Want To Invest or Need to Cash Your RRSP?

Last week, the home improvement giant Lowe’s made a $1.7 billion offer to buy Rona. If you owned the stock, it immediately went up to around the offer price of $14.50 a share. Nice deal – but it doesn’t change what we’ve always talked about: Buying an individual stock is gambling and not investing. You’re betting on the 5th horse in the 7th race! Don’t do it.

Good growth mutual funds with a long-term track record are investing, as is a five year or longer time horizon. If you’re buying one stock, it’s gambling. If you know that – do it. But don’t do it with your RRSP money. Do you need a reminder about the Facebook stock offering now down about 40% or the Zynga hot stock down 70%, and not done dropping yet, or a bunch of others?

I do have to confess that Monday I had hoped Rona would just close their doors. Four people in the North East Calgary store wouldn’t do a thing to help my brother and myself. In my experience, Home Depot’s slogan should change to: You can do it and…well, good luck.” But Rona? When my kind and patient brother, who’s a Pastor, walks out, that’s a real problem. That kind of customer no-service is on par with the no service banks and cell carriers!

Fortunately, the fourth Rona store later, I ended up on MacLeod Trail in Calgary and met Angie and Dana. Over one hour these two ladies helped me locate a large amount of shelving AND found it in stock about a mile up and eight isles over. Part of my life is teaching seminars on customer service all over the world. Now I have two Rona stories, but if you’re in and around Calgary – make the drive to the McLeod Trail store, even if you’re in the North East!

Step Away From That RRSP!

According to a recent survey from Scotiabank, a quarter of all Canadians are actually cashing in some of their RRSPs before retirement. Say it ain’t so as the old expression goes.

The three main reasons given are to purchase a home, which is the homebuyer plan, under which you are essentially borrowing the money from your own RRSP and using it for the down payment of your principal residence. Then each tax year, you’re required to pay one-fifteeth of it back until it’s all back in your RRSP. That might be fine – it’s kind of like borrowing from yourself, even though you’re out the interest accumulated.

The other two main reasons are for daily living expenses and to pay off debt. THAT is a problem. Here’s why:

Let’s assume you want to cash $4,000 to pay off some old bills. The first thing that happens is that 10% is deducted as withholding off the top. Because you received a tax deduction when you made the contribution, you now have to pay tax to get it out again. In a 30% tax bracket, $1,200 comes right off the top as withholding. So the bottom line is that this $4,000 you wanted is really $2,800 in your pocket. With me so far?

It gets worse. So it’s saved you some interest and financial pressure to pay off these bills. But you no longer have these savings growing and compounding and here’s what you’re really out:

This $4,000 left alone would double every 7 years at just a 10% return. So today’s $4,000 is $8,000 in 7 years, which is $16,000 in 14 years and $32,000 in 21 years. Nothing for you to do but sit back and watch it grow! That is if you hadn’t cashed it.

The bottom line? You got your hands on $2,800 and it’s cost you $32,000 just 21 years from now. It’s one of the most expensive ways to get your hands on some cash.

Yes, people do it – but there are lots of ways to relieve the financial pressure and NOT cash the RRSPs. After all, knowing is always better than hoping and a $20 investment in the It’s Your Money book to get the tools and insights has to be better than being out $32,000.

You are robbing a lot of tomorrows to pay for yesterday – don’t do it.

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