The rollout of the first home savings account had a healthy dose of both fanfare and criticism.
The FHSA, which became available at the beginning of April, is a fantastic way for Canadians to invest tax-free for a down payment for their first home, as it combines the income tax deduction benefits of a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) and the lack of any taxation on withdrawals that comes with a tax free savings account (TFSA). (The money must be used towards a down payment on a house, or otherwise transferred to an RRSP).
But the rollout was slow with very few financial institutions ready to offer the account when it debuted. Others criticized the government because, while the FHSA is certainly helpful, it doesn’t do anything to improve housing affordability.
Today, the former of those complaints is no longer a problem. FHSAs are widely available at both major banks and financial services companies such as Wealthsimple and Questrade.
This month, data from both RBC and Wealthsimple showed uptake has been high, with both companies separately saying that “tens of thousands” of clients have created an account (they wouldn’t go into more detail).
Data from RBC shows 74 per cent of its clients who signed up for an account were between the ages of 18 and 34. The bank also said 26 per cent of account holders already maxed out their contributions at $8,000.
Wealthsimple said the majority of their FHSA account holders were between 25 and 34 years old, and 30 per cent of account holders maxed out their contributions.
The above shows that Canadians are starting to save in FHSAs early, which Ben Reeves, chief investment officer of Wealthsimple, says is important to maximize your tax free investment growth.
Another interesting number from RBC is that 5 per cent of FHSA holders have already made withdrawals from the account. These are likely people who were set on buying a house this year: they didn’t have much time to earn a return on their FHSA deposits, but just putting funds into the account allowed them to take advantage of the tax deduction.
As someone who recently bought their first home, I can tell you this also makes sense because every single dollar counts when you’re purchasing real estate.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from these numbers, it’s that you should start an FHSA account as soon as possible if you’re planning to purchase a home.
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Sal’s personal finance reading list
There’s no need to buy all your back-to-school supplies at once
It’s kind of fun preparing for a new school year by buying all sorts of new supplies. But with inflation putting pressure on every aspect of life this article talks about why you should be more selective about your purchases over a longer period of time, rather than buying expensive supplies all at once.
What credit card rewards are best for you, and are points better than cashback?
My friends are always asking me what credit card they should choose for the best rewards. The answer isn’t cut and dry, but this article does a good job of comparing some of them. It also drives home the point that relying on rewards is only smart if you can avoid paying interest.
Want your sandwich cut in half? That’ll be 2 euros
We’ve become well accustomed to hidden charges in recent years, but this is a new one for me: a restaurant in Italy charged two euros to cut a sandwich in half so it could be shared. But if you’re already angry, do give the article a read: it makes some valid points for the charge.
Budgeting for a broken heart
I’ve never thought about it this way, but you’re definitely likely to spend more money after a breakup. Not only to console yourself with retail therapy, but also, possibly, for the expenses that can come with separation, like having to move to a new place. So why not budget for it, this piece asks.
Today’s financial tool
Has today’s newsletter topic made you think critically about your savings goals? This Globe calculator can help you figure out how much of your income you should be saving towards short, medium and long-term goals.
The money-free zone
Rock climbing is a hobby of mine, and one of the biggest dangers we climbers face is falling rock. Even small pieces of rock that are shaken loose by other climbers can lead to serious injury if they hit you.
Sometimes, there are also enormous pieces of loose rock lodged into a wall. The act of intentionally and safely shaking these pieces loose is called trundling, and it’s pretty satisfying to watch (although scary for those involved.) If you’re watching with headphones, you may want to turn the volume down!
What I’ve been writing about
- Recently I’ve noticed a lot more advertising about secured credit cards. They’re a product I didn’t know much about, so I dug in to find out who they’re aimed at, why we’re seeing more of them and which ones are best.
- People can argue all they want about whether home ownership is the best option for retirement, but the fact is that home ownership remains out of reach for Canadians. If you belong to that group, I wrote about how to approach investing for retirement as a lifelong renter.
- It’s back-to-school season and there are lots of personal finance stories that come along with it. Look out for tips from me on how post-secondary students can make good financial decisions whether they’re living at home, trying to budget for entertainment or in preparing for taxes.
More Rob Carrick and money coverage
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Even more coverage from Rob Carrick:
- 🎧 Catch up on Stress Test: Why millennials and Gen Z are Alberta-bound for a more affordable life • Rising interest rates brought pain for new homeowners – and opportunity for house hunters • Why more Canadians are choosing to be childfree or delay parenthood • Love in the time of inflation: How to manage rising costs when dating • You're not bad at money – you're suffering from money shame • Retirement might look different for Gen Z and millennials. Here's how to plan for it • Recession-beating tips for the job market, housing, investing and the cost of life • Is the middle class dead for millennials and Gen Z?
- ✔️ The housing file: A house isn’t special. Get your head straight about the reality of home ownership • The good, the sad and the unaffordable: Saving for a home down payment in Canada’s big cities • Property taxes are popping in some cities – how worried should you be about other tax hikes? • Our other real-estate problem – people have too much wealth tied up in houses • Borrowers and savers, here’s how to time the eventual rollback of interest rates
- 📈 Investing: Canada's top digital broker is TD Direct Investing, with an assist from the TD Easy Trade app • 2023 Globe and Mail ETF buyer's guide part one: Canadian equity ETFs • For the ultimate in cheap investing, check out the Freedom .08 ETF Portfolio • Yes, there is risk in Canadian bank deposits for the unwary and complacent • CDIC covers bank deposits, but who protects your investments if your broker goes bust? • Answers to your questions about the low-risk ETF paying almost 5% • Happy fifth birthday to one of the all-time best investing products for everyday people • An investing strategy that wins cleanly over the long term by outperforming in bad years like 2022
- 💰 Your money: Mortgage holders, savers and GIC investors, it’s time to change your thinking on interest rates • How much debt is each generation of Canadians carrying, and how do you compare? • For the sake of their financial futures, young people should leave Toronto and Vancouver • This practical new spin on a savings account might just peel you away from your big bank • Rental fraud grows amid rise in fake, falsified tenant applications • Are Canadians worse off financially now than in the 1980s? • From groceries to auto loans, here’s how much more it costs to live right now • When saving for retirement, should you change your asset mix over the course of your career? • Do retirement income needs always rise alongside inflation? Not necessarily • When the bank suggests you lock in your variable rate mortgage, it has an angle
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