Ho Hum Budget, Brackets Busted and #MoneyTalk

A very ho hum budget from our government this time with a few more tax “tweaks”  (where tweak always ends up acting like a tax increase, due to the loss of yet another deduction). The big ones for someone like me end up being:

ho hum budget

Ho Hum Indeed

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Disappearance of the Mass Transit usage tax deduction. Evidently it didn’t cause more folks to take the bus? Guess I can throw out my “bus pants”. I have taken the bus in the past.
  • If I take an Uber, I will have to pay HST on it. It was surprising to me,  that was not the case, no big deal in my book, I take the bus, no wait…
  • I was sad to read about the death of Canada Savings Bonds. I remember when I had CSB’s that paid 19% a year! Those were the days.
  • For RDSP and RESP the rules for what you can invest in, have been tightened. The interesting part is that it is in the section, “Closing Tax Loopholes”? Doesn’t really change anything in my portfolios, but it is sad when loopholes close (usually they make knots then). Nice to hear that they at least know the RDSP exists.

    Extend to Registered Education Savings Plans and Registered Disability Savings Plans anti-avoidance rules similar to the ones applicable in connection with Tax-Free Savings Accounts and Registered Retirement Savings Plans.

  • For Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Eligibility Certification, Nurse Practitioners are proposed to be added to the list of folks eligible to fill in the forms for you. This is really good news, and should make it easier to do the DTC paperwork yourself.
  • Booze and Smokes are more expensive thanks to higher taxes too.
  • Lots of promises for other folks, but nothing else that changes my life.

The good news is that the Capital Gains taxes and Pension Income Splitting haven’t been touched.

March Madness continues this weekend, and Formula 1 racing begins again as well. Yes that audible sigh you hear is Mrs. C8j realizing I will be a true Couch Potato this weekend. March Madness bracket picking is similar to stock picking in my books (i.e. I stink at both of them).

My Writings for Week Ending March 24th

Spring, sprang here in Ottawa, there is still snow on the ground and we had -25C temperatures, but it was Spring! I also wrote about Spring Financial Cleaning (revisited), and some of the things to do this spring.

A Money Thought

More disturbing comics from Dilbert, especially about investing.

👇 For more great financial articles from this week click here 👇


Spring Financial Cleaning (revisited)

Today is the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Spring is a time of renewal and new beginnings, for your finances as well. The first financial quarter of the year is almost over. Time to assess, review and study your plans for this year. Time for some spring financial cleaning.

Spring Financial Cleaning

Saw this in My Backyard, I think I agree

Spring Financial Cleaning

So what kind of financial spring cleaning can you do? Here are some very simple examples:

  • If you are a Couch Potato investor, have a look at your portfolio. Is it time to rebalance? Given the markets, might be a good time to rebalance.
  • Clean out those extra accounts
    • If you have old bank accounts, combine them. Do you have more than 1 “savings” account? Why? Find the one bank that you can stand, and centralize!
    • How many credit cards do you have? Do you really need 6 different Mastercards? Visa? No, you don’t. Close those extra accounts, they are dangerous to keep.
    • You only need 1 checking account, seriously.
  • How is your financial plan for the year going? Time to rethink things? Did you get a raise? Are you falling into lifestyle creep ?
  • Maybe you don’t have a TFSA set up yet? Why not, it is not just a tax free banking account, time to add this account to your arsenal. Use it as your Emergency account?
  • Is your mortgage about to be renewed? Time to go shopping for a better rate.
  • Your insurances coming due? Time to go shopping, and don’t fall for the “insurance saving device” trick either.
  • Planning on some big spring projects? How are you going to pay for it? Plan now how you will pay for them, or start saving for them.

Get out your financial broom, and sweep it clean. Always try to have a clean financial house.


Naughty Banks, March Madness, Big Snow and #MoneyTalk

The CBC is flogging the “Banks are mean” story line, which has been true, but I guess they think it is a new thing. They had a great discussion on the National (see video at the bottom of this page), with Kerry and Bruce Sellery discussing how the bank is not your friend. I have pounded this point home many times, so I am glad to hear others saying this. Your bank is a business, and as a shareholder, a profitable business too. The banks need to keep finding new income streams, and you are that! All you are to your bank is an attractive income stream (and that is it).

Naughty Banks

V is not for Victory ?

Keep those thoughts in mind the next time you think your bank is helping you out, by allowing you to have a new service. The only reason they let you have it, was to make them money.

March Madness has begun, I am cheering for Deep State to take the whole thing. Curious stat I found that this time of year is when the most vasectomies occur (and around time for the Masters), so the patient can “recover” at home and watch the games in peace and quiet. Seems a little extreme just to have the family leave you alone, but, to each his own. One day I will write about my two vasectomies. Might this be March Vasness ?

Have I mentioned how much I dislike finding snakes in my car? As Bugs Bunny said, “Good Bye Florida!”.

It snowed, in Ottawa, too much. That is all.

Snow in Ottawa

It Snowed, Again

My Writings for Week Ending March 17th

I took a week off, given it is March Break. Stay tuned we will be celebrating my 12th year of being the “Cranky old man of Personal Finance”, next week!

A Money Thought

Stan Buell has the correct view on the whole, “The Banks are out to get us” statement.

👇 For more great financial articles from this week click here 👇


Teller Upselling, Auto-filling Taxes, Spring Forward and #MoneyTalk

Upselling Teller

Spring Forward This Weekend (but it isn’t Spring quite yet)

The CBC had a report this week from a TD Teller, who says that he or she is expected to reach goals selling (sometimes unwanted)  services to customers. This teller stated,  ‘I will do anything I can to make my goal‘. Am I surprised by teller up selling ? Absolutely not, every teller I have dealt with lately has engaged me about new services at the bank. I get harder sells at my bank than I have at car dealerships.  As Michael James has said, Canadian Banks are losing income streams, so they must work hard to get new income streams. Expect teller up selling , just have a polite (but firm) negative response ready.

I am not sure how to politely tell the teller, “Sod off, I don’t need credit insurance!”, or “No I don’t want to get another credit card“.

Auto-filling has come to the world of Canadian Income Taxes, isn’t it great! I did get a cautionary comment from a reader, to be very careful and make sure the CRA has all of your tax slips before you auto-file. Strangely you can’t blame the CRA for not having all your forms ready.

How goes your Lenten Financial journey? Mine so far is stinking it up big time, but there is time to adjust and fix my plans. Remember it is a journey, not a true false test.

RESP Questrade Banner

My Writings for Week Ending March 10th

A quieter week than last week with only 1 article, but an important reminder that it is Tax season with, Tax Tips to Remember 2017 (which is for tax year 2016). Lots of new wrinkles in the system, make sure you get back all the money you are owed. I have had discussions with other financial writers about the TFSA being misnamed. The TFSA makes people think it is a Tax Free Banking Account , which it can be, but not necessarily. Is it just semantics? Not if you are trying to save money.

A Money Thought

An excellent Dilbert cartoon about your level of Risk Tolerance

👇 For more great financial articles from this week click here 👇


Tax Free Banking Account ?

The Tax Free Banking Account I am alluding to is, of course, the Tax Free Savings Account .  In my discussions with friends, I keep hearing folks simply assume the TFSA  is just like a bank account. You deposit money and it grows tax free. The confusions starts with so many banks offering HISA (High Interest Savings Account) or GIC  solutions for their TFSA customers, without pointing out that this is only one version of the TFSA.

I have had many discussions with other bloggers about why  folks assume that the word Account (in the TFSA) implies Bank Account.  I have had many disagree with this  assertion, however, I continue to hear folks look confused when I discuss the TFSA like it is an investment account.

Tax Free Banking Account

Tax Free Banking Account ?

The conversations usually start with a friend mentioning they have put money in their TFSA. Usually I will ask, how are they investing these funds? A blank stare sometimes is the response, which is a cue for me to go into explanation mode. My standard patter is to try to get folks to understand that the TFSA is not just a bank account, in that you can use it as an investment vehicle as well. Sometimes I hear crickets chirping after I explain that part, so I usually change the subject to Religion or Politics (safer subjects).

Is a Tax Free Banking Account A Bad Thing ?

If all you wish to do with your Tax Free Banking Account (sorry TFSA) is put money in it and have it grow at 1.5%, good on you. I am happy to hear folks are using the program, however, there are many other ways to use this savings vehicle.  I did have one friend say, they used it as a savings account, because they didn’t want to pay the fees the investing firms and banks charged, which is an interesting argument.

  • TD Direct Investing will typically charge a yearly fee, if you don’t have a large enough investment block with them (for all accounts). I haven’t paid for my TFSAs, but I also have a large RRSP with Investorline.
  • Other banks typically have a “minimum balance” fee, which motivates you to have more money in your TFSA.
  • There are typically fees to transfer your TFSA to another bank
  • Some banks even charge to withdraw from your TFSA (above and beyond brokerage fees)?

The answer, yes, you can pay fees is truthful, but if you do your research, you should be able to get around them. Doing your research would include, choosing the right bank to have your TFSA with.

The easy statement is:

The Tax Free Savings Account can be a Tax Free Banking Account, but it doesn’t have to be!

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