Give Me My Money

Earning and saving money have always been interesting processes to me. When I was 15, I started my first paper route, as my sister from another mister got me a job with delivering the Sunday Sun around my neighbourhood. I have been fortunate to be working ever since, albeit different jobs, different roles and responsibilities.


When I decided I wanted to further my career and education, I first learned that ever so expensive price of tuition and incidental fees (which just keep increasing…). That’s when I was introduced to OSAP, and savings and investment options. Luckily my winter and summer before university, I earned enough as a cashier at Wal-Mart to pay for my first year’s tuition on my own, so was advised to put the usused OSAP funds into a TFSA until I needed them.

I thought TFSA’s were amazing! However, I didn’t read the fine-print. After withdrawing from my TFSA multiple times, I had forgotten that the space in that savings account was no longer available to me until the next year, after which my contribution room would increase by $5000, in addition to the space taken up from my withdrawals.

Long story short, that tax year I had to pay a hefty tax fee just shy of $500, because I overcontributed. I was infuriated…come on, I’m a student, and shouldn’t the bank have emphasized these things to me when I opened my account, or even when I’d come in to make cash withdrawals? These were the questions I asked the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), and submitted a formal letter stating these arguments. But the response I received – sorry, but no.

Needless to say, I was quite upset – I was mad at the government for not forgiving my ignorance, my bank for not looking out for me, and myself for relying so much on these institutions. I thought the TFSA was too good to be true – but it’s actually not, if you follow the rules.


After that experience, I’ve become more skeptical about where my money is going, especially during the tax season. Curiosity fuels education, and throughout my search I came across an amazing resource – the CRA’s website! The website on its own has a plethora of information, I really wish I had accessed it before! The link that is attached brings you to a free course where you can learn about taxes – awesome! I took the course, which includes 4  modules touching upon the topics of why we need to submit income taxes, consequences of not doing so, history of taxes, and of course, how to submit your taxes on your own along with support along the way. To add, throughout the module there are direct links for other sections of their website that may be of interest to you.

That being said, I plan to submit my taxes by NETfile for the 2012 tax year – before April 30th of course! I’m a DIYer at heart, and now that I have some understanding of the process, would much rather do it myself. I’m also trying to convince my parents to let me do theirs (for free!) so that they can save their money, and hopefully become inspired to do it themselves in 2013.

As I said before, money has always been interesting to me. If I wasn’t more interested in health, and intimidated by the corporate world, I may’ve primarily studied business. However, last year I learned about tax school that’s offered through H&R block every fall. I was ready to sign up last year, but with my last year of university, and a few part-time jobs, my plate was full. If I wasn’t starting professional studies this fall, I would’ve signed up in a heart beat! Even if I’m not able to take the course anytime soon, I do plan to look more into volunteer opportunities for those who aren’t able to prepare their income tax and benefit returns on their own, as this is something that is really interesting!

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