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Investing FAQ


    Straight Talk About Investing.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    When you are in your 20s, paying debts and the rent may not leave much money to invest. This is why an automatic transfer is recommended.

    Automatic transfers contribute a set dollar amount into your investment from a designated account, so you are investing weekly or monthly, rather than trying to throw a lump sum at the RRSP before the contribution deadline.

    Don’t worry if you’re not building up a large RRSP in the early years of your career. Instead, do what you can to increase your income, cut your expenses, and reduce any debt you may have. Remember that reducing debt and saving for retirement are not competing goals: both work together to construct long-term financial health.

    Here is an example that explains why investing early is important and how doing so allows you to earn even more money when your interest is compounded and you earn interest on the interest. If you were to invest $4,000 a year starting at 20, and receive an 8% average annual return, by the time you were 60, you would have more than $1 million saved. If you waited until you were 32, you’d have to invest around $10,000 a year for the same result.


    • When you receive a bonus at work, take as much as you can and put it in your RRSP savings.
    • Build your savings by increasing your automatic transfer amount every time you get a raise.
    • Eliminate your debt. Start with student loans and other non-mortgage debt as the interest you pay on these loans is usually higher than the guaranteed interest you can earn on investments.
    • If you have all your debt paid off, put aside some money in a high-interest Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) to cover any unforeseen emergency expenses.
    • Save for a down payment on a home.
    • Unused RRSP room is carried forward. This works out well since you will likely earn more money as you get older, and contributions made during higher-income years means more tax saving.
    • Focus on good savings habits, the best way to do that is by setting up an automatic transfer.
    • 10% is the ideal percentage of every paycheque that should be put toward your RRSP, but if you can’t fit that into your budget, don’t panic. Invest as much as you can, a little is better than nothing.
    • Use any tax refunds you receive as a contribution to your RRSP. This will, in turn, generate a larger refund next year.

    In your early thirties, the mortgage, cars and kids are probably weighing you down. There’s no point in clearing out your bank account each month to put money in your RRSP if it means pulling out a high-interest credit card to pay for groceries.

    Mortgages at this time are usually considered a higher priority because every time you make an extra payment on your mortgage you reduce the amount owed on the principal. If your mortgage interest rate is 5%, paying it off faster is like getting a guaranteed 5% return.

    However, if you are a high-income individual in the top tax bracket, it’s better to maximize on your RRSP room before making additional mortgage payments. Take your tax refund and contribute it back into the RRSP, or even use it to pay down your mortgage to compound your savings.

    If you have a pension you might be wondering if you still need an RRSP. For most people the answer to that is “yes”. With no pension, you can contribute up to 18% of your income to an RRSP each year. That amount is reduced if you have a private pension to reflect the fact that you are also contributing to retirement income through your pension at work.


    • If you are planning to use your RRSP for a down payment on your first home soon, you may wish to consider a more conservative, less risky portfolio at this point. You can always go back to an aggressive one later.
    • Try and contribute 50% of any bonus into the RRSP for your future and be sure to increase your automatic transfer if you have received a raise.
    • Use any tax refunds you receive as a contribution to your RRSP, this will in turn generate a larger refund next year.
    • It’s okay to skip RRSP contributions in the early years of your thirties, but don’t make the mistake of overspending and digging yourself deep into debt.
    • If you’re not happy with your annual rate of return on your RRSP, be sure to ask your advisor how fees are calculated and how they affect the return on your investment.
    • Evaluate your unused RRSP room, invest on a regular and consistent basis using automatic transfers and be sure to review your asset allocation.

    If you stand to collect a very generous pension in retirement, having a large RRSP would result in that money being taxed heavily. If that is the case, use any extra funds to pay down your mortgage and max out your TFSAs.

    In your forties, you’re that much closer to retirement so it is very important to review your portfolio, realign your risk, and look at your asset allocation. Most importantly however, is to continue to invest on a regular and consistent basis.

    If you haven’t already done so, you may want to consider placing money in mutual funds, which is a diversified way to invest. In these funds, professionals manage the money provided by a pool of investors into areas that are typically considered higher-risk and higher-return, such as stocks and bonds. Because a group of people contribute and the money is placed in a variety of places, it’s considered safer than buying individual stocks or shares.

    Opening more than one RRSP account can mean more fees to pay, more statements to read and file, and more complexity to track. A disorganized investment strategy could end up lopsided with too many risky investments or too many conservative ones, or even cause duplications. You could even wind up making over contributions and be forced to pay tax penalties. Having a qualified, trusted financial planner on your team is wise.


    • Work towards a short-term but sizable goal right now, like a trip you have always wanted to go on. Once you’ve saved enough for the vacation and have enjoyed the time off, come back and take stock. This serves to help you identify spending habits and helps you determine how you can save more.
    • Try and save 50% of any bonus for your future and be sure to increase your automatic transfer, if you have received a raise.
    • Use any tax refunds you receive as a contribution to your RRSP, this will in turn generate a larger refund next year, while increasing your retirement investment.
    • Re-evaluate the plans you made in your 30s and get a detailed analysis of your portfolio.
    • Take full advantage of tax shelters such as TFSAs and RRSPs in order to protect your investments and keep the dividends, capital gains and interest income safely piling up.
    • Having a balanced mix of equities, bonds and cash is even more important for long-term performance than choosing the right stocks.

    You don’t want debt when you retire; make a payment plan that will get you debt free by the time you are ready to retire.

    In your fifties, you might want to consider taking advantage of RRSP over-contribution rules, look at consolidation of RRSPs to one account but also review your investment portfolio with more urgency as you are coming closer and closer to retirement.

    Market turndowns are more perilous in your 50s than when you were younger. That is why many people begin to further diversify their portfolios into stable products to avoid unwelcome surprises. At this age, you typically want to see about 30% of a portfolio in GICs, which offer a guaranteed rate of return looking to preserve your principal, earning interest at a fixed rate.

    As you get closer to your retirement, you want to start building up a buffer. To calculate how much that should be, take the annual retirement income you’ll need and multiply it by three. For example if you think you’ll need to withdraw $20,000 a year, then in the years before you retire, build up a $60,000 buffer in ultra-safe investments.

    Retiring with debt can be very dangerous. The more money you owe, the more you will have to withdraw from your RRSPs. The more you withdraw, the higher your taxable income, and the higher your taxable income, the more potential there is for some of your Old Age Security benefits to be clawed back. If you have assets in a TFSA, use some of it to pay down your debt.

    Another way is to sell/withdraw enough of your holdings in an unregistered investment portfolio to pay off the debts. If you are dead set on keeping the investments, try this: If you sell some of your holdings, pay off your debt and then re-borrow to buy back the securities after a 30-day period has elapsed. Loans for investment purposes are tax-deductible, unlike regular loans.


    • It’s actually possible to have too much money invested in an RRSP, particularly if you’re a lower-income earner or have a generous pension coming. A large RRSP could result in your funds being heavily taxed upon retirement. It might be more prudent to max out your TFSA now.
    • Get serious about paying off debts, such as your mortgage.
    • This is the time to increase contributions, and decrease risks, both tactics that work hand in hand.
    • Consolidating your RRSPs or RRIFs is relatively easy, and because you are not deregistering them you won’t be incurring any tax charges or creating income problems.
    Get ruthless about carving out as much of your current income as you can and stashing it in savings. You won’t have the same advantage of compound interest as when you were younger, but you have a target in view — that’s the best motivator of all.

    You may be wondering what the most tax efficient way to get money out of your RRSP is. Well, the trouble often starts when you turn 65. If you have a good pension and other investments to draw from, you might not dip into your RRSPs at all at first. But when you turn 71, the government forces you to start withdrawals, and if your income is high, more than 40% of that money could go towards taxes. To try and avoid the problem of your income ballooning when you hit 71, consider retiring earlier than you planned and taking the money out of your RRSP early so it’ll get taxed at a lower rate.

    When it comes to when you should withdraw from your RRSP, a balanced approach is usually best. Conventional advice rightly recognizes the tax sheltering advantages of keeping money in RRSPs and RRIFs for longer. But if you empty your non-registered accounts first and then take concentrated RRIF withdrawals later, that can produce spikes in taxable income. Because of the progressive tax system which taxes higher income at much higher rates, that can create a big tax hit down the road.

    While figuring out precisely the optimal balanced withdrawal strategy is no doubt complicated, you can still derive a lot of benefits from a few simple actions. You can get a rough sense of the potential tax spike down the road by projecting out the value of your RRSPs and then applying mandated RRIF withdrawal rates to see what that will do to future income. Combine that with other estimated income and you’ll get a rough sense of what tax bracket you might land in. From that you can assess potential tax spikes and the benefit of avoiding them.

    A key tax bump for affluent seniors to keep an eye on is the Old Age Security (OAS) clawback on taxable incomes greater than $70,954*. Above that threshold, seniors give up 15 cents of OAS for every dollar of income until the OAS is entirely eaten up. Smoothing out income to stay just under $71,000 will help you collect your full OAS entitlement every year. Another major tax bump occurs at $43,561*, which is the start of the second federal tax bracket. Incomes above that threshold are taxed at a marginal tax rate that is seven percentage points higher than just below it.

    When you are ready to retire, most people decide to change the composition of their investments, now that income and safety are priorities, rather than growth. This can mean adding an annuity, which guarantees a set monthly payment for a set period of time (often for life). Other options included bonds, dividend-paying stocks and even income trusts.

    You can also choose at what point you want to start receiving your Canada Pension Plan (CPP). They normally start at age 65, but you can choose to start them earlier or later. If you choose to start them early at age 60, you’ll receive smaller payments. If you wait until 70, you will receive larger payments.

    The rules change when converting your RRSP into a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF). You won’t be able to put any more money in, and you are forced to start taking money out. Your financial institution will send you a notice telling you the minimum amount you need to take out each year.

    For couples, the tax hit from RRSP/RRIF withdrawals is compounded if one spouse dies well before the other because these investments are then combined for the benefit of the surviving spouse (if that person is the designated beneficiary). Typically that doubles the survivor’s required RRIF withdrawals, which often bump them up into a higher tax bracket.

    *as per 2013 regulations

    How To Calculate Yearly Minimum Withdrawals:

    • Under the age of 71, the minimum percentage is calculated as 1 divided by (90-minus-your age) – thus if you are 70 it would be 1 / (90-70) = 0.05, or 5 per cent.
    • At age 71, the RRIF minimum jumps to 5.28 per cent. As a result, after the age of 71, it becomes increasingly difficult to preserve the capital in your RRIF. It slowly increases over time and at age 75 it is 5.82 per cent, age 80 it is 6.82 per cent and by age 95 and over you need to withdraw 20 per cent per year.


    • When you turn 71, the government requires you to start withdrawals. If you have a good pension and other investments to draw from and you don’t think you will need your RRSP at first, talk with your financial advisor to be sure your income won’t balloon when you reach that point.
    • You are nearing the end of the RRSP life, review and realign the risk in your portfolio. At this point you are looking more for security. It’s time to look at your asset allocation and transition your portfolio for the next stage.
    • Smooth out your income to stay just under the next highest tax bracket.
    • Seniors can avoid paying any federal tax on income up to $19,892* using common tax credits, including the basic personal credit, the age credit for being 65-plus, and the maximum pension income credit that you get as a senior having at least $2,000 in income from a RRIF, registered annuity or employer pension.
    • If you’re ready to retire, don’t forget that being smart with your money never grows old. Take a vacation or buy that boat you have always wanted, just don’t sabotage all your hard work by racking up a credit card bill.
    • Ideally, by this time, financial planning mainly involves avoiding surprises and pinpointing the exact date retirement can occur.
    • If debts are still a problem, working a year or so longer than you originally planned may help to pay them down.
    • When interest rates rise, comfortable debt burdens can become unbearable. Try and have all of your debts paid off before you retire.
    • If you have assets in a TFSA or an unregistered investment portfolio, use them to pay down your debt.
    • Working longer than intended can also create a financial cushion and forgo any drawbacks from drawing on your CPP benefits before you hit 65.
    • Taking out all the money in your RRSP at once and claiming it as income will land you with a massive tax bill that year. Transfer your assets into a RRIF to convert them into a regular monthly retirement income.
    • Not sure if you should withdraw money from your RRIF before you turn 71? If your income is going to fall into a higher tax bracket in the future or if you run the risk of losing government benefits (such as the OAS clawback), consider withdrawing some funds early and putting them in a TFSA. If you are going to be in the same tax bracket and your OAS will not be clawed back then you should leave your funds in the RRIF.
    The return an investment provides over a period of time, expressed as a time-weighted annual percentage. Sources of returns can include dividends, returns of capital and capital appreciation. The rate of annual return is measured against the initial amount of the investment and represents a geometric mean rather than a simple arithmetic mean.
    Annuitization is the process of converting an annuity investment into a series of periodic income payments. Annuities may be annuitized regularly, over a long or short time period, or in some cases, in one single payment. After an annuity has been through the process of annuitization, the investment is said to have been annuitized. Annuitized investments are not necessarily paid out completely to the beneficiaries. Depending on the terms of the annuity policy, some of the money could go to the person’s estate, to a trust or to the insurance company, for example.
    Annuities are primarily used as a means of securing a steady cash flow for an individual during their retirement years. Annuities can be structured according to a wide array of details and factors, such as the duration of time that payments from the annuity can be guaranteed to continue. Annuities can be created so that, upon annuitization, payments will continue so long as either the annuitant or their spouse is alive. Alternatively, annuities can be arranged to pay out funds for a fixed amount of time, such as 20 years, regardless of how long the annuitant lives.

Annuities can be arranged to provide fixed periodic payments to the annuitant or variable payments. The intent of variable annuities is to allow the annuitant to receive greater payments if investments of the annuity fund do well and smaller payments if its investments do poorly. This provides for a less stable cash flow than a fixed annuity, but allows the annuitant to reap the benefits of strong returns from their fund’s investments.

The different ways in which annuities can be structured provide individuals seeking annuities the flexibility to construct an annuity contract that will best meet their needs.
    Automatic Transfers can be set up to transfer to loan payments or between other deposit accounts automatically. On a general level, it can mean any automatic transfer of funds between a member’s accounts. For example, a regular transfer from a chequing account to pay off a loan, or a monthly transfer from a chequing account to a savings account.

    The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) ensures a basic income for retired workers. If you have paid into the CPP, you are entitled to receive a monthly pension payment as early as age 60 or as late as age 70. CPP is based on how much, and for how long, you contributed to the plan and the age at which you choose to start your Canada pension payments. Should you choose to start your Canada pension payments earlier than age 65, your monthly CPP payment will be reduced by 0.6% per month for every month before 65. If you choose to delay retirement, your monthly CPP payment will be increased by 0.7% per month for every month after age 65 up to age 70.

    A type of retirement plan, usually tax exempt, wherein an employer makes contributions toward a pool of funds set aside for an employee’s future benefit. The pool of funds is then invested on the employee’s behalf, allowing the employee to receive benefits upon retirement.

    Your designation of beneficiary by means of a designation form will not be revoked or changed automatically by any future marriage or divorce.  Should you wish to change your beneficiary in the event of a future marriage or divorce, you will have to do so by means of a new designation.

    A Fixed Rate RRSP provides the security of knowing your rate of return is locked in for a fixed period of time.
    A deposit you make for a fixed period of time at a fixed rate. There are many options from which to choose when it comes to GICs and your Sunrise financial advisor can help you make the best choice. A GIC might be a good choice if you come into some money and don’t want to make an immediate decision about what to do with it. A GIC will ensure your money is safe and is earning a reasonable rate of return. All Manitoba Credit Union deposits and interest paid to the account are 100% guaranteed without limit through the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba.
    The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) is a program that allows eligible individuals to withdraw funds from their Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for themselves or a related person with a disability. People can withdraw up to $35,000 in a calendar year. Your RRSP contributions must remain in the RRSP for at least 90 days before you can withdraw them under the HBP, or they may not be deductible for any year. Generally, you have to repay all withdrawals to your RRSPs within a period of no more than 15 years. You will have to repay an amount to your RRSPs each year until your HBP balance is zero. If you do not repay the amount due for a year, it will have to be included in your income for that year.

    The rate at which an individual is taxed. Tax brackets are set based on income levels; individuals with lower income levels are taxed at a lower rate than individuals with higher income levels. Tax brackets serve as cutoff points for given income tax rates; therefore, if an individual’s annual taxable income exceeds the cutoff point, that person is taxed according to the next tax bracket.

    The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) allows you to withdraw amounts from your RRSPs to finance full-time training or education for you or your spouse or common-law partner. You cannot participate in the LLP to finance your children’s training or education, or the training or education of your spouse’s or common-law partner’s children. When you withdraw funds from your RRSP under the LLP, you have up to 10 years to make repayments to your RRSPs or PRPP. Usually, each year you have to repay 1/10 of the total amount you withdrew until the full amount is repaid. You do not have to pay any interest on the amounts you withdrew.

    An investment vehicle that is made up of a pool of funds collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments and similar assets. Mutual funds are operated by money managers, who invest the fund’s capital and attempt to produce capital gains and income for the fund’s investors. A mutual fund’s portfolio is structured and maintained to match the investment objectives stated in its prospectus. An investment in mutual funds is not guaranteed by the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Company (CUDIC), any other deposit agency or the credit union/affiliate. An investment in mutual funds is subject to fluctuations in market value and a mutual fund’s past performance may not be repeated. Mutual funds are sold by prospectus only through a licensed salesperson.

    Planning ahead for your child’s education makes good financial sense. When you invest in a tax-deferred Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) not only does your contribution grow, but the federal government contributes a 20% bonus (up to $500 per year).
    The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a monthly benefit available, if applied for, to most Canadians 65 years of age or over who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after reaching age 18. If your net income exceeds certain thresholds you must repay part, or all, of the maximum pension amount. The repayment amounts are normally deducted from the monthly payments before they are issued.
    When the time is right and you are ready to retire, you may wish to consider rolling your RRSP into a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) which will result in a regular income flow for you. While your RRIF withdrawals are taxable, the principal remains tax sheltered and you can continue to manage your investment as you choose.
    This is a savings account set up primarily for retirement savings. Contributions to a RRSP are generally tax deductible but withdrawals are taxed at your normal income tax rates. There are additional restrictions to how you can withdraw funds from this type of account. This government sponsored financial planning program allows Canadian residents to contribute 18% of their previous year's earned income. If you have a company pension plan this may reduce your maximum annual contributions by what is called a “pension adjustment”.
    Sometimes it’s not easy to have the cash on hand to invest in your RRSP before the tax year deadline for contributions. RRSP purchases can be made for the first 60 days of the year to reduce taxable income for the previous year. Sunrise Credit Union can help with an RRSP loan. We’ll show you how your RRSP loan makes sound financial sense as the cost of borrowing can be offset by your tax savings at year end. Your loan practically pays for itself.
    This is a flexible savings account that allows Canadians 18 and older to save for any purpose and withdrawals are tax free. Investment income, including capital gains and dividends earned in a TFSA is not taxed, even when withdrawn. Contributions to a TFSA are not deductible for income tax purposes, unlike contributions to RRSPs. In recognition of the fact that people are likely to have multiple savings objectives at various stages of their lives – e.g. vacation, wedding, car, home or cottage – the full amount of withdrawals may be re-contributed to a TFSA starting the following year, to ensure that there is no loss in a person’s total savings. TFSAs keep you in control for short AND long-term needs.
    An automatic transfer from your designated account to your RRSP, that is 100% guaranteed safe through the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba.
    Stocks / Shares / Equity is a type of security that signifies ownership in a corporation and represents a claim on part of the corporation’s assets and earnings. There are two main types of stocks / shares: common and preferred. Common stock / shares usually entitles the owner to vote at shareholders’ meetings and to receive dividends. Preferred stocks / shares generally does not have voting rights, but has a higher claim on assets and earnings than the common shares. For example, owners of preferred stocks / shares receive dividends before common shareholders and have priority in the event that a company goes bankrupt and is liquidated.
    This type of RRSP ensures that your investment keeps pace with current interest trends. Interest rates are reviewed and adjusted regularly to stay competitive. A Sunrise variable rate RRSP provides flexibility by allowing deposits at any time.

    TFSA or RRSP? It’s not always an either/or choice. TFSAs and RRSPs can be used together to build a savings plan that’s right for you. We recommend speaking with a credit union investment advisor, who can review your current and projected financial circumstances and help you build a personalized retirement savings plan. When building your retirement plan, you will want to consider:

    Will you want, or need, to use a portion of the savings before retirement?

    If so, investing funds in a TFSA account is a good option. Funds withdrawn from a TFSA will not be taxed and you do not lose your contribution room. You can re-contribute the amount withdrawn in a future year. If funds were held in an RRSP and withdrawn, they are taxable at your marginal tax rate for the year.

    Do you want to build savings as quickly as possible?

    The TFSA contribution limit ($6,000 in 2021) is not determined by income but rather is the same for all who qualify for a TFSA. The contribution maximum for an RRSP is based on income and therefore varies per person. For the 2020 taxation year, the maximum RRSP contribution is 18% of your 2020 earned income to a maximum of $27,830. This means, depending on your income, you may have greater contribution room in an RRSP than in a TFSA, allowing you to accumulate savings faster.

    Will your marginal tax rate in the future be higher or lower than it is today?

    If you expect your marginal tax rate to be lower in the future, then an RRSP may be a better savings option. If you expect your tax rate to be higher when you are in your retirement years, then investing in a TFSA may be the better choice. In some situations, moving funds from your TFSA to your RRSP makes sense.

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