People worry they won’t be able to get by on less money in retirement, but overlook the fact that they will almost always be spending less, and paying less taxes. Look at the net income you’ll get in retirement and compare it to the net income you are getting now – that’s a more realistic comparison.

If you don’t really know about investing (or don’t want to learn), a retirement savings option to consider is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP, you decide how much to contribute – you can start small and work up to the maximum contribution of $7,000 per year. Mrs. Save with SPP borrowed money for her SPP – she put the money in a simple RRSP savings account to get the tax credit, and then transferred it to SPP the next year.

SPP will look after the tricky investing part, and will do so at a low cost, typically less than one per cent per year. At the time you turn in your ID badge, SPP will present options for your retirement income, including in-house lifetime annuities to choose from. 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.


Answering the age-old question – what retirement has been like?

August 11, 2022

We are frequently asked by former colleagues and friends still labouring in the workplace what retirement is like. It’s a somewhat difficult question to answer, but Save with SPP will give it a whirl in the hopes it helps others plan things out.

It seems impossible to imagine not working when you are, in fact, working. We think of vacation or long weekends as “time off,” but with all of those there is that last-day little ripple of dread – oh dear, one more afternoon in the sun and it’s back at work. So, retirement is not like that.

We had a lot of adjustments to make to transition from full-time work to receiving a pension and working as a freelancer. First, there was shutting down the rental condo in T.O. that was needed for this guy to work in Toronto during the week and be home in Ottawa for the weekends. We bought in Ottawa and rented in Toronto. So, retiring from the Toronto job meant packing up the little condo, giving notice, disconnecting cable and phone, and ending years of frequent train travel between points. That was a huge savings in our monthly budget – we went from two of everything to one of everything.

That helped, because even a very good pension only provided about half of what we had made at work. Getting less to live on was hugely offset by a drop in living costs; we were lucky in that regard to have had a very good work pension from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan.

The boss retired from working at an Ottawa hospital the next year, but at time of writing is still working at a different hospital.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan figures into both our retirement plans, and here’s how.

When we bought the house in Ottawa, we were engaged but not yet married, and that allowed us to take part in the Home Buyers’ Program. While looking around for a place to repay the money we had withdrawn for the house, we discovered an article by our friend Sheryl Smolkin, and loved the idea of a plan that resembled a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) but had the additional extra feature of an annuity. The fact that it was not-for-profit and had far lower fees than a retail mutual fund was another sell. So, this guy was in.

Our own SPP account now represents more than twice what we took out for the house, and we add to it annually. Once we are fully retired – maybe in five years – we’ll start collecting it!

The boss soon found that working three or four days a week AND drawing a pension created a big of an income tax headache – the paying kind. So, we got her to sign up for SPP, and began contributing annually while also transferring money in from her various RRSPs. The tax-deductible SPP contributions fixed a tax problem and helped turn balances owing into refunds.

When she retires in February, part of her retirement earnings will be a monthly SPP annuity of about $500. That’s going to be a big help for her, as it will add to her retirement earnings and narrow the gap between what she made before she retired and what she is making after.

We have learned a few important things in this process.

  1. When comparing your before-retirement income to your after-retirement income, be sure to do a net-to-net comparison, not gross to gross. Why? If your income goes down, so do your taxes – so the perceived “gap” may be less than you think. As well, you may not be paying for the Canada Pension Plan anymore, or other payroll deductions like union dues, parking, and so on. Net to net.
  2. You’re likely only going to get a pension payment once per month. If you are used to getting paid monthly, you’ll be fine. It takes some getting used to if you were paid twice a month or every two weeks. Adjust your thinking accordingly.
  3. Your stresses will change, but probably won’t disappear. Instead of worrying about meetings, promotions, career changes, traffic and so on you’ll find you are more focused on family, taking care of the old ones and helping the young ones. No meetings, sure, but still things to worry about.
  4. You have time to learn new things. We’re line dancing, and this guy is golfing more and actually getting better on guitar. The line dancing has led us to meeting new people and we’re going on a trip to Nashville in the fall. So, make sure you are still doing something that allows you to have new social contacts in your life.

We conclude by noting that retirement almost seemed scary when we were working. No more structured workweek with meetings, assignments, annual reviews, and the like. Those things definitely required attention in the past, but now there are new and more interesting things to focus on. So, don’t be afraid of life after work.

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.


Some common RRSP mistakes we all need to avoid

August 4, 2022

Those of us who don’t have a workplace pension – or want to augment it – are pretty familiar with what a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is. However, there can be tricky things to watch out for when investing your RRSP savings. Save with SPP had a look around the Interweb to highlight some RRSP pitfalls.

The folks at Sun Life identify five RRSP no-nos. First, they tell us, is the mistake of putting cash in your RRSP to meet the deadline, and then not putting it into an investment of some kind. Be sure you invest the money in something – “stocks, guaranteed investment certificates, mutual funds, bonds and more” so that your RRSP contributions grow. Your money grows tax-free until you take it out, so you need to have growth assets, the article says.

Another problem identified by Sun Life is raiding your RRSP cookie jar.

“Making RRSP withdrawals before retirement to, say, cover bills or make big purchases can have lasting consequences. For one, you’re giving up the years of tax-deferred growth your money would have generated inside your plan.” As well, the article continues, you’ll face a double tax hit – a withholding tax is charged when you take money out of an RRSP, and then the income from the withdrawal is added to your overall income at tax time. Double ouch.

Other things to watch out for, Sun Life advises, are overcontributing (be sure you know exactly what your limit is), spending your tax refund instead of re-investing it, and not being aware of RRSP/RRIF tax rules on death.

The Modern Advisor blog cautions folks against making their RRSP contributions “at the last minute.” If you spread your contributions out throughout the year, you will get more growth and income from them, the article advises.

Other tips include making sure your beneficiary selection is up to date, and knowing that contributions don’t have to be made in cash, but can be made “in kind,” such as by transferring stocks from a cash account to an RRSP account.

The RatesDotCa blog adds a few more.

On fees, RatesDotCa points out that many RRSP products, typically retail mutual funds, charge fairly hefty fees. “Canadians pay some of the highest fees in the world,” the article notes. “Over many years, these fees can add up, further reducing your retirement plan. Be sure to ask for a thorough explanation of the fees you can expect, and how they will affect your retirement plan,” the article advises.

Other ideas from RatesDotCa include not repaying your RRSP if you do borrow from it, not taking “full advantage” of any company pension plan (meaning, contribute as much as you can to it), and retiring too early (the article notes that both the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security pay out significantly more if you wait until age 70 to collect them.

Save with SPP can add a few more, gleaned from our own “welts of experience” over 45 years of RRSP investing.

Don’t frequently move your RRSP from one provider to another. This is called “churn,” and can result in hefty transfer fees and generally reduces the long-term growth needed for retirement-related investing.

If you borrow to make an RRSP contribution, do the math, and make sure the loan amount is affordable. Sometimes the bank or financial institution will want the money repaid within a year.

Be sure your investments are diversified, and include both equities and fixed income, plus maybe alternative investments like real estate or mortgage lending. Typically, if one sector is down, others may be up.

If you don’t want to think this hard as this about RRSP investments, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Contributions to SPP are treated exactly like RRSP contributions for tax purposes. You can’t run into tax trouble by raiding your SPP account because contributions are locked in until you reach retirement age. SPP offers a very diversified portfolio in its Balanced Fund, and fees charged by SPP are low, typically less than one per cent. Since its inception in 1986, SPP has averaged eight per cent returns annually – and although past results don’t guarantee future performance, it is a noteworthy track record. 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.


AUG 1: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 1, 2022

More had pension coverage in 2020, but six in 10 don’t: Statistics Canada

New research from Statistics Canada shows that 57,000 more Canadians had registered pension plans in 2020 than in 2019, reports Investment Executive.

However, the article notes, 2020 – the first year of the pandemic – saw fewer workers overall due to COVID-19. So while a greater percentage of workers had pensions, the overall worker pool actually shrunk that year, the article notes.

Let’s dig into the other findings.

“Nearly 6.6 million Canadians had a registered pension plan in 2020, up by 57,000 (0.9 per cent) from 2019,” Investment Executive reports, citing Stats Canada data.

“The increases came in Quebec (33,000), Ontario (25,200) and British Columbia (16,800), while fewer workers in Alberta (-23,400) and in Newfoundland and Labrador (-3,500) had pensions,” the article continues.

Defined benefit pensions – the type where the payout is pre-determined, and is typically a lifetime pension that may offer inflation protection – represented “the lion’s share of pensions in Canada,” the publication notes. 4.4 million Canadians were covered by this type of plan in 2020, the article adds.

Defined contribution pensions – basically capital accumulation plans, where savings are invested and whatever is in the kitty at retirement is turned into income – accounted for 18.4 per cent of all registered pension plan members. The Saskatchewan Pension (SPP) is this type of plan.

Overall, the article reports, “almost four in 10 (39.7 per cent) workers in Canada were covered by a registered pension plan in 2020, up from 37.1 per cent in 2019.”

“The increase in the coverage ratio was due to a decrease in labour force numbers, attributable to the pandemic, rather than an increase in the membership in the registered pension plans,” StatsCan stresses in the article.

Participation in workplace registered pension plans has been in decline generally this century, Investment Executive reports. “This level of coverage was last seen in 2001 (40.2 per cent), then trended downward before having a peak year in 2009 (39.4 per cent), after which point it resumed its downward trend.”

There are a couple of takeaways from this article. First, it suggests that over six in 10 workers in Canada weren’t covered by a registered pension plan in 2020. That’s going to be a problem as more folks without pension coverage at work converge on their retirement years.

On the positive side, these days in the sorta-kinda post-COVID world, employers are finding it harder to attract and retain employees. Many are improving the benefits they offer their teams, including adding or upgrading pension programs. Let’s hope this more positive trend continues.

If you don’t have any kind of pension arrangement at work, fear not. There’s a great do-it-yourself option out there through the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room can sign up for SPP, and you can then contribute up to $7,000 annually to the plan. If you have an RRSP, you can move those funds to your SPP account – transfers of up to $10,000 a year are permitted. Your savings are professionally invested at a low cost in a pooled pension fund, and when it’s time to stop the whole work thing, you can arrange to receive some or all of your savings as a lifetime monthly pension via SPP’s annuity program.

Be sure to take a look at what SPP has to offer!

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.


Looking back on what the experts say – Save with SPP

July 21, 2022

Summertime, and while the living is easy, it’s not always easy to get people on the phone for an interview. We get it – there’s only a few short months of great weather in this country, after all.

So, Save with SPP had a look back on what we’ve learned about retirement and saving over the past while through past interviews, and via book reviews, from industry experts and leaders.

Derek Dobson, CEO and Plan Manager of the Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology Pension Plan, pointed to new research from the Canadian Public Pension Leadership Council that showed the economic value of pension dollars.  The study found that $16.72 of economic activity arises from every $10 paid out from a pension plan, notes Dobson. And that type of benefit comes from efficient plans, he explains. “Any plan that uses experienced investment professionals, and pooling – I include the Saskatchewan Pension Plan as an example of that – is delivering pensions efficiently,” he tells Save with SPP.

In an interview about the ins and outs of registered retirement income funds (RRIFs), BMO’s James McCreath noted that converting some or all of your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to an annuity instead of moving it to a RRIF is also an option.

“As interest rates rise, the functionality and usefulness of annuities go up,” he told Save with SPP. You can read the full interview here.

Prof. Luc Godbout, remarking on the trend of people working longer, had an idea on how to tweak the retirement system to accommodate the needs of older workers.  Allowing Canadians to postpone Old Age Security until age 75, and moving the conversion dates for RRSPs/RRIFs to 75, would “optimize the mechanics of pension plans, and also encourage Canadians to remain in the workforce, which improves health and also helps with Canada’s looming labour shortage.” Here’s where you can find the full article.

The author of Getting Out of Debt, Michael Steven, had some interesting thoughts on the importance of saving (once debt is under control).

“Saving requires discipline, a habit you build over time. It can be hard to save instead of spend, but if you have to attain financial freedom, then saving is one of those things you will have to embrace.” You can read the rest of our book review here.

There’s a lot to the broad topic of retirement and saving. For sure, belonging to a workplace pension plan is a key step towards retirement security. If you are saving on your own, you do need to understand the “decumulation stage” when savings are converted to income, either via an annuity or through drawing down a RRIF or similar vehicle. If you don’t have a lot of savings and have boomed your way into your 60s, then the proposed federal changes to benefits discussed by Prof. Godbout may make sense for you. But at the end of the day, as the old saying goes, it’s not what you make, but what you save, that helps your future self paddle through the waters of retirement.

If you don’t have a pension plan at work, and/or haven’t started saving for retirement yet, help is at hand. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is open to any Canadian with RRSP room, and offers pooled investing, low-fee investment management, and many retirement income options including annuities. 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.


Book offers a plan for getting out – and staying out – of debt

June 23, 2022

“Debt,” begins Michael Steven in his book Getting Out of Debt, “is more than just a weight on your shoulders that causes stress and financial strain, it is a manacle that holds you back from achieving your dreams and becoming the best version of yourself.”

There are, he continues, “good debts and bad debts. Unfortunately, most people take on bad debts, either because they lack information or have competing priorities in life.”

There are a number of factors that can cause us to fall into debt, Steven writes. Loss of a job or reduction of income, a divorce, “poor money management skills,” underemployment, gambling and other factors usually are to blame.

There are also psychological issues behind debt, Steven notes.

“We also tend to define wealth from the standpoint of material possession. However, true and real success is being free from debt. Unfortunately, most people incur debt to purchase goods that depreciate in value and do not generate additional income. The desire to acquire certain social status drives people to make irrational financial decisions that eat into their future income and denies them the ability to invest in wealth creation.”

The Coles notes version of this important thought is that if we want toys to show off that we can’t really afford, we will burden ourselves with debt and rob our future selves of savings.

After reviewing the psychological impacts of debt – anger, regret, dread, shame, and so on – Steven looks at how to get out, and stay out, of the red ink.

First, he writes, you need to know “where you currently stand financially.” Figuring out your net worth – what you have minus what you owe – is a good first step.

Next, set goals for debt reduction. “Your goals should be realistic so they feel attainable, but aggressive enough to get you out of your comfort zone,” he writes. A budget is also a must, he writes.

The harder steps include controlling your expenditures – to “stave off the behaviours that initially got you into to debt,” and to control costs by cutting back on dining out, unused memberships, streaming services and subscriptions. Cut where you can, he advises.

Build an emergency fund, he recommends, so you don’t have to depend on credit for unforeseen expenses. As well, he writes, make saving a habit.

“If I told you saving is easy, I would be lying,” he writes. “Saving requires discipline, a habit you build over time. It can be hard to save instead of spend, but if you have to attain financial freedom, then saving is one of those things you will have to embrace.”

There’s a handy chapter on how to negotiate debts with your creditors, and a comparison of the main debt reduction strategies. With the “snowball” strategy, you start by paying extra on your smallest debt, and then when that is paid off, you add what you were paying on the smallest debt to the next smallest. The “avalanche” uses the same principles but starts with the highest debt first.

Once you have debt under control, you will have achieved the important state of financial discipline. “The main cause of financial problems is a lack of financial discipline and self-control,” he writes. “Therefore, achieving financial discipline should start with rewiring the mind and your perceptions about money. Start linking happiness to saving, investing, being debt free and having a good emergency fund that you can fall back on when things get tough.”

Stevens makes another key point late in the book – the fact that debt can restrict your retirement savings.

“It is highly likely that you slowed down or halted retirement contributions while paying off debt. Now that you are debt-free, though, you should work on building your retirement contributions…. always increase your retirement contributions as your income increases.”

He notes that paying off debt is a great accomplishment, but avoiding slipping back into debt requires the same discipline needed to pay it off. Boost your monthly savings once debt is gone, he suggests. “Target” your savings – save up for a trip, and pay for its costs only from that fund. Think before you spend – a used car may be better than brand new, a simpler wedding will help you avoid bringing debt on the honeymoon. You generally need to try and live within your means – meaning, spend less than you earn.

This is a helpful book and well worth a read. We have always felt that getting out of debt is very similar to losing weight – it’s an effort to lose the pounds and even more difficult to keep them off after you’ve succeeded. But in the long run it is good for you.

A good destination, post-debt, for your retirement savings is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, available to all Canadians with registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) room. With SPP, you get professional investing – a good thing to have in these volatile markets – at a low cost; your savings are pooled with those of other members to keep investing costs low. SPP will grow your savings and help your convert them into retirement income at the appropriate time. Find out more about 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.


May 30: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

May 30, 2022

SPP touted as a do-it-yourself retirement program

A recent Financial Post article outlines a major problem – how so many Canadians lack a workplace pension plan – and then shows how the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) can provide a do-it-yourself option.

The article, written by Sigrid Forberg, notes that the old days of working your entire career for one company, and then getting a pension from them, are “long gone.”

While 5.5 million Canadians were covered by “either a defined benefit or a defined contribution plan” by the end of 2019, that means that “only 37 per cent of Canadians are covered by a pension plan – leaving the other 63 per cent to save for retirement on their own.”

In the article, Wendy Brookhouse of Black Star Wealth in Halifax looks at the options those without workplace pensions have for saving.

“There are a lot of preconceived notions, there’s lots of rules of thumb out there that may or may not serve people, you know … ‘you need a million dollars to retire,’ or ‘you need X per cent of your pre-retirement income,” says Brookhouse.

Workplace plans make the savings simple, as an amount is deducted directly from your paycheque. But if you don’t have a plan at work, putting away money on your own “might feel like a big sacrifice,” Brookhouse states in the article.

Brookhouse recommends regular savings on your own, via either a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), a tax free savings account (TFSA), or even life insurance.

Or, the article continues, Canadians without workplace plans could take a look at the SPP.

“Another option for those without workplace pension plans is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP). This plan was created by the Saskatchewan government in 1986 to help fill the gap for residents of the province who didn’t have access to a professionally managed pension plan. The program has since been expanded to all Canadians,” the article notes.

“The goal was to provide a collective non-profit — a trusted collaboration where people could finally get the really low fees they typically would get through a professionally managed plan,” states SPP’s executive director Shannan Corey in the article.

“In 2022, you can put up to $7,000 into the fund, depending on your personal RRSP contribution room. The fund currently has 33,000 members, with about $600 million invested. The historical returns are about eight per cent and annual fees are less than one per cent,” the article states.

With SPP, your contributions are locked in until you reach age 55, the article notes. At that point (or any time before you reach age 71) you can decide to convert your SPP savings into income, either by drawing the income down and/or receiving an SPP annuity. Saskatchewan residents have the added option of a variable benefit, the article explains.

“Our plan was designed for people who had gaps,” says Corey in the article. “The flexibility that we offer can really help people navigate those ups and downs a little better.”

Without having some sort of do-it-yourself retirement program in place, your options might be limited to working longer. The article cites the views of an actuary who argues that government pension benefits, which currently must be collected by age 70, should be allowed to be deferred to age 75. Do we really want to keep working that long?

Save with SPP can attest to the effectiveness of the SPP program; both this writer and our better half are members. There are no pre-set contributions, you can contribute in dribs and drabs up to $7,000 per year. So for us, small lottery wins, insurance payouts on dental visits, rebate cheques, and bottle deposits are sources of retirement savings. We also take advantage of making lump sum transfers from our other RRSPs into SPP.

Now, with retirement in sight for the boss, our SPP estimate says we are on track for a $500 monthly lifetime annuity payment for her next year.

SPP invests your money at a very low fee compared to typical retail mutual funds, and you are getting investing expertise at a time when markets are volatile and even a little scary. It’s an option that anyone lacking a workplace plan should check out – an all-Canadian pension solution built with Saskatchewan ingenuity! 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.