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Making the maximum contribution to tax-free savings accounts is an achievable financial goal we should all strive for. The 2017 annual limit is $5,500 for people 18 and older, and you can catch up on unused room in later years. Once money goes into a TFSA, it's free from tax. Gains in the account are tax-free, and so are withdrawals. TFSAs are without question the most versatile savings tool available to Canadians.

To demonstrate the power of the tax-free savings account, a team at the Globe and Mail created an online TFSA calculator. It shows how much your TFSA would be worth if you kept your current pace of investing and, if you're not maxing your contributions, how much more you'd have if you went up to the limit each year.

Some people use their TFSAs to hold their savings, others to invest. We show you how both approaches will play out over the years. We conservatively estimated returns of 1 per cent for savings and 5 per cent for investments on an after-fee basis. But you're free to change those returns to suit your own experience.

Between mortgages, daycare, retirement saving and all our other financial obligations, it can be hard to find money for TFSAs. Our calculator offers encouragement to give TFSAs their due.

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Your spring 2017 guide to sensible home buying
A package of our best online tools and guidance for buying a home. Can you afford to buy? Find answers here.

Investing lessons from a lawyer
A lawyer who represents investors harmed by the misconduct of advisers and brokers offers some of the investing lessons he's learned through his work.

Enough with the retirement pessimism
Canadians anticipate a long retirement, but they're pessimistic that they'll be financially comfortable. I'm including this item as a prompt to take action if you're worried about your retirement. Review your investments, try to save more and get some financial planning help. I'm seeing a planner myself to get some questions answered.

In defence of index funds
Index investing, whether through index mutual funds or exchange-traded funds, has really taken off over the last few years. Recently, critics of indexing have said that indexing's popularity creates the risk of a stock market bubble. Here's a defence of indexing by longtime investment writer and investor advocate Jason Zweig. Now for a rebuttal to recent criticisms of exchange-traded funds, which are an ideal tool for index investing.

The investing world has a KIC Rule – keep it complex
The best investment planners and advisers are great simplifiers – they talk your language and stick to basic principles. But the investment industry knows well that complexity is a big selling point with investors. Don't buy in.

Today's featured financial tool
With houses as expensive as they are these days, a low mortgage rate is essential for keeping your household budget on track. A new app called Monitor My Mortgage lets you track your mortgage on a daily basis, including penalties for breaking it. You can also get bulletins on interest rate changes. Monitor My Mortgage makes money by connecting interested users to mortgage brokers.

Ask Rob
The question: "To ensure that your interest is covered by Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. for Oaken Financial guaranteed investment certificates, what do you think about splitting the maximum amount [it's $100,000] between Home Trust and Home Bank as opposed to keeping it all at Home Trust and possibly forfeiting interest?"

My reply: This makes sense. The backstory here is that Oaken, Home Trust and Home Bank are subsidiaries of Home Capital, which has seen an exodus of depositor money because of recent events that have been widely covered. Oaken deposits are covered through the CDIC membership of Home Trust and Home Bank. If you have money deposited at a financial institution that collapses, CDIC covers principal and interest to $100,000. So if you invested $100,000 in one GIC, you might not be covered for the interest you've earned. You could address that in the Home Capital situation by splitting the $100,000 between Home Trust and Home Bank, which are separate CDIC members.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance stories
-How to know when it's time to divorce your adviser.
-How to prepare for retirement during every decade of your life

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