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March 22, 2011 | By: Emma Rogers

All the women who are independent, RRSP or TFSA?!

I was raised by a single mother of three who instilled a fierce need for independence in me. I’m not the “I buy my own rings and shoes” kind of independent woman but the kind who is a conspiracy theorist and relies on no one but herself for anything because no one else can be trusted!

My quest for independence has not resulted in me crushing all men in my path, a la Madonna, but rather an all consuming, irrational fear of being vulnerable and dependant as a senior. I’m probably the only thirty year old who has experienced sleepless nights worrying about my Power of Attorney for Financial Affairs and Power of Attorney for Health Care getting together and plotting against me just to get their hands on my tiny estate...trust no one!

In my quest to retain independence as a senior I save more than I can afford for retirement. This may not appear to be a bad thing but I’ve put myself in a vulnerable position unintentionally by having nowhere to go but my credit card in case of emergency. My RRSP is the last place I’ll want to go due to withholding tax and inevitable bamboozling at my next tax filing since the withdrawal would be calculated as income and taxed to within an inch of its existence. What’s a girl to do? Until recently the only thing to do was ask the Universe not to send me emergencies but now the answer is to get a Tax Free Savings Account!

The basics:

  • Contributions are NOT tax deductible.
  • Neither income earned within a TFSA nor withdrawals from it affect eligibility for Federal income-tested benefits and credits, such as Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and the Canada Child Tax Benefit.
  • Investment income earned and withdrawals are tax free so no need to fear next years tax filing!
  • You can contribute up to $5000 annually and if you withdraw funds the amount can be added to your contribution the following calendar year.

Of course the mantra of a conspiracy theorist is “it’s too good to be true...” but in this case I must admit it really is true. In an ideal world you would contribute to a TFSA as well as your RRSP but who lives in an ideal world? When faced with either a TFSA or an RRSP contribution a very general rule of thumb would be to consider your needs for an emergency fund and your income in relation to the tax deduction offered by an RRSP.

So, throw your hands up at me momma Rogers.  With this TFSA that I’m rockin’ I can continue to “depend on me” well into my retirement even in case of a financial emergency!


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