Community News

Friday, January 13, 2012

Annual RRSP contribution deadline fast approaching

While holiday spending may be dominating your financial thinking this time of year, it’s worth remembering that the RRSP contribution deadline is just a few short months away.

Contributions to your RRSP for the 2011 tax year must be made before Thursday, February 29, 2012. The maximum RRSP contribution for 2011 is $22,450, but you can also carry forward unused portions of the limit from previous years, so it’s possible the total you are allowed to contribute for 2011 may be higher.

If the impending contribution deadline has caught you off guard, don’t feel bad — you’re not alone. Many people fully intend to contribute to their RRSP each year, only to be left short of funds when the deadline rolls around. One good way to prevent that annual scramble is to set up pre-authorized RRSP contributions. You can create an automatic contribution for an amount that meets your budget — perhaps $100 per pay period — and then relax and breathe easy, knowing your annual contribution will take care of itself.

If you’d like to make an RRSP contribution before the February 29, 2012 deadline, or if you’d like more information on setting up an automatic pre-authorized contribution, please feel free to stop by one of our branches or call us at 954-7450. We’d be happy to help.

Manitoba credit unions enter 2012 on a high note

As Manitoba credit unions prepare to celebrate the International Year of Co-operatives — as the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 — they do so while enjoying continued growth and success.

The 41 credit unions in the province now have 186 branches serving roughly 600,000 members. A commitment to innovative ideas and leading products and services has helped Manitoba’s credit unions grow their assets by an annual rate of 11.35 per cent over the past decade, and all indications are that double-digit growth will continue. Loans, deposits, memberships and equity — a key measurement of financial stability — are also up significantly.

Nationally, credit unions are also growing at a steady rate. The 100 largest credit unions and caisses populaires in Canada reported a six-month growth rate of 6.1 per cent for the first half of 2011.

Manitobans, like most Canadians, clearly understand the advantages of belonging to a co-operative, just as 184 million people in 97 countries around the world do. In announcing the international year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the benefits of co-operatives.

“Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility,” Ki-moon said.

Don't forget about Tax-Free Savings Accounts

With the RRSP deadline approaching, it’s easy to forget that Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) are also a viable retirement savings option. In fact, in some cases a TFSA may be preferable to an RRSP for some investors.

TFSAs were introduced as a new retirement savings tool in 2009 and, since that time, only a small portion of eligible Canadians have opted to open an account. That may partially be due to a lack of understanding of what TFSAs offer, as well as the lure created by the tax refund associated with RRSP contributions.

It’s important to remember that contributions to RRSPs are made with pre-tax income. The refund you receive is the taxed portion of your contribution. TFSA contributions are made with after-tax income and therefore there is no refund. However, unlike with RRSPs, you can withdraw funds from your TFSA tax-free, at any time. This flexibility when it comes to withdrawals can be a nice feature to have in a retirement savings vehicle should you encounter an unforeseen expense that you weren’t prepared to pay for.

Each year after the age of 18, you’re allowed to contribute up to $5,000 to a TFSA. Like an RRSP, a number of different investments can qualify for a TFSA, including GICs, high-interest savings accounts, stocks and bonds.

If you’d like more information on TFSAs and the pros and cons as they relate to RRSPs, please contact our credit union at 954-7450 and arrange to speak to an investment advisor.

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