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Every year, thousands of Canadians miss making an RRSP contribution. Thousands more cannot make the full amount. The RRSP season falls right after Christmas, when money is tight in many families. And far too many people wait until the last minute to contribute.

How to carry forward
If you missed the deadline for this year's RRSP payment, you've missed out on both a significant tax break and the opportunity to let your retirement money grow tax-free. You can't catch up on that time, but you can put the money in later.

You can carry forward unused contribution room. For every year that you do not contribute the full amount, the unused contribution room accumulates. Look at the assessment notice for last year's income tax return – it will tell you the full amount. But as that number gets bigger, the chances of ever making it up get slimmer.

Reassess your goals
The best solution? Don't let the same thing happen next year! Start planning next year's RRSP contribution now. But first, it's time to do some serious financial planning.

Spring and fall are good times to reassess your financial goals and look at the asset mix of your entire portfolio. You may have more time, and so do financial planners now that they're not rushed off their feet by RRSP queries. You should seek out a qualified financial advisor who is a member of Advocis. Your advisor should assess your "money personality" and show you how to gain control of your savings.

Start saving
Once you have set your goals, you can begin saving toward a full RRSP contribution. It's difficult to find $2,000 in the first two months of the year, for example, but it's easier to put aside $200 a month for 10 months. If your income is irregular and you expect a bonus or commission, figure those into the equation. Pay yourself first, before you spend on anything else.

Our chart shows how much further ahead you are if you make an RRSP contribution of $100 a month, rather than making a $1,200 lump sum payment once a year.


Year 6 per cent 10 per cent
Monthly Annual Monthly Annual
5 6,982 5,512 7,717 6,033
10 16,326 14,479 20,146 17,653
15 28,831 26,479 40,162 36,367
20 45,565 42,538 72,399 66,507
25 67,958 64,028 124,316 115,047
30 97,926 92,786 207,929 193,220
35 138,029 131,272 342,589 319,120
40 191,696 182,774 559,461 521,882
45 263,515 251,695 908,734 848,433
50 359,625 343,928 1,471,243 1,374,346