RRSP Books

RRSPs are simple. Start early, invest as close to the maximum each year in balanced mutual funds, and when you retire you'll have a nice little nest egg. So why would anyone buy an RRSP book?

A quick glance at two of the more prominent offerings reveals many details that savers ought to consider, such as calculating their contribution, regulatory changes, where to invest and not the least of which: how to get the funds out of the plan when retirement hits.

With the options, pitfalls and decisions to be confronted, and the stakes involved, putting a little time and money in an RRSP book is probably the best investment most people will ever make. Following are two suggestions.


Gordon Pape's 2002 Buyer's Guide to RRSPs
By Gordon Pape and David Tafler

Prentice Hall Canada, 353 pages, $24.95

Pape is one of Canada's most prolific financial writers. This is the 13th edition of his RRSP book. By now it has been through many corrections, revisions, proofings and most of the bugs have been worked out.

What remains is a readable and informative work, divided into 10 chapters that cover almost all the important issues related to RRSPs. These include sections on investing, RRSP mortgages, and RRIFs since, as Canadians get older, they are thinking as much about getting their money out of the plans, as of putting it in.

Particularly useful is the "Future Worth" section which allows readers to calculate how much existing RRSP funds will be worth at retirement, as well as how much current and additional contributions will add.


RRSP s and RRIFs for Dummies, 2nd edition
By John Lawrence Reynolds

CDG Books, 364 pages, $29.99

The "Dummy" book publishers have gotten a pretty good reputation over the years for hiring competent writers who can explain complex subjects in simple terms. John Lawrence, who wrote RRSPs & RRIFs for Dummies is no exception.

Lawrence is slightly more under the radar than Pape. But he nevertheless has a dozen books under his belt and has supplied writing services for a host of financial institutions and mutual funds. Now in its second edition, RRSP for Dummies has just about everything in it that Pape's book has, and in some areas it is even more detailed.

They say you can't judge a book by its cover. But oddly RRSPs & RRIFs for Dummies' main problem is its cover, which implies that you are getting something less than a professional version.

In most cases - for example if you were buying a cooking book -- this would not be a problem. But would you buy a book titled "Nitroglycerine for Dummies?" Or would you buy the professional version?

RRSPs are a serious subject, with a lot at stake for those who buy them. That means although the two books are comparable, National Post readers will probably be more comfortable with Pape's. Even more so when they notice that it costs $5.00 less.


Peter Diekmeyer is a Montreal-based business writer. He can be reached at peter@peterdiekmeyer.com


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