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Admin, 39 days Ago | 2 comments

Want to Increase Your Tax Return? Reduce Your Tax Bill? Open an RRSP!

People. Let me get real with you for a second. Tax season is upon us, and there is this magical unicorn of an account in Canada called an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan). It will help you reduce the amount of tax that you owe the government, and/or increase your tax return. Interested? I thought you'd be! I just maxed out my RRSP before the March 1, 2018, deadline. So get on it, open your account, and start contributing!

"BUT ALANNA, I DON'T KNOW WHAT AN RRSP IS?"
Funny you should say that out loud! I had an infographic created last year about the RRSP. Note that the date on the infographic is for 2017 and this years' deadline is March 1, 2018!) And if you're like, "Alanna, I don't want to look at this cool and helpful infographic you had made for your readers", then read on Donkey Kong.

What is an RRSP and why should I have one?
A registered retirement savings plan is an account that will help you save for a happy and financially stress-free retirement. Want to live on a boat in the middle of the ocean, scuba diving all day, surrounded by Great White Sharks? Yes. Please. Mountain climb in the middle of Vancouver Island feeding freshly caught salmon to Grizzly bears every day? Fuck, yes - who wouldn't? The RRSP will help you achieve your dream retirement, but you need to start right NOW. There are two main reasons why:
1. The money that you contribute to your RRSP is deductible from your taxable income.
Um.... what?
Example time! Say you made $40,000 in 2017, and contribute $3000 to your RRSP. When it comes time to file your taxes, you can claim that $3,000 contribution as a deduction and can calculate your income as if you’ve made $37,000. This will likely put you in a lower tax bracket, saving you money and/or increasing your tax return. Cool, huh?
Yes. Yes, it is cool.
2. The savings in your RRSP are able to grow tax-free. Within your RRSP you can invest in stocks, mutual funds, ETF's, bonds, and other investments. If you make profits from these investments, they are not taxable until you withdraw the funds, which ideally occurs when you retire. And when you retire and have very little income, you will be in a lower tax bracket than you are now (hopefully), and will have to pay less tax on your withdrawals. Kapeesh?
YAS QUEEN.
sweet BOULDER HOLDERS. how do I start?
You can set up a managed RRSP through a Robo-Advisor like Wealthsimple (which helps to reduce your MER fees, rebalance your portfolio, and is just all around awesome), or you can open one up through your bank, credit union, trust, or insurance company. You can also have your RRSP self-directed, and manage it all on your own (that's what I do!) However, if you'd like to go that route, I'd suggest contacting me for more information on how to do this.
I'm sold! But I need some more facts.

• If you work and file an income tax return, are under 71 years old, and have a social insurance number, you should definitely consider opening up an RRSP. • Your RRSP contribution room changes every year, and is calculated based on the following: ◦ 18% of your earned income from the previous year, with a maximum of $26,230 for the 2017 tax year;
◦ Whatever remaining amount is available after any company contributes to your RRSP. If your company contributes 10% of your earned income from the previous year, you can only contribute the remaining 8%.
• You can withdraw up to $25,000 for a down payment on your first home, and not pay any tax under the Home Buyer’s Plan. However, you have up to 15 years to repay the full amount back into your RRSP. • Wanna go back and hit the books? You can withdraw up to $10,000/year, or up to $20,000 in total to help pay for your education using the Lifelong Learning Plan. All you have to do is repay at least 10%/year for up to ten years.
• It isn’t mandatory that you deduct your RRSP contribution on your tax return in the same year that you made the contribution. You can hold off and deduct it in a future year if you think you will be making more money down the road. So, if you have room in your RRSP and just want it generating some kind of income through an investment, you can just leave it in your RRSP and let that shit grow. Yay compound interest!
• You can set up a spousal/common-law RRSP, which you can contribute to, but your common-law partner/spouse owns. This reduces their taxable income with your help.

RRSP vs TFSA - CONCLUSION
The RRSP and TFSA are great accounts for all Canadians and you should definitely consider opening up one or both of them, and start contributing ASAP. Depending on your financial situation and short/long-term goals, one account may be more beneficial than the other. If you are only making $25,000/year and are in a low tax bracket, you'd probably be better off with a TFSA. But let’s say you get a raise and go from making $25,000/year to $60,000/year, it would probably be worth contributing to your RRSP to put yourself into a lower tax bracket, saving you some money at the end of the year.

So there you have it! Everything you needed to know about the RRSP. If you're still hella confused and need some more guidance, please contact me! I've helped over 100 millennials and Gen-Y'ers figure out what's best for them and how to get started - and I can help you too!

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Travelling is an important part of my life, and it’s something that I try to do at least once a year. However, it can get expensive, and it’s something that definitely needs to be budgeted for. I’ve met lots of travellers who end up stressing during or after a trip because they’ve dug themselves so deep into debt.One of my personal goals is to help others create and manage their personal finances and budget for short or long-term goals. So, this post is a list of some handy tips to ensure that you have financially stress free travels.

1. Plan and research: 
It’s always smart to have some kind of idea as to where you want to travel to so you can start looking into flights and accommodation. This will be the most expensive part of your travels. Sites like Google Flights, Kayak, Momondo, and Cheapoair will scrounge the Internet for the cheapest flights possible. And with so many great accommodation websites like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Booking.com, Agoda, Priceline, and Hostelworld, it’s always great to give yourself enough time to find the cheapest nights available in parts of the city you want to explore. It’ll also be helpful to read some travel bloggers who have recently travelled to your destination as they often discuss how much money they spent. On top of your flight and accommodation, you’ll also want to budget enough money for your food and drink, daily excursions, transportation, and a small emergency fund in case anything goes wrong.

2. Budget:  Just like your food, clothes, rent/mortgage, car etc., travel should be a line item in your budget. If it’s something that you foresee doing in the near future, add it into your yearly budget and account for it from the get-go. That way you won’t be scrambling a few weeks/months before you leave, and you’ll have already had some money set aside.

3. Save, Save, Save: When I saved $20,000 for my trip to South America and Southeast Asia in 2015, I took 15% of my paycheques and put it into a high-interest savings account that I didn’t touch. If I had any money left over after all of my bills were paid and my fun was had, it went into a TFSA where I invested in Index Funds. These funds paid out a dividend and gave me between a 5-10% return for that particular year. It’s one thing to save, but investing your savings will help you make money even faster, getting you one step closer to take off.

4. Open a Separate Account: Once you have a rough idea as to how much money you’ll need, open up a separate bank account that’s out of sight, out of mind. A TFSA and/or high-interest savings account is great because it will accumulate interest faster than an everyday savings account. For those who don’t know the first thing about investing, Wealthsimple is a really great platform that makes saving and investing easy and effortless.

5. Be Flexible and Open: When I was in Brazil, I was complaining to this Irish girl that the flight from Chile to Thailand was $2300. She suggested that I try to be a little more flexible with my timing and not look for a direct flight, but rather create my own trip around the world and book different lags of the flight myself. At first, I was a little skeptical but she helped me research some different itineraries and I booked 3 separate flights. Although it took me 48 hours to reach my final destination, I ended up saving over $900. It’s definitely worth being flexible and having an open mind because you can find some really great deals if you just think outside of the box.

  Conclusion? be smart with your money
For those of you who are as gung-ho about seeing the world as I am, be sure to work hard so you can play hard when on the road. The worst thing that could happen is that you start to travel and realize that you don’t have enough money to do the things that you want to do. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most. Make sure you’re smart with your money before you takeoff so you can leave your financial stresses on the runway. And as always, if you're planning a trip and need some personal finance guidance, please contact me!

OH EM GEE - What's With All the Bank Fees?

admin,39 days Ago | 5 comment

People. Let me bring you up to speed here. Are you still paying the big banks to take out your hard-earned money? How often do you really use a bank teller anymore? You're probably using the ATM and doing most of your banking online, right? And you're still paying monthly bank fees for a Chequing account?

The thought of all of this craziness makes me feel like this...YOU'RE NOT ALONESince launching The Budget Babes back in January; I've had just over 45 consultations and see the same pattern over and over again. People are spending a lot of money on their daily banking fees! Almost 95% of my clients have some kind of monthly fee that they pay without thinking twice about it. And if you do the math, you'll find that you're spending a lot every year. Are your bank fees worth it? If they are, then keep on banking. But if you find that your bank isn't doing that much for you, maybe it's worth making the switch to a no-fee bank account like PC Financial, Tangerine, EQ Bank or a Credit Union of your choice.

2017 COMPARISON OF BANK FEES
TD CANADA TRUST : 
The TD Minimum Chequing account will cost $3.95/month but can be waived if you keep $2000 or more in your account at the end of each day in the month. You'll get 12 transactions per month ($1.25/each for additional transactions), and access to their online/telephone banking. TD also offers an Every Day Chequing account for $10.95/month. This gives you 25 transactions (anything over is $1.25/transaction), free Interac e-transfers and access to their online/telephone banking. TD will waive this $10.95 fee if you keep $3000 or more in your account at the end of each day in the month.  CIBC: Their Everyday Chequing account is $3.90/month. This gives you 12 free transactions (anything over that limit is $1.25/transaction), access to their online/telephone banking, and, well.... that's pretty much it. They also have a Smart Account that is more flexible and charges you based on the number of transactions you make. You could pay as low as $4.95/month up to $14.95/month. This account gives you unlimited transactions, unlimited Interac e-transfers and access to their online service. CIBC will waive this fee if you keep $3000 or more in your account, and you make a recurring transaction or 2 pre-authorized payments each month.

 RBC:
Charges for RBC's Day to Day bank account is $4.00/month. This gives you 12 free transactions (anything over is $1.00/transaction), access to their online/telephone banking, and unlimited Interac e-transfers. They also have a No Limit Banking account for $10.95/month which gives you unlimited transactions, unlimited Interac e-transfers, and access to their online/mobile service.  SCOTIABANK: With fees starting at $3.95/month, Scotiabank's Basic Bank account gives you 12 free transactions (anything over is $1.25/transaction), 2 free Interac e-transfers, access to their online/telephone banking, and you'll earn SCENE rewards. Their Basic Plan is $10.95/month which includes 25 transactions ($1.25/transaction after you've used the 25), 2 free Interac e-transfers, you'll earn SCENE rewards, and they'll waive the $10.95 fee if you keep $3000 minimum as a closing balance after each day. And of course, you receive access to their mobile and online banking.

BMO: 
BMO's Practical Plan will give you 12 free transaction (anything over is $1.25/transaction) at a cost of $4.00/month which they waive if you keep a minimum of $2000 in your account at the end of each day. You'll receive unlimited Interac e-transfers, and of course, access to their telephone/online banking. Their Plus Plan will run you $10.95/month which will be waived with a minimum balance of $3000 in your account. This plan allows you 30 transactions, unlimited Interac e-transfers, and telephone/online banking.

Conclusion:
 Do the math! How much are you spending on bank fees? $50/year? $180/year? It really adds up quick and this is for most basic banking plans! There are still premium/small business plans that are offered. Keep in mind that the above information doesn't even include overdraft protection, the cost of paper statements, cheques, and the charges that apply when using a different branded bank machine. The big banks are making billions of dollars every year. Although it's not all from bank fees, it's definitely helping with some profits. Do you need some help getting your personal finances under control? Contact me for a budgeting consultation! Bank fees are one of many tips that I often give to my clients to save money over the long term, but there are so many more tips that I'd love to share with you.

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