How To Spot Fresh In Season Produce At The Grocery Store

howtospotfreshinseasonproduceatthegrocerystore.jpgIt seems that we’ve been inundated with reports of grocery costs lately. If it’s not in the current headlines, you might have heard complaints from your mother, neighbour, or friend. You might have even have noticed price increases (or a reduction in product size for the same cost) among your own grocery staples.

Back in 2012, poor weather conditions severely affected the apple harvest and we sadly had to cancel our annual visit to the orchard. For the first time I could remember, they were closed for picking in several varieties and apple prices were generally higher than usual that year.

Recently, the dwindling population of honeybees have made the headlines again, and not for the first time. Experts claim that not only will honey prices increase, the costs of other crops that depend on a large bee population to pollinate their crops will also suffer. One of these crops is the almond plant, which in turn raises the cost of almond milk, and also my favourite almond chocolate bar. Coupled with a poor cocoa bean yield from West Africa, my cravings are threatening to make a noticeable impact on our expense tracking spreadsheet.

Related: How To Find Grocery Coupons Online

My protest over the increasing cost of quality chocolate will probably fall on deaf ears but there is something I can do that will make my spreadsheet numbers sexier. That’s right; I look for hot little numbers in my expense records. Doesn’t everyone? Don’t answer that.

One way we can combat these rising costs is to focus our spending on fresh in-season produce at the grocery store. Eating tastier and healthier food just happens to be an added bonus.

Chasing Cranberries

The Ultimate Guide To Saving Money On Your Taxes

theultimateguidetosavingmoneyonyourtaxes.jpgWhen it comes to saving money on your taxes, there are some simple tips and tricks that everyone can follow to maximize their tax savings or refund. For instance, almost everyone knows an RRSP contribution will reduce taxable income, but not many people know that you don’t even need cash to contribute to a TFSA or that you get to keep your TFSA if you leave Canada.

Knowing what tax savings opportunities are available to you, let alone how to maximize them, is a difficult task for anyone. In this article, we’ll dive in deep and give you an overview of most of the ways you can reduce your tax bill along with tips for making the most of each deduction or strategy.

Before we get to that though, I want to give you a chance to win a copy of UFile to help make make doing your taxes a breeze. I’ve been using UFile to file my taxes since 2009 and I love the software. It’s reasonably priced, easy to use, and has helped me find tax savings I didn’t even know were there.

Win 1 of 12 Copies Of UFile!

Grudge Match: RRSP Vs. TFSA. The Battle For Your Savings

grudgematchrrspvstfsa.jpgIt's that time of year again when the thoughts of many Canadians turn to putting money away in their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) for the future. Actually, that's not entirely true. Many people remember to do it at this time of year because they want to capture the tax deduction against last year's taxes and hopefully get a big refund when they file their returns.

For the longest time, the RRSP was our only way to save tax sheltered money for retirement. Then in 2009, along came a new way to boost your savings with even more attractive features than the long-in-the-tooth RRSP. This new kid, the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), brings a truly tax free option to the game, rather than just tax sheltering the money until a later date. But the question is: Is the TFSA the best option for your savings, or is the tried and true RRSP the way to go?

Let's compare the two plans:

RRSP TFSA
PROS
Allows contributors to put away 18% of their earned income to a maximum of $24,930 for 2015. Money put into the plan can be withdrawn at any time with no tax penalty.
Unused contribution room can be carried forward to use in future years. Unused contribution room can be carried forward to use in future years.
Contributors receive a contribution receipt to use as a deduction on their income tax. No age limit where the TFSA needs to wrap up
Offers the possibility of sheltering money earned in higher taxed earning years to avoid those taxes and then taking it out as income in a lower tax bracket later hopefully paying much less tax than you originally would have. Any interest, capital gains or dividends received from Canadian corporations are tax sheltered (i.e. tax free).
High income earning spouses can create a spousal RRSP to reduce their tax liability. The money can be used for any purpose at any time with no restrictions, penalties, or taxes.
All interest, capital gains and dividends received in the plan are tax sheltered, including dividends from US investments, until the money is withdrawn. Money taken out of the TFSA can be re-deposited to the plan, but not in the same year it was withdrawn.
CONS
Money received as income from the plan is taxable at your marginal rate in the year it is withdrawn. Maximum annual contribution limit is lower than the RRSP. $5,500 for 2015.
Taking money out prior to retirement is taxed as income (unless it is taken out through the Home Buyers Plan or Life-Long Learning Plan). Dividends received from US companies are still subject to US withholding tax.
The RRSP must be wrapped up by age 71 when forced yearly withdrawals begin. Contributions to the TFSA are not tax deductible.
Money withdrawn from the plan cannot be repaid (unless withdrawn through the HBP or LLP). No spousal TFSA plans for income splitting.

If it weren't for the fact that contributing to the RRSP is tax deductible, many people would likely stop using it. It has many more restrictions than its tax-free cousin and in the end, we still have to pay tax on the money when we take it out later (preferably in retirement). I've had people tell me they like the RRSP for the Home Buyers Plan and the Lifelong Learning Plan but the truth is, your TFSA can be used for buying a house, going to school, or many other purposes and you're not required to pay the money back. With the HBP and the LLP, the money has to be repaid in 15 and 10 years respectively, and if it's not, the money gets taxed as income.

The RRSP has to be wrapped up at the end of the year in which we turn 71. At that point, it has to be fully cashed out, converted to an annuity or put into a Registered Retirement Income Fund. If put it into a RRIF, each year the government has a set percentage that must be withdrawn from the plan and reported as income. For those who have enough money from other sources and don't require the income, or want to keep a particular investment without selling it, one strategy is to take the investment out "in kind" at a value equal to the required withdrawal. Once it's removed from the RRIF, any dividends or interest it receives will be taxable but for those who don't want to part with the investment, this is a way to do that. For married couples, another way to legally lower the percentage that has to be taken out each year is to use the age of the younger spouse.

Related: Investing In The Things You Spend Money On

For the TFSA, the government really only cares about three things: How much money went in, what amount was withdrawn, if any, and when did these things happen? As mentioned in the chart above, money can be taken out of the TFSA at any time and can be put back into the plan at a later date, just not the same year it was withdrawn.

If you have extra contribution room, you could even put the money back in during the same year by using up additional contribution room. However, if your contribution room is all used up, then attempting to put withdrawn money back in during the same year it was withdrawn will trigger an over-contribution penalty by the CRA.

Which One To Do First?

Do You Splurge?

doyousplurge.jpgA person new to HowToSaveMoney.ca might think that I’m a tight fisted miser who bends down to pick up every penny - or should I say nickel? - off the street and then goes home to curl up in bed and snuggle with my piggy bank while laying on my mattress stuffed with cash.

As enticing as that sounds, it simply isn’t so!

My goal in life is to save as much money on everything I can so I have more money left over to live a good life and to splurge on the things I enjoy! No, I don’t believe we need oodles of money to be happy, but I do definitely enjoy spending it on some things and I’d be lying if I said it never brings a smile to my face. I’m human like the rest of you, and we all like to spoil ourselves from time to time.

My Favourite Splurges

Daily Deal Sites: The Best Of What’s Left

dailydealsitesthebestofwhatsleft.jpg

What ever happened to all the daily deal and group buying websites?

You know, the ones that let you save 50% or more on restaurants, entertainment, products, and services? It seems they’ve all but disappeared these days.

A few years ago, sites like Groupon were all the rage and it seemed like a new imitation site was popping up every few days with fantastic names like “StealTheDeal” and “Snaggies”. Everyone and their dog wanted in on this revolutionary internet gold rush because profit shares were high and businesses willingly spent large chunks of their marketing budgets to attract guaranteed customers.

For the consumer, these daily deal sites were, and still are, a great way to save money while experiencing new restaurants, entertainment, and services that they might otherwise be hesitant to buy.

From 33 To 6: What’s Daily Deal Sites Remain

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