After all the bills are paid, sometimes we find ourselves with a surplus of cash and are left wondering the best way to use it. Your options for available cash essentially fall into three categories: spending it, investing it, or pay down debt. Trying to perfect the balancing act of savings as much as possible while still trying to pay for a mortgage can be stressful and somewhat confusing. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for allocating cash, there are some tried and true principles that could help you make the most of your money.
Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA) is a structured approach to buying investments. DCA is intended to temper the volatility of your investment portfolio by breaking large holding purchases into smaller buys done over time.
Instead of buying a large holding of a single investment vehicle all at once, the entire purchase is divided into smaller transactions and spread over a period of time.
Investments can represent a major source of income for some individuals and with that income comes a wide variety of tax implications. The good news is that some types of investment incomes are subject to special tax treatment. Understanding how your investments are taxed is an important part of your financial plan. The most common types of investment income most investors will have to deal with are interest, dividends, and capital gains.
If you’ve been a good saver and contributed religiously to your RRSP, you should be rewarded with a sizable six or seven figure RRSP that would make your retirement that much more enjoyable. The only issue now is – how do you get the money out of the RRSP without paying more tax than you should?
One thing is for sure – don’t wait until you’re near age 71 to do anything. By then, it would be too late.
The whole point of the RRSP is to defer taxes from the time you are in a high tax bracket until you get into a lower tax bracket, thereby saving some tax on your contributions. At some point, however, you must take the money out. The government has made the deadline to be age 71, when you must convert your RRSP into a RRIF or an annuity and start withdrawing money at a government prescribed rate. The problem with waiting until then is that you have little flexibility as to what you can withdraw. If your RRSP is large, the mandatory withdrawal amount may push you into higher tax brackets.
There are a number of obstacles that could potentially de-rail a comfortable retirement. These include marriage breakdown, a stock market crash, and being sued. Another huge obstacle would be the diagnosis of a life threatening critical illness affecting you or your spouse. While it might be difficult to insulate yourself against some of the threats to retirement security, Critical Illness insurance goes a long way to mitigate the financial disaster that could result from a change in health as we approach retirement.
Considering that the wealth of many Canadians is comprised of the equity in their homes and the balance of their retirement plans, having to access funds to combat a dreaded illness could put their retirement objectives in jeopardy. Imagine that you are just a few years into or approaching retirement and you or your spouse suffers a stroke. The prognosis is for a long recovery and the cost associated with recovery and care is projected to be substantial. Statistics show that 62,000 Canadians suffer a stroke each year* with over 80% surviving* many of whom would require ongoing care. Since 80% of all strokes happen to Canadians over 60 those unlucky enough could definitely see their retirement funding jeopardized.
One of the most common investment questions Canadians ask themselves today is, “Which is better, TFSA or RRSP”?
Here’s the good news – it doesn’t have to be an either or choice. Why not do both? Below are the features of both plans to help you understand the differences.
Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA)
- Any Canadian resident age 18 or over may open a TFSA. Contribution is not based on earned income. There is no maximum age for contribution.
- Maximum contribution is $5,500 per year.
- There is carry forward room for each year in which the maximum contribution was not made. For those who have not yet contributed to a TFSA, the cumulative total contribution room as of 2017 is $52,000.