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The choices investors face: stocks, options, bonds, futures, forex, cash. (iStockphoto.com)
The choices investors face: stocks, options, bonds, futures, forex, cash. (iStockphoto.com)

Carrick on money

What the heck should I do with my RRSP this year? Add to ...

This is the Globe’s Carrick on Money personal finance newsletter. Sign up to get it by e-mail on Wednesday and Friday.

A basic rule of investing success is to make regular, automatic contributions to your retirement account every time you get paid. What, you didn’t get that memo? Then let’s hear some thoughts on what to do with a last-minute contribution to your registered retirement savings plan before this year’s Feb. 29th deadline. What we want to avoid is you reacting to the current stock market nastiness by doing nothing.

CBC addresses the nervous RRSP investor in a report headlined: “RRSP investment choices for uncertain times.”

Now for a look at some balanced funds – they combine stocks and bonds and thus offer the kind of diversification that takes the edge off stock market declines.

Here are some suggestions for U.S. dividend stocks for RRSPs.

For Globe Unlimited subscribers, here’s equities analyst Jennifer Dowty on what to do with your money in this violent market sell-off.

Need some basic info on RRSPs? Here’s a rundown from an educational website run by a division of the Ontario Securities Commission.

This primer on RRSPs will also help answer any questions you have. Here’s one written specifically for the millennial crowd.

Rob’s top web links
> A trend I’d like to see end is the car loan lasting longer than five years – they make expensive cars more affordable, but they keep you in debt for excessively long periods. Here’s the case against long-term car loans.

> A blog called Retired at 48 explains the appeal of holding shares of Canadian National Railway, a company with a strong dividend growth record. I have some CNR shares myself and consider them among my best long-term holdings.

> As a personal finance guy, one of my all-time least-favourite commercials is the one telling people that a good guideline for spending on a diamond engagement ring is three months’ salary. That’s why I love the results of this survey, which show one in three people think you should spend less than $1,000 on a ring. The right cost is what you can afford without debt, keeping in mind there will be upcoming wedding costs.

> One of the biggest gaps in personal finance writing is the financial strain on new parents. That’s why I’m highlighting this financial checklist for fledging Moms and Dads.

> There’s been some talk in the restaurant industry about eliminating tipping and instead building the cost into food prices. Whether or not you agree with this, you should know about the racist origins of tipping, at least in the Unites States.

> Bill Thomas is an expert on aging who has pioneered The Eden Alternative, a system of humanizing nursing homes by introducing live animals and plants. Here’s an interview with Thomas in which he elaborates on his ideas about how your senior years can be a great time of life.

Today’s featured investment tool
Downsizing the family home to a condo is mainly a lifestyle choice – you effectively end your career as a landscaper and snow shoveller. But there’s also a common view that you’re cutting costs and potentially putting less strain on your retirement savings in a condo. I designed the Does It Pay to Downsize Calculator to test that theory.

Ask Rob
The question: “Tax season is around the corner. I have been doing my own tax returns for years, but am not sure I am getting all the tax benefits that I am eligible to receive. I would like to find a tax accountant in Toronto. Could you give me some direction on how I could find a good one?”

My reply: I have a few thoughts for you. One, think of friends, family members, colleague and contacts who have a similar financial situation as you and ask if they have an account they like. Two, try this search engine offered by the Certified General Accountants people. Finally, try a google search for accountants in your part of the city. Check out the websites you come across to find a fit.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.

Featured Video
It’s tough for new parents to find money for registered education savings plans (RESPs), but they’re a great way to help save for college and university because of the federal grant money available. In this video, I look at how much parents should invest in an RESP.

More Carrick and money coverage
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How do I know if I should avoid RRSPs like the plague? (The Globe and Mail)

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