Baby sitting & RRSPs: a 9-year old’s rules for when to TFSA

9-year old Carlie Weinreb lectures financial bloggers on when to use TFSA or RRSP

By Carlie Weinreb

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

I lectured about RRSPs and TFSAs this November 3rd at the CPA Mastering for Money Conference for 45 minutes. I was a bit nervous because I knew that Former Prime Minister Paul Martin was also speaking. My example was very detailed with lots of Excel spreadsheets.

I then had a sleepover at my friends house the next weekend after dance class. My friend’s parents heard I lectured to over 400 Chartered Professional Accountants about RRSPs and TFSAs. They asked “OK what’s better?” I said “Well, it depends on your income and a couple of other things.” I knew they were not satisfied. I could tell they wanted like a 15 second answer.

The following week I was lecturing at the Canadian Personal Finance Conference presenting on RRSP and TFSAs again but they gave me only 20 minutes. And most recently, I presented on RRSPs versus TFSAs at Microsoft. They only gave me ten minutes.

3 quick rules

After these lectures, I asked myself how can I take a 45-minute calculation to 15 seconds where if parents ask me I can give them the quick answer. Well, here is the 15-second answer in three rules:

1.) If your Future Income is higher than your current income than go with TFSA.

2.)  If your Future Income is half or less than your Current Income then go with RRSP.

3.)  If other. then email me at

Another one of my friend’s parents asked me if I buy RRSPs or TFSAs. I said “Mmm I don’t even buy them.” That made me think about some things. I know I can only buy an RRSP if I had previous Income. I am 9 years old in Grade 4 and I had never filed a tax return. I wondered if I had income. Well I did. In grade 3 I had income. I had lemonade stands in grade 3. I made about $50 each time. I set up the lemonade stand 12 times. I had income of $600. I did give this money to charity but what I do is record it as income, then I make the donation.

I also helped babysit for family friends. I made $5 an hour. I did this for 100 hours in grade 3. That is another $500. My total income was now $1,100. I just filed my 2015 tax return and recorded the income of $1,100. There is no CPP that I have to pay to the government because I’m under 18. I don’t have to pay tax because I’m under $11,000 in income.

Now my RRSP allowed amount is equal to 18 % of $1,100: equaling $198. If I do this for 10 years in total I will be able to contribute $1,980 more into my RRSP than if I didn’t file. This $1,980 can grow to approximately $10,000 until I ‘m old. But in the next few years I will babysit more and I will probably make $10 an hour. If I make $5,000 per year from say age 10 to 19 I will be able to give approximately $10,000 more to my RRSP. This money will grow over time and could make me $50,000 richer!

If you make money from Lemonade stands, babysit or shovel snow for friends or family you should file your tax return even if you are a kid. It will make you richer!

Carlie Weinreb is the media-proclaimed 9 year old tax whiz, able to do mental math calculations well-beyond her years in addition to lecturing on the income tax system. With her first lecture at 6 years old at one of the largest tax firms in the world to Schulich business students, Carlie has since brought her knowledge to the University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario, appearing on media outlets such as CBC, CTV, Toronto Star , Globe & Mail, BNN, and many more. 

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