Tag Archives: RRSPs

Only Child on seniors’ age versus finances

Only Child  contemplates some harsh realities

Only Child contemplates some harsh realities

When is a senior a senior? Is it 65? Or 60? Or maybe 59? Or maybe 70? Being senior is not necessarily your age, how you feel or how your health is. Being senior boils down to one thing – money.

Last week I did the draft of my income tax returns for 2012. Not only was the income from all sources paltry but what I can’t claim for senior tax credits upset me because I’m not quite 65 – the age the Canadian Federal government puts for seniors’ tax credits, Old Age Security  and Guaranteed Income Supplement payments (the latter can be clawed back when you do your tax returns).

But, wait a minute – the Feds aren’t consistent here. Canada Pension Plans can be paid out from age 60. Last year I opted to start receiving them and many months they saved my bacon. But if my tax calculations are correct (or nearly correct – I have to go through the draft again) my income tax payment is around the same amount as one month’s CPP payment.

Besides not qualifying for seniors’ tax credits, I’m not married or living common law and don’t have a child under 18, so can’t qualify for those tax credits either. My medical-health expenses either don’t qualify or aren’t sufficient to work in with the percentage deduction there. So I’m left with tax credits for a bank service and for having a pass for Toronto public transportation. Oh, I can fill out the form for Ontario property tax credits (age isn’t a “qualification” here) – but it is no longer used as a tax credit when filing your taxes – if approved, you get a monthly payment for the next year.

But wait a minute: the Toronto Transit Commission seniors’ age starts at 65; Shoppers Drug Mart is either 60 or 65 (depending on who you ask there), Hudson’s Bay is 60, Sears is – well I don’t know as their Sears Advantage seems geared to all adult ages. VIA Rail is 60.

Can’t we get this age senior setup consistent? I suggest 55, although that won’t help me now. Of course, that isn’t where governments are thinking for seniors’ age. Freedom 55 is more of a dinosaur than we seniors are.

Where does that leave a maybe senior who is living barely above the poverty level (counting all income sources) for a single person living alone in Toronto? (And I did a Google search for that so I’m not making this status up).

Where it leaves me is having to hit on my RRSPS (which are so meagre they wouldn’t keep me for half a year) to pay my taxes and other non-regular expenses (house repairs/replacements and the like). I don’t have a company pension and it’s too late (in my years) to get into this new government pension setup for self-employed. My freelance income sure isn’t sufficient (maybe if I could spend more time at it instead of dealing with repairs and housework, it could improve. But that’s all part of “the only person living just above the poverty line syndrome). I know I’m not the only “senior” swaying in this boat.

So I do an annual hit on my RRSPs? I figure the way things are going (stress, worry, problems, even health) if I don’t they might just outlive me.

Excuse me while I attend to the latest problem – my printer is acting up – it is printing only one page at a time, even when set to do more. And I checked the connections – even switched to another power cord.

What do you think of all this senior age-money nonsense?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Ageism, Aloneness, finances, Income Taxes, Living alone, Old Age, Old Age pensions, Only child, RRSPs, Seniors, Worrying

Only Child deciphers New Year’s resolutions

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

I learned a couple of startling things when compiling my New  Year’s resolutions on Sunday. Over the last few years I’ve developed an interest in weather forecasts and in the last month of 2011, in consumer advocacy and problem solving. The other revelation, which also occurred when emailing a friend, was the bond between money and health.

Oh! Oh! Does that mean I have to add these two interests into an already full plan? I can’t see me as a meteorologist (maybe in another incarnation) but the consumer advocacy one bears considering. So does the bond between money and health because this connection has followed me for more years than I care to remember…maybe even back to my growing-up days when my late mom who was such a super budget-financial caretaker, also had health concerns – first my dad’s several bouts with cancer (plus an ulcer and a minor heart attack), then, her own arthritis after Dad died. By that time, Mom had returned to work as a typist for an insurance company, then had to switch to proof-reader when her arthritic fingers got in her job’s way. She was off for a few weeks because the arthritis had spread to a foot and an ankle. I remember coming home from my business school class and finding two of her employers (former colleagues years before I came along) and the conversation was disturbing. As I write in my memoir:

She [Mom] is on a mini-leave of absence, when one day I walk into the house and find two strange men with her in the living room. They’re both sitting on the chesterfield, one on either side of its designed split. Mom is in the pink chair by the bookcase as if the World Books standing guard behind can lift her up beyond the swollen foot propped on a footstool. The conversation stops and the two men stare at me with blank smiles on their faces.

“This is Peter McLaren* and this is John Vardis* from Surety Insurance*.” My Mom points to each. “This is my daughter, Sharon.”

“Hello,” I say as I sit down in the chair under the window.

The men say, “Hello,” and nod, and then McLaren continues the conversation.

“Julia,” he says. “I know you are a valuable employee but we need to know if you are coming back to work.”

“I don’t like to say it, but I have to,” Vardis says. “It might be better if you retired now.” He addresses the mantle.

“Let’s not be hasty, John,” McLaren says, and then looks Mom right in the eye. “Julia, do you think you will be able to come back?”

“I don’t know.” Mom’s voice is wispy and little girlish.

I just sit, grinning and gripping the arms of the chair. I don’t even have the courage to wish one of the men would shuffle around in the chesterfield so it would move at the split. That might jolt them, although into what I don’t know.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

*Names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Perhaps the “jolt” today for me and everyone else is to consider what is most important in our life and what we can do about it this year. If I don’t want to continue the “family curse” on Mom’s side of the family, I need to consider my health. And like my Mom, money is so connected with my health. Without good health I cannot work; without money I cannot do all I need to do for my health. Anyone who thinks government health insurance will look after all health issues, think again. Anyone who signs up for private health insurance and thinks that will solve the issue, think again. Most of these private health insurance plans cover no more than 80 percent and have a payout cap. Options are a la carte, making monthly premiums high. Is it better to pay the piper in premiums or pay the piper up front for each health treatment, supplement, etc.? If you have a partner with a health plan from his or her employment (usually partially funded by the employer), you might be better off with the private health plan…for now. If you are an only person like me, especially self-employed, maybe not.

You decide.

For the money end, I’m looking into several options, once considered controversial, but becoming more common as we aging boomers near retirement and find out it’s not all Florida, Mexico, Arizona and easy-living. Depending on your age, you might want to consider applying for Canada Pension Plan payments before you turn 65 (in Canada. Starting this year, you can still work and apply and receive CPP, as well as continue to pay into the plan). You might also want to consider cashing in some of your RRSPs (if you have any), downsizing your residence, etc.

My point is, consider these issues (rather than the usual lose weight and exercise ones, although they are also worthy). We aren’t getting any younger and sometimes thinking outside the box can work.

Comments anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

1 Comment

Filed under Arthritis, Canada Pension Plan, Goals, Health, Health Insurance, Money, New year's resolutions, Only child memoir, RRSPs, Sharon Crawford