Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Can we really renovate our way out of recession?

The sight of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the evening news in casual attire using a nail gun looked as awkard as me wearing heels. This publicity stunt caught my attention, and I had to find out more. 

Touted as temporary, timely and targeted stimulus, The Conservative government's proposed Home Renovation Tax Credit came a few months too late for me! Sadly, this tax break for home renovations is NOT retroactive to Jan. 1, so I can't claim a credit for the tile work done last week, nor for all the materials I have purchased over the past few months. It is too bad because the total is nearing the HRTC limit of $10,000, which would have given me a healthy $1,350 tax credit (which could have been spent on even more renovations). This is one of the rare times that procrastination would have paid off, literally. But we had just started smashing out the floor tiles when we witnessed the first of many big crashes on the world stock markets. We could have put the renovation on hold, covering the plywood subfloor with a nice big bathmat, but I joked that my spending may stimulate the economy. And despite going over budget on this reno, one little home was not enough. So people, get out there and get renovating.

Or should we save? Am I the only one who finds it ironic that this is the same government that launched a massive plan just under a year ago to encourage Canadians to save? The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is promoted as tax-free money for what matters to you. Every year, Canadains can put up to $5,000 in a registered TFSA account and the gains will be tax free and there is no penalty for withdrawls. But from what I understand, this intitiative was only created to make up for the Conversative's broken campaign promise to adjust the capital gains tax. I don't think that they really care that Canadians today have the lowest personal savings rate of all time. The airwaves (and cyberspace) are littered with ads for the TFSA, either from the government or from all the banks lobbying hard to have you open your account with them. Some say that "it's worth talk". And I guess that it is good for the banks to have something good to talk about these days, when all their news of late is full of doom and gloom. Although, I can't help thinking that if I'd had this TFSA last year, maybe I really would be "richer than I think".

Both these programs remind me of when the Conservative's canceled the EnerGuide for Houses program. We were midaway through the program to make our home more energry efficient in exchange for expert advice and a small grant. Harper's cancellation made us rush our energy efficient retrofit work, from 18 months to only 8, without any guarantee that there'd be enought money left in the program to pay out the promised grant. It was a real disappointment. But when Harper launched his new program, it was vaugely similar, but rebranded with the media friendly prefix "Eco" in the title. 

So, the question remains: what should I do with all my extra money? Should I save it in last year's budget surprise: the TFSA. Or should I get myself a nail gun and continue stimulating the economy? Or should I say screw it all, and jump on the next plane to Costa Rica? Pura Vida, amigos!

1 comment:

Totalrenovering said...

Yeah, actually we can do it if we want. Because there's a lot of way to do that recession. I like also this article because its really interesting. Thank you for posting and keep up the good work. Really fabulous.