From what we have seen from Part 1, it seems that RRSP’s deserve some more attention than previously afforded. Not in so much as to promote them further, but rather to see if they are truly in your best interest. Our basic analysis is not yet complete though, so let’s keep trucking on! :)
First, let’s recap the results from Part 1. We saw that by saving 10% to her RRSP account, Anna would have $43,700/year in retirement. By instead saving to her non-registered portfolio, she would be able to fund a $51,300/year retirement income. That is a SUBSTANTIAL difference.
Let’s now look at the effects of putting the tax refunds to good use in the next two cases.
Case 3: Anna saves 10% to her RRSP, Uses tax refund to build up a Non-Registered portfolio
Just to be clear, this means that Anna continues to save her 10% every year. In this case, she is depositing the funds to her RRSP account and using the resulting tax refunds to contribute to a non-registered portfolio which will also be used to help fund her retirement income needs. This strategy will yield an after-tax annual income (in today’s dollars) of $53,175/year. I will spare you the Net Worth Accumulation Graph with a Monte Carlo Sensitivity Analysis because it is very similar to the first two graphs, however the probability of success is 75%.
Now we see that the RRSP strategy comes out on top… but not by very much. In fact, by saving to a non-registered portfolio you will almost have the same amount of retirement income of someone who saves to an RRSP AND re-invests the annual tax refund into a non-registered portfolio.
Case 4: Anna saves 10% to her RRSP, re-invests RRSP refund right back to the RRSP
In this final case – we will see what happens if Anna takes the RRSP refund and instead of putting that into a non-registered portfolio, she re-invests it into her RRSP. Therefore, all of her savings and tax refunds are being put into her RRSP and her RRSP alone.
Her annual income decreases, but only slightly, to $52,675/year – with a probability of success of 72%.
Review of all 4 cases
Save to an RRSP, don’t use the refund productively = $43,700/year, 76% Success Rate
Save to a Non-Registered portfolio, don’t have a refund to use = $51,300/year, 74% Success Rate
Save to an RRSP, re-invest all refunds to a non-registered account = $53,175/year, 75% Success Rate
Save to an RRSP, re-invest all refunds to the RRSP = $52,675/year, 72% Success Rate
So what does this tell us? Well, it’s too early to really draw solid conclusions, but we are heading in the right track. To really make sense of the Monte Carlo numbers, we need not only the probabilities of success for each scenario at their optimal income rates, but also the probabilities of success as compared to the baseline income level of $43,700/year.
So… I readjusted each financial plan to allow for $43,700/year in annual after tax income in today’s dollars and calculated (make that: had the computer calculate!) the probabilities of success. Here are the graphs and Success Rates for each case except Case 1 (which we saw in Part 1):
Case 2 @ $43,700/year (Save to non-registered portfolio only) = 91% Success Rate:
Case 3 @ $43,700/year (Save to RRSP, refund to non-registered) = 87% Success Rate:
Case 4 @ $43,700/year (Save to RRSP, refund back to RRSP) = 89% Success Rate:
Remember to note the scale of the Y-axes for each graph.
Now we have some more data to analyze. While there were no surprises (it would be expected that if a strategy were able to yield a higher annual income with a similar success rate, that the success rate would increase dramatically if you decreased the withdrawal rate), we are getting close to turning over all the stones.
Right now, not much has changed with respect to what was revealed in Part 1 – that the belief that RRSP’s are "hands-down" the best way to save for retirement may not be so "hands-down" after all. BUT, we also made some big assumptions that we need to examine. Namely, that Anna can afford to pay the tax on her non-registered investment growth until retirement out of her regular cash-flow. That may be easy to do when she is younger, but very difficult later on. If she can not, in fact, pay for the ongoing taxation, she would have to make withdrawals from her non-registered portfolio on a yearly basis prior to retirement.
Also, we need to look at the changing reality that many people work part-time in the beginning phase of retirement. Retirement is becoming less and less a "full stop" and more and more a smooth transition.
In Part 3, we are going to look at the pre-retirement withdrawal of non-registered investments (to pay the tax bill) as well as post-retirement income. We will conclude with some final thoughts on the reality of using 100% of the tax refund productively for these strategies.
For special deals for readers of WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com (that’s you!), please visit the "Deals For Readers" section.