Things I wish I would have known as a new teacher

Sask Bulletin
October 10, 2021
By Troy Milnthorp Senior Managing Director, Corporate Fund Services

As a teacher in Saskatchewan, you have access to a comprehensive suite of benefits to help you through the various stages of your life. But learning the ins and outs of your benefits can be quite overwhelming. Here are five key tips based on what retiring teachers wish they would have known at the start of their careers.

1. Save a little extra on the side.

You have a good pension plan, but everyone wishes they had a little more flexibility in retirement. Saving $100 a month may seem like a lot of money right now, but over a 30-year career it adds up to a lot. Don’t believe us? Google “compound interest.” One option to save a little extra is to use voluntary contributions (see below).

2. STF Optional Life Insurance (Portaplan) is a cost-effective alternative to mortgage insurance.

For example, a 30-year-old couple would pay less than 50 percent of the cost of mortgage insurance from a bank. Plus, the amount of coverage you have stays the same as your mortgage goes down over time.  

3. Buy back your maternity/parental leave as soon as you can.

You do not contribute or earn service in the pension plan while on leave. This affects how much you receive in retirement and also when you can retire; however, you can buy back that service when you return to work. The cost to buy the service may seem prohibitive, but it actually gets more expensive the older you get. For example, $6,500 for one year of service at age 30 would be closer to $25,000 at age 55. You can use RRSPs or voluntary contributions to buy back service. Saving before you go can help.    

4. Voluntary contributions are an easy way to save.

You have the option to make additional contributions to the pension plan to supplement your retirement. These contributions grow tax free at the same rate of return as the pension plan, and you pay less fees than you would with RRSPs. Voluntary contributions are not matched by the government, but you can use them (and the interest earned) to buy back service if needed.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Starting a new job is a big transition and can be stressful. If you need some help, the STF offers a Member and Family Assistance Plan that is completely confidential and available 24/7/365. You can access support from a counsellor in your area. MFAP can even find someone to help you with budgeting or hiring movers, so do not hesitate to call.

For more information about the benefits you receive from the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, visit our website at www.stf.sk.ca. Questions or concerns about any of your benefit plans can be directed to the Federation by calling 306-373-1660 or toll-free at 1-800-667-7762.