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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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Callout for sources

I’m looking into travel insurance for riskier activities like rock climbing, scuba diving, backcountry skiing or even simpler outdoor activities like camping and hiking.

Have you ever been surprised that ordinary travel insurance doesn’t cover you? Have you been caught out by your coverage being declined because of a risky activity? Or have you ever altered a trip or foregone coverage because specialized insurance was just too expensive?

Reach out to me at if you’ve had any such experiences with this form of insurance.

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!


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