Checking in on TSFAs

The past few months, I’ve been trying hard to get back into managing my finances better, especially on the investing front. Investing has been a weakness of mine, an area that I ignored for a looooong time, despite the fact that my late father basically did investing for a living*.

I’m confident that I’m getting a better sense of the “couch potato strategy“. I had heard the term a lot when I first started reading PF blogs, but never really made an effort to learn about it until the past few months.

To be honest, I am still stunned by how amazingly simple it is. With the sudden availability of roboadvisors, even dummies – like me – have no excuse not to invest.

So currently, I am in the process of selling off the last of my mutual funds and rebalancing everything. It’ll likely take a few more months before I feel good about having everything lined up.

For now, I’m reassessing how much TSFA contribution room I have left. When the Conservative government initially started TSFAs in 2009, I had no problems maxing out each year. This year, for 2017, Canadians will have a total of $52,000 contribution room. That’s a whackload of money that can be invested tax-free and is definitely a privilege for the privileged.


The past few years, with my lifestyle inflation – obvious by my many international adventures – have made it a bit harder for me to max them out. I currently only have contributed $41,050**.

Of course, I’m not looking for pity. Having the ability to purchase plane tickets and try new foods in far away lands makes me very, very happy. It’s one of the few joys in life that have to give up when my financial situation won’t be so stable. But for now, even if I’m not maxing out my TSFAs, I’m happy to spend some money for some far-off fun.

Also, as there has been a lot of money moving around – paying off my credit cards, resettling debt with my travel buddies, liquidating MFs – I’ve decided to hold off on calculating net worth for December. I don’t normally skip any entries, but if it happens here or there, I’m okay with it. I’ll recalculate in January.

Do you contribute to TSFAs? How are your finances in this new year?

*I am still the only person in my family who has never worked in finance.

**I received free $50 from opening a WealthSimple account back in 2016. I like to keep numbers round so it’s easier to track.


TSFAs Fees with Tangerine

I’ve spent a lot of money the past few months, both on travel (i.e. India) and fitness (i.e. gear, Cody programs, yoga props). Since it was payday today and I haven’t started contributing to my TSFAs yet, I thought I might as well throw some money for 2015 before deciding if I want to shift them elsewhereI.

Then I noticed an unread message in my Tangerine inbox:

TFSAs have no fees while you’re saving with us. If at some point you decide to transfer your funds to another financial institution, a $45 fee will apply.

GRRRRRRR. Good thing I read this.

I really really really REAAAAAALLLY should put more effort into trading, as I put my 2014 TSFAs into Questrade to play around. But I just don’t feel comfortable knowing what to buy. I always default to the priority of RSPs and car payments out of laziness, but I still need to learn more about trading …

Finally Reinvesting

It’s official!

After two months of paperwork and waiting, I finally have opened a Questrade account. This is after three years of twiddling my thumbs after liquidating poorly-performing mutual funds.* I want to be more active in my investments and I know that for the past few years, I’ve been putting it off, despite having claimed that it is a priority. It was nice that my friend, B., sat down with me one evening and walked me through the platform. She gave me the little boot that I needed.

Currently, I am reading about the basics of trading stockshow orders are executed and different types of orders, such as limit vs. market.

I transferred my 2014 TSFAs over from Tangerine* and have decided I need to finally get my hands dirty. I’m not expecting to gain much; my primary goals for the next two to three months are:

  1. get comfortable with executing different types of orders and understanding when they are used
  2. watching a few stocks and reading trends in the markets
  3. calculating the cost of trades versus profits
  4. understanding the Questrade trading platform
  5. making a few bucks … but not losing!

At this time, just keeping it simple and playing around.

Yay for new projects (and actively reinvesting)! 

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*Mind you, I also went through the entire hassle of setting up a TD Waterhouse account. So for the past three years, I had $500 USD sitting dormant and not accumulating any interest, without ever having placed an order. Bad Me.

**Formerly known as ING Direct

Tax Return and (Upcoming) Travel Expenses

I got my tax late last week, at a total of $3420.23! I was able to get the tax credit for medical expenses because I had purchased glasses, contact lens and also paid for a health plan with the school board. In total, it was over 3% of my income, which meant that I was eligible for it.

With the tax return, I put $3000 towards (finally) topping up my TSFAs. My mom, who filed my taxes for me, told me that my contribution room for my RSPs this year is $9493 $10926; now that I’ve maxed out my TSFAs, I can start putting money back in again.

Also, I readjusted my goal of my travel fund for Turkey because my friend, B., had actually won two tickets. That means I can save the money for other expenses. It’ll be nice to travel together, as we’d known each other for 16 years and we’d been saying it for a looooong time.

Hmmm, that reminds me that I should probably start booking some hotels and inter-city flights …

Only 28 more days!

Big News!

I bought my first car on Thursday!

I’d been looking for the past 2 weeks for a used Toyota RAV4, but ended up buying the first Honda CRV I tried out. Previously, I was looking at older cars, from around 2006. As I considered the unusual driving conditions*, I went with J.’s suggestion to get a newer car for better reliability and safety.

On Thursday morning, we visited a local Honda dealership, and my mom helped me negotiate a 2009 CRV from $17,999 down to $16,500**. This is definitely much more than my original budget of $12,000, thinking I was going to get a beater. At the advice of the Honda sales rep, I am putting down $5000 – withdrawing from my TFSAs – and finance the rest at 4.99%. As it’s an open loan, I could put payments on the principal at any time (without penalty). The additional bonus of financing is that it will help boost my credit rating**** in the long run.

Rather than my mom’s current insurance company, today I purchased car insurance from TD Meloche Monnex as a University of Toronto alumni. I was hoping my rate would be much lower, but in the end, including all the bells and whistles and accident forgiveness, I went with a monthly premium of $198.75/month. The costs add up so quickly! And as I will be given a furnished home with a bed, I decided to transfer the $1200 from my mattress savings account and use it towards my car funds instead***.

That’s it for now. My mom is going to pay for my snow tires and my grandmother will help me grab a first-aid kit, a snowbrush and some utility mats. Pick-up is on Monday! It’s exciting to finally have my own car!


*It’s approximately 1250 km from Toronto to Waskaganish. There is no cellphone service on the last 400 km of the James Bay Highway. If I’m stuck, I sit there until someone passes me by, or I can walk to an emergency phone, which are spaced approximately 70 km apart from each other. Snowdrifts get quite high and I might pass one vehicle every hour. 

**Kelly Blue Book was quoting the same price.

***I will eventually purchase my own mattress, but at this time, it’s not a financial priority.

****When I checked through TransUnion, back in April, my credit rating was still sitting at 723.