Loyalty programs: Which one is best?

16 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

SHUTTERSTOCK

SHUTTERSTOCK

Canadians love loyalty programs. The 2013 Loyalty Census from the industry research group Colloquy reports that 120 million consumers in this country belong to at least one loyalty program and the average number of loyalty programs per household is 8.2. But the challenge you face is selecting the loyalty programs that will give you the best bang for their bucks.

Typically websites that evaluate loyalty programs either rank programs based on the stated preferences of survey participants or by weighting various features like points per dollar spent and the value you can get when you spend the points in different ways.

But the research company Environics recently developed a “time to reward” algorithm for Colloquy that ups the ante by predicting how many months it actually takes to earn $100 CAD in rewards.

The calculation not only takes into consideration the potential payback from a program, but factors like usage patterns, the ability to double-dip (i.e. get points for the dollar value of your travel purchase plus the number of miles you fly) and how much you buy from a particular retailer.

Initially, over 1000 Canadians surveyed online in March 2014 by Environics were asked to select which of 23 top loyalty programs (14 of which have a non-credit loyalty card only) they used to collect loyalty rewards or dollars in the past three months. The programs in the list had membership of at least one per cent of the Canadian population and multiple programs could be picked from the list provided.

The top 10 selected were:

  • 72%: Air Miles
  • 35%: Shopper’s Optimum
  • 29%: Canadian Tire Money
  • 28%: Aeroplan
  • 28%: PC Points
  • 23%: Petro-Points
  • 17%: Scene Rewards
  • 17%: HBC Rewards
  • 13%: Club Sobey
  • 12%: Sears Card

However, once all 23 programs were assessed by Environics applying “time to rewards” metrics, rankings in some categories changed. Not surprisingly, the Air Miles and Aeroplan programs took the first and second spots for long and short haul flight rewards. Both are “coalition” loyalty programs (members can earn points through hundreds of retail partners, as opposed to just one).

But Aeroplan dropped to the number three spot after the Shoppers Optimum card when it came to how quickly cash equivalent rewards can accumulate. The Shoppers Drug Mart program regularly runs promotions where a large number of points is awarded for spending specified amounts on certain days.

The research also revealed the credit cards that will get a program member to a cash equivalent or merchandise reward the quickest tend to be retailer-specific or bank-issued credit cards. The Canadian Tire Cash Advantage MasterCard, the Best Buy Reward Zone Visa and the RBC Shoppers Optimum Card ranked 1, 2 and 3 in this category.

The Environics Research contains many more “time to reward” comparisons for loyalty programs and loyalty credit cards you can check out here. There is also an interactive online tool where you can test which Canadian loyalty programs will get you to your desired reward faster (i.e. travel rewards, cash or merchandise) using either your own spending pattern or pre-programmed Statistics Canada data.

Of course your favourite loyalty program may not have sufficient market penetration to even have been considered in the Environics study.

When I polled several prominent personal finance bloggers to find out the loyalty programs they use the most, Tom Drake (Canadian Finance) said his number one choice is a Costco Executive Membership, which is notably absent from the Environics study. It pays back two per cent of most purchases throughout the year in cash. “I also pay using my True Earnings Card from Costco and American Express which gives me another one per cent cash back or two per cent when I fill up with gas,” he says.

Robb Engen (Boomer & Echo) identified Scene Rewards which allows you to earn points that can be spent on free movies, concession food and music downloads as probably one of the most under-rated loyalty programs in the country. He also subscribes to Amazon Prime for $79/year because it gives him free two-day shipping on most items that Amazon carries.

And even though he is an avid Air Miles fan, Jim Yee (Retire Happy) believes it’s important to take a balanced approach to racking up points vs other important cost-saving considerations. “Safeway gives Air Miles but sometimes it’s more convenient or less expensive to shop elsewhere for groceries,” he says.

Oct 13: Best from the blogosphere

13 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

It was dark when I got up this morning and it won’t be long before it will also be dark before the end of the work day. So let’s shine a light on some interesting topics tackled by personal finance bloggers last week.

For most of your working life you’ve saved for retirement. But as that date nears, your focus shifts to using your savings to pay for life after work. Take a look at my blog What happens to my pension when I retire? on Brighter Life to find out how the money can be paid out when you retire.

GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca has a quiz that will help you build your retirement lifestyle profile — an analysis combining the range of income you’ll need and the level of readiness you’re at today.

In July, on Million Dollar Journey, Frugal Trader published his Canadian Online Discount Stock Brokerage Comparison, 2014. He mentions a number of major (cheap) discount brokerages in Canada including: E-Trade (now i-trade), Virtual Brokers, Qtrade, Interactive Brokers, and Questrade (voted #1 by Million Dollar Journey Readers).

Retire Happy blogger Sarah Milton discusses how to deal with the challenges of dating when you are trying to pay down debt and get your financial house in order. She says miscommunication can create a great deal of stress and tension.

And Retired Syd (Retirement: A full time job) writes about Her Short Career as a Landlord when after extensive preparations to rent out her vacation property in Napa she decided the small amount of money she would net was not worth the aggravation.

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Blonde on a budget embarks on a shopping ban

9 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

9Oct-CaitFlandersblondeonabudget

podcast picture

Click here to listen

 

Today we are continuing with the 2014 savewithspp.com series of podcast interviews with personal finance bloggers. I’m talking to Cait Flanders, who blogs at Blondeonabudget.ca.

In 2011, Cait had $28,000 worth of debt. To stay accountable throughout her debt repayment journey, she decided to start this blog. She paid off the last dollar just under two years later and today she’s going to tell us how she did it.

Cait lives in the Vancouver area, works full time from home as the managing editor of Ratehub.ca and is a contributor to Gale Vaz-Oxlade’s blog, The Globe & Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and Tangerine Bank’s blog.

Hi Cait, and thanks for joining me today.

Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Q: Cait, before you started this blog you had $28,000 in debt. How did that happen? Was it as a result of accumulated student loans?
A: No, I actually never had a lot of student loan debt. To be perfectly honest a lot of it was consumer debt. For years and years I was just swiping my credit card for anything that I wanted to do or see.

Q: You paid off your debt in just under two years, how did you manage that?
A: I literally had $100 in my bank account and it had to last me for six weeks. So I moved home for six months and from that moment forward just lived what I jokingly called “a very boring life,” saying “no” to everything. The only fun thing I let myself do was go for coffee with a friend which was $4 or $5 instead of $50.

Q: So, you wrote about your journey to solvency on your blog and you still post your monthly budget and goals. How have your family and friends reacted to this high level of disclosure about your financial affairs?
A: That’s actually a really good question. I grew up in a house where my family talked about money very openly, probably every day, so I think my parents love it in the sense that, it’s cool to see that I’m continuing that now and just taking those conversations online.

No one has ever said anything about me posting the numbers but I’ve recently made the decision that I’m going to stop posting them because I’m finally starting to realize that it could actually be pretty dangerous. It could lead to issues like identity fraud or theft. So I’m going to do budgeting a little bit differently going forward.

Q: Since you’ve paid off this significant debt, how has your life changed?
A: I’d say the biggest change is I’m no longer stressed all the time. Not having debt gives me much more freedom. I probably let my lifestyle get inflated a little bit since then because when I was paying off my debt I was sometimes putting up to 50-55% of my monthly income toward debt repayment. That’s not a sustainable budget. After two years of realizing that I don’t need all kinds of fancy things or outings to make me happy, life changes.

Q: In addition to blogs about reducing your personal debt, what other subjects do you write about?
A: On my own blog I’ve written about everything from moving, living in other cities, some travels, and sobriety. I write for the education section of the Globe and Mail about every eight weeks and more recently I’ve been talking about minimalism on my blog.

Q: How many hits do you get on your blog each month?
A: Right now I’m probably averaging between 80,000 and 110,000 page views a month.

Q: Wow. That’s incredible.
A: Yeah. It’s crazy. Fifty per cent of that is usually from Canada and maybe 35 per cent is from the U.S. The rest is divided between the UK, Australia and I even have readers in South East Asia which I think is really cool.

Q: So what have you done to promote your blog? Why do you think your readership is so high?
A: Personally, nothing that I can think of. I love talking to people on Twitter. I reply to every single comment that goes up on my site. There has also been press along the way like stories that The Globe or The Toronto Star have picked up. That obviously brings in more people. But no, I haven’t personally done anything.

Q: How long have you been writing the blog?
A: Technically, in October, it would be 4 years.

Q: What have some of the spin offs been?
A: Everything has changed in my career. When I first started the blog, I found a New York personal finance site for women looking for an editorial intern, I asked if someone from Canada could apply and they said that they’d love to have me. That taught me everything I needed to know about being an editor of a website.

Then my current boss Alyssa, at Ratehub.ca who is a blonde on a budget reader offered me a job in Toronto with the company. There have also been other freelance jobs and my relationship with Gale Vaz-Oxlade. She’s just the most incredible mentor and I write for her site. But her friendship, has been one of the greatest and most unbelievable spin offs from my blog and other writing.

Q: Do you actually have to go to an office for Ratehub.ca or do you work from home?
A: Originally I moved to Toronto for 8 or 9 months, just to really get to know the team and build up my position in the company. Then I moved back to Vancouver where I work from home.

Q: In early July you announced you’re embarking on a one-year shopping ban. Why?
A: There are a few reasons. One day I had this epiphany. Even though I’ve always felt like I was a minimalist, I had this moment where I was trying to open my can opener drawer and I couldn’t find anything in there. I just had this freak out that I actually have way more stuff than I probably need.

Then I started thinking that I wasn’t getting anywhere with my current savings and financial goals I realized that that was because I was spending a lot of money on things that probably didn’t really matter. Although I’ve been really good with my money for the last few years I do think that there is always room for improvement.

I think the ban is going to be difficult at times but I just want to challenge myself and learn and grow from that exercise.

Q: So tell me what the rules are of the shopping ban. Obviously you have to pay your rent and buy food and go out occasionally.
A: I have to pay the bills and get groceries. I’m keeping my car so I have to get gas and pay insurance, and I’m giving myself a small recreation budget. It’s no clothes, no shoes, no electronics – things that not all girls buy but some do. I was always bad for picking up nail polish. I don’t need any more decor items in my home. It’s just that kind of stuff.

Q: So, if the one year ban is successful, what comes next? Are you thinking about a book or is there a major purchase you’re saving up for?
A: I think a book is something that all writers want to accomplish in their career but that has absolutely nothing to do with the ban. I haven’t really announced this but when it’s over my goal is that I’ll have money saved so I can take an extended trip to the UK.

Q: If you had one piece of advice for someone who is deeply in debt and wants to turn things around, what would it be?
A: I don’t think everyone needs to put 55% of their income toward debt repayment like I did, but I think just facing up to the numbers is key and then making a plan so debt repayment is a priority.

Q: Thank you very much for talking with me today, Cait.
A: Oh, thank you so much for having me.


This is an edited transcript you can listen to by clicking on the link above. You can find the blog Blonde on a Budget here

Oct 6: Best from the blogosphere

6 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

It’s October already! How time flies. Here are some interesting posts from some of our favourite, always prolific personal finance bloggers.

On Balance Junkie, Tom Drake discusses options for Banking on Your Mobile Phone. There are smartphone apps to run your business, create a budget, check your bank account and set up mobile payments.

How Behavioural Biases Kept Me From Becoming An Indexer is a confession from Boomer & Echo’s Robb Engen that it’s tough to sell a portfolio of high performing winning dividend stocks – his “babies” that he has nurtured through a five-year bull market. Nevertheless the more he reads about, writes about, and teaches others about investing, the more he is convinced that convinced that passive investing (indexing) is the right approach.

4 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Mutual Fund by Our Big Fat Wallet’s Dan Wesley include how the fund has performed as compared to other funds and the costs of ownership. Like Engen, he concludes that if an actively managed fund can’t beat the index, you’re likely better off with a low-cost index Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).

Whether you are a snowbird planning winter away from Canada’s cold climate or dreaming of a one week all inclusive getaway, take a look at Frequently Never Asked Questions for your Travel Medical Insurance on Bank Nerd. Did you know that in general, an emergency due to a pre-existing condition is not covered?

And finally, on Retire happy, Sarah Milton addresses the question Should New Canadians join a Group RRSP? She agrees that RRSP accounts are intended as a vehicle for retirement savings but says that doesn’t mean they only have value if you plan to retire in Canada.

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

BOOK REVIEW: THE FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK

2 Oct

By Sheryl Smolkin

Screen-Shot-2012-10-29-at-7_24_34-PM

The 4-hour work week was originally published in 2007 and an expanded and updated edition was released in 2009. But I just heard about this #1 New York Times bestseller recently and became curious enough about the author’s philosophy to order a review copy.

Ferriss coins the term “New Rich (NR)” which means people who abandon the “deferred life” plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present, using time and mobility – the currency of the NR. He also says his journey from a grossly overworked and severely underpaid worker to a member of the NR is at once stranger than fiction and simple to duplicate.

His methodology is structured as a 4-step DEAL:

Step 1: D is for definition

To join the NR movement Ferriss says you need to learn a new lexicon and challenge the status quo. For example:

  • Negotiate a remote work schedule based on productivity that allows you to achieve 90% of the results in 10% of the time, thus freeing up time for sports and family travel.
  • As a business owner, eliminate the least profitable clients and projects, outsource as many functions as possible and travel the world while working remotely.
  • Set up a website business to sell a product with virtually no overhead that takes about two hours a week of your time to maintain.

These arrangements seem far-fetched for the average individual, particularly if you work in a lab, construction site or on a farm where you have to be physically present to do your job. Nevertheless there are lots of interesting anecdotes and examples of how many people have successfully applied these principles.

Step 2: E is for elimination

Ferris advocates getting rid of needless busy work to become more effective and more efficient. Adapting the Pareto 60/20 proposition, he says look at your job and your life through the lens of two questions:

  • What 20% of your sources are causing 80% of your problems and unhappiness?
  • What 20% of your sources are resulting in 80% of your desired outcomes and happiness?

For example, he advises freeing up time by “cultivating selective ignorance,” i.e. don’t watch the news and eliminate reading newspapers. I must confess he lost me on this one because I’m a journalist and a news junkie.

But I do buy into his chapter on avoiding interruptions and the art of refusal. Since I’ve retired from the corporate world I’ve managed to almost totally eliminate useless meetings. And checking email only twice a day coupled with a suitable email auto response to “train” your co-workers and clients seems like a laudable (if unattainable in my case) objective.

Step 3: A is for automation

This fascinating (but politically sensitive) chapter explains how not only large companies can outsource and offshore business processes and mundane personal tasks. AJ Jacobs, an editor-at-large at Esquire magazine explains how he outsourced many necessary but non-productive tasks.

He hired the company Brickwork in Bangalore, India that offers “remote executive assistants” to research articles. He also retained Your Man in India to pay his bills, make vacation reservations, renegotiate his cell phone plan and make online purchases.

I’m not sure I can justify the cost of outsourcing as many tasks as Jacobs does but every month when I have to enter data and balance my company bank account, the concept is really tempting.

However, I do outsource transcribing digital interviews by uploading them to the website transcribeteam.com. Less than 24 hours later the transcripts appear in my mailbox at a charge of U.S. $1/minute.

Step 4: L is for Liberation

Once you have eliminated needless busy work and automated or outsourced as many of your job functions as possible, this chapter explains how you can negotiate a remote working arrangement that will allow you to travel and work from anywhere in the world.

Again, the primary premise is that your current job (or any future business) truly doesn’t require you to be physically on the job. Ferriss says:

  • First of all, ensure you are a valued employee by performing well and taking advantage of as much in-house training as possible.
  • Next, call in sick for a couple of days but work from home to show how productive you can be.
  • Finally, make the business case for working at home at least a few days a week.

Then he says you can propose a revocable trial period and eventually ask to increase your remote working arrangement to the full week.

Will this work? Maybe in some cases, but face-to-face interactions with team members can create valuable synergy. And many employees don’t want to be away from the action and opportunities for promotion.

According to Ferriss, the top 13 mistakes the NR make are:

  1. Losing sight of dreams and falling into work for work’s sake.
  2. Micromanaging and emailing to fill time.
  3. Handling problems outsourcers or co-workers can handle.
  4. Helping outsourcers with the same problem more than once or with non-crisis problems.
  5. Chasing more customers, particularly poor prospects when you already have a good customer base.
  6. Not having a dedicated work space for sleeping, living or relaxing.
  7. Answering email that won’t enhance their business and can be handled by an auto-reply message.
  8. Not performing an 80/20 analysis every two to four weeks for their business and personal life.
  9. Striving for perfection rather than great or good enough.
  10. Blowing minutia and small problems out of proportion as an excuse to work
  11. Making issues that are not time sensitive urgent to justify work.
  12. Viewing one product, job or project as the be-all or end all of their existence.
  13. Ignoring the social rewards of life.

It’s easy to dismiss this book as a fantasy because most of us don’t have the vision, or the nerve or the self-discipline to try and apply the principles Ferris espouses. We can only dream of crafting an entrepreneurial lifestyle working four hours a week where big cheques still routinely appear in our bank accounts.

But there are lots of interesting anecdotes and great ideas in this book that anyone can put to good use. I plan to read it again carefully on my own time and make a “To Do” list of strategies I can implement.

My goal? Work less and earn more until I am really ready for full retirement!

You can buy both used and new copies of The Four Hour Work Week on Amazon. The hard cover edition is $16.89.

Timothy Ferriss

Timothy Ferriss

Sept 29: Best from the blogosphere

29 Sep

By Sheryl Smolkin

As I write this, Summer is definitely over. The nights are getting chilly and the tree on our front lawn seems to be dumping a never ending volume of leaves.

If you are offered something for free it seems to always end up costing you money. In Free is a Good Price (but still can be expensive) Big Cajun Man because they have Home Depot credit cards, he and his wife are now victims of yet another massive personal information breach, which may cause them financial Issues in the future. As a result, he got free Equifax credit monitoring for a year, but the services were not really free because his identity is now in the hands of “dastardly thieves.”

Robb Engen asks the question Should You Pay Off Your Partner’s Debt? in Boomer and Echo. The decision to pay off a partner’s debt shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it can lead to resentment or even divorce if the couple is truly financially incompatible. Nevertheless, he and his wife pooled their resources and their finances became a joint endeavour after they started living together in 2003.

Jessica Moorhouse blogs at Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses. She tackles the issue how to manage family finance when one partner is a freelancer with erratic income. For any of you in a similar situation, her only piece of advice is to communicate, communicate, communicate! Being on the same page is crucial, even when you make money differently or one person makes more than the other.

Be cautious of debt repayment companies says Wayne Rothe on Retire Happy. They will consolidate and pay off your loans and set up a repayment schedule to their own company. He says this is something you can do for yourself or with the help of a friend to avoid paying the additional fees that are part of the deal.

And finally, Choosing Mutual Funds in your Employer Pension? FrugalTrader  says pick the index funds – the ones with the word “index” in the title of the fund. If you follow the indexed “couch potato” philosophy of investing, then you’ll pick 4 funds:

  • Canadian Index
  • US Index
  • International Index
  • Bond Index

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Sept 22: Best from the blogosphere

23 Sep

By Sheryl Smolkin

I recently put together a list of 40 highly-regarded but very different personal finance blogs and this week Best from the Blogosphere taps into this resource to bring you some new voices.

Switching careers is a life-altering decision, and one that needs to be thought through with care. The gals at Frugalista Finance have been there and done that. In Careers 101: Planning for a career change, they compile a step-by-step checklist to help you make sure you’re on the right track to career bliss.

If you are lucky enough to have a defined benefit pension plan, you may wonder if there is any point also belonging to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan or contributing to a personal registered retirement savings plan. The author of the blog Use RRSP with DB Pension? on “Blessed by the Potato,” says the answer depends on a few factors, chief amongst them your expected tax rate in retirement versus your tax rate now (or in the near future if you choose to contribute now but defer the deduction).

Have you been waffling about finding a financial advisor? Sandra Schmidt, an advisor with Sun Life in Vancouver says there are five financial planning milestones an advisor can help you prepare for:

  • Buying your first home.
  • Merging your finances.
  • Starting a family.
  • Setbacks.
  • Retirement.

Dan Bortolotti is an investment advisor with PWL Capital in Toronto and author of the award-winning blog Canadian Couch Potato: Your complete guide to index advising. While Dan is well known as an advocate for using exchange traded funds, he readily acknowledges implementing such a strategy is more complicated if you and your partner have several accounts.

The Model portfolios he typically recommends are ideal for investors who have a single RRSP account. But life isn’t so simple once you’ve accumulated a significant portfolio. Chances are you’ll be managing two or three accounts, and if you have a spouse there may well be a few more. In Managing Multiple Family Accounts he says it’s generally most efficient to consider both partners’ retirement accounts as a single large portfolio.

And finally, in order to enhance their income, many people opt to get a part-time job in addition to their regular day job. Nelson Smith on Financial Uproar mines twitter postings to come up with a humorous series of tweets he calls How Not To Get A Part-Time Gig. Bad grammar and spelling certainly don’t help these people make their case.

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 with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Manage your retirement expectations

18 Sep

By Sheryl Smolkin

18-Sept-Takecontrolofyourretirement

A CIBC poll conducted by Nielsen reveals that younger Canadians are more optimistic about their retirement and ability to save but they are less likely to be taking action. The poll also found that expectations of older Canadians fall dramatically.

Thirty per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 say they expect to live better in retirement than they do today but the number falls to 17% for 25-34 year olds and continues to drop to three percent of those aged 55-64.

Despite their optimism, younger Canadians are less likely to have started saving. Forty percent of 18-24 year olds and 23% of 25-34 year olds say they have not yet started saving for retirement, compared to just 16% of Canadians overall.

The poll results suggest that although younger Canadians are positive about their future retirement plans, they may be relying too much on time to meet their retirement goals and not taking necessary actions now that could help them realize their goals.

“Time is on the side of younger Canadians who have many years to retirement, but that’s only an advantage if you take action and use those years to start accumulating savings,” says Christina Kramer, Executive Vice President, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC. “While it’s not surprising that younger Canadians are optimistic about how they expect to retire, the fact that so many people nearing retirement aren’t as hopeful speaks to the importance of having a financial plan in place earlier on.”

The poll also revealed that the majority of Canadians (58%) believe it is still possible to put money away each month and retire in their 60s, particularly 18-24 year olds (71%), and to a similar extent, 25-34 year olds (68%).

This is a positive finding, according to Kramer. “Considering how often we hear talk of the increasing cost of living, it’s good news that so many Canadians, especially younger people, still think saving for retirement is achievable,” she says. “The key is to make a plan and take steps to begin saving – the sooner you start putting money aside and earmarking it for your retirement, the longer you’ll have for your money to grow.”

Advice for focusing on retirement savings

  • Talk to an advisor: Meet with an advisor to understand your options, and work with them to develop a plan that can help you in managing multiple financial priorities and staying on track over the long term.
  • Contribute regularly: Set up a regular investment plan to automatically withdraw smaller amounts throughout the year, rather than trying to find the funds for a large lump payment at the deadline.
  • Save at work: Many employers offer group retirement savings plans, defined contribution plans or the Saskatchewan Pension Plan to their employees and top up employee contributions by a specified amount. Save at work and take advantage of this free money.
  • Don’t lose sight of the longer term: While it is important to address immediate financial needs such as debt reduction or saving for a large purchase, it is equally important to keep future goals such as retirement in sight. 

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a defined contribution retirement savings plan open to all Canadians. If you have RRSP contribution room, you can save $2,500/year or transfer in $10,000 from another RRSP. In 2013 the SPP balanced fund earned 15.8% and this fund has average a return of 8.1% since it started in 1986. For more details about the plan and how to enrol, see the SPP website.

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