Yahoo! Finance


December 25, 2023

13 ways to save – even if you’re on a tight budget

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives – hopefully not right now, in yours – where the money coming in barely covers (or barely doesn’t) the bills you need to pay.

For folks in that situation, the idea of saving money, even for retirement, may seem an impossibility.

But, writes Matthew Goldberg for Yahoo! Finance, there are still some ways to squeeze some savings dollars, even if you are operating on a super-tight budget.

He says making small changes can help free up money, even in these times of high inflation.

“Turn lights off when you’re not using them,” he advises. (Our late Dad used to amble around the house turning off lights, even if we were using them.)

Other advice includes “cutting the cord on cable, and opting for cheaper streaming services.” Goldberg writes that you can sometimes share streaming services with other folks to cut costs even more.

His next advice, a key piece, is “withholding from impulse purchases. One way to do this is by writing down wants and waiting a week or so before buying them, so you can see if you still want them.” We’ll add that when buying online, read reviews from people who have purchased the product – often that will help you decide if it’s really what you want, or not.

Another idea is to make a simple budget – the “50/30/20 rule,” in which half your money goes to essential expenses, 30 per cent “to things you want” and the rest – 20 per cent – to savings, the article notes.

Goldberg recommends automating your saving.

“It’s easy to forget to save. That’s why automating the process is the best way to save money,” he advises. He suggests having a portion of every paycheque automatically directed to a high-interest savings account.

This “pay yourself first” approach works great, because after a while you won’t notice the fact that a regular savings contribution is being made, and will live on the rest of your pay.

He also suggests looking for chequing accounts that also pay interest – many don’t, but if you look around, there are Canadian financial institutions that do pay interest on your chequing account.

If you are paid every two weeks, there “are two months of the year where you’ll receive a third paycheque in a month.” Treat this “extra” money, Goldberg writes, as a way to quickly pay down some of your higher-interest debt, or to start (or add to) an emergency fund.

Other advice in this article – shop around for the best rates on auto and homeowner’s insurance “every few years,” consider moving to a smaller place or more rural area to save on housing costs/rent, and to “set up automatic contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement plan.” This is a U.S.-focused article, but here in Canada, that might mean a workplace pension plan or group registered retirement savings plan – be sure you are contributing to it at the maximum possible rate, because often there is an employer match on your contributions.

He concludes by suggesting that we all eat more meals at home (rather than at restaurants) and look for the best possible deals on vacations.

This is all good advice. Making savings a priority, rather than an easy-to-forget afterthought, is key to this process.

If you’re a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, you can arrange to make pre-authorized contributions directly from your bank account to the plan. It’s easy to set up.

Great news for SPP members – our Variable Benefit option is now borderless, and available to all Canadian members! See how this flexible retirement option can let you withdraw the amount you want, when you need it.

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.


December 18, 2023

Retirement saving should be a priority for women, U.S. study says

Writing for Yahoo! Finance, Emily Oster reports that despite the fact that women generally live longer than men, they don’t tend to put a priority on retirement saving.

“Women generally live longer than men. This means women need to prepare for their financial future and conserve their savings for a longer amount of time. And yet, there is a 30 per cent gender gap in retirement savings—meaning for every dollar saved by men, women save 70 cents,” she writes.

The article says that means that women are starting the retirement savings race in second place, but things are worse for moms.

Citing new research from TIAA in the U.S., Oster notes that “while there are many drivers behind the gender retirement gap, ranging from women receiving lower earnings than men to differences in expectations about payment for childcare, there are easy and accessible ways to get the retirement income you deserve.”

While more than half of women focus on childcare costs, just 33 per cent see retirement saving as a priority, the article reports.

For moms, there is a double whammy, Oster writes.

“Leaving the workforce when children are young does not only result in a loss of income, it also means a loss of retirement savings and potentially lowers earning potential later, even if you do eventually return to the workforce. That doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t the right choice for your family, but if the decision is purely financial, there is more to factor than just immediate income loss,” she explains.

We can add another consequence – you may not be able to afford to contribute to a retirement savings program while you are off work on a parental leave, earning less.

Oster uses this example to illustrate the impact of time away from paid employment:

“Consider a 30-year-old making $60,000 a year who manages to save just three per cent of their income, or $1,800 a year. Taking two years off of work at this stage results in over $38,000 less in retirement savings by age 65 when compounded with seven per cent interest. If that same person took five years off of work, the difference in savings would be nearly $100,000,” she explains.

There’s another problem for American women, Oster writes, and that’s the fact that many of them are not saving much for retirement.

“Only 26 per cent of women are saving for retirement and are comfortable with the amount they are saving; 47 per cent have no retirement savings at all; and the remaining 27 per cent are saving but not to the level that they want,” the article reports.

Oster cites the power of compound investment growth as a reason to start saving early in life, even if you start small.

“It’s important to specify what women with no retirement savings at all could be missing out on. If someone who is currently 30 years old put just $20 a month into a retirement savings account at seven per cent interest, they would have approximately $34,000 in savings by age 65. This $20 a month is the equivalent of five lattes or one streaming service subscription,” she writes.

Oster concludes by noting that it is never to late to start saving for retirement, urging readers to track earnings and spending in order to free up money for saving, and to open a retirement savings account now, and start small, ramping up when possible.

Did you know that one of the founding purposes of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan was to provide a way for folks who didn’t have pension plans at work, or who didn’t work, to save for retirement? SPP still delivers on that purpose.

If you don’t have a plan through work, and are relying on yourself to save for retirement, why not enlist the expertise of SPP? This do it yourself pension plan will invest your hard-saved dollars in a low-cost, professionally managed pooled fund. When it’s time to collect income, SPP’s options include the Variable Benefit (now available to all Canadians) or the possibility of a lifetime annuity.

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.


October 16, 2023

Three tips to help lower-income Canucks save for retirement

Let’s face it. For those of us who are earning a modest income, just making ends meet is a challenge — and putting the notion of saving for retirement on top of that seems, well, unlikely.

But it’s possible, writes Amy Legate-Wolfe of The Motley Fool Canada in an article that appears on Yahoo! Finance.

She opens her article by defining a “low income” as one that “falls below 50 per cent of the median after-tax income of Canada,” which works out to $34,200 annually.

“This amount certainly makes it hard to save for retirement if you’re just trying to get by, but it can be done,” she writes.

First, she notes, you have to start, even if you start small.

“The worst thing Canadians can do is put off saving because they fear they don’t have enough. While investing takes research, saving does not. So, a great starting point is to just start,” she encourages.

A good target for low-income savers is one per cent, she writes. “From there, consider making a one per cent increase in that amount every quarter, every six months, or whenever you get an increase in pay,” she continues.

“Even just that small amount could create savings of $4,104 in the first year! That makes you all that much closer to your retirement goals,” notes Legate-Wolfe.

Next, she advocates for safe investing when you are earning a modest income.

“If you’re putting savings aside on a low income, a large portion should be kept safe for as long as possible. In this case, consider investing in 10-year Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC) from banks. These fixed interest rates will add on that interest each year! For example, most banks offer a 10-year GIC, which can be around four per cent especially if you put it in a non-cashable GIC. This means you cannot take it out before that 10-year mark, however,” she writes.

After starting to divert one per cent of earnings to savings, and putting most of it into GICs, Legate-Wolfe’s final piece of advice is to consider investing a smaller portion of your overall savings in blue-chip, dividend-paying stocks. She suggests that stocks like the Bank of Montreal (BMO) in an example of a company “that provide(s) passive income through dividends on a regular basis.” The dividend income “increases your savings… (but) you can also use that cash flow to reinvest in other stocks, or your GIC.”

So, summing up the tips from this article — don’t put off starting to save for retirement, even if you have to start small. Consider safe investments like GICs first before wading into stocks. If you do consider stocks, look for dividend payers with a reliable track record.

Another route you can take is joining the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. You can start contributing at any level, and can increase your contributions as your circumstances improve. SPP’s experts will invest your savings for you in a low-cost, pooled fund, relieving you of the costs and stress of picking your own investments. And when it comes time to cash those savings into retirement income, SPP is there to help with many options, including the chance to receive a lifetime monthly annuity payment.

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.

In retirement, is it better to own or rent?

October 12, 2023

We run into lots of fellow seniors as we line dance our way around town, and we’re always running into discussions about whether — as retirees — we should ditch the family home and rent, or hang on.

Save with SPP decided to see what others have to say on this topic, which seems to become more and more important with each passing birthday.

The folks at MoneySense took a look at this topic a few years ago, and had some interesting thoughts.

“Those who criticize renting over home ownership often ignore some costs of owning a home. Beyond a mortgage payment and property tax, home insurance is higher when owning versus renting. Condo fees may also apply. There are maintenance costs, repairs and renovations. If mortgage rates rise to more normal levels, you can expect your mortgage payment to be higher in the future. Home ownership has costs as well as benefits,” the article tells us.

An article in The Globe and Mail looks at the issue a little differently.

Noting that two-thirds of Canadians own their own homes, the article asks if home ownership still makes financial sense for the older folks among us.

“With many older Canadians approaching retirement with little savings – and some even carrying significant debt – selling the family home and renting may mean the difference between just getting by and living a life free from financial worry,” the article suggests.

The article quotes Scott Plaskett of Ironshield Financial Planning as saying those of us with homes “can be equity-rich and cash-poor: you are worth $5 million on paper, but you can’t pay for dinner because you have no liquidity.”

Selling the house and then renting fixes the liquidity problem, the article contends.

There are pros and cons to renting, writes Jean-François Venne for Sun Life.

He quotes real estate broker Marie-Hélène Ouellette as saying “you first have to consider the pros and cons of being an owner versus a renter. The biggest difference between the options is in the level of responsibility and freedom.”

“You obviously have more freedom when renting since you can leave when your lease is up. And you have fewer responsibilities because the owner takes care of the maintenance. But renters can also have less control than owners over things like decorating, repairs and even pets. And if you’ve been a homeowner for a long time, losing control and choice isn’t always easy to handle,” she states in the article.

The article makes the point that while owning a home usually means its value increases over time, “values do sometimes drop. And as a retiree, you won’t have a lot of time to make up for a decline in value.”

As well, your money can be tied up for a while when you sell or purchase a property, the article adds.

In the article, financial planner Josée Jeffrey says that it can be an unpleasant surprise, for those who have paid off their mortgage, to have to pay rent again. And, she adds, while you no longer are paying property taxes, they may be built into your rent, which usually goes up every year.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Owning means a long commitment to paying a mortgage, as well as property taxes, maintenance, but also your heat, light, and water bill. If there’s a driveway or a lawn it’s on you to clear away the snow and weed-whack the lawn. “Maintenance” involves fixing things that break, like toilets or garage doors or ovens and fridges.

Renting liberates you from many of these responsibilities. But rent can go up — and go up quite a bit if, for instance, the place you’re renting changes ownership. Not all landlords are quick to fix things that break (some are, and bless them), and it’s true — if you are used to owning prior to renting, you’ll have an inescapable urge to bang a few nails into the wall and hang up some artwork, which is typically frowned upon.

So this is a decision you will have to think long and carefully about, concludes an article in Yahoo! Finance.

“Don’t discount emotional issues when making this important decision,” the article advises. “Do you love the idea of owning your own place and fixing it up the way you want? Or will it be a big relief after years of ownership not to worry about the lawn or a broken sump pump?”

The article concludes by stating “while your decision needs to be financially sound, make the decision that makes the most sense for you. Not being a homeowner can be freeing, scary or both. Your home, its location and amenities should fit the life you lead now.”

If you are renting or paying for a mortgage, be sure to still put something away for retirement. A little extra money when you’re older will help with things like future property tax or rental increases. A wonderful retirement savings program open to all Canadians with registered retirement savings plan room is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. A not-for-profit, open, voluntary defined contribution plan, SPP has investment experts who will invest your retirement savings in a low-cost, pooled fund. When you’re over the walls and away from work, SPP can help you convert those savings into income — including the possibility of a lifetime monthly annuity payment. 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.


October 9, 2023

Many people have “blind spots” when it comes to retirement and risks: Center for Retirement Research

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of work, and are ready for that pot of gold at the end of our working rainbow, retirement.

But are you aware that you now face a new array of risks?

Reporting for Yahoo! Finance, writer Susannah Snider cites a recent analysis from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College that found “a disconnect between how retirees rank risks and their objective exposure to those dangers.” In fact, she writes, many retirees have “blind spots in relation to actual retirement risks.”

Blind spots? Like what?

Well, the article tells us, first up is longevity risk, or “the risk of living longer than anticipated and outlasting savings.”

Next, the article continues, is market risk, “the risks associated with market volatility… (and risk) related to real estate.”

Third, there’s health risk, defined as “the risk associated with medical expenses and long-term care needs.”

Rounding out the list are family risk, “the risk associated with divorce, supporting adult children and other familial challenges,” and policy risk, which the article (intended for a U.S. audience) describes as being unexpected changes in government programs for retirees.

When the folks at the Center crunched the numbers to quantify these risks, they found longevity topped the list.

“It is not surprising that longevity risk tops the list, because it affects the planning horizon for the retirement period,” the article notes.

“In the analysis, a couple would be willing to give up 33 per cent of their initial wealth to avoid longevity risk. That’s compared to the 27 per cent for a single man. The second and third places are market risk and health risk, in that order. Family risk ranks fourth. Policy risk finishes last,” the article explains.

In an interesting twist, when the Center’s researchers looked at how retirees view risks, they got a much different picture. Most single men surveyed put market risk at the top of their lists, the article notes.

“An individual would be willing to give up 31 per cent of his initial wealth to avoid market risk. This “reflects retirees’ exaggerated assessments of market volatility,” the study says. Single men rank longevity risk second and health risk third,” the article concludes.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but it would seem that people are more worried about how their investments will perform in retirement than they are about outliving their savings.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers some help in managing these risks. You can help avoid market risk by letting SPP’s investment experts invest on your behalf, rather than taking a do-it-yourself approach. SPP has managed, over its more than 35 years of existence, a rate of return averaging an impressive eight per cent. While that track record is no guarantee of future performance, it is nonetheless important to consider.

As for outliving your savings, SPP allows its retirees to convert some or all of their retirement nest egg to an annuity. An annuity provides you with a guaranteed monthly income, for life. And the annuity payment does not change regardless of what the markets do. Check out how SPP can help build your retirement security!

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.


April 10, 2023

Aim for two-thirds of your retirement income to be guaranteed

There’s a new rule of thumb for retirement planners, reports Nicole Spector, writing for Yahoo! Finance.

While you would need a lot of hands to cover off all the various retirement rules of thumb out there, this one is refreshingly simple. It’s called the “two-thirds retirement plan.”

“With the two-thirds retirement plan, guaranteed retirement income (i.e., Social Security, pensions and annuities) is used to pay for two-thirds of living expenses during retirement. The additional third of living expenses is funded via non-fixed income (e.g., investments and retirement savings),” she writes.

Let’s Canadianize this. With this plan, your guaranteed income, such as money from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) or other government benefits — along with workplace pension income and any annuities you buy — is used to pay two-thirds of your retirement living expenses. The rest comes from other retirement savings, such as money from a registered retirement income fund (RRIF), your Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) or non-registered investments and savings.

The article encourages readers to “do the math” to see how this idea would work for them.

“Add up the total amount of guaranteed income you expect to receive in a month,” suggests financial coach Michael Ryan in the article. “Next, estimate your monthly living expenses, including everything from housing to food… (and) leisure activities. Multiply your total monthly expenses by two-thirds.”

This sort of estimate, the article explains, is relatively easy to do if you are already retired, but harder to estimate if your golden handshake is years or decades away.

“I tell every person I work with to pretend that tomorrow is their retirement day,” Robert Massa of Qualified Plan Advisors tells Yahoo! Finance.

“If they want to live just like they are living now, they need to pay themselves at least 80 per cent of their regular paycheque in order to maintain their standard of living,” he states.

“From there, they have a basis to work with and then they can start to ask themselves what else they want from retirement and add those costs in. Then you can project forward using inflation and come up with a monthly and annual income goal and work from there,” he adds.

If, after doing the math, you don’t think government benefits will cover off two-thirds of your retirement living expenses, you need to consider finding other sources of guaranteed retirement income, the article adds. This can be done, the article notes, through converting some of your retirement savings to a lifetime annuity when you retire.

The article concludes by recommending that everyone have a good financial plan in the present — this will make us more aware of how and where our income is being spent and what we will need in the future, when we retire. And while two-thirds is a target, the closer you can get to a plan where guaranteed income covers off all of your expenses, the better, the article concludes.

An additional benefit of guaranteed fixed income — you can never run out of it, as it is paid to you for as long as you live.

Having fixed retirement income is an option for any member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. When it comes time to convert your savings into income, SPP’s stable of annuities is among your options. You can convert some or all of your savings to an annuity, which will land in your bank account on the first of every month for the rest of your life. 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.


March 6, 2023

Tips and tricks for retirement savers facing scary markets, inflation

Writing for Yahoo! Finance, Ella Vincent notes that these times of up-and-down markets and rising inflation are worrisome for savers.

She offers a variety of tips and tricks, some of which we have “Canadianized” as she is aiming her advice at a U.S. audience.

First, she writes savers nearing retirement should be thinking more about risk than they do about chasing growth.

Ken Moraif of Retirement Planners of America tells Yahoo! Finance that “risk control is incredibly important in our view. We have a philosophy that says you should only take as much risk as is necessary to accomplish your financial goals. Risk control is the number one thing to determine how much risk is appropriate for you and proceed accordingly.”

Diversify your portfolio so you aren’t “all in” on any one investment category, the article advises.

Moraif tells Yahoo! Finance that you should also review your investment philosophy. A “buy and hold” strategy, where workers “buy and hold stocks until they retire,” may not be effective as you move into retirement, where the goal is preserving capital versus growing it.

Buy and holders need to develop a “sell” strategy, Moraif states in the article. Reducing equities is sometimes away to cushion yourself from stock downturns while conserving your principal, he explains.

Next, consider tapping into your retirement account later. Here in Canada, that could mean continuing to work until you are 70 before starting your Canada Pension Plan benefits, with the idea being you’ll receive a greater monthly benefit the later you start.

If you didn’t start saving for retirement while you were young, you can try to catch up in your 1950s by maximizing your contributions to retirement savings programs. Here north of the 49th that means things like filling up registered retirement savings plan room with an eye on maxing out. A Tax Free-Savings Account (TFSA) is also handy in retirement, so if you haven’t got one rolling by your 50s, you will have a lot of room there to use as well.

If you’re in a retirement program at work, be sure you are contributing to the max, the article adds.

Let’s sum this up. Don’t place your bets on one horse when it comes to financial markets; diversify to avoid risk. Your investment philosophy should be more about conserving capital than trying to grow it. Consider starting retirement benefits later so you get more — that usually means working longer too.

Don’t panic if you weren’t a saver in your 20s and 30s — there is still time in your 50s to try and max out your retirement savings vehicles like RRSPs and TFSAs. Be sure to join any retirement savings program through your work and contribute as much as you possibly can.

It’s a lot to take in.

There’s another way to go that’s open to any Canadian with RRSP room, and that’s the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. It’s a voluntary defined benefit pension plan where how much is contributed is defined by you, the member. You can chip in up to $7,200 a year, and can consolidate any other bits and pieces of retirement savings by transferring up to $10,000 a year in from other RRSPs. SPP will grow your savings and at retirement, you have the option of a lifetime annuity — a supply of monthly payments that never runs out! 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.


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.

Keeping inflation at bay and saving on “back to school” items

September 1, 2022

The leaves are starting to change colour, the nights are cooler, and our little kids and grandkids are queueing up for the school bus once again.

But this year, with a backdrop of the highest inflation rate in decades, what are parents and grandparents to do when it comes to saving on back to school items? Save with SPP scoured the Interweb for some savings ideas.

Inflation, reports the CBC via the MSN website is a bit of a double whammy. First, we spenders have less coins in the wallet. “I just don’t have as much money to go around,” single mom Monica Belyea tells the CBC. And second, prices for school items have gone up. Or, as the CBC notes, there can be “shrinkflation,” where the price of something, say pencils, has not actually gone up, but you are now getting fewer pencils.

Tips from the CBC article include “shopping at home” to see if you can round up many of the needed school items from last year’s purchasing, as well as “carefully comparing prices between stores, waiting to buy certain items when deals are more abundant, and using coupon-code apps when online shopping.”

Pat Hollett of the Barrie, Ont.-based Canadian Savings Group suggests starting simply. “Don’t don’t grab the first thing you see. Shop around and pay the lowest price you can for the same item,” she tells the CBC “Price match where you can … Try other brands, if they’re cheaper.”

Her top tip is to “employ multiple techniques at once,” and shop “using coupons, cash-back offers and points, and tapping points cards to reduce prices as much as possible,” the CBC reports.

Writing for the Nerd Wallet blog via Yahoo! Finance, Hannah Logan notes that 36 per cent of Canadians surveyed are expecting they’ll spend more on back to school items this year than they did in 2021.

Her article recommends price matching.

“Price matching is a service provided by some retailers and grocery stores. Essentially, it means the store will honour a competitor’s lower price on a product, as long as it meets the parameters of their price-matching policy,” she writes.

“Some retailers are so eager to win your business (and confident in their prices) that they’ll not only match a competitor’s price, but offer to beat it by a certain amount or percentage. This could add up to big savings, especially if you’re shopping for big ticket items or multiple students,” the article continues.

Other saving tips outlined in her article include the idea of “buy now, pay later,” using money-saving apps, looking to see if your province offers any assistance (in B.C., certain kids’ clothes and school supplies may be tax exempt), and using “the right” credit card that offers cash back or other rewards.

Global News adds a few more back to school tips. If, the article suggests, your kids’ clothes are large enough to at least last through September, buying clothes in October – when sales begin – will be much more reasonable.

If you need electronics for the kids – such as tablets or laptops – think about going the “used” or “refurbished” route, the article suggests.

“Stores… can provide refurbished electronics at a cheaper rate than buying new, and shopping around local buy-and-sell communities or even swap groups can find you the equipment you need on a budget,” the article suggests.

If you know a kid is going to need a new laptop for the coming school year, start saving up for it months ahead, the article advises.

And if you do manage to outfit the kids with all they need for school – and save a few bucks in the process – a good home for those savings is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP, your retirement savings are invested for the long term at a very low cost, growing into a future stream of retirement income. SPP is open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room – consider signing up 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.


July 11, 2022

Even if you have zero saved for retirement, these steps will get you started

One of the findings of a recent survey from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) was that “32 per cent of working Canadians said they have yet to save anything for retirement.”

South of the border, reports GoBankingRates via Yahoo! Finance, the situation is similar, with 23 per cent of Americans having saved nothing for retirement, and “25 per cent of Americans between 45 and 55 years old” not having even started saving.

Like dieting and going to the gym more often, saving for retirement is something we know is good for us but is easy to avoid doing. GoBankingRates offers a few ways to fire up your own personal retirement savings program.

The first step is to start budgeting, the article notes. “When payday comes around, it’s tempting to pay for immediate expenses, such as rent and groceries, and use the rest of that money for spending and splurging. Instead, you should consider budgeting,” the article urges. “By setting aside a little money every month towards retirement, you will be able to enjoy that money in the future,” states Jay Zigmont of Live, Learn Plan in the article.

Next, the article continues, is addressing your debt load.

“Debt is a frustrating thing to have, but the sooner you are able to eliminate it, the more money you will have for saving for retirement, investing and spending,” the article tells us. This is a very valid point. Next time you get your credit card bill, see how much interest you were charged on the balance over the last month. That amount could go to savings if you were able to pay off the card.

To target your debt, the article advises you to first be sure to make at least the minimum payment on all debts. They then advise that you put any extra money you can on the debt with the highest interest rate. Once that one’s gone, add what you were paying on high-interest debt 1 to high-interest debt 2, and repeat until you are debtless.

A third idea in the article is goal-setting for savings.

“Make sure you know why you are saving,” Zigmont states in the article. “What do you want your retirement to look like? What are you willing to give up to get there? What is the dollar number you need to hit to retire? When do you want to do it by?”

If you want, for example, to have $20,000 in savings for 20 years of retirement, a target might be $400,000. For simplicity, we are not talking about interest rates and investment returns in this example, but both can help you get there.

Other ideas from GoBankingRate include investing your savings, rather than putting it all in a savings account. “Follow the general rule of only investing in things you understand,” Zigmont states in the article. “Take the time to learn what your options are and be sure to understand both what you are investing in.” In Canada, your choices include workplace pension plans, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) and plain old cash trading accounts. Be sure you know the limits and rules for each type of investment vehicle.

The final advice in the article is to “take ownership” of retirement. “The key to retirement is making it your own,” the article concludes. Do you want to fully retire, or move to part-time work? Having an idea of what your own retirement will be like will help guide your savings plan, the article concludes.

Over many years of reviewing books for Save with SPP, there was one piece of advice that really stood out, and actually worked for us when money was tight. That idea was to put aside five per cent off your pay for savings right off the top, and then live on the rest.

A barrier to savings is the feeling that you won’t have anything left over after bills and groceries. But if you take five per cent off the top, and put it somewhere where you can’t get at it to spend, you’ll be amazed how quickly the savings start to add up, and how little you miss the five per cent (eventually).

A safe and secure cookie jar for your newfound savings is available through SPP.

With SPP, you can stash away up to $7,000 per year in a locked-in, voluntary defined contribution plan. “Locked-in” means you can’t raid your savings for non-retirement expenses; you can only access the money once you reach retirement age. And during that run up, your money will be invested professionally and at a low cost. SPP is a sensible savings option available to any Canadian with RRSP room; 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.