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Saving and Taxes

Saving and Taxes


Spending less than you earn is an important skill that we all need.  We all have unexpected expenses, larger purchases that we need to pay for, and we will eventually stop earning money from our careers and live on our savings. 

Recent government proposals for tax changes to small businesses and corporations have raised questions about savings and taxes; some of the proposals seem to punish for saving.  Unravelling the proposed changes, their impact and why you need to save is a process.  Today we’ll start with the savings.


If you are starting a savings plan, there are several steps that I recommend:

Define different types of savings

  • Emergency Savings- this amount would cover the cost of sudden income loss, a large home repair, or a series of unexpected expenses.  A good number to start with is 3-6 months of your usual monthly expenses
  • Short- Term Savings- this amount would cover the cost of larger purchases that you know are going to happen.  Cars need repairs, houses need maintenance, vacations need to be paid for
  • Long- Term Savings- car replacement, retirement, children’s education (this topic has also been covered in Planning for the next educational step - RESP withdrawals)

Ideally, your emergency and short-term  savings will have different locations than your main bank account ie- separate bank accounts, a TFSA, a non-registered investment account.  Differentiating the location helps you to keep the purpose separate (and you are less likely to spend the money on something else). 


Match the Type of Saving to the Type of Investment

Different types of savings need different types of investments.

  • The purpose of emergency savings is to have the money available when you need it.  You don’t know when an emergency is going to happen; it’s important that you don’t take risk in the value or availability of the investment.  For example, if you invest your emergency money into a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC); you are locking that money into that investment for a specific amount of time.  You can’t access it earlier.  This is not the purpose of this money.  If you invest your emergency money into a stock or stock mutual fund, for potential higher growth, you are also accepting the risk of short-term loss of value.  This type of investment also doesn’t suit the purpose.  Emergency money is best left in cash that pays you interest.
  • The purpose of short-term savings is to have the money available when the expense occurs.  These may be annual expenses, or expenses that occur within 3 years.  Short-term goals often have a desired ‘spend’ date, which like your emergency savings, means that you need the money available when the expense occurs.  This timeline also means that you don’t want to take significant risk in chasing growth on this money.  Cash or a bond fund is suitable in most cases.
  • Long-term Savings- we will discuss this area in next week’s blog.


Separating your savings based on purpose has many benefits: organizing your day-to-day cash; ensuring money is available for larger expected purchases and protecting your family and finances in an emergency.

To apply this to your situation or discuss further, please contact Sara at 519-569-7526 or [email protected]

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As this school year wind down, for some families, there will be significant change in a few months.  For high school graduates moving on to post-secondary education, there are many hopes and fears.

For parents with Registered Education Savings Plans, there is relief that you have money available, and often uncertainty about how to access it.  This post is a primer on how to use the money that you’ve saved and how any withdrawals will be treated for tax purposes.


When you were putting money in to the RESP and tracking it’s growth, you looked at 3 different amounts or ‘buckets’: your contributions; government grant amounts and investment growth.  On withdrawal, the government allows for 2 buckets- Post-Secondary Education Amount and Educational Assistance Payment.


For example, your RESP account has $7200 in grant money and $10,000 in investment growth.  If your withdrawal form indicates $5,000 in EAP, that amount will be removed from the RESP to your bank account.  You will receive a follow up letter from the government letting you know how much of that $5,000 is grant.  The remainder is investment growth. There is no way to ask that all of the $5,000 be taken from the grant money, even though there is more than $5,000 in grant in the account.
As you can see in the chart above, PSE is the non-taxable contribution amounts that you deposited.  EAP are the 2 amounts that are taxable to the child.  As the owner of the account, you can not separate the grant money and the investment return.  When you submit a withdrawal form, the government has a formula that will indicate how much of the withdrawal is grant and how much is investment return.

Your financial institution can review the 3 different amounts with you and help you understand the implications of each type of withdrawal.  Remember to review the specific investment holdings within that account- you will need to sell investments to generate cash for the withdrawal; your investment advisor should ensure that remaining investments meet your goals.  Once your student starts withdrawing, the timeline for investments becomes quite short; holding investments that change in value quickly when you know you need the money within 2 years can mean that you don’t have funds available when you need them.


To discuss your education funding goals for your family, please contact [email protected] to arrange a meeting.


The above is an illustration for planning purposes only.  For advice related your specific situation, speak to your accountant and investment professional. 


CRA website- RESP info


Employment and Social Development Canada


Additional Explanation of RESP withdrawals

*caveat- other blog posts on this site are less helpful


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Sara McCullough
May 17, 2024
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Fraser Lang
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