Investing can be simple and you don’t need a lot of money to get started. The earlier you begin investing, the more time your money has to grow and work for (future) you.
You may have heard of terms like TFSA or RRSP. These acronyms are just the names of different types of investment accounts you can open — and now might be a good time to get to know them on a first-name basis!
Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
This is a registered investment account you can use to invest with to save, including for a big purchase or goal – like a car, your gap year, or a down payment for a house.
Who Can Open a TFSA
Canadian residents who have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN) and are above the age of majority in their province or territory of residence.
The benefits of this account are that you don’t typically have to pay taxes on your earnings – you won’t have to pay income taxes on your TFSA investment income from either dividends, interest, or capital gains1. Plus, with a TFSA, you can withdraw and take out your money at any time without a penalty.
TFSA Investment Choices
TFSAs are more than saving accounts. Within your TFSA, you can hold various investments including stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, bonds, and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) – just make sure they’re qualified investments.
You can start with any amount, an important thing to remember is that any amount is a good amount because the earlier you begin investing, the more time your money has to grow.
A TFSA does have contribution limits. This means that there is a limit to how much money you can transfer into your TFSA accounts every year; if you transfer too much money into your TFSA, you may have to pay a penalty.
This might sound scary or complex but it doesn’t have to be! There are many different ways and tools to help you stay on track to maximize the benefits of a TFSA.
Official estimate: Visit the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website here. Once you log in, scroll to the ‘TFSA contribution room’ link. This is the amount you had available as of January 1st so subtract any TFSA contributions you’ve already made this calendar year.
Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP)
This is a registered savings account, typically used to invest for your retirement, or it can be used earlier to save for a down payment as a first-time homebuyer up to the allowable limit and subject to certain conditions.
Who Can Open a RRSP
Canadian citizens who have Canadian employment income, file tax returns and have a valid Social Insurance Number. Note: You must close your RRSP by December of the year you turn 71.
There are a number of different advantages to an RRSP, tax advantages are at the heart of this investment vehicle.
1. Your contributions are tax deductible. When you put money into your RRSP, the same amount is deducted from your taxable income for that year. For example, if you contribute $5,000 to your RRSP throughout the tax year, it decreases your income by $5,000 for that year. This means your RRSP contributions are made with pre-tax dollars.
2. You don’t pay tax until later. Any income and capital gains you earn on your investments within an RRSP are tax-deferred. This means you will not pay tax on the growth of your investments until you withdraw the funds from your RRSP account.
RRSP Investment Choices
RRSPs are more than saving accounts. Within your RRSP, you can hold various investments including stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, bonds, and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) – just make sure they’re qualified investments.
You can contribute up to 18% of your income for a year – up to a maximum amount every year. Visit the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website here. Once you log in, scroll to the ‘RRSP Deduction Limit link.
1 Assets in a TFSA must be Qualified Investments under the Income Tax Act. If the TFSA holds non-Qualified Investments, it could be subject to tax
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.