Ignore the global financial crisis - MoneySense

Ignore the global financial crisis

Save your time and energy to plan for your retirement and education savings instead. Why worry about something you can’t control?

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Question:

I have a defined benefit pension with a big public pension fund. I never really worried about it before until a friend of mine told me that I should. She said that the global financial crisis could put my pension at risk. I am now beside myself. I don’t have any other retirement savings and haven’t put money away for my super smart daughter’s education.

Answer:

Do not add the global financial crisis to your worry list. You have a daughter who will be a teenager one-day—surely there is already way too much on your worry list as it is. Besides, the people who manage your pension are well compensated to worry on your behalf. I’m sure your friend had the best of intentions, but here’s why your worrying is going to waste;

Fund performance is out of your control

There is nothing you can do to affect the performance of your pension fund. The fund managers are analyzing the data and making investment decisions based on what they think is best. That is their job, not yours. You can worry all you want, but it is a waste of your time and energy. You could drop by with doughnuts to thank them for their efforts, but that is about all you can do.

Public pensions are relatively safe

There have been a lot of headlines about pension implosions in the private sector. But that is because the companies themselves went bankrupt. Public pensions are much safer by comparison. Poor investment performance and pension underfunding are risks, certainly, but there is a very low probability that either will make your pension evaporate.

So what should go on your worry list? Worry about the things you can do something about, and then do something about them. Here are my two biggest questions for you;

Will your pension be sufficient? You mentioned that your pension is all you have for retirement. I would go online and find a retirement calculator, or get yourself to a financial adviser to see if that pension is going to be sufficient based on what you want your retirement to look like. You didn’t say how long you had been with your employer—if it hasn’t been that long your payout might not be enough. Now is the time to find out so you can contribute some money into your Registered Retirement Savings Plan.

How will your daughter pay for her education? If you have a child, let alone a super-smart child, you should have a Registered Education Savings Plan. Putting money into an RESP will trigger a grant from the government of up to $500 per year. Your contributions, plus the grant, can add up to big bucks over time.

Bottom line: Rather than worrying about what you can’t control, worry about what you can. That is, your retirement savings and your daughter’s education fund. Getting into action in those two areas will make a way bigger difference than the sleepless nights you’ve been spending worrying that Greece will be kicked out of the Eurozone.

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