Rrsps: The Definitive Book on Registered Retirement Savings Plans

No, I haven’t started working on my stack of books I promised to review. I did, however, find Preet’s book in the Ottawa Public Library and had a quick read through it. This is a great book for folks who want to learn about RRSPs.

Rrsps: The Definitive Book on Registered Retirement Savings Plans
Link to Amazon for Rrsps: The Definitive Book on Registered Retirement Savings Plans

The book has short punchy chapters, which is great for folks like me with short attention spans. Many are simple recaps of previous articles Preet has written. Many of the later chapters capture the more intricate topics of RRSPs like:

  • RRIFs and how they fit into the RRSP solution.
  • Locked in Retirement accounts, and their possible uses (including ways to unlock them).
  • Spousal RRSPs, a topic near and dear to my heart.
  • Life Long Learning Plans and The Home Buyer’s Plan the two ways to get money out of an RRSP “early”.
  • Holding your mortgage in your RRSP.
  • RRSP meltdowns, or using your RRSP the wrong way

I also like that Preet’s introduction mentions the now infamous doubling penny saving plan. A fun arithmetic trick, that will surprise some folk.


I would recommend this book, however, I took it out of the library. It is a quick read, and also a good reference book to have. You need to understand the power of an RRSP, although this book doesn’t really touch on TFSAs and how they have changed the retirement game. The book misses the TFSA because it was published in 2008.

I am also a friend of the author (for full disclosure).

ISBN 978-1-4357-0758-0
Title: Rrsps: The Definitive Book on Registered Retirement Savings Plans
Author: Preet Banerjee


5 Things to Remember about RRSPs

things to remember about rrsps

Almost time to have your RRSP story closed off (although, you should be doing this all year around). You know my love for top 10 lists, (and evidently the correct cardinality of a financial list is 7) but, here are 5 things to remember about RRSPs.

Things to Remember about RRSPs

  1. Your RRSP balance is not how much money you have to withdraw. The RRSP program is a tax deferral savings system, you will have to pay taxes on your balance.
    • If you take it all out at once, you will end up paying the highest tax rate on the withdrawal.
  2. Are you sure your tax rate when you withdraw the money is going to be lower than your current rate? You may not withdraw at retirement, what if you get laid-off? If you are not sure about the tax rate, is the RRSP is the right place to put your money?
  3. When you take money out of your RRSP, that RRSP “room” is lost (except for a few specific programs (e.g. 1st home purchases). Every year you are allocated RRSP room, but if you cash out before retirement, that room is lost.
  4. The Spousal RRSP is one of the few ways to income share. I have written countless posts about this, but if your spouse will have less retirement income, this is an important tax evasion tactic for Canadians.
  5. Always name a beneficiary for your RRSP (or any registered savings plan), to ensure a smooth and easy transferral should you die before you can spend it.

There are really not only 5 things to remember for RRSPs, there are many more, but here are five to start with.


Tax Deferral Savings Plan ( your RRSP )

I think if the RRSP was named the Tax Deferral Savings Plan it would clarify to folks how it all works. Most folks simply think of it as a Tax Avoidance program, but like death, there is no hiding from taxes.

The government rarely wants you to get something Tax Free (with the exception of the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), and a few other programs). When you get a refund for your RRSP deposit, all you are doing is deferring paying tax on your deposit. You will pay tax on the money in your RRSP, when you withdraw it. This is why I am calling it the Tax Deferral Savings Plan. Remember there are tax deferral advantages possible, but you must realize that is what the RRSP does.

Tax Deferral savings plan
The Tax Ramifications of a Tax Deferral Savings Plan

Some of the underlying assumptions for your RRSP are simple. When you withdraw money from your RRSP you will:

  • Be in the same or lower tax bracket, thus your tax deferral is a net positive (if you have kept your refund from when you deposited into your RRSP).
  • You have money saved to pay the taxes on the withdrawal.

This is where folks tend to get tripped up. They look at their RRSP balance and see the entire value ($X) , when in fact the actual value is  ($X – Income Tax). How much income tax? Depends on when you take the money out, and how much you withdraw. Take it all out at once and you pay the most tax on that withdrawal.

Retirement Withdrawal

Assuming you are making less when you are retired you are withdrawing at a lower tax rate (hopefully). If you have a higher tax rate when you are retired, you will pay more in tax than you got as a refund.

Emergency Withdrawal

A dangerous idea is using your RRSP as an emergency fund. While it might work if you are unemployed (and have no income), using it to pay for a large purchase might give you a much bigger tax bill.

What to do with Refund?

If you put money into your RRSP (or tax deferral savings plan) and you receive a refund, what should you do with it?

  • If you spend the refund, you need a plan to recover it in some fashion. You must be able to pay the taxes on your deposit.
  • Keep in mind the actual value of your RRSP deposit
    • $X deposit gives $N refund, thus you will need approximately $N in tax payment money to withdraw all of $X again.
  • Put the refund into the RRSP, problem solved, and you get another refund next year (repeat).
  • Refund into TFSA, let it grow there, thus you have the Tax Money. An added bonus is you are using it to grow you nest egg (tax free).
  • Hope your RRSP investments grow enough to cover $N worth of taxes due on the initial deposit.

Your RRSP Balance is Before Tax Money

Remember this, you must pay tax on your RRSP withdrawal (with a few exceptions), plan accordingly!


Leap into Your RRSPs and Financial Planning

RRSP banking web sites must be white hot with action today, as we all have an extra day to add more funds to our RRSP and then claim it on our previous year taxes. Leap Year adds one more day for the festive RRSP Rebalancing Season, and gives financial pundits another day to argue RRSP or TFSA ? The answer (of course) is it depends.

Leap Year and RRSP

Another Exciting Leap Year is Here

No doubt there will be countless articles today arguing that you should be trying to sneak a little more money into your RRSP, because you have an extra day to do it (and that is always the best reason).

You could also view this extra day, as a day to clean up a bunch of financial things you have been ignoring like:

  1. Putting Money in your RRSP !!! OK, enough of that.
  2. Make up a financial plan for the rest of the year (you have 10 months still to go, after all).
  3. Check that all your insurance policies are up to date.
  4. Make an extra payment on your debt, just because that would be cool!

I view a Leap Day with trepidation because I am not getting paid  for this extra day, am I? I am working an extra day for free? Not really, as I get paid bi-weekly, but for those that are being paid bi-monthly, you are making a little less per day in February than you would normally.

Question of the day:

If you were given a free day to do whatever you want, what would you do? Today is that day.

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RRSP Time and #MoneyStories

If you were planning on rebalancing your RRSP or something similar you have until Monday (end of day) to get this all done. There will be a plethora of exciting articles out there to read (including from me), but remember that the RRSP is really a Savings/Tax Deferral System, because you will have to pay your taxes on the money (hopefully not more than you saved by putting money in your RRSP in the first place). Is it worth madly panic’ing to try to make a last minute RRSP deposit if you don’t have a specific need to do so? I don’t think so, you might do better putting the money in your TFSA (if you have room, for either, for that matter), or pay down debt?

Expanding Debt

The Expanding Ontario Debt

The Ontario Government decided that they wanted to have the biggest sub-national jurisdiction Debt in the world ($308 billion), so they continue to run big deficit budgets with big promises. I will be reviewing the alleged extra funding for the Autism programs (with a lot of input from Mrs. C8j, hopefully), $333 million over five years. Why couldn’t they just give me a cut of that? Speaking of huge debts, evidently the World Debt is Rising (according to Bloomberg) but who are we borrowing from then? Mars? Venus? Maybe that is how Pluto ended up being demoted from planet (it owed too much money to the Intergalactic Banks).

Did you realize that Mattel has brought back the Thing Maker as a 3D printer? In case you were wondering what to get me for Easter.

A thought for a Friday:

“Don’t confuse comfort, for happiness”

My Writings for Week Ending February 26th

Another very confusing week of weather here in Ottawa, but luckily my writings didn’t seem as confusing (I hope).

To absolutely no consumer’s surprise Stats Canada published last week the monthly inflation numbers and it showed that healthy food costs a lot more than it did a year ago, and even Gasoline is more expensive too? Given the new taxes the Ontario Government is going to put on booze and smokes, that won’t help these numbers either.

What is a Spousal RRSP? That is a question a few folks have asked me, and I keep thinking about how only 10 years ago it was really the only way to income split (in retirement), but now thanks to Pension Income splitting the Spousal RRSP seems to have disappeared off folks’ savings radar?

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


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