So You’ve Made Your RRSP Contribution: Now What?

By Robb Engen | January 27, 2023 |

It’s a classic mistake I’ve seen time and time again. You scramble to make your RRSP contribution before the deadline and then give yourself a giant pat on the back. But wait a minute. You’re not done yet. Not if your RRSP contribution is just sitting idly in cash.

You need to put that RRSP money to work.

Remember, you don’t actually “buy RRSPs”. Your RRSP is simply a container in which you can hold a wide variety of investments such as GICs, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, and exchange traded funds (ETFs).

It’s those investments that offer returns that hopefully beat inflation over time and provide you with a nest egg to draw from in retirement.

The RRSP container keeps those investment gains sheltered from the tax man until it’s time to withdraw the funds – the idea being that you’re in a lower tax bracket than you are when you made the contribution.

Your RRSP Contribution in Three Steps

An RRSP contribution is a two-step process

Think of your RRSP as a three-step process.

  1. Open an RRSP account (if you haven’t done so already) at a bank, credit union, investment firm, robo-advisor, or online brokerage account.
  2. Contribute to your RRSP (transfer money into it from your chequing account).
  3. Purchase the investment that aligns with the asset allocation outlined in your financial plan.

That allocation will be different for everyone. A conservative-minded investor might be happy with a 5-year GIC, while a do-it-yourself investor with a long time horizon might gravitate towards a globally diversified portfolio of mutual funds or low cost ETFs.

Related: DIY Investing Made Easy

The point of an RRSP contribution is not just to get a tax refund – although that’s indeed a juicy perk. Your RRSP is for retirement savings. Every day your money sits in cash is a day it’s not earning interest, dividends, or capital gains.

You’ve heard that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world? Albert Einstein said, “He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

The other issue with simply holding cash in our RRSPs is the temptation to raid it for short-term needs instead of using it for its intended purpose – retirement. Sure, there are legitimate reasons to withdraw money early from your RRSP, such as the Home Buyers’ Plan, or to cover a gap in employment or financial hardship.

But how many Canadians contribute to their RRSP during RRSP season (i.e. the first 60 days of the year), simply for the allure of a big tax refund? At best many of us spend the refund instead of putting it into our RRSP, TFSA, or to pay down our mortgage. At worst some of us spend the refund AND take out our initial RRSP contribution to fund vacations, cars, or just to make ends meet. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it.

That’s right, many of us are raiding our RRSP savings well before retirement. Indeed, Canada Revenue Agency once reported that 55% of total RRSP withdrawals were made by Canadians under 60. That’s an alarming number of people raiding their retirement savings!

Taking money from your RRSP early is troublesome for three reasons. One, you’ll permanently lose that contribution room in your RRSP. Two, you’ll pay taxes on any withdrawals because the amount is included in your taxable income for the year. Finally, you’ll miss out on that tax-sheltered compounding that could have turned your $5,000 contribution into more than $21,000 (assuming a 6% return for 25 years).

For all of these reasons you’ll want to make sure to contribute to your RRSP this year and then complete the process by purchasing an investment product that fits your age and risk profile.

You’ll not only get closer to your financial goals, but you’ll make it that much harder to raid your retirement fund for something frivolous. If your RRSP contribution is just sitting idly in cash, it’s much more tempting to move it back into your chequing account – which is what we’re trying to avoid.

Introducing A New DIY Investing Course

By Robb Engen | January 25, 2023 |

DIY Investing Course

It’s finally here. A do-it-yourself investing course for regular people who want to save on fees and complexity by using a low cost, all-in-one, automatically rebalancing ETF.

I want to help investors move on from paying 2% MER for a balanced mutual fund at their bank. I want to help new investors set up a sensible and globally diversified portfolio.

I also see the proliferation of questionable online investing courses promoting day trading, option writing, life insurance, crypto, etc. and I want to help investors avoid all of that nonsense.

I write about this stuff all the time, but understanding that you should reduce your investment fees and diversify your portfolio is one thing – the challenge is turning that understanding into action with your own investments.

That’s where I come in. In my work as a fee-only financial planner I’ve helped hundreds of clients make the switch to successful DIY investor.

We book a video call and share a screen so I can walk them through exactly how to open an account, open the appropriate account types, fund the account with new and recurring contributions, how to transfer existing accounts to their new self-directed platform, and how to buy and sell ETFs.

As one client recently said,

“I feel better about the decisions I will make in the future based on your recommendations. You just cut through the muck and lay it out very clearly.”

Indeed, my clients find this so valuable that I decided to record a series of videos and take it to the masses.

DIY Investing Made Easy

In DIY Investing Made Easy, you’ll get an introductory series of three videos where I explain why investment fees matter, why investing has been solved with low cost index funds, and why investing complexity has been solved with all-in-one ETFs.

I explain how to determine the right asset allocation ETF to choose based on your risk tolerance. That’s because these all-in-one ETFs come in a variety of flavours, from a conservative mix of 20% stocks and 80% bonds, to an aggressive 100% global equity ETF (and everything in between).

Finally, I explain your discount brokerage platform options – including when it makes sense to stick with your big bank’s online brokerage arm versus going with a lower cost or no cost provider.

From there I’ve created platform specific videos where I take you through opening an account, funding an account, transferring an existing account, and buying an ETF. 

It’s basically me, sitting in your living room with my laptop showing you exactly how to get started as a DIY investor.

Please note the platform specific videos available right now include RBC Direct Investing, TD Direct Investing, Questrade, and Wealthsimple Trade

While I do expect to add more online brokerage tutorials in the future, the process should be similar enough across other platforms that you’ll be able to navigate your way through it.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been working on this investing course for the past six months and I’m so excited to finally share DIY Investing Made Easy with all of you.

To be 100% clear, this is a paid product. For $399 you get access to the complete video series, with platform specific demonstrations for RBC Direct Investing, TD Direct Investing, Questrade, and Wealthsimple Trade.

With this video series you’ll have everything you need to make a successful transition to DIY investor by using a single asset allocation ETF.

Matt and Hanna, clients of mine from Duncan, BC, recently got a sneak preview of the video series to help with their own DIY investing transition and Matt offered up this kind feedback:

“Rest assured, the videos do not suck! Quite the opposite in fact. It took me all 5 minutes to watch them and make my transfer. The explanations were very easy to understand, and the screen view of the platform was very helpful. I actually said to Hanna that WealthSimple should just put these videos directly on their website.”

This investing course is for long-time holders of a big bank balanced mutual fund who want to save up to 90% in fees by switching to a low cost balanced ETF.

It’s also for fledgling stock pickers looking to reform, or brand new investors who just want to start off on the right foot with a sensible, easy to manage investing solution.

If this sounds like you, then head over to my DIY Investing Made Easy page and let’s get started!


CRA My Account: How To Check Your Tax Information Online

By Boomer | January 24, 2023 |
CRA My Account

If you’ve ever tried to contact the CRA by phone and received a busy signal, or sat on hold interminably waiting for a service rep, as I did recently trying to change my address, you’ll be happy to know about CRA My Account for Individuals.

Online services offered by the banks and other financial institutions have made it easier to manage our financial affairs online and now the CRA My Account portal is no exception. This online account is the gateway to information and activity on your CRA tax account.

Registering for CRA My Account

There are two ways to register:

  1. With a sign-in partner. Use the sign in information you use for online banking, or other acceptable online service.
  2. CRA login. After registering you will receive a CRA user ID and password in the mail.

CRA Login

To get access, you will need the following information:

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Date of birth
  • Your current postal code
  • Your two most recent income tax returns. (An amount you entered on your return will be requested as a security feature, and will always vary.)

CRA My Account: What can you do?

Once you’ve registered and logged in to CRA My Account, you’ll be able to access a great deal of information.

Here’s where you can find out how much contribution room you have available in your RRSP and TFSA. It also keeps track of prior withdrawals.

Find details of your Home Buyers’ Plan and Life Long Learning Plan. You can also apply for child benefits.

Once you file your taxes, you can go here to check the status of your refund, view or change your return and check your benefit and credit payments.

If you are asked to submit an information slip such as a medical receipt, it can be scanned and uploaded into your CRA My Account.

You can change your address and set up or modify your direct deposit information.

You can also access:

  • Your detailed Notice of Assessment
  • Carry forward amounts, including capital gains and losses.
  • Benefits and credits
  • Instalment payments

and so on.

You can also make payments and register disputes.

Finally, you can toggle over to your My Service Canada Account to view and update your information on EI, CPP (Statement of Contribution), and OAS without having to log-in again.

Becoming a representative for another person

A representative is an individual who is involved the tax affairs of another person, such as a friend or family member, executor, Power of Attorney, or legal guardian.

Form T1013 (available to download online) must be completed to authorize a representative, and is sent in to the tax centre. The representative will then be able to access information with a RepID.


CRA My Account is intended to allow individuals to access and manage their own personal income tax and benefits information. It’s not only convenient and easy to use, transactions are processed immediately and the most up-to-date information is displayed so, for example, you will see the details of your Notice of Assessment before you receive it in the mail.

If you still want to talk to a real person, try the main CRA inquiry number at 1-800-959-8281.

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