How To Save $10,000 and Track Every Detail Of Progress In An Awesome Spreadsheet

Earlier this week, I was setting some saving goals for 2013 and struggling to get the math to work out. I’m a full-time student and my income from freelance writing is variable. In 2014, I’ll be in school January through April and again September through December, but I’ll be working May through August (and there’s rumours that the the bulk of my second year MBA classes are in the evening to permit us to work September through December too but I’m not sure of that schedule yet). I might or might not find additional scholarship funding to help with my school costs. I’m expecting a fat income tax refund in February/March because of tuition credits and my 2013 RRSP contributions. Anyway, the consequences are this:

  • my income will vary dramatically month-to-month in 2014
  • I haven no idea how much money I will earn in 2014 (estimate $40,000 to $60,000+ — seriously, no idea!)
  • I have ludicrously high expenses: I’m expecting tuition and books for my MBA to cost me $25,000 in 2014
  • I still want to save and invest!

ALL OF THE FOLLOWING TABLES WERE MADE WITH NUMBERS, THE APPLE SPREADSHEET PROGRAM

If you are using Numbers on a Mac, you can download the spreadsheet template used in this post by clicking here.

YOU CAN USE THE SAME FORMULAS IN EXCEL

So naturally I turned to spreadsheet programs to work out my life, and I decided the process was helpful enough for me that it might help MAG readers also trying to work out their financial goals and plans.

STEP 1: Choose a Savings Goal – $10,000

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My goal is NOT $10,000 – I just selected $10,000 because it’s a nice big round number. Since I’ve already accumulated savings, my goal is something different and involves building off financial assets I already have. However, for this post I thought it would make more sense to lay out a plan starting from $0.

Additionally, $10,000 is a such a feel good number. Everyone likes $10,000.

STEP 2: Select a Timeline – 2 years

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Be careful with this one. It’s easy to get overly-ambitious when you’re drunk on the sheer excitement of having an additional five-figures added to your net worth. You have to be able to separate what you want from what you can accomplish. Everyone would like to accumulate an extra $10K in 3 months, but don’t set your timeline to 3 months if your income isn’t high enough to actually get it done. You’ll just end up failing and then you’ll be sad about it, and you’ll come back and blame me and I will be very confused and start to feel guilty, like I had betrayed you somehow, and it won’t end well for anybody.

2 years is a nice timeline. It’s 24 months. It means only $5,000 of savings per year. You can do that.

STEP 3: Decide Where You Want To Save The Money

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Ha! Bet you thought I was going to say “determine how much you need to save each month”, but that is actually Step 4. Step 3 is deciding where to put the money. Why? Because not all savings accounts are created equal. If you’re Canadian, you absolutely must be taking advantage of a Tax Free Savings Account. You should also be saving for retirement in an RRSP if your income is greater than $50,000. If you’ve maxed out your TFSA and RRSPs, you can open an unregistered account for other savings.

Essential savings you should have include an Emergency Fund and Retirement savings, so that’s what I chose to use in this example. I suggest keeping your Emergency Fund in a TFSA and Retirement savings in an RRSP.

STEP 3 PART 2: Decide How You Want To Invest The Money

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New savers might not be aware that you can hold different kinds of investment vehicles in registered accounts like TFSAs and RRSPs. These vary in risk, return, and accessibility. For the sake of simplicity  I executed this example with only savings accounts, but if you wanted my personal opinion on the matter I would suggest keeping your Emergency Fund in a savings account but investing your RRSP in an index mutual fund. If you’re a more advanced investor, you should be investing in stocks/ETFs within both your TFSA and RRSP.

STEP 4: Determine How Much You Need To Save Each Month

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This is straightforward math: $10,000 / 24 months = $417 per month.

BUT! If you’re gawking at $417/mo thinking that’s impossible, there are some loopholes. I started this post explaining how variable my income is, but despite the spotty forecast, there’s a few things I know for sure: I will get an income tax refund in excess of $2,000 before March 2014 and for the months of May through August of 2014 I will be working full-time. I can start making guesses for 2015 too (ie. as of May 2015 I will be working full-time) but as a general rule I try not to guess my income more than a year in advance because there’s a myriad of circumstances that can affect it. It’s much easier to simply take stock of my progress at the end of 2014 and then update the plan for the following year. I encourage you to do the same, otherwise if you’re imagining a big fat raise or inheritance (you awful person, you) in 2015, you’ll be too tempted to slack off in 2014. However, build a table for 2 years anyway so you can always see your end goal and continuously update your progress as you go.

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 11.41.10 AMSo at this point you can do two different things:

  1. Set goals for each account: ie. “I want to save $5,000 in my emergency fund and $4,000 for retirement and $1,000 in other savings”.
  2. Set contributions for each account and just let the money pile up.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll go with the second one.

Now, if you want to pretend the magic of compounding doesn’t exist, you might be tempted to do something like this:

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Which is cool, but as stated before, $417 is a lot to leave your bank account every month, especially if you’re a starving student such as myself. There is a way to make this number less. We know the power of compounding should let us get away with lower contributions, so let’s round down our Savings contributions from $66.67/mo to $50/mo based on optimism and math.

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Let’s go ahead and make our first deposits in January 2014.

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And our second deposit in February 2014.

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Now something cool has happened: we’ve contributed $800 but we actually have $800.46 in our accounts. Yay interest! The easiest way to calculate compounding interest on your savings in order to make accurate forecasts is to build the formula into your table. There is actually a formula that you can use — I know it exists because I learned it in my Accounting class — but if you like math and spend a lot of time working with spreadsheets, you will be able to deduce it into something like this:

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For those unfamiliar with spreadsheets, using the dollar signs around cell names is a way of “anchoring” those values when you extend the formula to other cells. For example, by writing “$B$2″, I’m telling the spreadsheet to use that value for my contributions when I drag the formula to other cells. Otherwise, for my next cell it would use the cell below the one I indicated which isn’t right. If this doesn’t make any sense at all, I’m sorry, just mess around until you get it.

Don’t forget!: the interest rate is 1.40% annually, but it’s compounded monthly which is why you have to divide it by 12. Also make sure you adjust the formula in each cell for the interest rate for that account — as you can see, the interest rate on the RRSP savings account is lower than that of the TFSA.

You can then autofill the rest of the table and witness some compounding interest magic:

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We see a problem right away: we’re trying to save $10,000 in two years, but we haven’t hit the halfway mark after 1 year. Go ahead and autofill the rest of the table anyway so you can see how much you’re going to come up short:

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We’re $272 short of our goal after two years, and that’s even after putting away $400 a month! This is ridiculous! Screw this!

First, stop being so mad, $9,700 is a lot of money! Second calm down and think of times you might be able to add a little more to the accounts. For me, this is when I get my income tax refund in March and when I work full-time next summer. I never like to over-estimate too much, so let’s low-ball this and assume you’re going to get a $1,000 income tax refund in March, and this will let you put an extra $750 in your TFSA and $250 to your RRSP. Go ahead and add this income to these cells in March:

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I’m manually adding $750 to my March 2014 contributions

The table will change automatically. Something marvellous has happened:

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We’ve now beat our goal by $750! Right on! So you can think that is awesome and keep it, or you can say, “I really don’t want to contribute $400/mo to these accounts” and use this opportunity to reduce it. Let’s cut our extra savings down to $20/mo.

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The table will automatically update.

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Yay! Now we exceed our goal by $23 and we only have to pay $370/mo in savings instead of $417!

Now let’s pretend we’re in the future and it is February 1, 2014. After a month has passed, I like to delete the formula from the cell of that month and enter a hard number. This ensures that if there are changes to my contributions or interest rates, it will only affect future cells and not my past progress. This is important because you can’t change the past without a time turner and serious magical consequences that will stretch through the ages and across the universe. I always change the font colour to black to indicate that it is a number and not a formula.

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And that’s how you save $10,000 and keep track of every minute of it.

I hope you found this helpful because it took a really long time to write..

Should You Ever Withdraw Money From Your RRSP?

I recently got in a debate with a friend about withdrawing from your RRSP. He reasoned that in a low income year (ie. as a student), it could make sense because the tax hit would be less than that you would experience withdrawing your money in retirement. I disagreed for a number of reasons — namely that instead of deregistering the funds, he should withdraw them under the lifelong learning plan, which he didn’t even mention for some reason — and I have decided to share them with you here.

“Safe” Ways To Withdraw Money From Your RRSP:

The First-Time Homebuyers Plan - The first time Homebuyer’s Plan (HBP) will allow you to withdraw up to $25,000 from your RRSP for a down-payment on your first home. You have 15 years to pay back the amount you withdrew. If you borrowed the full $25,000 this is about $139/mo.

The Lifelong Learning Plan - Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) will allow you to withdraw  $10,000 per year up to a maximum of $20,000 for education costs. You have 10 years to pay back the amount you withdrew. If you borrowed the full $20,000, this is about $167/mo.

The problem with the “safe” withdrawals:

Distressing data collected by the Canada Revenue Agency reveals nearly one-half of people who used the First-Time Homebuyers Plan, failed to meet the repayment requirements. Consequently, they now need to pay income tax on that amount for withdrawing it from their RRSP. I haven’t been able to find data on repayment of the Lifelong Learning Plan (it’s not utilized as much as the HBP), but I’m doubtful borrowers are perfect at paying that one back either. Borrowing for a home or your education can be justified in the right circumstances, but no matter what, you miss out on compounding. If you fail to follow the repayment schedule of the LLP or HBP, you negate any benefit of borrowing under these plans and end up hurting yourself financially.

Risky Withdrawal From Your RRSP:

Using Your RRSP As An Emergency Fund or to Supplement Income – I can’t blog enough about the importance of establishing an emergency fund, but since this is “Money After Graduation” and not “Emergency Funds After Graduation”, I try to hold off. You should never be without some liquid cash to cover unexpected expenses. It’s important to contribute to your retirement accounts, but if you do it just to withdraw the money during a future time of crisis, you’re undoing all your  hard work and then some. If you don’t have cash on hand for unexpected expenses and emergencies, then you can’t afford to contribute to your retirement accounts. DON’T PUT MONEY IN YOUR RRSP IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE $1,000+ SET ASIDE IN A TFSA FOR “JUST IN CASE”. Ever, ok? Just don’t do that.

Why this is so goddamn risky:

You don’t know what your income will be in retirement. Predicting the future is impossible, I get it, but this is shooting yourself in the foot hoping you miss your toes. As you get further along in your working career and closer to retirement age, it will become easier to predict your retirement income and compare it to your current earnings, but if you’re a high-earning ($70,000+/yr) twenty-something like my MBA classmates, it’s all guesswork. Find another way to get money.

You’re still being taxed. Even if you estimate your current tax bracket in a low income year is less than that you expect in retirement, you’re not pulling the money out tax-free. The $10,000 withdrawal my friend was suggesting would be taxed at 20%. Uh? Wasn’t the point of withdrawing in a low or no income year to avoid taxes? What’s the point of taking out $10K if you’re only going to net $8,000 of it? You better be pretty desperate for cash if you’re willing to see $2,000 of your money go to government. Remember this is $2,000 you don’t get to spend on anything and will never compound in your retirement accounts. Would you rather pay $2,000 in taxes now or have $6,334 in 40 years when you retire? Because that’s exactly what this is.

You never, ever get the contribution room back. Personally, I think this is the biggest downside to deregistering funds from an RRSP: once you do, that money is gone. You can’t put it back. It’s not like a TFSA where what you withdraw becomes new contribution room the next year. If you take money out of your RRSP you can’t put it back. Don’t throw away things you might need later.

You miss out on decades of compounding. The closer you get in age to retirement, the less disastrous withdrawing from your RRSP early becomes. It can even be beneficial to flatten taxes in  your later working years. However, if you’re in your 20′s, deregistering RRSP money cost you big time in the long run. I ran a few numbers in Excel just for kicks, and found $10,000 invested in your twenties at a paltry 3% will grow to over $30,000 by the time you retire at 65. With over $20,000 of “free money” in interest, I can’t really wrap my head around why anyone would do this.

What my silly friend should do: if he needs $10,000 in 2014 to cover expenses, he should pull the money out of his RRSP under the Lifelong Learning Plan and make a plan to pay it back on schedule after graduation.

How my RRSP helped me pay off my student loans, go back to school, and save for the future

Ok guys, RRSPs are getting way too much flack in the Canadian personal finance community. With most people singing the praises of TFSAs, we’re forgetting a financial truth:

RRSPs are still awesome.

…but they’re not for everybody.

(well, they are for every Canadian in a legal sense, but not everybody should take advantage of them all the time)

I opened an RRSP for my 25th birthday, because at my quarter-century existence milestone I was going through this weird phase of feeling “old” and “grown-up”. Now that I’m 28 I realize how ridiculous it is to feel old at 25, but that is the foolishness of youth. My contributions to my RRSP at that time were minimal, because even though I was eager to start saving for retirement, I had figured out enough about money to know an RRSP wasn’t the best savings vehicle for me at that time because of my low income.

Fast forward a year later when my income jumped and I started a job with an employer pension. The mandatory contributions to my employer pension counted as RRSP contributions, because it was money going into a registered retirement account. Employer pensions are rare these days, so most people will have a choice whether or not to contribute to their retirement accounts. However, even if contributions weren’t mandatory, I still would have kept saving in an RRSP.

My income was over $50,000 annually and RRSP contributions helped minimize the amount of income tax I paid.

Paying less income tax meant I got bigger income tax returns back (I never requested my employer reduce my tax rate because with the variable income I was earning from freelance writing & blogging, it was difficult to predict the taxes I would owe, so I erred on the side of receiving a return instead of paying!). Large income tax returns helped me wipe out my massive student loan debt AND allowed me to boost my savings and investment accounts.

Consequently, not only did I have money socked away for retirement, I was able to get out of debt super fast and start investing in the stock market.

RRSPs have always been, and still are, part of my long-term wealth-building strategy. 

If I over-contributed to my RRSP — what I mean by that is, put more money into it than I needed to maximize my income tax return — I carried the deduction to a future year. I don’t even know if people realize you can do this, but you can contribute to your RRSP and claim the deduction in a later year.

I have contributed more to my RRSPs than I’ve claimed in deductions.

And that money is growing with interest and dividends that won’t be part of my deduction. In other words, contributing to my RRSP is earning me some free money. Who would say no to that?

Now that I’ve decided to return to school for my MBA, my RRSPs are a backup plan for funding my degree. I can borrow up to $10,000 per year to a maximum of $20,000 under the lifelong learning plan. This represents approximately half of the entire cost of my degree.

You know what happens when you borrow from yourself to pay for something? 

You don’t go into debt.

Scholarships and savings have spared me withdrawing any money from my RRSP to fund my educational pursuits thus far, but I like knowing I have tens of thousands of dollars on hand if I needed. I won’t need to take a break from my studies or pick up a part time job in order to earn money to pay for my tuition, my RRSP is always available to me and the only person I have to pay back if I use it is myself. Talk about peace of mind!

So I want to take this moment to thank my RRSP for helping me pay off my debt, put money away for when I’m old & grey, and let me go back to school without fear of poverty.

If it weren’t for my RRSP contributions, I’d be way further behind in my debt repayment and savings progress.

When should you NOT contribute to an RRSP:

- you earn a low income. As a general rule, the threshold for justifiable RRSP contributions is $50,000 but this depends on a number of factors, namely what other deductions you can claim.

- you haven’t maxed out your TFSA. An RRSP is a tax-deferred account, which means you’re going to pay taxes on on the money in the account, just at a later date. A TFSA on the other hand is a tax-free account, which means you never pay taxes on the money in that account. The trade off is you can’t claim TFSA contributions when you file your taxes the way you can claim RRSP contributions. For ultimate tax-minimization, you should try to max out your TFSA before your RRSP, regardless of income.

- you don’t like money. If you don’t have a real interest in managing your money well, you want to make the choices that will hurt you the most, and this includes never contributing to an RRSP. Maybe don’t even file your taxes at all, because if you’re going to financially self-sabotage, might as well go all out.

In conclusion, the Canadian PF community has to stop slamming RRSPs like they’re financially toxic and recognize some of the benefits of putting money away in these accounts.

5 Steps To Increase Your Net Worth By $25,000+ Per Year

On my Ask-Me-Anything post, a reader asked me to expand on my plans to increase my net worth by $25,000 after I graduate from my MBA in 2015. I like when people ask me questions like this, because it’s one of those painfully obvious things I’m totally oblivious to. Please always feel free to email me any money questions you have, I do love to help!

What does increasing your net worth by $25,000 mean? It means that every 4 years your wealth will grow by $100,000. Every decade you’re upping your wealth by a quarter of a million dollars. If you’re out of debt, that means you’re banking 100% of this cash. If you’re in your twenties, doing this means you will retire a millionaire. See? Isn’t this cool? Don’t you want to do this?

How To Increase Your Net Worth By $25,000 Per Year

Step 1. Earn $50,000+ per year. I know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people think they can “get rich” on tragically small salaries. Saving 30%+ of your income is fantastic — but it won’t increase your net worth by $25K if you’re only bringing home $2,000 per month.

*I’m sorry if this is bad news for people that don’t make large enough salaries to aggressively grow your net worth. I do not have a magic formula to grow your net worth by $25K when you make $30K a year and have $28K of expenses. However, this doesn’t mean your savings efforts are for naught. You should always strive to save as much as you comfortably can, and if you feel like it’s not enough, you have to look for a way to increase your income to accomplish your goals.

Related Post: The Logistics of ACTUALLY Increasing Your Net Worth By $25,000 Per Year (includes a peek at my old paycheque!)

How I expect to achieve this: my starting salary at my first “big girl” job was $50,000 per year, and I received two raises in my time there before leaving to go back to school for my MBA. I’m hoping my MBA warrants a higher starting salary, but in my mind my worst case scenario is going back to the salary I left. I also operate under the general assumption that I will make progressively more money every year of my career, making banking $25,000 in savings easier as time goes by.

Step 2. Aggressively kill debt. If you’re carrying a balance on a credit card, their scary interest rates are eroding any wealth-building progress you’re making. Not only does eliminating debt increase your net worth, it makes it easy to further increase your net worth by other means.

For example, for every $1,000 you owe at 15% interest, you’re losing $150 per year. This means you actually have to pay $1,150 just to make your net worth budge $1,000. On the other hand, if you invest $1,000 at 3%, you’re gaining $30 per year. The net worth difference between a -$150 drag and a +$30 boost is $180. Essentially this means that a debt-free person is already almost $200 ahead for every $1,000 in the net worth game than a person that has debt.*

*sidenote: this is super simplified math for the purpose of example only. Real numbers will different due to things like compounding and monthly payments, but the logic still stands.

How I expect to achieve this: Frankly, ever since debt and I broke up for good in July, I’m trying not to go running back to its warm and comforting embrace, but if I do I’m getting the hell out of it the second I see an open door.

Step 3. Save like crazy. To save $25,000+ per year, you’re going to need to be willing to part with about $2,000 per month in the beginning. If this seems insane, I promise it looks a lot less intimidating broken down into different accounts and goals.

For example, a few of the things I’m working on right now include building a $10,000 emergency fund in my TFSA and saving $25,000 in my RRSPs. When I work full time, I’ll probably contribute $500 per paycheque to my TFSA and $400 per paycheque to my RRSPs. Assuming I get paid twice per month, this translates to $1000/mo into my emergency fund and $800/mo into my retirement accounts, boosting my net worth by $1,800 per month or $21,600 per year. Regularly contributing to my brokerage account will bring this total to my $25,000 savings goal.

How I expect to achieve this: These were my savings rates before I left my full-time job to go back to school for my MBA, and even though my income has been reduced, I keep the same proportion. In other words, I’m used to 40% of my paycheque going towards my savings goals and as long as I keep this percentage with a bigger salary, my net worth will grow accordingly.

Step 4. Don’t buy cars and houses. If you think my savings plan above looks crazy, it’s probably because you’re carrying a ridiculously huge car payment or a mortgage. I’m not surprised if you’re balking at saving the required $2,000 per month for a $25K net worth increase when you spend $600 per month on car expenses. I’m not saying don’t have a car, especially if you actually can’t be without one (and I mean ACTUALLY CAN’T BE WITHOUT ONE, not would-just-find-it-inconvenient-to-be-without-one), but I am saying don’t have a car if it’s going to keep you from building wealth. A car is not an asset, a car is a money-hungry black hole much like a child except quieter and can be left unattended for long periods of time without consequence. As for a mortgage, I don’t even want to touch this because I will want to go into super rant mode but I would STRONGLY discourage you from counting your home in monthly net worth calculations (annually or every 2-5 years makes more sense). I don’t really care if your house is worth $450,000 now and 6 months ago it was valued at $400,000. That’s unrealized gains, it’s not money in the bank. Furthermore, it’s subject to the market, and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but the Canadian housing bubble is a real thing and we’re on the verge of getting f#$%ed. Sorry, guys. Lastly, making your monthly mortgage payment is doing very, very little for your net worth in the early years of home ownership since the bulk of it is going towards interest. You are running on a hamster wheel of a false sense of progress chasing a dangling carrot that is probably laced with cyanide. If you don’t believe me, ask an American what it was like.

Full disclosure: I was born without the gene that makes all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed millennials reach for the holy grail of “owning a home”. I know that eventually I will grudgingly take on the burden of a mortgage, but it will be in my thirties and  because it’s the only way I will be allowed to own a dog since renting with pets is basically impossible in my city.

How I expect to achieve this: I have no plans to purchase a car or home anytime in the next 5 years, because those are just things I don’t want. Over the long term, even if I subscribe to car and home ownership, I will never count these items in my goal of increasing my net worth by $25K+ year over year. I will count them in my overall net worth calculations (in a seriously underestimated way) but they will have no bearing on the actual progress of increasing my net worth each year.

Step 5. Invest in income-generating assets. This means use your money to buy things that make you more money. I try to keep a relatively balanced portfolio, and I’m partial to dividend stocks. More often than not, when I purchase a new investment, it will generate a monthly or quarterly payout (with the exception GICs and some mutual funds, which pay out annually). I always reinvest this income into more income-generating assets. The goal is to maximize passive income to relieve some of the net worth boosting duties of your salary. In my mind, the more money you can get without working, the better.

How I expect to achieve this: I started investing in stocks a few years ago, so my portfolio has had some time to start to pull its own weight. My current annual dividend income is a few hundred dollars per year, and it keeps growing. The more passive income I earn, the less I’m required to save from my salary in order to meet my goal. For example, in Step 3 I outlined a plan to save $25,000 per year, but if I’m earning $1,000 in dividends per year, I only have to save $24,000 per year and my net worth will still be increasing by $25,000 annually.

And there you go! That’s how I’m doing it.

Where to Put your Savings

Last Fall I opened up my first tax-free savings account at my bank in order to have something to put some savings into instead of lumping it all into one account. I was pretty disappointed with the interest rate of 1.1%, but figured it was better than nothing, and put a bit of money into it.

Tax-Free Savings Accounts are great in that you don’t pay tax on any of the interest you earn, but with my lower income I don’t worry about income tax since it doesn’t really affect my take-home income by much. For higher-income earners, the tax-free aspect would be more beneficial.

Researching different accounts can be helpful and should be paired with applying the information to your own personal situation. Not one account is right for every person. I emptied out my TFSA last month and transferring it to an ING Direct savings account because the interest rate is higher and it makes more sense for me. Here are a few things to consider when looking at where to keep your savings:

How much money is it?

TFSA’s have a limit of $5500 investment per year. If you don’t invest the whole amount the contribution room carries over, but if you run out of room you will need to split up the sum and put it in different places.

How should the money be accessed?

Is it money that you plan to use for a down-payment on a home, schooling, travelling, fun money, emergency fund, or retirement? If it’s fun money or an emergency fund that you want some ease of access to, a TFSA may not provide that. Many banks take 1-2 days to transfer funds that you withdraw from a TFSA into your chequing account. If it’s savings for retirement or a down payment, you can have a bit less accessibility since you won’t suddenly or unexpectedly need to get the money out of the account.

Are the rates fair?

Interest rates on accounts are pretty low at the major Canadian banks across the board. Most hover around 1.1%. My investment savings account rate is 1.35% and although that’s not a huge difference every cent is more money in my pocket.

Are the fees reasonable?

I am a big fan of no-fee banking, so both of my bank accounts have zero fees. Paying a $5/month fee may sound small but if you don’t have much in the way of savings yet you may be losing money every month once the fees are taken out of your account.

Is there a minimum balance?

Some savings accounts require a set amount such as $5000 before your money will earn any interest. If you don’t have $5000 yet or don’t plan to keep over $5000 in the account, skip these and go for one with no minimum balance.

Does the service level match your needs?

ING has high rates, but with that comes no in-person service–they don’t have any branches. If you much prefer going in person to ask questions and do your banking instead of by the phone or website, sticking to a more traditional bank for your savings would be smart.

Once you figure out which account is right for you, automate it to take money from your chequing account each month to make saving even easier.

How did you choose your banking institution?