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carrick on money

As I may have mentioned, my job as a personal finance writer has made me a collector of bank and investment accounts.

In the months ahead, I’m going to report on how well some of these accounts work and whether they offer anything you should check out. First up, the Savvy Savings Account from alternative bank Motive Financial.

Motive earns a shoutout by offering 4.1 interest on savings, straight up, with no teasers or promo periods. Rate cuts by the Bank of Canada later this year will push savings rates lower, but for now Motive offers one of the best returns available from a traditional savings account.

Motive is a member of Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. through its parent, Canadian Western Bank. I set up an account online and arranged a link to a chequing account at another financial institution. Transferring money in and out is basic.

So is making a bill payment, or an e-transfer, but you won’t do many of those because a Motive savings account is mainly for holding savings. If you want a transactional account at Motive, try its free chequing account. Motive Savvy Savings gives you just two withdrawals (including bill payments) per month for fee, and then you pay $5 each. Interac e-transfers cost $1 each.

The Motive website is a nondescript set-up based on a design used by some other small financial institutions. It’s nothing special, but it gets the job done. The Motive app is a similar off-the-rack design that is way behind banking trendsetters. Motive does offer two-factor authentication to log into your account, which means you need a code sent by text.

What I really like about Motive is looking at the monthly interest payments in my savings account. Other alternative banks offer a high rate of interest on savings without the annoyance of expiring promotional periods, and I’ll report back on some of them. But the Motive Savvy Savings Account is absolutely worth a look if you want an uncomplicated way to park savings and earn inflation-beating amounts of interest.

Find out what other Motive clients think about the bank on this online forum. Preview: There are complaints about service, especially getting someone on the phone. I haven’t needed to talk to anyone there.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

His EV died five times

An Ottawa man bought a used 2016 Nissan Leaf, an electric vehicle. After spending more than $10,000 to address chronic battery problems, he’s still without a working vehicle. Battery replacement is one of the uncertainties of owning an EV for the long term. Now for a report from J.D. Power about how EV owners are finding their tires wear faster than on gas-powered vehicles. It’s the extra weight of EVs, and the higher power of their engines.

Should you hold a mortgage in your RRSP?

High mortgage rates have stoked interest in the idea of holding a mortgage in a registered retirement savings plan. The mortgage is basically an investment that pays income in the form of monthly mortgage payments. A financial planner explains here how the strategy works, and why he’s not a big fan. Another issue is that it’s extremely hard to find a financial institution that allows mortgages to be held in RRSPs.

The FHSA delay

People who contributed to first home savings accounts in 2023 have been experiencing delays in getting tax refunds. Here’s a Reddit thread on this issue, and a Globe report. Now for some background on FHSAs - how they work and where to get one. As with registered retirement savings plans, you get a tax deduction when you contribute to an FHSA.

A lesson on credit card takeaways

Here’s a look at how Mastercards issued by Brim, a financial services upstart, will have some of their benefits trimmed back. The pattern here is a familiar one. New cards come to market with standout benefits that later get pared. Now for a look at some Brim alternatives.

Ask Rob

Q: What strategies would you suggest for using my non-registered investments to supplement my defined benefit pension income now that I have started my retirement? I am 60 years old and plan to wait until I am 70 to collect CPP. I also have an RRSP, which I will eventually convert to a RRIF, as well as a maxed out TFSA.

A: Questions like this remind me of the benefit of paying for a retirement income consultation with an accredited financial planner. Dividend income sounds like an option here because of the favourable tax treatment in non-registered accounts. But for high earners in retirement, dividend income can increase exposure to the Old Age Security clawback. This is where a full analysis by a planner can help.

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 and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

A tool for finding the reward credit card that best suits your needs and spending patterns.

The money-free zone

Smooth L.A. soul from the 1960s: It Only Hurts For a Little While, from The Whispers. Found on a new release of the band’s work called The Whispers Soul Legends. Many worthy nuggets on this album, including a cover of You Make Me So Very Happy. Here’s the Blood, Sweat and Tears version of that song, which is pretty great.


What I’ve been writing about:
  • A how-to for people caught up in CRA’s confusing new rules for reporting bare trusts
  • Home ownership is turning into a gated community that renters cannot join
  • The DIY mutual fund investor’s guide to avoiding brokerage commissions
  • A timely reminder of how long and hard U.S. stocks can fall

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