Tax free saving vehicles explained

Opportunities to build our nest eggs call out for attention at this time of year. In particular, Registered Savings Plans (RSPs) and Tax-free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) are both equally valid ways to save, so how do we know which one will give us the best return based on our own circumstances?

“Choosing the right investment really depends on your personal financial goals,” says Wade Stayzer, vice president of retail and investment services at Meridian. “If you're saving for retirement, there's no better way than in an RSP. But for shorter-term savings, like a car or a vacation or a home, we say TFSAs are the way to go.”

Stayzer points out that unlike RSPs, any returns that grow inside a TFSA are not subject to taxes when they are withdrawn. If you've maxed out your RSP contributions for the year, a TFSA can complement your retirement savings tax-free.

And in retirement, he says, TFSAs are especially beneficial because neither the income earned within it, nor any withdrawals made from it, will impact a senior's eligibility for federal benefits including Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income supplement. Plus, there is no age cut-off for contributions, whereas the maximum age limit for RSP contributions is 71.

Meridian, Ontario's largest credit union, offers these tips on how you can make saving easier with a TFSA:

Set up a pre-authorized contribution: While the deadline for contributing to a TFSA is December 31st of each year, you might not be able to make your maximum contribution in one lump sum. Creating a pre-authorized contribution to your TFSA allows you to invest regular and smaller contributions on a weekly or monthly basis.

Seek expert advice: By working with a trusted financial advisor, you can ensure you are maximizing your TFSA growth potential while ensuring that you are selecting the right investment options – from mutual funds to GICs - for your specific needs.

Don't over-contribute: Due to contribution limits, be sure to only invest your allowable amount, as over-contributions are subject to tax penalties. You can find your current limit on your most recent Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency.

More information is available online at www.meridiancu.ca.

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Carol Ireland

Carol Ireland

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CENTURY 21 Millennium Inc., Brokerage*
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