Monday, March 2, 2015

I Just Lost $500.00


This is essentially what I did. I just paid $500.00 in taxes in order to withdraw $5,000.00 from my RRSPs. I have begun the process which will take a number of years to complete as I want to pay only the minimum of withholding tax which is 10% for $5,000.00.  Now I wait for another year to pass by before I can remove another $5,000.00.  Are we having fun yet?

I just did a straight transfer from my RSP savings account to my TFSA account. And magically $500 disappeared in between the two accounts. You don't even get to look at it or hold it or anything...it just vanishes into thin air...well, not really...it disappears into government coffers. Maybe, just maybe, when it comes time to do my taxes next year some of the $500 will find its way back into my pocket. I can hope can't I?

I decided to open a TFSA GIC today in order to get a few more cents in interest. There's not much of that to be had these days but I'll nab what I can. I'm finally in a position that I would be happy to see interest rates go up...lucky me I have no debt and a few more percentage points would really help out my monthly income. I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon however.

Just another day of riveting financial news!!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Mojo Madness


March is dedicated to getting back my mojo - my "exercise" mojo that is. I glanced at my sidebar today and noticed I hadn't hiked/biked/walked or much of anything else (I've done a little yoga) since Feb. 8th! That must be when we entered the hellish deep freeze of 2015!

Today the temperature registered as slightly less bone-chilling than the last few weeks so I managed to drag my sorry butt out for a hike of 5km. I'm "treating" you to 5 photos from today's hike, 4 of which showcase our remarkably hardy Canada Geese. Though I heard today that even the geese are struggling with frozen bills!!

Can you imagine living OUTSIDE the past couple of months?? Even worse - having to stick your legs in ice cold water??!!



I was feeling sorry for the geese today...

So I am challenging myself to MOVE!! EVERY DAY!!  For the month of March and beyond! Maybe it'll help me feel warm!

Do you get sluggish in the winter?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Eligible or Ineligible

First of all...SLUGGY IS HAVING ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!! Go HERE to get on board!! Someone has to win and it might as well be YOU!! It's a "PAMPER YOURSELF" basket of goodies and who doesn't need pampering at this time of year!! Go on...I know you want to!!



Feeling sluggish (no offence Sluggy!) This winter is killing my energy and motivation. I dragged my butt through vacuuming today and I did my taxes!! I also wasted a lot of time waiting for phone calls. Phooey.

Taxes: I made a mistake this year. I've been doing my own taxes for 40 years or more and have never had any issues...until now. I over-contributed to my RRSP.  Yessir, I did, I confess. Please don't use the handcuffs officer.....

The problem was the $5,000 early retirement incentive the school board gave me last June. I assumed, incorrectly as it turned out, based on what I read on the Canada Revenue Agency website, that I could put all of it into my RRSP, that it was eligible.  But when I got my T4 yesterday the whole amount was listed as ineligible. I was only allowed to put part of it into my RRSP. Well, I did my taxes anyway and sent them away. I'm still due a good-sized refund so if I owe CRA any money they can take it out of that.

Alternately, I'm also allowed to remove the excess out of my RRSP and pay the tax on it. OR (and I like this idea the best) I can send a letter to CRA explaining:
  • why you made excess contributions and why this is a reasonable error; and
  • what steps you are taking, or have taken, to eliminate the excess contributions.
As I'm planning to withdraw $5,000 after March 1st I may be covered. I'm going to give it the old college try anyway and mail off a letter in a couple of days begging that my stupidity be forgiven.

Have you ever had issues with Uncle Sam?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Budget Boogaloo


February is quickly coming to a close - now if it would only take the brutally cold air with it!! One of the thousands of things I like better about spring are the reduced utility bills. With this February shaping up to be THE COLDEST ON RECORD then my heating bill is likely to be THE HIGHEST ON RECORD!!

The Lowlights and Highlights of February's Budget:

  • Lowlights - I underestimated my heating bill and electricity bill by $24; considering how cold it's been that's hardly surprising. I took the extra out of my misc budget and sucked it up!
  • a few things have gotten more expensive: my monthly internet bill increased by $3, the hot water tank rental increased by $1, property taxes are increasing by approx. 2.5% but I don't have the new amount yet. That's it for lowlights - nothing broke down, nothing had to be fixed, we stayed warm, ate well and indulged in lots of wine and chocolate!!
  • Highlights - I stayed on budget!! AND I had leftover money in all three variable budgets (gas, food and misc)
  • a decrease in car/home insurance means that the little increases in other bills were mostly covered
  • I have $24 left in the food budget :) ... $85 left in the gas budget :)...and $53 left in the misc budget!! so.....I made an extra payment on my mastercard towards my trip in Sept. and put a little extra into savings to round up the numbers. I'm leaving the $53 in my account to cover gong out to breakfast, going out for coffee, a purchase at Home Depot etc.
  • Savings increased by $664 this month!! $350 of that is from my pension and the rest is from interest payments from accounts and RRSPs. 
  • Misc purchases this month included: 2 little trips to the thrift shop, some new music for my iPod, a guidebook for a possible trip in 2016, a yoga app, new camera batteries, a new toaster, a special Valentine's party for me and 2 girlfriends, a book for my iPad (or two), a new charge cord for my laptop; ...I went to a movie or two, went out for lunch, breakfast and multiple coffees and I went to the Bryan Adams concert!! Which was fabulous!! (and actually paid out of January's misc budget). 
February's budget was a great success! But then it was only a 28 day month! March will be slightly more challenging I'm sure. Having a trip to work towards does help me squeeze my pennies though - it really helps to have a goal. 

Re Gofundme - I think it only makes sense that you really check out what you're contributing towards. Since Nate was Kazi's friend I had no qualms about donating money towards bringing him back to Canada. I would never donate to someone's "sad story" unless I checked into it and made sure it was REAL. 



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bringing Nate Home

It's been a roller coaster of emotions around here, some wonderful, some terrible. First, the terrible.

Yesterday Kazi learned that a close friend died while on holiday in Cancun. (I removed Nate's last name and names of his family members).

Nate was a very special person and his joy de vivre touched everyone he met. This is a tragedy beyond measure. Nate was an alumni of Western University in London  and a fledgling entrepreneur and club promoter. He belonged to the Delta Upsilon fraternity and was a co-founder of "Lion's Den University"; a student lifestyle website.

What has amazed me is the power of social media and the Gofundme fundraising site set up by a close friend to help raise money to bring Nate home.  I love the way Nate's friends and business associates are pooling their resources to help Nate's family during this difficult time. What I haven't shown is the outpouring of love and comments for Nate which is also helping his family and friends cope. The power of social media is incredible. It has given Kazi and hundreds of others a way of helping and contributing and a way of expressing their grief and supporting each other.

I'm sure there are many who feel cynical about such a process, me being one of them ...formerly. But another example of this amazing site and others like it was shown to me a week ago when a 3 year old boy in Toronto wandered out of his apartment building at 4am in -20c weather wearing nothing but a Tshirt, a diaper and boots. After a frantic search he was found - but he didn't make it. Hundreds if not thousands of people in Toronto contributed to an on-line fundraiser set up by a stranger who "just wanted to do something" to help the grieving family.

The world is indeed becoming a "global village" where we can help people we haven't even met and come together as a community to support each other when things go terribly wrong. Updates from the family have expressed their gratitude at all of the love and support being shown for Nate. Even in the short time it's taken me to type this hundreds more dollars have been added to a total which has far surpassed its goal. Money can never replace a loved one but it can help alleviate stress and financial pressure when a sudden tragedy takes place.

Thoughts?


MEMORIALS
$32,392 of $20k
Raised by 683 people in 15 hours

Friday, February 20, 2015

Extreme Cold Warning....still in effect!


Extreme Cold Warning

Issued at 10:48 a.m. EST Thursday 19 February 2015
Summary
Bitterly cold arctic air has once again returned to Southern Ontario. Strong and gusty northwest winds will combine with the frigid temperatures to produce extremely cold wind chill values of minus 30 to minus 35 today through Friday morning. People outdoors should
...More details

Yesterday was a stay inside day and today isn't any warmer! We are amusing ourselves by throwing seeds out onto the snow in the patio area and watching the squirrels fight over them. Luna and Lily are absolutely glued to the patio doors! Do I know how to have fun or what!?!

This morning I had to take out the recycling and it was a struggle just to breathe let me tell you! I'll have to find another DIY project to keep myself busy like I did yesterday. I'm so happy with my fix-it job!! I had this kitchen cabinet door that squeaked/groaned horrendously every time we opened it, which was frequently as it's the door that has the garbage bin behind it. A week ago I thought that if I squirted some WD40 on the hinges I could make the squeak/groan go away. No such luck, in fact, I made matters worse because then the hinges were so slippery the door wouldn't stay open. I'd open the door, grab a plate to scrape and the door would be closed!!

So yesterday I took the door off and took off the hinges - turns out one of them was broken. At least that's what my carpenter's helpers told me...

..and they did a very good inspection! 


Off I went to the local Home Hardware store and bought new hinges...so far so good...

...but there was a slight problem - the new screws were a lot smaller than the old screws...they're not going to work very well in the old holes made by the much fatter screws!! Nope, door fell right off again!

I started digging through my large supply of differently sized screws but most were too long as I had less than an inch of depth to work with...

So I wondered about anchors...but again they were too long for the depth I had to work with and stuck out...

So...I flexed my muscles and tried forcing the old fat screws through the slightly smaller openings in the new hinges and it worked!! I didn't think they'd line up properly with the old holes but they did!!  Once in a while things go right!!

Ta da!! The door is back on and nary a sound does it make...

and it stays open!! Amazing how such a little thing can improve the quality of my life - no more groaning, no more closing when my back is turned!!

After that I carved for awhile and then did my first bit of sanding - it's looking good! I
also made a big pot of leek and potato soup which I'm going to have RIGHT NOW!!
A productive day:)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

RRIFS or TFSAs


I am at the point now when I can no longer contribute to my RRSPs. For the first time since I was about 12 I have NO EARNED INCOME!! What a lazy a-- I've become eh? 

The last few days I've been going over my RRSP options. There are many different lines of thought and most have to do with whether to let my RRSPs sit and earn interest until I'm 71 at which time the RRSPs would convert to an RRIF and there would be a minimum amount withdrawn and added to my annual income....OR....withdraw so much a year NOW and add to my Tax Free Savings Account or Tax Free GICs. 

The crux of the matter is which option saves me the most in tax dollars? I'm leaning towards starting RRSP withdrawals NOW while my income is at its lowest. Right now I'm just living on my school pension with additional bump ups to my income coming when I start to receive Canada Pension and then Old Age Supplement. If I wait til I'm 71 to start taking money out of a RRIF then I will be pushed up into a higher tax bracket. For the rest of my LIFE!!

On the other hand if I can get my money out of my RRSPs over the next few years and tucked safely away into a TFSA my tax bracket will remain lower, thus paying less in taxes.  We Canadians are currently allowed to put $5,500 per year into a TFSA where it is tax-sheltered forever. I'd like to start removing $5,000 per year from my RRSPs and place it into my TFSA. Of course there is withholding tax when I remove $$ from my RSP which increases based on the amount withdrawn. The tax rate for $5,000 is 10%. So I would receive $4,500. However, at tax time I might see some of that withholding tax come back to me. 

I feel that this is the right way to go. The consensus is that it's best to withdraw RRSPs when your income is at its lowest. Which is now. 

Decisions, decisions...