iStock Images This little piggy can help you with step #3.

You’ve finished your tax return and you’re upset because the refund is less than you hoped. But you’re also annoyed with yourself because you didn’t maximize your RRSP contributions.

There’s not much you can do for 2011 but you still have over 10 months to find an extra $2,000 to ease next year’s tax burden. (The following advice is for those who have their debt load under control.   If not do the same thing but divert the money to your debts.)

1.  Devote some of your tax refund to your RRSP ($750)
Last year, according the Canadian Revenue Agency, the average refund was $1,506, most from payroll deductions.   Take half of that and put it into your RRSP.

2. Increase your monthly RRSP contributions by $50    ($500 annually based on the 10 remaining contribution months)
If you haven’t already enrolled in an automatic RRSP payroll deduction program, start one at $50 a month. If one is in place increase the deduction by $50.

3.  Save your coins ($250)
This is an easy and painless way to build up excess cash. Put a container in the entranceway of your house and empty your pocket or purse each time you enter the house. Count it up monthly and take it to the bank. Try a little coin-saver dance with each deposit.  People will think you are weird but remember, you’re laughing all the way to the bank.

4. Windfalls ($225 annually)
Ask your parents, grandparents and siblings for cash gifts instead of those icky ties and dreadful drugstore bath sets. Explain why and most will be delighted to have that chore lifted from their shoulders.

5. Eliminate one non-necessity a week ($275)

Almost everyone spends money on something they like but don’t need. For example, cut out one specialty coffee, restaurant lunch, takeout meal or magazine a week.

Make these five steps a habit and you’ll be well on your way to cutting your taxes and beefing up your retirement savings.

Alison Griffiths is the author of Count On Yourself: Take Charge of Your Money. Reach her at alisongriffiths.ca or at griffiths.alison@gmail.com

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