Make a list, check it twice

Take a few moments to check in on your finances before the holidays.

The holiday season is upon us and there’s much to do. You might have a shopping list, a grocery list and even a seasonal decorations list to help keep track of what you need to do. But what about an end-of-year financial checklist? It can be easy to forget about financial housekeeping matters this time of year. We’ve put together this brief end-of-year financial checklist to help you get started:

7 end-of-year financial tasks

1. TFSA withdrawals

Any funds taken out of your Tax-Free Savings AccountTax-Free Savings Account A Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a registered savings account that provides tax benefits. In most cases, investment income, including capital gains and dividends, earned in a TFSA is not taxed, even when withdrawn. There are annual contribution limits but you can carry forward any unused contribution room from previous years.+ read full definition (TFSATFSA See Tax-Free Savings Account.+ read full definition) can only be put back in the following year or any year after that. Remember, the sooner you can re-contribute TFSA funds, the sooner those funds can grow by earning interest, dividends or capital gains depending on how you’re invested.

2. RRSP contributions

March is the deadline to contribute to your Registered Retirement Savings PlanRegistered Retirement Savings Plan A plan that lets you save for retirement while lowering your income taxes. You choose how you want to invest your savings. You don’t pay tax on any money in your account until you take it out.+ read full definition (RRSPRRSP See Registered Retirement Savings Plan.+ read full definition) for this year’s taxes. If you make an RRSP contributionContribution Money that you put into a savings or investment plan.+ read full definition in December, you’ll have the benefit of additional months of potential growth through interest, dividends or capital gains.

3. RESP contributions

If you’re saving for a child’s education, keep in mind you have until the end of December to contribute to your child’s Registered Education Savings PlanRegistered Education Savings Plan A savings plan that helps you save for a child’s post-secondary education. The money that you save in the plan grows tax-free.+ read full definition (RESPRESP See Registered Education Savings Plan.+ read full definition) for the calendar year. The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) will match your contribution by 20%, up to a maximum of $500 for each child. If you miss the deadline, you’ll have one year to catch up (you can only catch up one year at a time).

4. RRIF conversion

If you turned 71 this year, you must convert your RRSP into a Registered Retirement Income FundRegistered Retirement Income Fund A plan that holds your retirement savings and provides income after you retire. It works like an RRSP in reverse because you withdraw money instead of saving. There are rules about how much you can withdraw each year.+ read full definition (RRIFRRIF See Registered Retirement Income Fund.+ read full definition) or annuityAnnuity A contract usually sold by life insurance companies that guarantees an income to you or your beneficiary at some time in the future. An annuity is a contract with a life insurance company. When you buy an annuity, you deposit a lump sum of money, and the insurance company agrees to pay you a guaranteed…+ read full definition by December 31. You also have the option if cashing out your RRSP instead.

5. Charitable donations

If you make a charitable donation by the end of this year, you can claim it as part that year’s taxes. But if you wait until January to make a donation, you’ll have to wait almost a full year before you can claim on your taxTax A fee the government charges on income, property, and sales. The money goes to finance government programs and other costs.+ read full definition return.

6. Budget review

If you created or followed a budgetBudget A monthly or yearly estimated plan for spending and saving. You work it out based on your income and expenses.+ read full definition earlier in the year, now is a good time to update it by asking yourself what changes you need to make. How did it go this year? What do you want to spend more or less on next year? There’s still time to adjust your budget for the new year.

7. Plan for the personal

Make sure your financial to-do-list includes some planning for personal goals. In the next year, are you hoping to take a dream vacation? Take some new courses or refresh some qualifications? Perhaps you’re planning to get married or grow your family. Bring your dreams closer to reality by mapping out some savings to get there.

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