Archive for December, 2009

Have you opened your TFSA yet?

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Update: I was wrong.  TFSA contribution room accumulates every year that you are 18 or older and a resident of Canada throughout the year. You do not have to set up a TFSA to earn contribution room.  It still may make sense to keep your emergency funds (if you maintain any) in a TFSA, but there’s no rush.  Moral? Check thoroughly if people in the financial services industry tell you something!

Canadians have a new Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) this year.  Every Canadian resident over 18 gets $5000 contribution room each year, and any income earned is tax free (just like an RRSP). Unlike an RRSP, withdrawals are tax free too.

Now the important part. If you don’t open an account, you don’t get the $5000 contribution room. You don’t have to put money in the account right away, but you need to open it before Dec 31, 2009.

Go open one today!  And tell your friends!

  1. Take a look at a comparison chart of different TFSA accounts.
  2. Choose a company
  3. Open an account
  4. Deposit your $1, or $25 or whatever
  5. Put more money in when you have it. It’s a good place to keep your Emergency Fund if you keep one.
  6. Watch your money grow tax-free

Note that tax-free doesn’t necessarily mean fee-free.  Bank fees can eat up any gains you might get.  If you’re just opening the account to get the contribution room, and not putting much money in to begin with, I’d recommend the ING Direct TFSA Savings Account. Simple, no fee, and no minimum contribution.

Once you have more money in your TFSA and want better returns, you can take the money out of your first account, and move it to a TFSA Investment Account, where you can buy mutual funds, stocks and other things which can make a higher return.

The Government of Canada has details on How the Tax-Free Savings Account Works, and there is lots of other detail on the web.

Happy saving!

Flashbacks

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Since early September (and Northern Ontario), I’ve been having flashbacks of our trip. My brain gives me full colour pictures of places we have been and the associated emotions I was feeling while at that place – usually places where we did not take pictures. It can take me weeks and several conversations with Scott to figure out exactly where the memory comes from. These aren’t reminiscences, as it isn’t a conscious act, rather it is an unconscious activity of my brain. Once I figure out the where of the place and fully remember it, my brain moves on with a new flashback. In some ways, it is a gift my brain is giving me.

My latest flashback is of a hot place. We ride over a bridge into a town, passing some kind of museum (or world heritage site). We choose not to stop and visit since we feel pressure to ride before it gets too hot.  The museum or site is somehow related to death or war, which adds to my lack of desire to see it.  Scott comments that he feels some obligation towards visiting, but we press on anyway. It is late morning and we pass a market that has been set up in a parking lot. We pull over and park against the steps of a corner store at the back of the market. I’m hot so my priority is to find myself a cold drink. Ice is hard to find – this tells me we were relatively new to the country and had not yet figured out how to safely buy ice. I buy a Coke in a glass bottle – another sign: glass bottles mean we must have been in Thailand, and a coke means I couldn’t identify a sports drink in the cooler. It tastes awful (as Coke always does to me), but the coolness is refreshing. We walk through the market and buy some fruit and vegetables – garlic, onions, oranges. We may purchase something else, but I don’t remember it. My flashbacks are clearly not 100% total recall.

I asked Scott about this one, and he has no recollection of it. I’ve search through all our pictures and journal entries of Thailand and Malaysia and I still have no clue where or when this flashback took place.  I think I may be stuck with it for a while!