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RSP vs RRSP: What’s The Difference

One common decision many face is choosing between an RSP and an RRSP.

Deciphering Canada's key retirement savings options

When securing our financial future, making informed decisions about eligible investments is crucial. Many Canadians find themselves faced with a myriad of various retirement savings plans and options, each with its own special rules, unique benefits and constraints.

Among the most discussed and often misunderstood investment funds are the Registered Savings Plan (RSP) and the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). While some are familiar with the basic concept of these savings plans, the nuances—like understanding RRSP contribution limits, the benefits of investing in RRSP mutual funds, or the RRSP age limit—can become quite puzzling.

This article aims to demystify these concepts, guiding you to make the best decision for your financial journey.

What is RSP and RRSP?

RSP (Registered Savings Plan)

At its core, the Registered Savings Plan (RSP) is a flexible savings vehicle designed to withdraw money for various purposes over contribution amounts, not solely for retirement. Whether you're setting aside money for a rainy day, a dream vacation, or any other purpose, an RSP can be a versatile investing tool in your financial toolkit.

RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)

The Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a savings plan, registered with the Canadian federal government that you can contribute to for retirement purposes. Its primary goal is to help Canadians save for their retirement while benefiting from income tax deferral on their RRSP contribution.

RRSP Contributions

One of the pivotal features of an RRSP is the RRSP contribution mechanism, which allows individuals to allocate money that can flourish tax-deferred until your retirement age. The money you funnel into the plan via these RRSP contributions isn’t immediately subjected to income tax. Instead of taxable income only, taxation occurs when you have earned income and decide to withdraw it during your retirement years.

Furthermore, being mindful of the RRSP contribution limit each year can ensure you're taking full advantage of this setup. This structure offers substantial benefits for those aiming to optimize their income tax returns and maximize the growth potential of their savings.

RRSP Mutual Funds

An attractive option for many RRSP investors is placing their contributions in mutual funds and remaining other fund investments and funds. RRSP investments and mutual funds offer diversification and professional management, making it easier for individuals to navigate the complex world of investing. 

Whether you're a seasoned investor or just starting, the array of RRSP mutual funds available ensures there's something suitable for every risk tolerance and investment horizon.

RRSP Age Limit

You can contribute to an RRSP until you turn 71 as long as you are a Canadian resident. After this, you'll have to withdraw funds from the RRSP as a lump sum, transfer its contents to a Registered Retirement Income Fund or purchase an annuity.

Being aware of this ensures you can plan appropriately and maximize the benefits of the funds in your RRSP throughout your lifetime.

Key Differences between RSP and RRSP

Understanding the distinctions between the RSP and RRSP is pivotal for informed financial planning. Here are some of the most noteworthy differences:

Purpose and Goals:

  • RSP is more of a general savings plan. It can be utilized for varied savings goals, from vacations to emergencies.
  • RRSP, on the other hand, is tailored for retirement savings, with incentives like tax deferrals on your RRSP contribution to promote long-term saving.

Tax Implications and Benefits:

  • RSPs may not offer the same level of tax benefits that an RRSP does. In RRSPs, contributions are deductible from your income, which can lead to potential tax savings now.
  • RRSP mutual funds, along with other investments, grow tax-deferred, meaning you won't pay tax on the growth until you make withdrawals in retirement.

Withdrawal Rules and Penalties:

  • With RSPs, the withdrawal rules may differ based on the institution and the plan's specifics.
  • For RRSPs, withdrawals before retirement are subject to taxation. However, there are exceptions, such as the Home Buyers' Plan, where specific conditions allow for penalty-free withdrawals.

Contribution Limits and Carry Forwards:

  • While RSPs might have flexible contribution amounts, RRSPs have a specific annual limit. However, if you don’t reach that limit in any given year, the unused contribution room can be carried forward to future years.
  • Being aware of the RRSP age limit is vital: Canadians can contribute until they turn 71. After this, decisions around conversion to another retirement option like an RRIF become necessary.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Delving deeper, let's evaluate the pros and cons of both RSPs and RRSPs:



  • Flexibility: Suitable for varied financial goals, not strictly retirement.
  • Accessibility: Typically, easier withdrawal rules compared to RRSPs, making it a more liquid option for some savers.


  • Limited Tax Benefits: Doesn't offer the tax deferral benefits on growth that RRSPs provide.
  • Potential for Misuse: Due to its flexibility, there’s a temptation to dip into the funds more frequently, potentially disrupting long-term savings goals.



  • Tax Deferral: Contributions grow tax-free until withdrawal, which is especially beneficial for investments like RRSP mutual funds.
  • Tax Deductions: Income earned within the RRSP typically remains tax-free, provided the funds remain in the account. Your RRSP contribution can be deducted from your income, providing immediate tax relief.
  • Compound Growth: The power of compound interest works exceptionally well in an RRSP, where annual taxes don’t hamper growth.


  • Penalties on Early Withdrawals: Taking money out before retirement can be costly unless it's for specific purposes like buying a home.
  • Mandatory Conversion: Remembering the RRSP age limit is essential as, post-71, RRSPs must be converted to another retirement income option, which requires planning and decision-making.

How Mortgages Can Impact Your Choice

Navigating the world of mortgages is a significant financial decision, and it directly intertwines with your choices around saving and investing. Here's how mortgages, especially when partnered with Pine, investment income, can impact your RSP and RRSP contribution decisions:

Using RRSP for Home Purchase: The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

  • One of the standout features of the RRSP is the Home Buyers’ Plan. This allows first-time homebuyers to withdraw up to $35,000 from their RRSP to buy or build a qualifying home.
  • The withdrawn amount isn’t taxed as long as it’s repaid to the RRSP within a specific timeframe, usually 15 years. This means that your RRSP contribution isn't just about retirement; it can also be an avenue to homeownership.
  • As specialists in the mortgage sector, Pine can guide potential homeowners through this process, ensuring they maximize the benefits of their RRSP in their home-buying journey.

Balancing Mortgage Payments with RRSP Contributions:

  • It’s essential to balance making your regular mortgage payments and contributing to your RRSP, especially considering the tax deductible and the growth potential of RRSP mutual fund investments.
  • Pine’s team of experts can assist in crafting a financial strategy that ensures you’re not neglecting your retirement goals while servicing your mortgage.

Finding Your Financial Route in Canada

Canada's financial landscape is rich with choices for savers and investors. One common decision many face is choosing between an RSP and an RRSP.

RSPs stand out because of their flexibility. They accommodate different goals and can suit varied contribution amounts. Meanwhile, RRSPs, especially when considering mutual funds, are built with a focus on retirement. The benefits tied to RRSP contributions, the growth opportunities within RRSP mutual funds, and the specific age rules around RRSPs can make a big difference for many Canadians.

But, as with any financial choice, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The right decision often depends on individual factors like future plans, investment income, tax situations, and personal financial goals.

Also, when thinking about owning a home and managing a mortgage, partnering with trusted financial institutions like Pine can be invaluable. With the right guidance, Canadians can make financial decisions that truly work for them.

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