Nerd Wallet

June 6: Some smart things to do with that tax refund

June 6, 2024

Ah, spring. Time to drag the golf clubs back up to the garage, to pump up the bike tires, and start getting the garden going. And, for many of us, time to get a nice tax refund cheque (or, more likely, a refund deposit).

Save with SPP wondered what people do with the refunds. Let’s take a look around and find out!

According to Fiona Campbell, writing for Forbes Advisor, tax refunds “are a sweet perk of filing your income tax return – and the good news is that most Canadians get one.” In fact, she notes, 58 per cent of filers got a refund in 2021, and the refund averaged just over $2,000.

This year, the average refund is more like $2,100 and change, she continues.

Campbell’s ideas on how to spend the refund don’t include “concert tickets, vacations, or designer clothes,” but are intended to “put you ahead financially in the long run and give you peace of mind instead.”

First (no surprise) is paying down debt. “If you carry a credit card balance, or only make the minimum payments, you’ll end up paying interest each month—and with APRs averaging 21 per cent, that can add up quickly,” she warns. The average Canadian owes more than $4,000 in credit card debt, she adds. If you don’t have credit card debt, you may have other loans or credit lines that can use a hand, she continues.

Next comes the mortgage. Campbell suggests making a prepayment on your mortgage, either as a lump sum or as an extra amount each payment. “If you don’t have other outstanding debt with higher interest rates, prepaying your mortgage can be a smart way to use your tax refund as it goes directly to the principal portion of your loan,” she notes.

Other ideas from Forbes Advisor include topping up your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), starting or adding to your emergency fund, or saving for a child’s education via a registered education savings plan (RESP).

The folks at the Nerd Wallet blog have a few more ideas.

“A tax return can be a great way to fund home repairs and upgrades. Maybe you have a big project to tackle, such as redoing a bathroom or renovating your kitchen. Spending your money on home upgrades is an investment that could shrink your home insurance bill and add value to your property in a way that pays off handsomely when it comes time to sell,” the blog advises.

Another idea, the blog continues, is to “invest in yourself.”

“While tackling debt, saving for the future and improving your home are all worthwhile uses for your tax-season windfall, don’t forget that you are also a smart investment. Maybe you’d like to start a side hustle, treat yourself to a monthly massage, or complete a professional certification. Though they might not earn compound interest, these types of investments can yield a sense of wellbeing and set you up for future success in a way that’s truly priceless,” the blog suggests.

Global News covers many of the same ideas, concluding that it really boils down to either paying down debt or adding to savings (or both).

The broadcaster suggests targeting credit card debt first.

“Credit card debt, which typically carries high interest rates at upwards of 20 per cent, can be particularly damaging to Canadians’ finances and “snowball” out of control, states financial author Sandy Yong in the article.

However, Yong says, even though saving and paying off debt are seen as the most sensible things to do with a refund, having a little fun is never out of the question. There’s no reason, she tells Global, to “feel bad about spending it on something for yourself.”

If you’re planning to use some or all of your tax return on your retirement savings, why not consider the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP works just like an RRSP – the contributions you make are tax-deductible, which may help you get a refund down the road. And, way further down that road, the contributions you make to SPP – having been professionally invested, at a low fee, in a pooled fund – will grow into a future income stream for the retired you. A gift that keeps giving, as they say.

Check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Keeping inflation at bay and saving on “back to school” items

September 1, 2022

The leaves are starting to change colour, the nights are cooler, and our little kids and grandkids are queueing up for the school bus once again.

But this year, with a backdrop of the highest inflation rate in decades, what are parents and grandparents to do when it comes to saving on back to school items? Save with SPP scoured the Interweb for some savings ideas.

Inflation, reports the CBC via the MSN website is a bit of a double whammy. First, we spenders have less coins in the wallet. “I just don’t have as much money to go around,” single mom Monica Belyea tells the CBC. And second, prices for school items have gone up. Or, as the CBC notes, there can be “shrinkflation,” where the price of something, say pencils, has not actually gone up, but you are now getting fewer pencils.

Tips from the CBC article include “shopping at home” to see if you can round up many of the needed school items from last year’s purchasing, as well as “carefully comparing prices between stores, waiting to buy certain items when deals are more abundant, and using coupon-code apps when online shopping.”

Pat Hollett of the Barrie, Ont.-based Canadian Savings Group suggests starting simply. “Don’t don’t grab the first thing you see. Shop around and pay the lowest price you can for the same item,” she tells the CBC “Price match where you can … Try other brands, if they’re cheaper.”

Her top tip is to “employ multiple techniques at once,” and shop “using coupons, cash-back offers and points, and tapping points cards to reduce prices as much as possible,” the CBC reports.

Writing for the Nerd Wallet blog via Yahoo! Finance, Hannah Logan notes that 36 per cent of Canadians surveyed are expecting they’ll spend more on back to school items this year than they did in 2021.

Her article recommends price matching.

“Price matching is a service provided by some retailers and grocery stores. Essentially, it means the store will honour a competitor’s lower price on a product, as long as it meets the parameters of their price-matching policy,” she writes.

“Some retailers are so eager to win your business (and confident in their prices) that they’ll not only match a competitor’s price, but offer to beat it by a certain amount or percentage. This could add up to big savings, especially if you’re shopping for big ticket items or multiple students,” the article continues.

Other saving tips outlined in her article include the idea of “buy now, pay later,” using money-saving apps, looking to see if your province offers any assistance (in B.C., certain kids’ clothes and school supplies may be tax exempt), and using “the right” credit card that offers cash back or other rewards.

Global News adds a few more back to school tips. If, the article suggests, your kids’ clothes are large enough to at least last through September, buying clothes in October – when sales begin – will be much more reasonable.

If you need electronics for the kids – such as tablets or laptops – think about going the “used” or “refurbished” route, the article suggests.

“Stores… can provide refurbished electronics at a cheaper rate than buying new, and shopping around local buy-and-sell communities or even swap groups can find you the equipment you need on a budget,” the article suggests.

If you know a kid is going to need a new laptop for the coming school year, start saving up for it months ahead, the article advises.

And if you do manage to outfit the kids with all they need for school – and save a few bucks in the process – a good home for those savings is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. With SPP, your retirement savings are invested for the long term at a very low cost, growing into a future stream of retirement income. SPP is open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room – consider signing up today.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.