What is the First Time Donor’s Super Credit?

It is generally agreed upon that charitable giving is a good thing.  That is why the government rewards charitable giving by being charitable with your taxes.  Which is nice.  Free money from the government is always good.

In the 2013 Budget, the government created a First Time Donor’s Super Credit.  This is a credit that can be claimed between the tax years of 2013 and 2017.

For any charitable donor (those who have already donated before, and first time donors who donated before Budget 2013), you get a non-refundable tax credit of the lowest personal tax rate on the first $200 you donate, and the highest tax rate federally and provincially on any amounts over $200.  So in British Columbia where I live, I get a 15% federal tax credit on any amount I donate up to $200 and 29% on the remainder of my donation past $200.  In addition, I get a 5.06% amount up to $200 and 14.7% on the remainder past $200 of a provincial tax credit.

So basically, if I donated $400, I get a tax credit of $127.52 and hence, the actual cost of donating is $272.48.  If you live in B.C. the University of British Columbia has a convenient tax credit calculator here.  Check out one of my favourite tax related websites, Tax Tips for more details.

What is the First Time Donor Super Credit?

First Time Donors Super CreditWell, my friend, the First Time Donor Super Credit allows you to have up to an extra 25% of non-refundable tax credit on your donation.  You must not have donated in the past five years (the government of Canada is rewarding stingy and non-generous people, goes to show!) in order to be eligible for the First Time Donor Super Credit.

For any values up to $200, you may be eligible to get up to 40% of a tax credit and up to a 54% tax credit on the amount past $200 (up to a maximum of $1000).  These numbers are variable depending on the province that you live in.

Related: How to Get More Money Back from your Tax Return

Some of the rules according to the Canada Revenue Agency Website are:

  • That the person claiming the First Time Donor Super Credit has not donated in the past five years
  • Their common law partner or married spouse must not have donated in the past five years either
  • You can only claim it once between the years of 2013 to 2017 (so make it count!)
  • The maximum amount of the Super Tax Credit that you can claim is up to $1000 in donations
  • It has to be a registered Canadian charity (well, of course!)

If you have not donated in the past five years (now is the time!) and you are interested in seeing how much your first time donation reward you when it comes to claim your taxes, Canada Helps has a handy First Time Donor Super Tax Credit calculator.  Alternately, if you want to be more legit, you can go to the Canada Revenue Agency First Time Donor Super Tax Credit calculator too.

So, if you have never donated and you donate $400 after 2013, you are eligible for a tax credit of $127.52 as your standard donation credit, and an additional $100 One Time super credit.  That means, that $400 donation really only costed you $172.48.

Pretty amazing huh?

How to Make the First Time Donor Super Tax Credit Count

Go big or go home, right?  Isn’t that life’s motto?

In order to maximize the First Time Donor Super Tax Credit, you might want to save up your donations to make sure that you accumulate as much donation amount as you can.  This may mean deferring claiming your donations against your taxes until 2017 if you don’t plan to donate a large amount in certain calender year…otherwise known as carrying forward your donations.  Some people may find that too cumbersome.  Alternately, if you have a spouse or a common law partner you can amalgamate your donations in order to maximize the amount donated for the year in question.

The First Time Donor Super Tax Credit sounds pretty amazing to optimize your taxes, unfortunately I am often approached by friends asking to donate for something they are doing for charity so I won’t be able to take advantage of this tax credit.

Readers, are you planning to take advantage of the First Time Donor Super Tax Credit?

Is Couponing Really Worth Your Time?

I have to admit that I’ve been a coupon snob in the past.

My hatred of the unorganized couponer that holds up the line as they leisurely thumb through their pile of 2-weeks-overdue clippings and then ask to speak to the manager in an effort to save a couple of dimes was partially responsible.  I didn’t want to be associated with the stigma those types of people created.

The hoarder-like people known as “extreme couponers” on TV did their part as well.  I mean it’s great that you managed to get a tube of toothpaste for 3 cents and all, but seeing as how you had to buy a whole shed full in order to accomplish that feat…

If I’m being brutally honest with myself, my overall laziness probably played the largest role in my lack of couponing efforts.  I might try to justify my laziness with inner monologue such as, “I’m a busy guy and it’s not really worth my time,” or, “coupons are more for grandmas with nothing better to do.”

I was wrong.  I admit it.

I Can’t Ignore Coupons Any Longer

episode12-cover-1024x1024In preparation for our latest episode of the Money Mastermind Show I looked into this whole couponing a little more.  It turns out that technology has essentially refined the idea of coupons to a level where a lazy guy like me can actually considering using them.

This past week I completed one of my least-favorite Canadian traditions: The USA Shopping Trip.  Every year millions of Canadians pour across the border in hopes of finding deals that our relatively small economy of scale and high tax rates just can’t compete with.  The substantial raise in how much stuff you’re allowed to bring back without paying taxes or duties on it from $200 to $800 for a 48-hour trip has been a godsend to conscientious shoppers like my fiancée.  Not so much for lazy anti-shoppers like myself.

Related: Why Target is Better Than Wal-Mart!

Sometimes in the past I’d stroll over to the computer 15 minutes before we left (in other words about 15 minutes after we were supposed to leave) and see if there were any quick printable coupons available for a couple of stores that I knew from past experience that we’d be hitting.  That was about it.  This time I still wasn’t willing to snoop around newspapers etc., but what I did do is check out this whole mobile couponing thing.

The basic idea is that instead of rifling through dozens of clippings as you go to the big box stores or stroll through a mall, you simply pull up the coupon/promo codes on your phone and have the cashier scan the bar code or just give them the digits for the promo code.  After spending too much time looking at my phone I realized that someone smarter and more motivated than myself had almost assuredly already invented an app for this sort of thing.  After a quick search the first one I clicked on was called Coupon Sherpa (how cool is that name/brand?).  I’m sure there are others out there that are great too, but this app saved me like $100 in an afternoon at the mall.  I’d just follow my fiancée around holding the bags as usual, but this time, whenever she went into a store I’d just scroll down my list of “retailers in your area” and see what was available for in-store promotions.  It was that easy.  It took maybe 45 seconds for each store.  The ease with which a person can piggyback off of other peoples’ hard work when it comes to today’s couponing strategies is pretty sweet.

*Editor’s Note: Coupon Sherpa is not available in Canada

I’ve written before about promo codes and at this point if you don’t take 15 seconds to Google “promo code for _____” before clicking “confirm purchase” you’re kind of crazy.  I’ve also gotten a sense of when things go on sale for the online retailers I prefer, and developed a modicum of patience in allowing some bigger-ticket groups of items to sit in my cart for a little while before the sale hits.  This episode made move beyond that however.

Related: Saving Money by Shopping Online?

How Much Time and How Much Money Are We Talking?

Peter Anderson of Bible Money Matters says that he believes he saves about $100 per hour when he and his wife do just the bare minimum of snatching a few coupons on the stuff they ordinarily buy.  He also quoted a stat from Coupon.com (admittedly a source that might be tempted to inflate things a little bit) that says the average family loses out on $900-worth of savings every year due to ignoring coupons.  If that’s not impressive, think about the fact that the $900 figure is calculated as after-tax dollars saved.  In other words, I’d have to make somewhere in the $1,300 range before taxes in order to equal the savings people could have from coupons.

Our special guest on the show this week Carrie Rocha is a grocery shopping wizard.  She talked about how a conscientious shopper who was willing to do a quick search of sites like her own Pocket Your Dollars before heading out could save hundreds every couple of weeks.  Ever wonder how Costco and Sam’s Club-style wholesale shopping stacked up against couponing wizards like Carrie?  Tune in to find out why Carrie has found a great balance between the different price-cutting strategies and why she refrains from calling herself an extreme couponer by any measure.  Insights about just being aware of what you pay and some of the sales cycles were stuff I hadn’t really thought of before (even though I realize that sounds kind of dumb now as I type it).

Of course everyone was quick to note you’re only really saving money if you use coupons to buy what you were going to buy anyway.  If you buy something you don’t need for $8 that used to be $10, you’re not saving $2, your still spending $8 on something you don’t need!

Still, Don’t be a Jerk About It

I still harbour some resentment when it comes to disorganized couponers who clearly feel their time is worth more than those around them.  If you’re going to make up your mind to save a little here and there over the net little while please take the time to prepare before you hit the register.  It’s just not cool to jerk everyone else around.  From my very limited experience, if you know what you’re doing before you start digging around in a bottomless sack for tiny piece of paper you clipped weeks ago, you can use coupons or mobile promo codes and only add roughly 10-30 seconds to your transaction time.

I’m sorry coupons and couponers, I apologize wholeheartedly.  I won’t say I’m ready to completely drink the kool-aid yet, but I’m ready to nibble around the edges at least.

Does anyone out there have some more tips for a semi-lazy couponing rookie or are you still solidly in the anti-couponer camp?

IntelliMortgage Review – Is a DIY Mortgage Right for You?

If the HGTV-driven acronym DIY can apply to building a deck or renovating your kitchen, IntelliMortgage’s Rob McLister and Deon Yu believe that surely the same principles can be applied to setting up your own mortgage.

A DIY mortgage is essentially a strategy for choosing the best mortgage for your specific situation from amongst the huge number of choices that Canadian lenders offer.  If this sounds like a daunting task, the good news is that McLister and Yu provide the tools to make it a lot easier.

intellimortgage reviewThe two co-founders of IntelliMortgage have been in the mortgage field in some form or fashion for several years.  You might recognize Rob’s name as someone who occasionally writes on mortgage-related issues for the The Globe and Mail, as well as the owner of my favorite place to go for Canadian mortgage-related content: CanadianMortgageTrends.com.  In other words – these guys know their stuff.Continue Reading