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Pandemic workplace stress now leading to The Great Resignation, and mass retirements?

September 15, 2022

There have been reports from around the world about The Great Resignation – how the stress and strain of working through the pandemic crisis has prompted many to opt out of the workforce altogether.

In Canada, reports The Globe and Mail, the primary way that Canucks are leaving the workforce is via retirement.

“Last week’s July employment report from Statistics Canada revealed that a record 300,000 Canadians have retired over the past 12 months,” writes columnist David Parkinson. “That’s up nearly 30 per cent from the same time last year, and nearly 15 per cent from the months leading up to the pandemic in early 2020,” he continues.

One might think that older workers leaving the workforce – boomers and near-boomers finally giving back their ID badge and parking pass – might be good news for younger workers.

However, the Globe continues, there may also be a downside to this “retirement frenzy.” The article quotes economist Stephen Brown as saying “the sharp increase in retirees this year presents downside risks to our forecasts for employment, and with gross domestic product (GDP) growth already faltering, further raises the probability that economic activity will contract.”

The article links today’s record-low unemployment rate with a less-good stat, a falling job participation rate. In plainer terms, less joblessness, yes, but overall, less people working. “All this poses downside risks for GDP, particularly if retirements increase any further,” notes Brown in the article.

A clearer example of The Great Resignation’s impacts can be gleaned from an article in Manitoba’s Thompson Citizen. In Northern Manitoba, the article reports, recruitment bonuses of up to $6,750 – bonuses that continue on after hire – are being offered to try and get nursing positions filled in remote First Nations’ facilities. A lack of healthcare staffing has sparked a crisis in the area, the newspaper reports.

In Northern Ontario, the CBC reports, the mining and supply industry is also seeing “a shrinking and aging labour force,” and a “scramble” to fill open jobs.

“You’re going to see businesses closing because they can’t find enough people. And then it could also be putting more pressure on the people that are currently working,” Reggie Calverson of the Sudbury Manitoulin Workforce Planning Board tells the CBC.

There, technology is being deployed to automate some jobs – more AI, more robots, self-checkouts and virtual customer service, the CBC report notes.

And the younger workers left behind as their older colleagues “resign” or retire are indeed finding it a strain to pick up the slack, reports Time magazine via Yahoo!.

Many, the magazine reports, are “quiet quitting,” which is “the concept of no longer going above and beyond, and instead doing what their job description requires of them and only that.”

Employers in the U.S. and elsewhere fear that while “quiet quitters” will avoid job burnout by leaving at quitting time and not dealing with after-hours emails and meetings, overall productivity could be impacted at a time when there are fewer workers in the job pool.

How to incent workers who feel “unengaged?” A Globe and Mail piece by Jared Lindzon suggests more bonus pay, such as commissions, or even retirement-related incentives.

Many employers are considering offering matching contributions to their company’s retirement program, or setting up new programs, the article says.

It’s interesting to read that for some experts, a wave of retirements is negative for the economy. Canadian research from a few years ago suggests that retired workers do give the economy a boost via their pensions, which they tend to spend on goods and services and taxes.

A study last year carried out for the Canadian Public Pension Plan Leadership Council (CPPLC) by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis found that “every $10 of pension payments generates $16.70 of economic activity and makes a total contribution of $82 billion to Canada’s economy annually,” reports Benefits Canada.

OK, a lot going on here. People are retiring in droves, particularly those aged 55 to 65. It’s harder to fill jobs. Those in jobs are feeling overburdened, perhaps thanks to the fact that older colleagues have left and have not been replaced. While some fear this Great Resignation will negatively impact the economy, others who feel retirees are already helping out the economy may see this as more good news.

So let’s look at retirement savings in a new way. What can you, as an individual, do to help the Canadian economy in the future? Why, you can save for retirement and then, when you are there, spend your income on goods and services, while paying your taxes. That helps your local economy and your local and federal governments.

If you are in a workplace pension plan, you are on the right path. But if not – or you want to augment the plan you have – consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Consider joining the 400 businesses offering SPP and its 32,000 members whose retirement savings now represent an impressive $600 million.

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 29: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 29, 2022

Inflation “stoking fears” about retirement among Brits: study

The decades-high level of inflation is driving a wave of “retirement anxiety” in the United Kingdom, a new study has found.

The study is covered in an article in The Independent, posted on the Yahoo! site.  

The study, carried out for arbdn, an asset manager, found that “54 per cent of over 40s already feel anxious about retirement,” and that those aged 40-44 are even more worried about retirement, with 61 per cent experiencing anxiety.

What are they worried about?

The article cites general worries about “rising bills, inflation, and not having enough in their pension pots.” Other concerns about retirement included “being labelled ‘old’ or losing their identity when they stop working.”

“Retirement anxiety is an emotion of concern or worry, experienced by people yet to retire, about the prospect of retirement,” psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos tells The Independent. “This could be a concern about how they will fill their time, financial worries or perhaps feeling a loss of identity.”

The article suggests that inflation – which is higher than in Canada, having crashed through the 10 per cent barrier there – is driving the wave of anxiety.

Next, the article offers up some things that folks in their 40s can do now to help address the new problem of retirement anxiety.

First, The Independent reports, is the need to plan.

“No matter how many years or decades you are from retiring, it’s never too soon to start planning,” the article suggests. In the story, Dr. Papadopoulos suggests people start thinking about the financial health the way they think about their physical health.

“It’s interesting that when it comes to our finances, we don’t take many steps to help protect our future self,” she states in the article. “I’d encourage people to think about their new beginning (in retirement). What do they want to learn, what might they have not focused on due to work that they could now focus on?”

Other steps the article suggests are seeking the help of a professional financial adviser, and also to “focus on the positives” of retirement.

“Often people are afraid about getting old, feeling lonely and struggling to make ends meet, but there are so many positives to retirement too,” states psychotherapist Lindsay George in the article.

“You will have more time to explore new hobbies, try new things and reconnect with old friends. Rather than seeing retirement as cutting off your possibilities, you could look at it as an opportunity for you to make more new opportunities in your life,” she tells The Independent.

The article concludes by suggesting that continuing to work past usual retirement age – or working part time – is a way to address fears about having enough money. Another important step is to talk about your retirement fears, either with friends or family or a mental health professional, to help address any “irrational thinking” your anxiety may have created.

It goes without saying that the financial side of retirement needs to be addressed. If you are among the minority of Canadians with a workplace pension plan, you are ahead of the game on the retirement income front. If you don’t have a plan, and are facing the prospect of saving and investing on your own for retirement, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP will help you grow your savings through low-cost professional investing, and at retirement, you’ll have the option of receiving one of several lifetime annuity options. 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 22: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

August 22, 2022

U.S. study links health, happiness to sound financial planning

We’ve often heard how things like rising interest rates and market volatility “keep us up at night.”

But, reports Gabrielle Olya, writing for GoBankingRates via Yahoo!, a new study out of the U.S. suggests that there’s actually a link between having a good financial plan and happiness – as well as being able to sleep at night.

The Northwestern Mutual 2022 Planning & Progress Study found that “people with financial plans and those who work with financial advisors are happier and sleep better than those who don’t plan or work with advisors,” she writes.

The numbers she reports on from the study are indeed eye-openers.

“Eighty-seven per cent of Americans surveyed who work with financial advisors reported that they are very or somewhat happy, as did 84 per cent of those who considered themselves disciplined planners,” the article notes. Those numbers drop to 72 per cent for those without financial planners and to 68 per for those who aren’t following a plan.

And then there’s the whole sleep thing.

“Eighty-one per cent of Americans who work with financial advisors said they sleep well or very well, and 76 per cent of disciplined planners said the same. Among people who don’t work with financial advisors, 65 per cent said they sleep well or very well, and that percentage dropped to 62 per cent for informal planners and non-planners,” Olya writes.

“As we dug into the results, we saw that people who have an advisor or identify as a disciplined planner reported being happier and sleeping better. This signalled to us that there is a clear link between financial wellness and overall wellness,” states Northwestern’s Christian Mitchell in the article.

He further states that having a plan and/or working with an advisor “eliminates a lot of the uncertainty surrounding your finances and allows you to feel more confident about your complete financial picture. This clarity can help create peace of mind and even lead to increased happiness and better sleep.”

The article concludes by outlining some steps those of us who aren’t using an advisor, or following a plan, can take – “setting a budget, reducing spending or paying down debt.” As well, focusing on long-term goals – “such as buying a house or saving for retirement” can be a positive step.

Perhaps we can take away from this article – thinking chiefly of retirement savings – that those of us who have either a plan or a strategy for handling this long-term goal may feel happier/healthier than those who don’t have a plan.

As we’ve seen, the majority of Canadians don’t have any sort of workplace pension or retirement arrangement. That means the responsibility for retirement savings falls squarely on their own shoulders. If you want someone to help carry the ball for you, consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Through SPP’s open, voluntary defined contribution model, you contribute the savings, and SPP takes on the tricky part – investing your money, growing it, and getting ready to turn it into future retirement income. Leave the heavy lifting and stress to SPP; get them working on your retirement strategy!

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 for tricky ways to boost your retirement savings

June 30, 2022

We’re living through some very weird times. First we get a pandemic that keeps many of us from working for an extended period of time, and the rest of us with nothing to spend our money on. Now we’re facing crazy inflation that is making even routine purchases very expensive.

Are there any tricky ways to put away a few bucks for retirement out there? Save with SPP decided to seek out a few new tricks – ideally ones we haven’t covered off before.

A GoBankingRates article posted on Yahoo! offers up 42 savings tricks.

One is to watch the fees in your retirement savings accounts, the article suggests. Here in Canada, this would be in registered retirement savings plans – RRSPs – or Tax-Free Savings Accounts, TFSAs. Do you have mutual funds that charge a high fee, say two per cent or even more? Maybe you can switch to a lower-fee exchange traded fund (ETF). Other ideas include renting out a spare room or an unused garage for extra savings cash, “shopping around” for the best possible insurance rate, and the idea of “putting every tax refund into savings.”

“It’s tempting to use the extra money from your tax refund on a new toy or vacation,” the article states. “But these spurts of cash provide the perfect opportunities to give your retirement savings a big boost.”

The My Money Coach blog has some great ideas, including freeing up money for savings by paying attention to your pre-retirement cash flow.

“A very important key to saving for retirement in Canada – that many have lost sight of – is to earn more than you spend,” the blog explains.

If you are following a budget and still have little room for savings, the blog continues, “the next thing to do is to up your income. You can ask for a raise at work, or you can apply for a job that offers a higher pay and better benefits. You can also pick up extra shifts or take on a second job during the weekends or evenings, if your schedule allows it.”

Other ideas to boost cash flow (and create more savings) are “a side business or freelancing,” the blog notes. “Capitalize on one of your passions and see where it takes you.”

From the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) site comes a little bit of savings psychology advice.  “Try this little trick to motivate yourself,” the site suggests. Simply change the name of your savings solution. Seeing “My world trip,” “Better living” or “Playa del Carmen 2030” every time you log into… e-banking or (a) mobile banking app will remind you of your big dream, and give your motivation a boost,” states Daniel Bregenzer of UBS.

Other tips from UBS include making it “harder” to access your savings account so the temptation to spend it is lessened, “like keeping a box of chocolates out of sight,” and making savings an automatic habit.

Save with SPP can add a couple more.  First, if you get a cash gift card – say it’s issued as a rebate on a purchase of tires, or contact lenses, or whatever – did you know that you can use that gift card to make contributions to your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account? SPP allows you to make credit card contributions, and we have used gift cards quite a few times over the years. Here’s the page where credit card contributions can be made.

And, if you have a cashback card, what better place for the cash than your retirement savings plan – just set up SPP as a bill payment on your bank website or app, and when the cash is deposited, contribute it.

Whatever way you can wring a few extra bucks out of your living costs will work, and your future self will greatly enjoy the work your current self has put in!

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.


JUN 6: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

June 6, 2022

Taking a look at common barriers to retirement

Writing for the GoBankingRates blog via Yahoo! Casey Bond provides a rundown of the barriers that get in the way of our retirement plans.

Although Bond is writing for a U.S. audience, many of the topics raised are equally relevant here in Canada.

Bond begins by citing TransAmerica Centre for Retirement Studies research that found half of American workers agreed that “I don’t have enough income to save for retirement,” and 57 per cent said they planned to continue to work after hitting retirement age. A whopping 80 per cent of that group cited “financial reasons” as the reason why they won’t be leaving work.

Bond’s article cites these key barriers to being able to retire.

High debt: While having some debt in retirement can be coped with, high levels of debt are a problem, the article notes. High levels, the article explains, are mortgage costs exceeding 28 per cent of your “pre-tax household income,” and total debt of more than “36 per cent of your pre-tax income.” Certified financial planner Melissa Hannum is quoted in the article as saying “if you are already struggling to keep your debt below these percentages, then you are not ready to retire.”

Spending more than you earn: Hannum states that if “you are spending more than you’re earning, you are not on track to retire.” She tells GoBankingRates that those of us still working have a chance to pay down debt via a pay raise or a bonus – you don’t get either once you are retired.

Little to no emergency funds: You should, the article notes, “have at least one full year’s worth of expenses saved in a liquid and conservative form of investment.” They suggest a money market fund, guaranteed investment certificates (known as certificates of deposit in the U.S.) or a high-interest savings account.

You haven’t reviewed your retirement savings portfolio: If funds earmarked for retirement savings, in a registered retirement savings plan, tax free savings account or other account are in a portfolio you haven’t been keeping an eye on, that may impede your retirement.

“Taking on excess risk as you near retirement can be extremely hazardous and your portfolio could take a major hit just as you’re ready to call it quits,” Hannum states. Your investment focus should be changing towards “wealth preservation” rather than growth as you near retirement, Hannum states.

Social plan: Are you, the article asks, mentally prepared for retirement? “If your social circle is strictly co-workers and Facebook friends, you may not be ready to retire,” Hannum states in the piece.

Summing it up – you need to pay your future self first via dedicating a portion of your current income towards retirement savings. You need to try to get rid of debt before you retire (it will be harder to pay it off after). Become someone who spends less than they earn, build a one-year emergency fund, and have an idea of what you’ll do with all your newfound time. It’s a great take on the subject by the GoBankingRate folks.

If you are among the fortunate few with a workplace savings plan, be sure you are taking part to the fullest. If you don’t have a plan, and aren’t so sure about investing and the tricky “turning savings into income” stage, any Canadian has another option – the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP will invest your savings professionally and at a low cost in a pooled fund, and when it’s time to punch out for the final time, you’ll be able to choose from several options, including a lifetime monthly pension via an SPP annuity. You can transfer any bits and pieces from past pension plans into SPP to collect a unified amount from a single source! Check them out!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

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


Lifestyle resolutions for 2022

January 20, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

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


Savings resolutions for 2022

January 13, 2022

The start of a new year often has us thinking of things we “resolve” to do – changes we want to make – in 2022.

Save with SPP had a look around the “information highway” to see what people are resolving to do on the all-important savings front.

From The Guardian , ideas include getting debt-free, starting a rainy day fund, and to “have a goal” for savings. The newspaper notes that debt is a real barrier to savings.

“There is no point trying to save if you are burdened by costly debts,” The Guardian reports. While savings accounts in the U.K. pay only about 0.2 per cent interest, the article continues, credit card, store card or overdraft debts may be “in excess of 20 per cent.”

Writing for the GoBankingRates blog via Yahoo!, John Csiszar suggests resolutions should include “bumping up your retirement plan contributions by one per cent,” reviewing your spending from 2021, and that you “don’t buy anything until you get rid of something else.”

Increasing your contributions to a retirement account (here in Canada, this might refer to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), or your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account) by one per cent is, Csiszar writes, an achievable goal. If you earn $50,000 a year, and are contributing five per cent to a retirement plan, he writes, bumping that up by one per cent will boost your retirement savings by $41.67 per month.

Back in the U.K., The Express recommends dropping costly habits, “start counting the pennies” (or nickels here in Canada), and following the 50/30/20 rule.

“Allocate 50 per cent for essentials, such as rent, mortgage and bills, 30 per cent for `wants’ such as hobbies, shopping or subscriptions, and 20 per cent for paying off debt or building up savings,” the article suggests.

Finally, MSN Money adds a few more – review your retirement plan contributions (to ensure you are contributing as much as you can), contribute to both “traditional” retirement savings accounts (here in Canada, an RRSP or SPP) as well as tax-free savings vehicles (for Canadians, the Tax-Free Savings Account) and increase any automatic savings you have going.

These are all great strategies. Another one to add is to live within your means. Don’t spend even a nickel more than you earn, because that overspending can snowball on you. Pay the bills, then pay yourself (and your future self), and spend what’s left over. As the bills go down, you’ll have more to save.

And the SPP allows you to make contributions the easy way – automatically. You can set up a pre-authorized payment plan with SPP and have your contributions withdrawn painlessly every payday. It’s easier to spread your contributions out throughout the year in bite-sized pieces than to try and come up with one big payment at the deadline. And the good folks at SPP will invest your contributions steadily and professionally, turning them into future retirement income. It’s win win!

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.