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April 14 , 2008

The Solvency Struggle


The challenges of staying solvent in later years can be fierce. The Solvency Struggle chronicles the yearlong personal struggle of one grandmother to wrestle with this reality. Other "year of books" are academic exercises, undertaken by authors who have other options readily available. Here is an exposé of what life is like for those older Canadians who don’t:

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• who have found that spending can only be slashed so much
• who face obstacles in increasing income
• who find sustaining quality of life when expenses threaten to swamp income pushes them into debt sometimes for the first time.
• who cannot make RRSP withdrawals without negative consequences that exceed original tax refunds.

“Almost one million…futile savers have been misled…are victims of fraud however unintentional. About a third of Canadians with RRSPs have scrimped and saved for nothing because most if not all of the benefits they receive will be taxed away…They will not realize the benefits they anticipate because they will miss out on pension and other social-income tested benefits, and it appears no one is about to tell them.” (Dr. Richard Shillington, Canadian economics policy analyst).

For decades, analysts have been writing about the penalties faced by retired citizens who followed recommendations to save in Registered Retirement Plans. Yet, the media, advocacy groups for the more affluent, purveyors of investment products and politicians pay scant attention. Here is seldom-disclosed information about keeping out of the ranks of “futile savers,” information that is crucial to be aware of pre-retirement.

The specific financial concerns of the largely forgotten and seldom heard segment of the population – lower and middle-income retirees and soon to be retirees – are spotlighted in The Solvency Struggle. Financially-challenged seniors and baby boomers, younger generations who want access to full benefits at the age of eligibility, financial planners who want to convey better information customized to their clients, those who believe in justice, activists and anyone who enjoys first-hand accounts of grappling with daily living, here’s your book.

Timely practical tips about maximizing age and income-based benefits resulting in significant savings, fighting debt and recipes are all included. There is even the kernel of a fair play, deficit- reducing plan for the Canadian government to implement.

Roberta Allen scrimps and occasionally splurges in Oak Bay, Canada. She loves fresh ideas, creating order out of chaos, beauty in its myriad forms and critiquing as well as her husband, grown daughter and two sons, three granddaughters, and two grandsons.

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