Statistics Canada

AUG 15: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 15, 2022

Is inflation eating up Canadians’ COVID-19 savings?

Back when COVID-19 restrictions had many of us sitting at home with little to spend our money on, economists and financial observers began talking about how the barriers to spending (no travel, fewer goods and services to buy) would create a monster pandemic savings pot.

And they were right, it did. But now, reports Jason Kirby in The Globe and Mail, that giant horde of unspent cash could be getting devoured by an unexpected new entity – inflation.

“Average household net savings fell 44 per cent to $1,900 in the first quarter from the year before, according to Statistics Canada’s latest release of household economic accounts broken down by income and age,” he writes. While all income groups saw their savings fall, the article notes that those with the lowest incomes saw the biggest decline.

A graph in the article shows that as recently as spring of 2020, the average Canadian household had upwards of $5,500 in savings. That means we’ve experienced a drop of nearly two-thirds in household savings.

The article says that the savings dip is not totally bad news.

“The good news, as far as spending continuing to fuel the recovery, is the average household still has more savings than they did before COVID-19 hit and governments ramped up income support programs,” the article tells us. “Stats Can data show the average household still holds 63 per cent more in net savings than before the pandemic, even though that amount has shrunk by more than two-thirds since the second quarter of 2020,” the piece reveals.

But while the wealthier among us “have a far better ability to absorb the shock of rising prices for goods and services,” lower-income folks are having a far tougher time.

For the lowest income bracket, the article notes, “the average household in that group has negative net savings — meaning they spent more than their disposable income — and are further behind than they were before the pandemic.”

Falling into a situation where you spend more than you earn – and are living on debt – is made even more perilous by those rising interest rates, reports The Financial Post.

“Canadians who took out mortgages for 4.5 times their gross income — a not uncommon practice when housing prices shot up during the pandemic — could see payments increase by $187 to $281 from 2022 to 2024, which would absorb as much as 2.6 per cent to four per of their net income,” the article states, quoting a recent study authored by National Bank of Canada economists Matthieu Arseneau and Daren King.

So the takeaway here is that we all need to try our best – and it isn’t easy when gas hits more than a toonie per litre – to live within our means, and avoid living off credit lines and cards. The days of cheap money thanks to decades of low interest rates have ended, at least for now.

The growing inflation rate also underscores the need for retirement savings. Your future you will need more, not less money should the trend towards higher costs continue on into the future. A great partner for retirement savings – one that is open to all Canadians with registered retirement savings plan room – is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Check them out today and see how they can help you build, a grow, a retirement nest egg!

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.


Apr 18: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

April 18, 2022

Canadians sock away $50.1 billion in RRSP savings

It appears the venerable registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is alive and well, reports Investment Executive – and pandemic-related extra cash may be the reason why.

Citing Statistics Canada data, the magazine reports that “the number of Canadians that socked money away in their RRSPs increased in 2020, and their contributions rose too.”

In 2020, Canadians collectively contributed $50.1 billion in their RRSPs, the article notes. That’s an increase of 13.1 per cent over 2019, the article continues, and the number of contributors rose as well by 4.9 per cent.

Investment Executive reports that “the median RRSP contribution in 2020 came in at $3,600, which is the highest on record.”

Why did more people put more money away?

Well, the article states, “savings rose as public health restrictions limited consumer spending.” With little to spend money on other that food and fuel, the average Canadian was able to stash away “$5,800 in extra savings in 2020 on average.”

So, that extra pile of money found its way into people’s retirement savings kitties.

“With the added savings on hand, more Canadians put money into RRSPs. The proportion of taxpayers that made RRSP contributions in 2020 increased for the first time in 13 years, StatsCan said, noting that the share of taxpayers making contributions has been declining since the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) was launched as a retirement savings alternative,” the article reports.

While things are not as locked down (thank heavens) today as they were a couple of years ago, the retirement savings bug is still with us, reports Baystreet.ca.

More than $10 billion found its way into Canadian mutual funds this February, the site reports.

“That brought the total amount of mutual fund assets under management in Canada to $2 trillion as of March 1,” Baystreet notes. “In all, Canadians put $111.5 billion into mutual funds in 2021. That’s nearly four times the $29 billion in mutual fund sales in 2020, which was in line with average annual sales going back to 2000.”

So, let’s put those two thoughts together – Canadians are putting more money away in their RRSPs, including managed mutual funds. The trend seems to be that more money is going this way each year.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan allows you to contribute up to $7,000 annually towards your retirement nest egg. And you are allowed to transfer in up to $10,000 annually from other registered savings vehicles. SPP is a voluntary defined contribution plan – it has some of the characteristics of an RRSP and some of a managed mutual fund. Where SPP differs from a typical retail mutual fund is in the fees charged. SPP provides you with professional investment management, but SPP’s fee is typically less than one per cent – less than half of what most managed retail mutual funds charge. SPP has a stellar investing record, and – again, unlike a RRSP – SPP gives you the option of converting your accounting into a lifetime SPP annuity, among other retirement income options. Check out this made-in-Saskatchewan success story 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.


Move away from cities may have some unexpected side effects

March 24, 2022

It’s clear that the pandemic – which we all hope is entering its final phase – has made many Canadians rethink the idea of living in a big, crowded, city.

But, as people sell their condos and townhouses and move to larger living spaces in the nation’s smaller towns, cities, and rural areas, experts are predicting this mass migration may cause problems in the labour market.

According to a report by Julie Gordon of Reuters, published via Yahoo! News, “the pandemic-driven exodus… has depleted a core age group of workers from the already tight labour market.” This, her story explains, may drive up wages as companies struggle to replace these “missing” job seekers.

The folks leaving the cities are typically younger people with young children, the report notes. The exodus, she explains “has shifted mid-career workers – a key segment of the labour force – out of big cities, making it difficult to find established talent in sectors where in-person work is essential or preferred.”

The article notes that most people leaving are in their 30s and 40s – Vancouver saw 12,000 people leave the city in 2021, Montreal lost 40,000, and Toronto witnessed an eye-popping 64,000 people moving away.

It’s not just the pandemic that’s prompting people to pack up. The cost of housing is another huge factor. The average Toronto condo costs $1.2 million, while the average price for a detached house in the Ontario suburbs is “just” $800,000, the article notes.

A report in the Globe and Mail notes that nationwide, 3.8 million of us – or about one in 10 Canadians – are living in smaller urban centres.

Smaller centres are benefitting from the urban exodus, the article reports. Over in B.C., the city of Squamish has grown by an amazing 21.8 per cent in one year, and now has more than 24,000 new citizens. Other small centres experiencing big growth are the Ontario towns of Wasaga Beach, Tillsonburg, Collingwood and Woodstock.

“With the pandemic, the capacity of Canadians to do more (remote) work has certainly encouraged some Canadians to really move to these smaller urban centres and leave maybe larger urban centres,” states Laurent Martel of Statistics Canada in the Globe article.

A CTV News report says it’s not just affordability and a healthier, more open space that is attracting Canadians to rural areas.

“We’re seeing small cities, including small cities outside the orbit of large metropolitan areas showing some robust growth,” Tom Urbaniak, political science professor at Cape Breton University, states in the CTV report.

“This signals to me that Canadians are looking for some flexibility, places reputed for their quality of life and are finding it easier to work from different places.” In fact, the article adds, for the first time in more than 40 years, the Maritimes’ population grew at a faster clip than the Canadian Prairie Provinces.

Getting back to the land can breathe new life into smaller communities. Consider the wonderful efforts of Brad and Kendal Parker in restoring a 107-year-old farmhouse in rural Harris, Sask.

The CBC reports the Parkers left Saskatoon and took on the renovation of an old farmhouse that had been boarded up for 70 years.  Descendants of the folks that originally built the house in 1915, the Parkers say, are thrilled the old place is getting a new lease on life.

“It’s really something. One of the grandchildren shared a painting with me of the original homestead,” Kendal Parker tells the CBC. “They tell me it’s so wonderful this house is coming back to life and to have children running around.”

Building a new home is great, and so is building a retirement future. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan can help with the latter goal. It’s a great resource for anyone who doesn’t have a retirement program at work – or does, but wants to augment it. You can contribute up to $7,000 a year towards your retirement future through SPP! 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.


Mar 7: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

March 7, 2022

Is inflation causing Canadians to fear they aren’t saving enough for retirement?

Writing for the Canadian Press, via Canoe, Christopher Reynolds notes that inflation is causing the price of almost everything to go up – including retirement.

Citing recent research from the Bank of Montreal, Reynolds notes that “Canadians are losing confidence they’ll have enough cash to retire as planned,” with fewer than half believing they can hit their savings target.

That’s because inflation is boosting the value of that theoretical retirement piggy bank, he writes. “The average sum (Canadians) anticipate needing has increased 12 per cent since 2020 to $1.6 million,” he writes.

Last year, he continues, 54 per cent of those surveyed felt they would reach their savings targets; the most recent research shows that number has dropped to 44 per cent.

“Inflation,” states Robert Armstrong of BMO Global Asset Management in the article, “is starting to impact their views on how much they need to save for retirement.”

The price of housing, the article continues, is “another source of angst,” with the average home price in Canada rising to a record $748,450 in January. That’s a year over year jump of 21 per cent, the article notes.

Those who don’t own their own homes not only face higher rents, but don’t have the “automatic nest egg” associated with being able to sell one’s principal residence without paying capital gains taxes, the article notes.

Another problem retirement savers face is the shortage of good workplace pension plans, Reynolds writes. Only about 25 per cent of Canadians are covered by defined benefit pension plans, which provide a guaranteed monthly lifetime income. Just seven per cent enjoy being members of defined contribution plans (like the Saskatchewan Pension Plan), where future payouts depend on how much is saved and invested.

Those numbers, the article continues, are “still far below those of the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s when the rates were consistently above 40 per cent.” That information, Reynold adds, comes from Statistics Canada.

Jules Boudreau of Mackenzie Investments tells the Canadian Press that these factors – inflation, high housing prices, and a general decline in workplace pension plan coverage – put a lot of pressure on younger retirement savers.

“The personal retirement portfolio of a young worker is much more critical, because their retirement hinges entirely on it — and that can create more anxiety, more uncertainty,” Boudreau states in the article. As well, the article concludes, many younger people are not focusing on long-term retirement savings, such as registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), but on “short term” things like getting a home, furnishing it, and starting a family.

While the average RRSP balance in Canada as of 2020 was $101,155 – a figure that is growing – the Motley Fool blog says that seemingly high amount will only generate about $3,500 of income per year. And it’s far short of the $1.6 million target mentioned by Reynolds in his article.

If you are part of the majority of working Canadians who lack a pension or retirement program at work, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be just what you’ve been looking for. The SPP is a do-it-yourself, end-to-end defined contribution pension plan. You can contribute up to $7,000 every year, and SPP will invest your contributions in a low-cost, professionally managed pooled fund. When it’s time to unshackle yourself from the rat race, SPP has a number of options for turning those savings into income. Make SPP part of your personal retirement program 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.


Why we struggle to save – and what we can do about it

August 12, 2021

We are routinely encouraged to save money, for retirement, for education, for emergencies, and so on.

But this advice is not always easy to follow. Save with SPP took a look around to see why saving is such a struggle, and to find out ways those who aren’t currently savers can work their way into the savings habit.

A study carried out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and reported upon by the CBC, found that on average, Canadians saved “just 3.21 per cent of their disposable income in 2020, or about $1,277 per household.”

Americans, the article notes, save three times as much. Why?

“Canadians are currently spending more of their income to service their debts than Americans, which partly explains the lower savings rate,” says BMO senior economist Saul Guatieri in the CBC article.

And indeed, according to Statistics Canada, household debt topped 177 per cent of disposable income by late 2019, up from 168 per cent the year before. In other words, for every dollar we earn, we owe $1.77, on average. The same agency’s research found that 73.2 per cent of Canadians “have some sort of outstanding debt, or have used a payday loan at some point in the last 12 months.” Almost one-third of those surveyed told Statistics Canada they have too much debt.

The CBC article also cites the increased cost of living as a factor. Shannon Lee Simmons, a certified financial planner, tells the network that “she’s seen the amount of money Canadians are able to put away decrease for a number of reasons, including stagnating wages and the rising cost of necessities like gas, groceries, daycare and housing.”

Housing costs have bumped up to 45-50 per cent of take-home pay for some, she tells CBC.

Inflation, reports Reuters, is on the rise, and “the Bank of Canada said inflation was expected to remain at or above three per cent… for the rest of 2021.”

Blogger Jim Yih of the Retire Happy blog adds a couple of other factors. The lack of formal financial education, he writes, and the prevalent “consumption attitude” of “spending money we do not have” are a big part of the problem. He also notes that interest rates for savings accounts have been at historic lows for many years, which discourages some savers.

So what can be done?

  • Start small, suggests Simmons. “I would rather someone save a little bit than just give up altogether because they feel the goal is too unrealistic,” she tells the CBC. Having a budget is a key step as well, she says, as you can not only track spending but see opportunities to reduce costs.
  • Review your bank fees, and see if you can find a bank with lower or no fees, suggests the Canada Buzz blog.
  • Pay yourself first, advises Alterna Bank. “Automate your savings… transfer the funds to a savings, investment, registered retirement savings plan or tax-free savings account,” Alterna suggests.

The last step is a great one. Even if you did a “pay yourself first” and put one or two per cent of your pay into savings, and then lived on the 98 per cent, you would see those savings begin to grow over time. And while it may not be the “save 10 per cent, and live on 90 per cent” rule that our late Uncle Joe hammered into us over the years, you are starting on the right road. Patience and being steadfast can get you there.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan supports a “pay yourself first” strategy. You can set up automatic contributions from your bank account each payday. The money you contribute is then carefully invested by SPP for your future. It’s a “set it and forget it” way to build retirement security, something SPP has been providing for more than 35 years.

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.


APR 12: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

April 12, 2021

Canadian millennials now focused on long-term saving: report

It’s hard to find many silver linings to the dark, terrible cloud that is COVID-19, but a report from Global News suggests the crisis has caused millennials to think longer-term when it comes to savings.

Carissa Lucreziano of CIBC tells Global that Canadians aged 24-35 “are very committed to saving more and investing.” That’s great news for this younger segment of our society, she states, “as actions now can have long-term benefits.”

The report also cites data from Semrush, an online data analysis company, as showing 23.6 per cent of millennials regularly visit their online banking websites, as compared to 20.7 per cent of older Canadians aged 35 to 44.

Semrush’s Eugene Levin tells Global this suggests younger people “are more conscious moneywise… they are using this time (the pandemic) to plan out their finances to either mitigate their financial insecurity or improve their financial security.”

Other findings – more people are searching for information on Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), and investment apps like Wealthsimple and Questrade, the article reports.

CIBC data noted in the Global report found that 38 per cent of millennials have decreased spending, 34 per cent plan to add to TFSAs or Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), and to establish emergency savings accounts.

While there is also interest in topics like payday loans and installment loans, the article finds it generally positive that younger people are thinking about long-term savings.

For sure it is positive news. Data from Statistics Canada reminds us why long-term savings are so important.

The stats show that as of 2019, 70 per cent of Canadians are saving for retirement, either on their own or via a workplace savings program – that’s up from 66 per cent in 2014, Stats Canada reports.

“Interestingly, this may reflect the fact that over the past five years, Canadians have become increasingly aware of the need to save for retirement,” reports Stats Canada. “For example, almost half of Canadians (47 per cent) say they know how much they need to save to maintain their standard of living in retirement—an increase of 10 percentage points since 2014 (37 per cent).”

Those who don’t save for retirement on their own (or via a workplace plan) will have to rely on the relatively modest government benefits, such as the Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan, and Old Age Security, the article notes. And surely, the terrifying pandemic era has more of us thinking about our finances, both current and future.

So that’s why it is nice to see the younger generation is focusing on these longer-term goals. The best things in life, as the song goes, are free, but many other things carry a cost. The retired you will certainly be thankful that the younger you chose to stash away some cash for the future.

If, as the article notes, you don’t have a workplace pension plan and are saving on your own for retirement, there’s a plan out there for you that could really be of help. For 35 years, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has been delivering retirement security; the plan now manages $673 million in assets for its 33,000 members. 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.


Debt – a problem that takes the shine off your golden years.

March 18, 2021

There’s an old saying that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. You could almost add a third category – debt – to that list, and Canadian seniors are dealing with more late-age debt than ever before.

Statistics Canada figures show that in 2019, “Canadian household debt represented 177 per cent of disposable income, up from 168 per cent in 2018. That means the average Canadian household owed $1.77 for every dollar they earned.

The same report found that while seniors are doing better with debt than those under age 65, a surprising 22 per cent say they are “struggling to meet their financial commitments.”

Similarly, reports the Financial Post, research from debt agency Equifax “found the average debt, not including mortgages, of Canadians 65 and over was $15,651 in the second quarter of 2017, still low compared to the Canadian average of $22,595. But senior debt grew by 4.3 per cent over the past year, outpacing every other segment of the population over 18.”

South of the border, the problems are similar. According to Forbes magazine, “the percentage of elderly households—those led by people aged 65 and older—with any type of debt increased from 38 per cent in 1989 to 61 per cent in 2016.”

“People who carry debt into retirement, especially credit card debt, confront more stress and report a lower quality of life than those who do not,” the Forbes article notes.

Debt relief expert Doug Hoyes of Hoyes & Michalos notes that carrying debt into your senior years will almost certainly be a struggle.

He writes that there are “many reasons why people carry debt beyond their 50s, and into their 60s and even 70s,” and he adds that it is “unrealistic to think it’s as simple as seniors living beyond their means.” Contributing factors to senior debt can include layoffs and benefit cuts, the challenge of supporting adult children, and caring for aging parents, he writes.

“Once retired, a fixed income takes its toll, unable to keep up with both debt payments and living costs,” writes Hoyes.

Hoyes says there are some debt warning signs you shouldn’t ignore:

  • Your monthly credit card and other debt balances are rising
  • You can only make minimum payments
  • You use a line of credit to pay the mortgage, rent or other bills
  • You think about cashing in your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to pay off debt

He suggests several courses of action for seniors struggling with debt, such as consulting with a credit counsellor and working out a payment plan, or looking into a government debt relief program for seniors.

Don’t, he warns, tap your RRSP to pay off debt.

“Most registered retirement plans are protected in a bankruptcy or consumer proposal in Canada,” he writes. “We caution people against draining their retirement nest egg if this only partially solves your debt problem.”

Summing it up, while debt is easy to rack up – and we’re all used to dealing with it – it is far less manageable when you’ve left the workforce and are living on less. If you can’t pay off all your debts before you retire, at least pay off as much as possible – your retired you will thank you. Did you know that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers you a way to turn your retirement savings into a future income stream? By choosing from the many different SPP annuity options, you are assured of that income in retirement, no matter how long you live. That can be very helpful if you have debts to pay off along the way.

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.


Jan 4: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

January 4, 2021

Seniors – many lacking pensions and facing depleted savings – struggle to find work

Many of us of a certain vintage – say boomers in their late 50s and early 60s – plan to work as long as we can before entering retirement.

But a report by the Globe and Mail suggests that these days, as we recover from the pandemic, jobs for older workers aren’t as easy to come by as they may once have been.

“As we survey the damage from the COVID-wrecked economy, we may find that the employment prospects for older workers are getting thin just as the supply of mature job-seekers starts to climb,” writes the Globe’s Linda Nazareth.

First, she explains, things have changed for older workers.

“The old model of work, with the notion of leaving with a gold watch and a pension for life, is over. According to Statistics Canada, 52 per cent of the employed population was covered by a pension plan in 1977, a figure that had fallen to 37 per cent by 2018. Making up the difference with private savings does not always work out, and 2020 has offered a stark reminder that volatile markets, recessions, job losses and illness can wreak havoc on the best-laid plans,” she writes.

So, she notes, without pension income or savings, the other option is to keep working.

“No surprise, then, that the labour force participation rate (the percentage of the population either working or looking for work) of those aged from 55 to 64 has been trending higher for years, climbing from 63.6 per cent in November, 2010, to 66.6 per cent in November of this year,” Nazareth writes.

The rub, unfortunately, is that the kinds of jobs older workers are now holding down may not be there once the “K-shaped recovery” is fully underway, Nazareth explains.

“Many will be caught in the sectors and occupations that find themselves in the downslide of the K, including occupations in the struggling hospitality sector, but also those in a wide swath of manufacturing and services. Automation and a competitive global economy were already taking things in that direction but picking up the pieces after the pandemic will only make things worse and increase the potential for a spate of very-much involuntary unemployment,” she warns.

She concludes the article by hoping that a full economic recovery will lead to new types of jobs to aid the older workers in their job search.

In the U.S., reports Forbes magazine, it’s a similar situation.

The unemployment rate among workers 65 and older was an alarming 10.8 per cent, the article reports. Worse, it’s lower-income workers who are most affected, the article explains.

Writer Christian Weller concludes that there are basically two camps in the U.S. “Some could glide towards a comfortable retirement after working at good wages and saving enough during the preceding years. Others were left to fend for themselves as jobs became scarce and health risks became widespread since they had too little in wealth to weather the multitude of emergencies and start retiring earlier than planned. The pandemic starkly illustrates the massive retirement gulf that epitomizes the U.S.’s aging society.”

So let’s sift through this. Basically both authors are saying that older citizens with a pension or retirement savings to fall back on are doing better than those without, and that finding and keeping a job when you’re older may not be a slam dunk.

What can we do about it if we aren’t older? Saving for retirement seems a good way to cushion your future self against shifts in the job market. If you are fortunate enough to have a pension at work, be sure you are maximizing your contributions to it. If not, you’ll need to be self-reliant, and build your own retirement nest egg. A good place to start the savings journey could be the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, celebrating its 35th year in 2021. 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.


Oct 19: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

October 19, 2020

Watch out for these 20 mistakes retirement savers are making

The journey between the here and now of work, and the imaginary future wonderworld of retirement, is a peculiar one. We all imagine the destination differently and no one’s super clear on the route!

The folks over at MSN have a great little post about 20 pitfalls we need to avoid on the retirement journey.

The first, and probably most obvious pitfall, is “not having enough savings.” The blog post notes that “32 per cent of Canadians approaching retirement don’t have any savings,” citing BNN Bloomberg research. “Middle-aged and older Canadians should start saving as early as possible,” the post warns.

If you’re already a saver, are you aware of the fees you are paying on your investments? “High fees can eat up huge amounts of your savings over time if you’re not careful,” the post states.

Many of us who lack savings say hey, no problem, I’ll just keep working, even past age 65. The post points out that (according to Statistics Canada), “30 per cent of individuals who took an early retirement in 2002 did so because of their health.” In other words, working later may not be the option you think it is.

Are you assuming the kids won’t need any help once you hit your gold watch era? Beware, the blog says, noting that RBC research has found “almost half of parents with children aged 30-35 are still financially subsidizing their kids in some way.”

Another issue for Canucks is taking their federal government benefits too early. You don’t have to take CPP and OAS until age 70, the blog says – and you get substantially more income per month if you wait.

Some savers don’t invest, the blog says. “While it may seem risky to rely on the stock market, the real risk is that inflation will eat up your savings over time, while investments tend to increase in value over long periods of time,” the MSN bloggers tell us.

Raiding the RRSP cookie jar before you retire is also a no-no, the blog reports – the tax hit is heavy and you lose the room forever. Conversely, there are also penalties for RRIF owners if they fail to take enough money out, the blog says.

Other tips – expect healthcare costs of $5,391 per person in retirement each year, avoid retiring with a mortgage (we know about this one), be aware of the equity risks of a reverse mortgage, and don’t count on your house to fully fund your retirement.

The takeaway from all of this sounds very straightforward, but of course requires a lot of self-discipline to achieve – you need to save as much as you can while eliminating debt, all prior to retirement. And you have to maximize your income from all sources. That’s how our parents and grandparents did it – once there was no mortgage or debt they put down the shovel and enjoyed the rest of their time.

If you have a workplace pension, congratulations – you are in the minority, and you should do what you can to stay in that job to receive that future pension. If you don’t have a pension at work, the onus for retirement savings is on you. If you’re not sure about investments and fees, you could turn to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan for help. They have been growing peoples’ savings since the mid-1980s, all for a very low investment fee, and they can turn those savings into lifetime income when work ends and the joy of retirement begins.

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.