BMO Financial Group
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BMO Financial Group

February 07, 2017 08:00 ET

BMO Annual RRSP Study: Canadians Using RRSPs to Fund Everyday Expenses and Debt Repayment

- Average amount Canadians have taken out of their RRSPs is $17,213

- Approximately one in five use funds for living expenses (21 per cent) or to pay down debt (18 per cent)

- National survey with regional breakdowns

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 7, 2017) - BMO Financial Group released the second installment of its annual RRSP study today showing that though funding a home purchase remains a top reason to withdraw from their RRSPs (30 per cent), Canadians continue to dip into their retirement savings for living expenses (21 per cent) and debt repayment (18 per cent).

According to the study, Canadians have withdrawn an average of $17,213 from their RRSPs this year, an increase of $1,305 from last year ($15,908) and 38 per cent of Canadians have withdrawn money from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) before age 71, an increase of 4 per cent from last year (34 per cent).

"It's concerning to see that so many Canadians are dipping into their RRSPs to meet short-term needs, which should only be considered as a last resort" says Chris Buttigieg, Director, Wealth Planning Publications, BMO Wealth Management. "Before withdrawing from an RRSP, speak to a financial professional to make sure you have fully considered the ramifications of the early withdrawal tax consequences, and to consider any additional options that may be available to you."

Reasons for Withdrawal

Top reasons why Canadians are withdrawing from their RRSPs include:

  • Purchasing a home (30 per cent)
  • To help pay off living expenses (21 per cent)
  • To pay off debt (18 per cent)
  • For emergencies (18 per cent)

Regional Breakdown

Region % of Canadians who have made an RRSP withdrawal Average amount Canadians have withdrawn from RRSPs Top reason for making an RRSP withdrawal
National 38 $17,213 To buy a home (30 per cent)
Atlantic 48 $25,485 To make a large purchase, other than a home (22 per cent)
Quebec 39 $17,231 To buy a home (23 per cent)
Ontario 35 $16,593 To buy a home (31 per cent)
Prairies 33 $10,546 To pay off debt (27 per cent)
Alberta 41 $12,524 To buy a home (38 per cent)
B.C. 44 $21,538 To buy a home (38 per cent)

Despite three quarters (75 per cent) being very concerned over the consequences of taking money from their RRSP and 73 per cent saying they are familiar with the tax penalties or rules for repayment (in the case of a homebuyers withdrawal) when withdrawing from their RRSP before age 71, one in five do not expect to ever pay it back (19 per cent).

"Investing in a TFSA or putting funds in a high interest savings account to keep funds liquid and accessible is a good alternative to dipping into your RRSPs prematurely for non-retirement expenses. These short-term savings could be viewed as an emergency fund that will allow you to withdraw money for unexpected future needs without having to incur unnecessary taxes or jeopardize your retirement savings," says Mr. Buttigieg.

For more information on saving for retirement, please visit www.bmo.com/retirement.

For more information on investing, please visit bmo.com/investments.

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The BMO RRSP Survey was conducted by Pollara between December 14th and 19th 2016, with an online sample of 1 500 adult Canadians. Data has been weighted using the latest census data to be representative in terms of age, gender and region. The margin of error for a probability sample size of 1,500 is ± 2.5% 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817, and currently marking its 200th year of operations, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services provider based in North America. With total assets of $688 billion as of October 31, 2016, and more than 45,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

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