Economic news

October 28, 2021

Rather than downsize, retiring boomers hope to stay put

If you read the headlines, just about every urban boomer is leaving the suburbs behind and moving into condos or lofts in a trendy downtown area

Yet there's little evidence that most Canadians are actually that open to the idea of moving into a smaller residence as they grow older.

A majority of Canadians aged 50 and over – 83 per cent – said staying in their own homes and paying for home care is the most appealing option for them, accordsing to Royal Bank research.

Even then, while the majority of us want to ''age-in-place'', this doesn't necessarily mean that we expect to stay in the same house. Most people are attached less to a particular pile of bricks and mortar than to a local area – to a network of friends, services and familiar places.

Among those who were already retired, a decision to move out of their home was most often due to a change in their health – 66 per cent – rather than to cash in on their home equity or get closer to restaurants.

"Remaining in familiar surroundings – in a home of their own, in their current neighbourhood and close to family and friends – is definitely how Canadian Boomers wish to live when future health changes occur,” says RBC head of retirement and aging strategies Amalia Costa.

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October 24, 2021

Age a growing factor in workplace absenteeism: report

According to the most recent numbers, absenteeism rates in Canada have been rising over the past 10 years, jumping from roughly seven days lost per worker annually to more than 10 currently.

And much of this has to do with demographics, according to a recent study from the C.D. Howe Institute.

As the demographic weight of the population shifts from younger to older categories, reported sick days rise significantly, the report claims. For example, men ages 45 to 54 report an average of 1.3 more days lost due to illness than do males 35 to 44.

Age is not the only factor keeping people off the job, of course.

Over the past 25 years, the average number of days lost per year due to illness has remained largely unchanged among men but increased sharply among women. 

That's not that surprising when you consider that women are usually the principal caregiver for children and may take time off “sick” to look after them. As well, a higher proportion of women than men work part-time, skewing the numbers accordingly.

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October 18, 2021

Empty-nest syndrome may be a thing of the past

Once that last child is gone, parents often struggle with a profound sense of loss, not just because they miss the kids, but because their very identities have been significantly impacted, suggests psychologist Guy Winch.

But, rather than haunting their children's now uninhabited rooms, empty nesters are enjoying better social lives, traveling more frequently and have more financial freedom, a recent survey suggests.

As a whole, nine out of 10 empty nesters — defined as those whose children have permanently moved out of the home — indicated they're happy and look forward to more social and personal time now that the kids are gone. 

So much for the proverbial empty-nest syndrome. Other recent research indicates that, once that early sense of loneliness passes, parents tend to adjust quite nicely to a child-free household.

Rather than pining for soccer practice, empty nesters said they enjoy having more personal time (95%); lower grocery bills (91%); spending more time with their significant other or dating (85%); socializing with friends (80%); and no longer attending school-related functions (68%).

And they'd like this to be a permanent arrangement, it seems.

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October 07, 2021

Could you afford to live to be 100 years old?

Forget being retired for 20 or 25 years: How about something closer to 50 years?

Science fiction? Not necessarily. In fact, it could happen within our lifetimes, maintains Alex Zhavoronkov, the author of The Ageless Generation: How Advances in Biomedicine Will Transform the Global Economy.

There are several specific technology trends that will undoubtedly make us live significantly longer than our parents and grandparents, he claims. In fact, it's already happening.

Today, the average 65-year-old has an average life expectancy of 19 more years — approximately age 84. But half of all individuals live longer than the average life expectancy. In fact, one out of every four 65-year-olds will live past age 90, and one out of ten will live past age 95.

But that longevity comes at a price, the two primary concerns being declining health and the ability to create a sustainable retirement income that may need to last decades more than expected.

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October 02, 2021

How would getting sick affect you financially?

Health care costs are top of mind these days as the U.S. government continues to squabble over just what ObamaCare will eventually look like and how it's supposed to protect more Americans from being bankrupted by overwhelming medical bills.

Of course, unlike our cousins across the border, Canadians aren’t supposed to get into financial trouble when they fall sick. But, according to one recent study, we do – repeatedly, it seems.

Among Canadians who have received a serious health diagnosis, or who have lived through a major accident, 40% admit that the aftermath caused them some degree of “financial hardship.”

What’s worse, more than half of those who’ve had a serious health event described at least one financial consequence. The list ranges from reduced savings (22%) to increased credit card or line of credit debt (22%) and even being forced to remortgage or sell the family home (5%).

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September 25, 2021

Have you ever lied to your partner about money?

According to a recent study, roughly one in five couples have deceived their partners when it comes to money. Are you among them?

Eighteen per cent of Canadians admit they've kept a secret from their partner about how much money they have spent, saved or have hidden. Thirteen per cent of females admit to secret spending, for instance, compared to only six per cent of males.

In another study, close to 20 per cent of all men and women admit the reason they hide their spending habits is because the truth would worry their partner or cause friction in their relationship.

That's nice of them, except that not being upfront about money has a lot more to do with power and control than hurt feelings. 

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September 23, 2021

Do you care if the companies you buy from are socially responsible?

Do consumers care if the companies they buy products and services from are socially responsible? Very definitely, according to various surveys from Neilson. And those in the developing world seem to care just that much more

Consumers in Asia Pacific (55%), the Middle East and Africa (53%) and Latin America (49%) are more willing to pay extra for products and services from socially-responsible companies than consumers in North America (35%) and Europe (32%).

The research shows that, more than ever, consumers expect more from the businesses where they shop. And their motives for buying such products are primarily altruistic, with most reporting that they view their purchases as a way to help improve society or reduce environmental damage.

Sixty-three percent of these "socially-conscious consumers" are under age 40, and regularly consult social media about making purchase decisions and their priority causes are environment, education and hunger.

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September 18, 2021

Drop in numbers of super rich Canadians

It's a first-world problem, but still an interesting one. It turns out that the number of ultra-rich Canadians, people who have a net worth of $30 million, is shrinking, according to a recent study done by UBS and Wealth-X.

The number of super wealthy dropped to 4,980 in 2013 from 5,015 in 2012, according to the study. While there's been a 0.7 per cent drop between the numbers, it turns out that the ultra rich still account for a large amount of wealth, $595 billion US. Now that's a lot of dough between a small group of people.

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September 13, 2021

Cheap onions online coupon crashes Groupon India's website

It's not a phenomenon that will make you weep, but one popular online coupon for onions was the culprit in crashing Groupon India's website, according to Al Jazeera America.

The stampede of online traffic was for a week-long deal which offered 3,000 buyers a day one kilogram of onions for nine rupees ($0.14 USD). On September 5, the deal's first day, it sold out within 44 minutes. On September 9, the onions were sold out within seven minutes, which means that there must have been a least 3,000 users and more who were at their computers clicking refresh.

"The driver behind this is obviously fun. It was meant to generate excitement by selling onions at a knock-down price," Ankur Warikoo, chief executive of Groupon India, told AFP.

If there's anything to be said with how Groupon handled the deal, at least they were smart enough to put a cap on the number of coupons sold. We've all heard unfortunate tales of customers losing out because businesses are unable to keep up with the demand of online coupons sold.

It may sound silly that India's population stampeded over a bag of onions, but there's more to it than that. Onions are a popular ingredient in India, but this past summer onion prices skyrocketed and even cost as much as 100 rupees ($1.56  USD). These whopping onion prices are a national issue with the upcoming elections later this year and it wouldn't be the first time that onion prices have affected India's politics.

With the country hit by damaging monsoon rains and a shortage of onions, food stall owners have resorted to safeguarding their onions from thieves at night. And what's to say Canadians won't feel a price sting, especially since India produces 19 per cent of the global supply of onions?

While Canadians aren't as anxious about our country's economy, at least compared to the Americans, we've already been hit by rising food costs. On a typical month, Canadian families spend an average of $411 on groceries, but higher costs are making Canadians shop around and cutback on other expenses, according to a recent RBC report.

If it's some consolation, at least we can feel better knowing that our food prices aren't as high compared to other developed countries. Though it may be high time to consider buying groceries if you're shopping in the United States since they're still cheaper down south.

While India's residents know why the price of onions has gone up, the British are scratching their heads about at a mysterious 40 per cent price drop in their beloved Marmite, the food spread that you either love or hate. It's high time for bargain hunters to stock up on the dark brown sticky stuff sinking to three pounds for a large jar compared to five pounds, an all-time high that it hit in 2010. At least that stuff keeps better.

How much do you spend on groceries each month? What groceries have you bought recently that are more expensive?


Gordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...