We are making a change!

9 Aug

Hello Readers,

We are changing  our webhost for savewithspp.com on Wednesday, August 10, 2016.  It shouldn’t be a big change, however we wanted to let you know.

Why are we doing this?

To make security enhancements and allow us to have a more mobile friendly layout.

What will change?

Not much, other than the layout. We will still be posting blogs on Monday and Thursday, Saskatchewan Pension Plan will still be managing the blog and Sheryl Smolkin will still be our writer.

What does this mean for you?

Nothing! We hope…. You won’t need to follow us again to keep up with this blog and you can still access our blog at http://savewithspp.com.

If you have any questions please email us at socialmedia@saskpension.com.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

Thanks
Stephen Neiszner
Network Technician
Tel: 1-800-667-7153
Fax: (306) 463-3500
sneiszner@saskpension.com
www.saskpension.com

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Aug 8: Best from the Blogosphere

8 Aug

By Sheryl Smolkin

And just like that, it’s August! The days are getting shorter and families are starting to think about getting the kids back to school and getting serious about the upcoming round of fall activities.

Those of you sending your kids off to college or university will be interested in The Business of University Fees by Big Cajun Man aka Alan Whitton on the Canadian Personal Finance blog. Did you know if your child is still in school he/she is probably still covered under your group medical plan at work and most universities will allow you to opt out of the university’s plan?

If you have received your first child benefit cheques and haven’t already spent them on back-to-school supplies, here are 3 Great Ways to Use Your Canada Child Benefit Payment  by Craig Sebastiano on RateHub. RESP contributions, TFSA deposits or charitable donations, anyone?

And talking about TFSAs, take a look at Robb Engen’s TFSA Dilemma and Solution on Boomer & Echo. Like many of us Robb has a ton of TFSA contribution room ($50,500) He plans to turn his $825 monthly car payment – which ends in October – into future TFSA contributions, starting in January 2017. That’s $10,000 per year to stash in his TFSA, which at that rate would catch-up all of his unused room by 2027.

Have you reviewed your life insurance lately? Are you and your partner adequately covered so if one of you dies, the other can continue to pay the family bills? Bridget Eastgaard from Money after Graduation says Cash-Value Life Insurance Is For Suckers, Buy Term Instead.

And finally, Should you work part-time in retirement? by Jonathan Chevreau on moneysense.ca includes an analysis commissioned by Larry Berman, host of BNN’s Berman Call and Chief Investment Officer of ETF Capital Management. It illustrates the powerful impact of earning just $1,000 in part-time income each month between the age of 65 and 75; or in the case of couples $2,000 a month between them.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Summer spending habits

4 Aug

By Sheryl Smolkin

Staying on budget can be a challenge at any time of year. But when souvenirs and snacks beckon on vacation or the hotel you booked ends up being much more than you expected, your bottom line may suffer an unexpected hit.

A recent BMO Report quantifies how Canadians’ savings are affected by summer spending habits. The study reports that as temperatures soar so does our spending, and while many don’t feel guilty about enjoying the season, half (52%) admit that their summer habits have negative long-term effects on their savings.

One quarter (28%) of Canadians say they go into debt during the summer due to their spending. Another 27% dip into their savings to support their spending and 13% forego saving and paying off debt altogether to enjoy the season.

Still, the BMO summer spending report, conducted by Pollara, reveals that Canadians are aware of their tendency to over-spend in summer and are taking steps to counter it:

  • Compared to last year, fewer Canadians plan to increase their spending this summer (down to 32% from 45%);
  • 25% of Canadians will hold off on travel, for budgetary reasons, this summer; and
  • 15% feel they have too many other financial commitments to travel at all this summer.

Further, the BMO report found that 47% will restrict their travel to domestic trips to avoid fluctuating foreign exchange rates, or opt for a staycation (14 per cent), to get the most bang out of the Canadian buck.

“We’re noticing disparities across regions right now, with B.C. and Ontario continuing to drive Canadian consumer spending, thanks to strong demographic trends, low interest rates and favourable labour market conditions, “ says Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Bank of Montreal “On the flip side, oil-producing provinces-Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador-are seeing spending track below year-ago levels as those economies grapple with recession and the fallout from lower oil prices.”

Canadians and their Credit Cards

Almost half of Canadians (48%) admitted to paying off less of their credit card balance during the summer months than they normally would. For the 41% who carry a balance, which sits at an average of almost $3,000, enjoying the season can have longer term implications.

Summer Spending at a Glance
Nat’l Atl Que Ont Pra Alb BC
Will use credit to pay for summer spending 28% 43% 34% 30% 27% 24% 26%
Find it difficult to get back on track after higher summer spending 35% 43% 29% 37% 40% 35% 35%
Will incur a small amount of debt as a result of summer spending 35% 51% 36% 29% 37% 39% 35%
Will pay off their credit card balance from summer spending ‘when they can’ 56% 79% 45% 54% 68% 65% 59%

Nick Mastromarco, Managing Director of Loyalty and Partnerships, BMO Bank of Montreal, encourages those who plan to use a credit card for summer spending to take advantage of credit card rewards programs that many cards offer to help offset their costs.

“While setting a budget is important year round, seasonal spikes in spending are common for Canadians, and those who gravitate towards reward programs when considering how to pay for purchases are wise to do so,” said Mr. Mastromarco. “Cash rewards, for example, can be used flexibly at any time, regardless if summer plans include travel. In essence, redeeming rewards can help smooth out any spikes in spending, enabling you to get the most out of the summer season.”

How make a smaller space more livable

28 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

Whether you live in an apartment or a house, chances are that as your family grows or you accumulate more stuff, you will start to get the itch to move to a bigger place. But moving costs money, particularly if you have to sell one house or condo and buy another to upsize. And then you are stuck with higher mortgage payments plus increases in taxes, utilities and insurance.

So before you make an irrevocable and costly decision, think about what you can do to make your current arrangement more user-friendly. After all, if you are a fan of the reality show Love It or List It you know that re-purposing space and clever renos can often work unexpected miracles.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Declutter: Go through your stuff at least once a year and sell or get rid of what you are not using. If your garage is crammed full of baby carriages, tricycles and hockey nets you are keeping “just in case” you have more kids or your grandchildren will use them, think again. Remember, everyone else’s garage is full of stuff you can get for practically nothing if you ever really need items like these again
  1. Re-decorate: Think smaller and lighter. Get rid of heavy and non-functional furniture. Use light colors. Pull furniture away from the walls.
  1. Maximize vertical space: Take advantage of wall height by adding tall bookcases, cabinets or shelves, or by hanging hooks for jackets in the hallway.
  1. Storage: Capitalize on storage space in every possible way. Buy beds with storage drawers. Use closet organizers and double hang clothing. Build in drawers and shelves into closets. Turn little used alcoves under stairs into efficient cupboards.
  1. Multi-purpose: Make rooms multi-purpose. A spare bedroom can double as an office. A master bedroom with a Murphy bed can be used as a sitting room when the bed is put away. Buy multi-functional furniture, such as ottomans, which can be used as both a coffee table and extra seating. Furniture that can be folded, stacked, or wheeled away is your friend.
  1. Lighting: Don’t take up precious floor or table space with bulky lamps. Lamps can be hung from the ceiling or pot lights with dimmers can often be installed. Mirrored walls or closet doors will make rooms look bigger.
  1. Basement renovation: If you house is 1200 square feet on one floor and your basement is unfinished, you may be able to double your living space by renovating the basement. Add another bathroom, bedroom or spruce up your laundry area. Build a family room, a home office or a kid’s playroom.
  1. Build up or out: Depending on the zoning in your area and the size of your lot, add another story or build on to the back of the house. This kind of renovation is more costly and will require working with an architect and a contractor. You may also have to move out for several months. But the finished product will be like a brand new house.
  1. Open concept: Take down non-load bearing walls to open up the main floor. Go for a continuous living room/dining room, kitchen, den that will give you more room to work or play.
  1. Kitchen/bathroom reno: If you are unhappy with your current house, chances are the kitchen and/or the bathroom are bothering you the most. A vanity with double sinks can relieve morning and evening congestion. A new kitchen with an island breakfast bar can increase working space for family chefs and get rid of the need for a kitchen table and chairs. Kitchen and bathroom renos are routinely included in lists of projects that will increase the re-sale value of your house.

If you have considered all of the options above and still believe investing in a larger home with the features you need is the way to go, consider looking for a home with a separate entrance that can accommodate a rental unit. The additional income will help you better afford your new digs and pay off your mortgage faster.

Jul 25: Best from the Blogosphere

25 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

There’s lots of good reading in the blogosphere this week if you get tired of skimming romance novels on the beach or binging on your favourite Netflix series after dark. We’ve just started on the series Sherlock  and Spotlight and Trumbo are two great movies we saw from the comfort of our couch.

In other news, financial maven, television personality and blogger par excellence Gayle Vaz-Oxlade has retired at 57. While we will miss her valuable voice and sense of humour, it is encouraging to see has followed her own personal finance advice and can look forward to time for grandchildren and gardening.

Cheques started arriving in mailboxes across the country and Rob Carrick at the Globe and Mail says high-income families have reason not to like the new Canada Child Benefit, but it’s a win for most everyone else. Here’s how much the benefit will give you.

An interesting post on Canadian Budget binder explains How To Become Financially Secure So You Forget It’s Payday. While there is no magic formula, the checklist includes: start using a budget (no surprise); know where your money is going; understand your bills and how interest works; pay your bills on time and earn extra money if you can.

Cait Flanders sums up what she learned as a result of her two-year shopping ban in Two Years Without Shopping: What I Bought, Donated and Learned to Be True. She explains the rules for each year and details the few necessities she did buy. “For two years, I avoided all mindless and impulse spending decisions. But in a two-year period of time, I also learned you are bound to need some stuff – and that’s ok,” she says. “What I learned from tracking all my purchases this year is that there is a huge difference between talking yourself into thinking you need to buy something and actually needing to buy it.”

On the Financial Independence Hub, Kollin Lore says Millennials can learn from Boomers’ reinvention of retirement. Referring to Jonathan Chevreau’s new book Victory Lap, he says many millennials grew up during the recession and were set back earlier in their careers by student debt, so working past age 65 will be as much a necessity for them as for any other generation. Boomers can teach millennials how to stay motivated and take care of themselves in their senior years

And finally, on Retire Happy, Jim Yih asks: What are your family financial values? He and his wife are very open about money with their children but he suggests that because it’s easier to talk constructively about money from a unified front, a family financial value system might be useful. He shares a helpful series of questions that can help you create one under the headings: spending, debt, saving, income and money management.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Legal Tips for Saskatchewan Renters

21 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

In Part 1 of this series for renters we looked at things to consider when you are looking for a rental property. Part 2 will focus on the legal rights of landlords and tenants in Saskatchewan. These legal obligations are prescribed in The Residential Tenancies Act 2006 and The Residential Tenancies Regulations 2007.

First of all, it’s important to understand the types of accommodation that are not covered by these rules. For example, if you are living in a school dormitory, hotel, motel, cottage or resort home rented for less than six months, these properties are excluded from the protections and responsibilities outlined in the legislation. Other exclusions are health care facilities, personal care homes and farm homes rented by people cultivating the land.

Here are some FAQs and answers about the rights and responsibilities of Saskatchewan landlords and tenants.

  1. Do I need a lease?
    You and your landlord can mutually agree to a fixed, periodic, month-to-month or week-to-week type tenancy and a signed lease is not required for periodic leases. A fixed term lease of more than three months has to be in writing, must detail the date on which the tenancy expires and, must contain the provisions required by the Residential Tenancies Act. If the lease is written out, your landlord is required to give you a signed copy within a period of 20 days of when it is signed.
  2. My future landlord wants a two month security deposit? Do I have to give it to him?
    No. Deposits that are collected by the landlord cannot exceed one month’s rent and they can be used to cover the cost of damages to the rental property. Your landlord can demand a security deposit, but only at the beginning of the tenancy. It is also unlawful to charge tenants key money.
  3. My one year lease is expiring. Do I have to give notice that I am leaving?
    Term leases always expire at the end of the set term. Your landlord has absolutely no obligation to give notice to vacate at the end of the period, nor do you. However, your landlord is required to provide you with two months of advance notice when telling you whether or not he is willing to renew your lease, and if the landlord is willing, he must provide you with the terms of the new lease.
  4. What if I want to break my lease early?
    You can end your tenancy by simply giving the follow notice:

    • A minimum of one month’s rent before the day of the month on which the rent is payable for a month-to-month tenancy
    • A minimum of one week before the day of the week on which the rent is payable for a week-to-week tenancy
    • One day’s notice if the landlord is in breach of a “material” term included in the rental agreement (for example, if the unit is in a state of disrepair and considered uninhabitable). In these circumstances, notice that is given must provide the reason the lease is being terminated, and if the breach can be remedied, you are required to give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix the breach before ending the tenancy.
  5. My landlord told me I have to leave in 15 days. Is that legal?
    It may be if your rent or utilities have been overdue for at least 15 days. Otherwise, a landlord may end a tenancy for any of the causes set forth in s.58 of the Residential Tenancies Act (i.e., repeatedly late paying rent; unreasonable number of occupants in the unit; putting landlord’s property at significant risk etc.) by giving the following notice:

    • At least one month before the day of the month on which rent is payable for a month-to-month tenancy.
    • At least one week before the day of the week on which rent is payable for a week- to- week tenancy.
    • Earlier upon application to the Office of Residential Tenancies.

    The landlord must give you a reasonable period of time to fix the cause for which the tenancy is being terminated if the reason can be remedied. You may dispute the notice by giving notice to the landlord within 15 days after receiving his notice.

  6. Can I sublet my unit?
    If your tenancy is for a fixed term, you can sublet the property with the landlord’s written consent, and the landlord can only withhold consent when it is considered reasonable to do so. The landlord can charge you a fee of no more than $20 for considering or consenting to the sublease.
  7. I just moved in five months ago and my landlord wants to raise the rent effective immediately. Do I have to pay the increase?
    You do not. Landlords are required to give one year written notice of a rent increase in the event of a periodic tenancy, unless they are a member in good standing of the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Industry Association (SRHIA), in which case the landlord can give six months’ written notice of a rent increase. If a landlord ceases to be a member in good standing of the SRHIA during the six-month notice period, the notice given by the landlord will take effect after 12 months rather than six, and the landlord is required to inform the tenant of this in writing. Rent may be increased only once each year, unless the landlord is a member in good standing of the SRHIA, in which case rent can be increased twice each year. No notice of a rent increase can be served within six months of the start of the tenancy or the date of the last increase, whichever is later. Public housing authorities as well as non-profit corporations are exempt, as rent may vary with income.
  8. Can my landlord enter my apartment when I’m not home?
    Your landlord can enter your rented unit in the event of an emergency, or if you agree. Otherwise, the landlord is required to provide you with 24 hours advance notice in writing for entry that takes place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. specifying a four hour period when they will be entering the premises.If you have provided a notice to terminate the lease, your landlord is allowed to show the property with your consent, or as may be agreed in writing with you or after the landlord has made a reasonable effort to give you two hours advance notice.
  9. Can I withhold rent for repairs?
    It is not legal for you to withhold rent for repairs and may warrant an eviction for nonpayment of rent. If you have requested that the landlord make certain repairs and the landlord has not done so, you have two options other than withholding rent.The first option is to bring an application to the Office of Residential Tenancies for an order directing the landlord to do the repairs, and you may ask for a reduction of the rent until the repairs are completed.The second option you have is to contact municipal authorities to determine if any local bylaws that set minimum standards for rental properties have been broken. If so, you can ask for the property to be inspected by an official. If officials find any repairs that need to be done, an order will be issued to the landlord to fix the problems immediately.
  10. Can a landlord  refuse to rent to me because I have a cat or I smoke?
    Yes. Pets are permitted in the rental unit only if they are explicitly allowed in the lease or if the agreement does not address this issue. The landlord can also include a no-smoking cause in the lease.

For general information about renting in Saskatchewan contact:

Office of Residential Tenancies
120 – 2151 Scarth Street
Regina, SK
S4P 2H8
Toll-free: 1-888-215-2222 (within Saskatchewan)
Toll-free fax: 1-888-867-7776 (within Saskatchewan)
Tel.: 306-787-2699
Fax: 306-787-5574
http://www.justice.gov.sk.ca/ORT
See Web site for contact information for all offices.

 

Jul 18: Best from the Blogosphere

18 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

We recently posted the blog Rent vs Buy: A Reprise, but the subject of when, or even if millennials will ever buy homes seems to be a continuing theme in both the blogosphere and the mainstream media.

Its not surprising that issue is still a live one, particularly in cities like Vancouver and Toronto where housing prices have gone through the roof and only young people with great jobs and a hefty gift from the Bank of Mom and Dad can get their foot in the door.

Several months ago BMO published the report Rent-Weary Millennials Not in a Hurry to Become Home Owners; Need to Save Accordingly. In the prairie provinces, people age 19-35 gave the following reasons why they are delaying home ownership:

  • 27%: Don’t feel comfortable making such a large purchase at this point in my career
  • 46%: Other priorities take precedence (such as traveling, continuing education or starting a business)
  • 33%: Don’t want to be left with no disposable income
  • 40%: Not sure where I want to settle down
  • 27%: Have to pay off debt first

In a Huffington post blog, Jackie Marchildon asks Are Millennials Choosing To Rent, Or Just Choosing Not To Buy?  She argues that renting is its own lifestyle and although currently dominated by millennial city dwellers in Toronto and Vancouver, it is not unique to this generation, nor to their respective cities.

On the Financial Independence Hub Helen Chevreau (daughter of well-known personal finance guru Jonathan Chevreau) says she is  Young, saving, and hopefully one day will buy a house. She critiques an article about “Tony” in Toronto Life who would rather spend his generous pharmacist’s salary on exotic trips and lavish spending than be shackled by a mortgage. She advocates for a happy middle ground: “somewhere between throwing down $1,500 on a meal and stealing toilet paper from the bathroom of the bar to save a few bucks.”

Another perspective comes from a young married couple who is saving up for a cottage because “they don’t want to invest their money in a shoebox.” They are also paying off student debt ($700/month) and spending $300/month on dog walking for their new Labrador mutt puppy.

Rent to Own | Option to Purchase is an interesting article by Saskatoon lawyer Richard Carlson. “There is no such thing in law as a ‘rent to own agreement.’ The idea was made up by people who wanted to sell to someone who did not qualify for a mortgage,” he says. “There is a good chance it will lead to a problem and a dispute.” He also distinguishes “rent to own” from an “option to purchase” which comes with its own set of challenges. Bottom line is, get independent legal advice before you enter into one of these questionable arrangements!

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

What you need to know before you rent an apartment

14 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

We’ve written several articles about the ins and outs of home ownership, but in fact Statistics Canada reports that 31% of Canadians rent. And although 82.4% of couple-family households own their dwelling, only 55.6% of lone-parent households have purchased a residence and less than half (48.5%) of non-family households own their own homes.

While at first blush, finding and renting an apartment may not seem particularly complicated, if you’ve ever had a terrible rental experience you probably asked a lot more questions the next time around.  So in order to give renters some food for thought, this week we present the first of a two-part series on “what you always wanted to know about renting an apartment but you were afraid to ask.”

  1. Location, Location, Location:
    A perfect apartment is not perfect if it is miles from work and family and not on a regular transportation route. Also, check to see if there are easily accessible grocery stores, a drugstore, schools and places of worship.
  2. Paying the rent:
    Make sure you can afford the rent. The landlord may have you fill out an application, do a credit check and ask you for references. One rule of thumb is that you should budget 25%-30% of your income for rent. Typically you will have to give a first and last month’s rent when you move in. If you are a student, a parent may have to co-sign the lease.
  3. What the rent covers:
    Ask about any additional charges for utilities or cable TV. Find out if you are entitled to a locker and or/parking or if there is an additional charge. Do you get a guaranteed parking spot? Is it indoors or out? Do the window coverings and the microwave stay with the apartment or go with the current tenant? How much does it cost to use the laundry machines?
  4. Fuzzy and Fido:
    Do you have devoted pets who are members of your family? Don’t take for granted that dogs or cats are allowed. Even if you have a very small, quiet, dog you will have to take him out several times a day and there is always a nosey neighbor who will notify management that you are breaching the lease.
  5. Property inspection:
    Make sure you get to inspect your unit before you sign on the bottom line. Check for leakage, insects and that all the appliances work. Test the faucets, hot water, the shower and the toilets. If you see any damage, take pictures and inform the landlord before you sign the lease. If possible, get it in writing when necessary repairs will be completed.
  6. Building maintenance:
    Is the building clean and in good repair? What condition is your unit in? Is there a superintendent in the building you can easily contact if you suddenly have no hot water or your refrigerator stops working? Ask other tenants about their experience.
  7. Decorating your apartment:
    Can you paint or wallpaper your apartment? Will you have to repaint it “boring beige” before you leave? What if there are holes in the wall from picture hangers? Will your last month’s rent act as a security deposit? In what circumstances can the landlord refuse to return all or part of your security deposit? Can you change the locks or put additional security locks on the door of your unit?
  8. Renter’s insurance:
    These days everybody has computers, tablets, TVs and other very portable electronics. Regardless of how good you think the apartment security is there is always the risk that your apartment will be broken into or your possessions destroyed by fire. Invest in a comprehensive tenant’s insurance package.
  9. Roomies:
    You may need to rent out a room in your apartment to help pay the rent. Does your landlord have to approve the roommate? Does the roommate have to co-sign on the lease? Are you responsible for the full amount of the rent if your roommate packs up and leaves in the middle of the night? Can you list the apartment on Airbnb?
  10. Other misc. questions:
    Can you barbecue on your balcony? Can you store your bike on the balcony? Can you control the heat? How do you let somebody into the building? Are there overhead lights or enough convenient outlets to plug in lamps and other appliances? Is there Wifi in the building? How is the cell phone reception? Where do you dispose of garbage? Is the building noisy? Is there a history of vandalism in the building or the area?

Next week we will talk about the legal rights of landlords and tenants in Saskatchewan.

 

Jul 11: Best from the Blogosphere

11 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

The world was shocked to learn that the UK voted to exit the European Community. Nobody really knows what will mean for investors yet but Robin Levinson King at the Toronto Star suggests four ways Brexit could affect Canadans. They are fewer exports, lower returns, a stronger U.S. dollar and a continuing white hot real estate market if interest rates stay low in this country.

Do you have a special skill set or do you own something that someone else wants? Trade it for something you need writes Marie Engen on Boomer and Echo. Bartering for goods and services instead of paying cash is a concept that is alive and well today. It can also save you a bundle.

For many people, paying off debt is one of life’s biggest challenges. Jessica Moorhouse blogs about four women who will inspire you to crush your debt. For example, Amanda D. from Ottawa paid off $64,000 in seven years. She consolidated all her debt with one bank, negotiated a lower interest rate and accelerated her pay down by doubling monthly payments and making periodic bulk payments.

How to purchase life insurance and what kind you need is a potential minefield for many people. On Money after Graduation, Bridget Eastgaard says buy term life insurance and avoid cash-value life insurance at any cost. That’s because cash value life insurance is much more expensive. Also, even one missed payment can void the policy which means you will lose both your insurance coverage and your premiums paid to date.

And since some of you still may not have planned a vacation for the summer or the balance of this year, take a look at Barry Choi’s blog The cost of travel: How to pick a vacation destination. He says daydream a little bit and pick your destination but be realistic if you can’t afford it or it really doesn’t make sense to go to Thailand in typhoon season. The easiest and most cost effective destinations may be locations where you have friends or family.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

How to choose a career

7 Jul

By Sheryl Smolkin

While selecting a future career at the end of high school or university may seem like a momentous, life-long commitment, the fact is that few people spend their whole life anymore in the same job or even doing the same type of work.

In a 2014 article on Workopolis Peter Harris noted that from 1990 through 2000 the number of people staying at their jobs for less than two years doubled from 16% to 33% of employees. That trend has only accelerated into the 2000s, almost doubling again from 33% to 51%.  In other words, job hopping is the new normal. In a subsequent Workopolis commentary Harris concludes that if the current trend continues, Canadians can expect to hold roughly 15 jobs in their lifetime.

So if you are starting out in 2016, or making a career change, how do you decide what field you want to go into and how to achieve your career objectives?

It doesn’t hurt to take advantage of vocational testing that may be available from guidance counselors or private consultants. In some cases the cost of these services will be pegged to your means. This will help you zero in on the kind of careers that you have an aptitude for and you are interested in.

You may also be able to leverage your hobbies. Playing in a band or singing in a choir can give you a great sense of satisfaction but these pursuits may not always be the foundation for a remunerative career. However, teaching music, audio engineering or music therapy may be more practical applications of your talents.

Similarly, if you like playing video games, consider becoming a video game designer or a programmer. Sports enthusiasts can become coaches, announcers, agents, trainers or sports event planners. Visual artists may opt for a career in graphic design.

Also, think about the subjects in which you excelled in school. A math whizz may enjoy a career as an actuary or accountant. An English major can aspire to be a journalist, an editor or a lawyer. And if you are good at fixing things or working with your hands, don’t rule out working in the trades such as carpentry, auto repair, construction or electrical work.

The Government of Canada’s Job Bank allows you to explore careers by low, medium and high wages in different parts of the country. When I searched for “Registered Nurse” in Saskatchewan, I found that in Saskatoon the hourly wages ranged from a low of $25.50/hour to a high of $46/hour, but in the Prince Albert Region the average hourly pay range is from $19.45 to $47.

When you have zeroed in on some possible careers you may be interested in, find somebody working in the field who can answer your questions about what it is really like to be an engineer or a plumber. Most people are willing to find time for a ½ hour “interest interview,” and some may even allow you to “job shadow” for a day.

Of course regardless of where your passion lies, it is wise to do a “reality check” to determine whether the career you are contemplating is in a growth area where there are lots of opportunities.  In Canada’s hot jobs, and ones to avoid Nathan Laurie, president of Jobpostings.ca notes that anyone with a computer science, math or engineering degree will find lots of opportunity on the job market. “Those degrees can apply to industries across the board — finance, e-commerce, IT — there are lots of roles for those types of positions. In addition, areas including web development, design, robotics and big data are seeing a lot of growth,” he says.

You may also be surprised to find out that Canada’s Best Jobs 2016: The Top 25 Best Jobs In Canada ranks the following as the top five jobs in the country, based on median salary, wage growth, and five-year employee growth:

  1. Mining or Forestry Manager
  2. Urban planner
  3. Pharmacist
  4. Pilot or flying instructor
  5. Public Administration Director

But regardless of which career you train for and where you or your kids get their first or next job, chances are it won’t be the last one. Today’s workforce must be the CEO of their own careers. That means keeping an up-to-date resume, networking and continuously improving both generic and job specific skills. In this way you will always be ready to embrace the next, great career opportunity when it comes along.