USA Today

Feb 22: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

February 22, 2021

Canadians cutting back on retirement saving due to the pandemic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Martin Biefer

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


Here’s what you shouldn’t do once retirement arrives

March 26, 2020

We spend much time seeking out great value-adding, life-enhancing things one can do in retirement. But here’s a worried thought – what shouldn’t we be doing in our life after work?

Save with SPP had a look around with a different theme, this time – what not to do!

The USA Today newspaper lists a number of things to not do in your crucial first year of retirement.

A key mistake, the newspaper notes, is “not having a financial or life plan.” David Laster, a U.S. financial author, is quoted in the article as saying “only 42 per cent of workers try to calculate a budget before going into retirement. If you don’t do that, that leaves you vulnerable to some unpleasant surprises in retirement. And it can be painful.”

Other things to watch out for in year one, USA Today adds, are overspending, claiming government benefits too early (you get more the longer you wait) and being too conservative with investments.

At the Yahoo! Finance site, author Gabrielle Olya adds a couple more – ignoring inflation, and not seeking the advice of a financial planner.

“Although the inflation rate seems minimal, it still affects how far your dollar will go,” she writes. “This is especially true for money held in fixed savings accounts, which unlike money in certain investments, will lose value over time.”

Going it alone on finances, she warns, may mean you are “losing out on how to improve (your) financial readiness.”

The Gilbert Guide blog adds a few more, including having too many cars, moving at the wrong time, and getting “sold or scammed on services you don’t need.”

Try to avoid having multiple vehicles, the blog suggests. One will do for most retired couples.

Moving is a very important consideration as well, the blog notes. According to retirement specialist Bill Losey, who is quoted in the article, “many people relocate based on a couple of specific factors, such as low real estate costs or low taxes, then discover that other costs more than eat up their savings.”

Losey goes on to say in the article that if you make an expensive move – then change your mind and move back where you started from – the move is even more costly. Before choosing a retirement move, the blog advises, consider “hidden costs” such as property taxes, sales taxes, grocery costs, and other basics. Staying put may make more sense, the blog advises.

Save with SPP has noted a few other things. If you consider your retirement to be an unending vacation of travel, meals out, expensive hobbies and doing new things, you may run out of money before you run out of ideas. It is perhaps better to think of retirement as being a permanent weekend – you won’t be going into work, sure, but you won’t be jetting to the south of France either. You’ll be shovelling the driveway and trying to get the wretched filters to stay in the range hood after you’ve cleaned them. It’s important to be practical, and enjoy life within your means.

A nice feature for folks who save for retirement via the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is the fact that it offers life annuities when you retire. With an annuity, you get a pre-set payment every month for the rest of your life. You can never run out of money, and SPP allows you to provide for a surviving spouse or beneficiary as well, so you can pay that security forward. Check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock. He and his wife live with their Shelties, Duncan and Phoebe, and cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22