Is your RRSP ready for you to retire?

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The Canadian government regulates the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) program, allowing it to have unique tax benefits as you save for your retirement. Annual RRSP contributions can reduce the amount of income tax you pay in the year of your contribution. These monies invested annually grow on a tax-deferred basis, and tax is only paid at the time of withdrawal. RRSP Planning is a very integral part of your investment planning.

Have a look at the graph below to see how RRSP money accumulates over time based on a maximum annual investment.

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Your investments grow tax-free Your RRSP investments accumulate within the plan tax-free, as do any addition to your contributions, including capital gains, interest, dividends, and any other growth via dividends or distributions paid out on an investment fund. The longer your money stays sheltered from the taxman, the greater the tax-free accumulative earning power of your investment. However, taxation occurs once income is withdrawn from your RRSP.

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Planning Together – Spousal RRSPs and Tax

A spousal RRSP allows a couple to place assets in the lower-earning spouse’s registered account. The benefit of this manoeuvre enables the account owner to withdraw more in retirement at a lower tax bracket while retaining spousal RRSP ownership, controlling the choice of the RRSP investment vehicles. The owner also governs when withdrawals are made and pays the income taxes upon withdrawal (if the funds have been in the account for three years).

What happens when the RRSP account holder dies?

For estate planning purposes, upon the decease of the account holder, the RRSP is paid out to the beneficiary designated for that account.

How Much can you contribute to your RRSP?

Your Contribution Limit To find out your allowable  RRSP contributions you are allowed to deduct for your income taxes, check Last Year’s Deduction Limit Statement on your latest Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) establishes guidelines for the minimum and maximum overall yearly amount a person is eligible to contribute to their RRSP. The basic formula used to determine a taxpayer’s eligible contribution is as follows: 18% of earned income minus any Pension Adjustment = the eligible contribution amount.

Who can contribute to an RRSP? All Canadian taxpayers with “earned income” in the previous tax year, or those having unused contributions carried forward from previous years can contribute to their RRSP. A person is eligible to make contributions to their RRSP until December 31 in the year they reach age 71, provided that they have contribution room.

Two methods of contributing to your RRSP You may invest by purchasing a lump sum investment prior to the deadline. The alternative is to invest on a monthly basis using dollar-cost averaging. You can always top up your RRSP contribution (up to the allowable limit), just prior to the deadline year by year.

The RRSP limit Table

Source: CRA

Revised: January 2021

Why is inflation a risk to my retirement income?

Statistics Canada releases inflation figures regularly to determine the health of the Canadian economy. Increasing inflation indicates that the economy’s overall prices are rising. On the upside, this means there is good economic growth pushing these numbers higher. Some inflation is necessary to a vigorous economy. Fast increases in the index percentile can spark the Bank of Canada to raise our interest rates to keep the costs of goods and services in check.

When you go to the pumps or to the grocery store, ask yourself, “will my retirement investment portfolio create sufficient income to pay for all these rising expenses?” Only by accumulating assets in your pre-retirement years, will you be able to increase your net worth, which can lead you to financial independence. The cost of our basic retirement needs will increase.

Investing to beat Inflation is a constant battle.

The importance of the economic fact of inflation may not be obvious. “What does the fish know about the water in which it swims?” asked Albert Einstein. Over the years, inflation has radically reduced our buying power. Interest rates when increasing as a policy to combat (reduce) inflation can also increase our debt repayment load as a percentage of income putting a strain on our budgets. In this respect, both inflation and interest on the debt are the foremost enemies of wealth creation. The following table shows just what inflation can do to your investment income when needed at retirement.

How inflation is calculated Canada’s national statistics are weighted to reveal increases for the basket of goods and services in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).1 Consumer spending patterns for 12 months up to October 2021, can be seen by visiting Statistics Canada. 

Three of the eight major components saw unprecedented growth in their basket weights, the statistics agency said, led by shelter representing soaring house prices during the pandemic–the highest-weighted major component, which grew to 30% as a share of the basket. The share of the household operations, furnishings and equipment component grew to 15.21% and alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and recreational cannabis went up 4.86%. The Bank of Canada targets overall weighted inflation at 2%, with a 1%-3% control range. 2

You can get ahead of inflation now by investing. A healthy investment fund portfolio can give you a sense of financial security, earned by continued discipline and adherence to the principle of saving, which adds to our sense of personal dignity.

Saving on a month to month basis while purchasing investment fund units can help you realize your goals and objectives in life (such as acquiring a home, making major purchases, travelling, putting children through college or university, or going back to school yourself). Finally, your investments must outpace inflation—the rising cost of goods and services—the investor’s worst future enemy. Ask your financial specialist to do a complete analysis of your retirement income potential.

1 StatsCan

2 Reuters

What could I miss doing that could ruin my retirement?

Perhaps you haven’t started investing regularly, or the amount you allocate is not enough to reach your retirement goals. Here are a few of the things people are not doing that can ruin otherwise good investment goals.

Not viewing debt as negative investment earnings. If you are paying 18% interest on a credit card while earning 8% in an investment, that immediately places you in a 10% loss position per dollar compared. Moreover, where else can you get such a guarantee on your investment return, as you can by investing in your debt repayment? By paying off $5,000 over one year, you’ll earn $900 risk-free and you won’t have to pay that with after-tax dollars ever again.

Unsecured credit card debt can kill a once-healthy budget, while substantially reducing your income. And opportunities can suffer when your cash flow is crippled by debt. It is harder to solve the need for emergency cash if you are debt-ridden.

Especially look at paying down debts that carry interest that cannot be written off as you are paying for both the principal and the interest with after-tax dollars.

Not putting money away into an emergency fund. If an emergency arises you should be able to access a simple bank account to cover up to three to six months’ worth of living expenses such as your rent or mortgage, food, debt repayment, car payments, etc. Consider using a money market fund for this savings plan.

Not assessing your retirement time horizon. You can analyze what you will need to invest annually, by running calculations to see if you will have sufficient income to live on. Confer also with your advisor about how you can get there over your remaining employment years, by investing with a clear vision.

Not assessing the impact of inflation on your retirement income. Refer to this table to see how inflation can affect your retirement plan.

Planning for your dependants. Make sure you have sufficient life insurance to pay off your total debts such as: credit card balances, car loans, IOUs, and any business-related debt. Incorporate this with sufficient coverage to provide future income for your dependants. This is especially necessary if your debt exceeds your annual income as it does for the average Canadian household where debt runs at 150% of income. Source: The Vanier Institute of the Family, February 2011