4 smart ways to use your 2022 tax refund

Start planning early

Still deciding what to do with your tax refund? You’ve got options!

Landing a bit of bonus cash can set off a battle of wills in most people. “Fun, Carefree You” wants to finally check out the purchase that’s been sitting in your online cart for months, and plan that trip to Greece. But “Responsible Grown-up You” knows this money should be put to good use. Surely there’s a way for you to do both?

Here are some top ways to spend your tax refund…

1 – Pay off your debt

This might be considered 0% fun but 100% stress relief. The average Canadian has more than $20,000 in consumer debt, not including their mortgage. If you have consumer debt, especially the high-interest kind, using some of your tax refund to lower your balance can help reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay in the long run.

2 – Stash it away for an emergency

Is a vacation considered an emergency after a long Canadian winter? Probably, but the reality is that almost four in ten Canadians say they never or rarely set money aside into an emergency account. With rising inflation driving up prices, having a few extra bucks available can cushion the financial impact of a job loss, a major illness or injury, or an unexpected car or home repair.

3 – Make it grow

If you’re saving regularly in your Common Good Plan, you’re already taking great steps to building a more secure financial future. By making one-time contributions when you can, even small amounts can make a big difference over time. Your savings are automatically invested in BlackRock®, the world’s largest asset manager, so you get industry-leading investment expertise with low fees.

RRSP, a TFSA, or both?

Depending on how your Common Good Plan is set up, you may have an RRSP, a TFSA, or both – so which should you contribute to?

  • If you expect to earn more than $50,000 a year in retirement, saving in an RRSP may make more sense. Because your contributions are tax-deductible, this can increase your chances of getting a tax refund next year.
  • Saving in a TFSA may make more sense if you expect to earn less than $50,000 a year after retirement. This helps you maximize your government retirement income benefits and gives more flexibility if you need to access the money before you retire. Find out more about how RRSPs are different from TFSAs.

Making a one-time contribution is easy and takes just a few minutes. This video walks you through it.

4 – Have your cake and eat it, too  

It turns out that most Canadians are pretty practical: this year, a survey found that only 12% of Canadians plan to put their refund towards a vacation and only 11% plan to splurge on something special.

Depending on how much of a refund you’re getting, you don’t have to choose just one option. You could choose one of two of the options above that will have the greatest impact on your finances and keep some to spend on fun. That way you can do something nice for yourself – both now and for the future.

 

How much can I contribute to my RRSP?

Happy couple making an RRSP contribution before the deadline

With the RRSP deadline approaching, you may be wondering how much you can contribute to your Common Good Plan. General contribution limits for RRSPs, TFSAs, and DPSPs are set by the government and can be found here.

You can find out your contribution room online through the CRA’s My Account service. If you have not yet created an account, you can contact the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-267-6999.

You can also check your last notice of assessment or reassessment notice from the CRA to find your RRSP deduction limit.

RRSP limit NOA

 

Note that the RRSP deadline to contribute to your plan for the 2022 tax year is Tuesday, February 28th, 2023, at 11:59 pm EST.

 

Maximize your savings

You also have a TFSA in your Common Good Plan, which means you can contribute another $6,500 to your retirement plan. Many people don’t think to use TFSAs for retirement, but every dollar of retirement income you withdraw from a TFSA is 100% tax-free.

And if it looks like you might be getting a tax refund in the spring, you can consider putting it to work in your Common Good Plan.

Need Help?

Our retirement specialists are always happy to answer questions about contributing to your Common Good Plan. You can contact us anytime.

The first step to growing your retirement savings

Happy employee working on computer

The best, first, thing you can do for your retirement success is to start saving. Even if it is a small amount, start today. Every day you delay will cost you. 

Your savings should be regular or automatic. Save a regular amount every month or every two weeks or every week. Make these savings automatic. The most effective way to do this is to have your employer take the savings straight out of your pay. That way you never see the money. If you don’t have access to an employer-based retirement plan, set up automatic deduction through your bank account. 

Here’s why regular, automatic savings work: 

  • If savings aren’t automatic, you almost certainly won’t get around to it, which will cause you to undersave. Every year you undersave makes retirement more expensive.
  • Automatic savings evens out the impact of market ups and downs. This is called “dollar cost averaging.” You will be investing regularly whether the market is going up or going down. This discipline helps you avoid very common mistakes investors make in trying to time the market. When investors try to do that, they almost always lose. 
  • Automatic savings are habit-forming. Think of them as an exercise routine, but with much less effort. Once you start automatic savings and stick with them for awhile, you’ll be much less likely to stop in the future. 

Staying the course with your retirement savings

Couple on a road trip with a vintage car

Preparing for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint. The longer you stick to a set of good retirement saving and spending habits, the more you will earn for your golden years. That takes consistent discipline. 

  • It means sticking with regular savings even when life throws you a curveball, or when your employer no longer offers you a retirement plan at work.
  • It means avoiding following the crowd and panicking when markets crash.
  • It means avoiding withdrawing from your retirement savings if at all possible.
  • It means rebalancing your investments as markets shift.
  • It means keeping an eye on fees and costs over long periods of time.

Forming habits is hard. So is sticking with them. We can’t promise you that retirement success will come without effort. We do believe, however, that following the Common Good Plan or a program like it is one of the easiest ways out there to earn significantly more income, and improve your quality of life over a long period of time. 

How to keep your retirement plan up to date

Handshaking and smiling candidly at a job interview

Life can bring many exciting changes! A salary raise, parental leave, a job change, an inheritance, or finally retirement – all of these events have an impact on your retirement plan.

Your Common Good Plan is yours for life and helps you track your retirement readiness throughout your working years and into retirement. That’s why it’s important to review your plan at least once a year, as well as ensure your personal details, such as your marital status and designated beneficiaries are accurate.

 

Changing your income and savings

To build the most accurate retirement plan for you, we use your income to help generate the most relevant in-app suggestions, including how much you’ll need to save, government benefit estimates, and your recommending savings schedule. We also factor in any savings you have outside of the plan. This includes any TFSA or RRSP you have at another financial institution, a Registered Pension Plan, or other savings you have set aside for retirement.

  • My current income
    Whether you get a pay raise, a new job, or your income sources change, be sure to update your income in the “My Plan” section of your account. >> Learn how

  • Other savings
    If your savings outside of the plan change, update the amount in the “My Plan” section of your account. Please note that if you have counted any existing RRSPs/TFSAs in the “Other savings” field and then transfer them into your Common Wealth plan, you’ll need to edit your “savings outside of the plan” to ensure transferred funds are no longer counted. >> Learn how

You can make these changes anytime by logging in to your account.

Reviewing other areas of your retirement plan

As you update your plan, you may notice adjustments in the following areas, such as:

  • Government benefits
    Any changes to your income or outside savings may adjust the Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) amounts. Please note that if you have previously customized these amounts, you will not see any changes in your government benefits. >> Learn how
  • Monthly contribution rate and saving schedule (auto-escalation)
    The plan calculates a suggested monthly savings rate to keep you progressing towards your retirement goals. If you are contributing from your bank account, your contribution rate and your saving schedule may adjust based on the update to your income. >> Learn how
  • RRSP contribution room
    Your income determines how much RRSP contribution room you have year to year. Please verify that the amount you are saving falls within your contribution limits, particularly if you’ve lowered it. General contribution limits are set by the government and can be found here.

Have questions?

We’re dedicated to help you get the most out of every dollar in retirement. If you would like to consolidate your retirement savings or go over your plan with one of our retirement specialists, feel free to book an appointment.

Are You Ready for RRSP Season?

RRSP season has arrived, and you may be wondering if anything’s changed with the pandemic. No need to fret – we have two quick tips that can help you get more out of your retirement savings.

  • Automate your contributions
    If you’re not already set up for monthly contributions in the Common Good Plan, grow your savings faster by making regular, automatic RRSP contributions. Then you won’t have to worry about making a last-minute lump sum contribution before next year’s deadline.

    Also, automatic savings evens out the impact of market ups and downs. This is called “dollar cost averaging.” If you’re investing regularly, this discipline helps you avoid very common mistakes investors make in trying to time the market.

  • Don’t forget the TFSA
    With 2021 underway, you can contribute another $6,000 to your TFSA. Many people don’t think to use TFSAs for retirement, but every dollar of retirement income you withdraw from a TFSA is 100% tax-free. And if it looks like you might be getting a tax refund in the spring, you can consider putting it to work in your TFSA in the Common Good Plan. 

Have questions about contributing to the Common Good Plan? You can book a consultation with one of our specialists.