Where to put your cash right now

Where to put your cash right now

I believe where to put your cash should always depend on what you want to do with it, and when. 

Thanks to higher inflation with higher interest rates, I believe there is an upside to keeping a bit of cash or cash equivalents these days: you can actually make money on your money!



DIY investors I know are increasingly looking for alternatives to navigate inflation while managing/reducing risk.

I believe today’s post can help you out. I also hope some successful retirees will chime in too. 

So, where to put your cash right now?

Read on including my own thoughts of course!

Where to put your cash right now

One of the concepts I continue to learn from successful semi-retirees and retirees is the concept of portfolio safety, including liquidity. 

Many of these retirees don’t seem to care about beating an index any longer.

Instead, while matching a stock market index might have been great for them in the past, the retirees I speak to and hear from tend to focus more on the meaningful cashflow from their portfolio including all income sources combined – ensuring their spending goals are met in their appropriate timeframe.

I’m trying to learn from them as I go…

Liquidity, i.e., the easy access to cash is a very important feature within their cashflow management approach, including within their RRSPs/RRIFs in particular.

On the flipside they’ve told me, in their previous asset accumulation years when they were working, keeping some cash beyond their emergency fund wasn’t really a priority. They invested as much as they could and as often as they could into stocks/equities. 

Should you have 100% of your portfolio in stocks?

That makes sense when I think about it.

If your goal is to retire 10+ years from now then holding cash or cash equivalents may not help you reach your retirement goals on that timeline…you might be better off owning 100% equities to maximize investing return for investing risk taken.

Higher-Yielding Options with Low Risk

In the current environment, I’ve witnessed higher-interest savings accounts (HISA) or interest savings accounts (ISA) becoming more popular. That’s great, since earning something is better than nothing on your idle cash.

For taxable investing, DIY investors have many HISA or ISA options to consider that offer the aforementioned liquidity and attractive interest rates for little to no fees.

In fact, based on an article I read a few months ago from The Globe and Mail Canadians as a collective have been apparently hoarding cash (subscription).

“Over the past four years, Canadians have built up excess savings of close to $400-billion, or 13 per cent of GDP. It’s an enormous backstop, by any standard.

Long-term money belongs in risk assets – a mix of stocks and bonds, generally speaking, which has a very convincing track record of building wealth over many years.

This presents many investors with a dilemma – how best to get their own excess savings into the market at a time when stocks and bonds are quickly picking up speed.”

Of course, not everyone is hoarding cash. Higher inflation has triggered trying times for many folks. 

But if you can sock a bit of money away, with a high-interest savings account as your emergency fund or at least to park some near-term savings for some upcoming expenses (like a car, a trip, other later this year), at least you’ll earn more interest than you would with a traditional savings account. 

Consider a HISA if one or more of the following apply to you:

  1. You want to earn a better rate of interest than standard savings accounts.
  2. You want to hold money safely, securely, and earn that modest return without losing the ability to access that money anytime.
  3. You have short or medium-term savings objectives for that money – to withdraw it down the line for larger expenses than day-to-day needs. 
  4. You want to stash cash for future times of uncertainty or during any pending economic or job downturn.

Mind you, there is no free lunch!

Earnings from a HISA are taxable income. That means any interest earned from your savings must be declared and will be taxed at your normal rate. It is, however, possible to shelter your savings from taxes if you hold a HISA or something like that within either a TFSA or an RRSP.

Where to put your cash right now

Image source: Pexels, Maitree Rimthong 

What about money market ETFs?

For those who need the cash more immediately, including from RRSPs/RRIFs in particular, money market funds or ETFs could be an option. 

Recall money market ETFs (my bias) are investment vehicles that provide investors with exposure to money market instruments: short-term, low-risk debt securities, such as Treasury bills, commercial paper, and certificates of deposit, that are highly liquid and generally mature within one year.

While there are still interest rate risks involved, money market ETFs are less sensitive to market conditions than common stocks.

With rates paying upwards of 5%, there are now more incentives than ever to keep some cash in such funds. 

Where to put your cash right now

When it comes to where to put our cash, right now, we have a mixed bag to be honest and something I need to optimize better.

Passionate readers of this site will recall we’ve already outlined how much cash we intend to keep to enter any pending semi-retirement path.

Since that post, we’ve made few changes and have since increased the cash position inside our RRSPs over the last year or so in particular. 

This is because when it comes to semi-retirement spending I believe the worst thing you can likely do in any potential market meltdown is sell lots of equities. I want to avoid that. Our way to combat that is to update our asset mix inside our RRSPs.

Here is what we’ve come up with over the last year or so with more adjustments to come:

  1. The cash bucket – This holds at minimum, Year-1 of our RRSP withdrawals. No need to sell stocks or ETFs on a whim. Cash withdrawals are ready in cash-alternative ETFs or money market ETFs.  
  2. The passive income bucket – This bucket should generate thousands of income/cash per year for future RRSP withdrawals.
  3. The growth bucket – This bucket generates long-term equity returns for future withdrawals. I put the riskier investments in here (e.g., QQQ).

Related Reading:

Are Cash-Alternative ETFs Right for You?

My RRSP Bucket Approach

Here is my visual:

RRSP Bucket Approach - My Own Advisor March 2024

One of the benefits of this RRSP Bucket Approach is that it does not need a lot of time energy/maintainance on my part. Essentially, I let dividends or distributions flow-in and then I move cash to those cash-alternative ETFs or money market ETFs to earn a bit of money. Over time, when I’m retired that is, I sell stock shares or ETF units to eventually get all RRSP assets out of the account in the coming decades.

Based on a few retirees that engage with this site very regularly, I know folks that keep >2-3 years’ worth of upcoming RRSP withdrawals in Bucket #1 in the form of cash, bonds, money market funds, etc.  

One challenge I see with my system is I will still need to sell equities over time; map out that timing – but that’s the entire point of saving inside our RRSP for retirement. Hopefully I sell high! I anticipate our RRSP withdrawal rate over time will be higher than just “living off dividends” and I intend to leverage a variable percentage withdrawal strategy (given other assets we own).

How to draw down a portfolio using Variable Percentage Withdrawal (VPW)

I also recently did a case study for someone wanting to retire at age 60. This is how much “Sally” from my case study will need to withdraw from her RRSP to fund her lifestyle assuming 6% annualized returns on average over the coming decades combating with 3% inflation too.

How much should I take out of my RRSP?

Where to put your cash right now

The stock market, generally speaking, is a wealth-building machine but I continue to believe keeping some cash is also helpful as an emergency fund or to fund some upcoming near-term expenses too.

So, we tend to keep cash now in these key places for these key reasons:

  1. Taxable accounts – cash is available to fund any spending beyond our standing emergency fund (like an international trip this fall),
  2. TFSAs – cash is available to be strategic to buy more equities when those assets go on sale, and
  3. RRSPs – cash/cash equivalents is becoming a home to fund one if not two-years’ worth upcoming withdrawals without touching the portfolio. 

I look forward to learning how you’re navigating higher interest rates and where you put your cash now too.


Related Reading:

Our bucket approach to earning income in retirement

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

54 Responses to "Where to put your cash right now"

  1. Hello Mark,

    In the event that equities have dropped significantly and are at relatively low valuations, do you know if it is an option to move equites from a registered account to a non-registered account with an “in-kind” transfer, so that you are not required to sell equities during a downturn in markets?

    1. Hi Angelo,

      Thanks for your question. If related to RRSPs/RRIFs, re: registered – you can move equities out but they are technically “sold” at FMV. That’s essentially an in-kind transfer if I understand your question.


      When an in kind withdrawal is done, the amount of the withdrawal will be the fair market value of the investment in Canadian dollars at the time of the withdrawal…something to consider.

      Personally, I hope to make some RRSP/RRIF withdrawals in the future but they will be cash withdrawals, not in-kind.

  2. Mark, other commenters have pretty much covered off most of the options for places to stash the cash, however, the other question is in which investment vehicle is best for the cash? Five years back I recall reading that because interest is fully taxed it was best to hold it in a TFSA. I thought differently, because I could only earn 1.5-2% interest anyway. Whereas my stocks were expected to grow at 6-9% (50% of the gain taxable), meaning that the much higher gaining asset would be better placed in the TFSA, leaving the interest to be fully taxed.

    Today, we have no cash in our TFSAs, and all dividends are reinvested. We have 1.5 years worth of GICs in our RRIFs, and 1 year of cash in regular/high interest savings accounts. As we spend down that one-year of cash, ETFs are sold in the RRIFs and withdrawn quarterly, along with the dividends, to replenish the one-year cash bucket.

    The cash need reduces over time as our various pension streams come online.

    I’m not sure if it’s still best to hold the cash outside the TFSA; something to look at I guess.

    1. I agree, Bob….I also expect my stocks to grow about 6%-7% ish in the coming decades, but given shifts, I would be happy with 6% 🙂

      Today, we also have barely any cash in our TFSAs. All dividends reinvested as well.

      We have turned off all DRIPs inside the RRSPs and growing the cash base for future withdrawals.

      You seem to have a good system for your RRIFs. Great work.

      Cash for us in non-reg. / savings = emergency fund. 🙂


  3. Hi Mark.
    Excellent article…like always!
    I need to park some cash for the next 6 months to a year and I’m looking at using HSAV.TO in my non registered account. HSAV is a High Interest savings (HISA) ETF. Unlike other HISA ETFs, that pay their investors back with interest, HSAV uses the interest to grow the price of the ETF. Therefore, instead of paying taxes on the interest earned, you sell the ETF when you need the cash and are only taxed on capital gains.
    One drawback is that OFSI made a ruling in October 2023 that will probably reduce the expected return of HSAV from ~5% to ~4.5%.
    But, I still feel that is a good return especially with the more favourable tax implications. Mark, have you had a look at HSAV?

      1. Hi Mark.
        Thank you for the link. You have definitely given me more to think about. But, I’m still leaning towards HSAV for the tax savings. My wife and I have started to draw down our RRSPs over the last two years. So, that, along with our dividend income from taxable accounts, has created a significant tax burden. I won’t be parking the cash for a few months, so I will continue to watch HSAV to see if the growth remains steady. When I look back at the history of HSAV I see a stretch between September and December 2023 where growth was stagnant and wonder if this was the result of OSFI decision? I do like your suggestion of CBIL and its lower risk profile. So, like I said….you’ve given me more to think about. 😊

  4. Lloyd (63, retired at 55) · Edit

    Since the merge with Access (Fall 2023) I’ve only ever used the Interac e-transfer method four times and they were instantaneous. There are limits on the amounts although I don’t know what those limits are.

    Larger amounts can be transferred with a phone call to Hubert and I’ve read that there *may* be a way to push from another institution. The latter method I have no personal knowledge of. I suspect that a push or pull would have a time lag and maybe a holding period but again, I haven’t used it since the merge so I am speculating.

    The products I use, and the way I use them, work very well for me. It was the quarterly term that attracted me originally. That and Hubert was a local institution. When I first started using Hubert, one of the supervisors had actually gone to school with my daughter.

  5. Thoughts on ZMMK as the stash Pays 5% today. Capital preserved and safe, liquid. Seems a one stop. Even TD allows you to purchase it in their brokerage accounts unlike the Horizon’s options.

    1. Lloyd (63, retired at 55) · Edit

      “Even TD allows you to purchase it in their brokerage accounts”

      With a $9.99 transaction fee. Not feasible for smaller deposits.

      1. Hmm…yes UBIL looks interesting, I suspect Canada will go first lowering interest rates which will be a hit on CAD$.

        Looks like TD has it available, but I have found sometimes when you hit the “buy” button you get the NOPE! message.

        Yes Lloyd the $9.99 a trade is becoming more and more annoying, I trade fairly sparsely but may be time to explore a change.

        1. Yes, hence the need to avoid trading and if you’re going to buy some CBIL or UBIL do it via lump sums.

          The good thing is, there are many good money market funds/ETFs paying in the 4-5% range which is great of course.

  6. Hi Mark
    Both my wife and I are retired. We each have a LIF and a RIF. My strategy has been to calculate how much we will drawdown these accounts each year over and above the minimum required. We usually exceed the minimum in at least one account to top income up to the ceiling of the first tax bracket. I then calculate how much income an account will generate. If there is a gap between income generated and the planned drawdown, I either sell some equities if the market is up or withdraw some cash from a maturing GIC. I try to look three years ahead and keep a GIC ladder in place. If the market is down, I will use the funds from a maturing GIC to fill the gap.

    As dividends / interest is earned, what is not needed right away is parked in TDB 8150. It currently pays 4.55%.

    So far so good.


    1. I’ve heard about TDB 8150 for taxable investing and RRSPs/RRIFs. Do you own that in all locations? LIF, RIF and taxable?

      Also seems smart to sell equities when stocks are high or withdraw from GICs when market is low.

      How many years is your GIC ladder?


      1. Hi Mark
        Yes, we use it in LIF, RIF and non-registered. I like to keep everything at one financial institution and avoid hassle of moving things around.

        My GIC ladder is three years.

  7. CJ (57, will retire at 59) · Edit


    To park cash in our non registered accounts, we use Tangerine Bank (a bit of a game at times with their targeted offers).

    To park cash in our brokerage accounts, we use both RBF2010 (inside of RBC Direct Investing) and TDB8150 (TD Direct Investing), both of which are no load funds.

    As a side note, having recently done our taxes up, although the interest rates are much better than what they have been in years, you sure get thrashed on taxes!


    1. Thanks for sharing RBF2010. That’s a lot easier than moving money around other institutions high interest savings accounts! Wish I knew about that sooner

  8. Hi Mark. My wife and I are currently melting down RRSPs in early retirement while markets are doing well. We keep at least three months living expenses set aside in an EQ savings account paying 2.5%. We also have a four rung, one year GIC ladder in EQ bank with one maturing every 3 months. If we don’t need the money each quarter, we simply buy another one year GIC when each one matures. This guarantees we have cash available now from EQ savings earning 2.5% and every three months from maturing GICs earning >5%.

    1. Nice.

      Our base emergency fund is and has always been about $10k.
      Then we keep a bit of $$ inside our TFSA for some strategic purchases, as cash builds up over the year.
      The RRSP account is the one whereby we’re really trying to build a cash wedge and have the potential to withdraw at least Year-1 of RRSP withdrawals in cash, but hopefully later this year or by early Jan. 2025 (?) Year-2 of RRSP withdrawals will be ready in cash / cash equivalents as well. That’s the plan, to stay a year+ ahead of any withdrawals needed and not touch any capital.

      I hope my plan works?!

  9. Thanks for this great post Mark. We keep our cash in Wealthsimple Cash. Given we have over $500,000 in investments accross accounts we are eligible for the 5% interest rate. Very cool that you can see the daily accrued interest in the account that is paid monthly. Bonus of having a WS cashback Mastercard for the account that pays 1% on all purchases. The card also offers no foreign transaction fees so now it is our go to travel card

    To date this account has worked GREAT for our cash/emergency fund.

    Look forward to other responses to see what other alternatives are.

    1. Thanks very much, Rod.

      Nice to have that total assets under management bonus if you will. I didn’t know they had that. 🙂

      How much cash are you keeping as your emergency fund? I’ve seen everything from $5k to $100k+ for some folks. Not right or wrong but I can also appreciate having more cash earning guaranteed 4-5% these days is pretty darn good!!


      1. I do struggle a bit with how much to keep in cash. My wife is still working and making a great salary. I am pulling in a very decent government DB pension so our expenses are easily covered and still able to save most months. Our expenses will likely continue to be covered when my wife retires later this year as she will have a fair DB pension as well….all exprenses covered.

        To this point we are just dripping all the dividends in 7 invenstment accounts (TFSA x2, RRSP x2, Non-Reg x2, and a SRRSP). Forward dividends are sitting at about $66,000 annually, and increasing every week with each drip and dividend increase.

        To your question, we have been keeping $60,000 – 90,000 in cash/GICs. We have have been savers all our lives. Now we are opening the taps a bit and doing some bigger home renos – new roof, new fence, sidewalk, bathroom reno major garden landscaping….etc. All of this should be covered by our cash account, so can pay cash. Then we will start saving for a new vehicle in the next 3-5 years. Plan to defer CPP until 70 and OAS to maybe 67.

        1. Awesome to hear, Rod.

          “I do struggle a bit with how much to keep in cash.”

          Same. If your “decent government DB pension” covers your expenses, you are likely “set” and don’t need too much cash on hand per se.

          We’re just over $45k in dividends + distributions from the accounts we track, namely: x2 RRSPs + x2 Taxable.

          It is my hope that can get to about $48k or so per year, end of 2024 (?) whereby potentially part-time work kicks in to cover another $30k+ of spending per year.

          The fact that you have $66k coming in via dividends + x2 DB pensions eventually creates a huge spending windfall for you – amazing.

          After our new PHEV is paid off in a few months, I suspect we’ll want to keep our small emergency fund at $10k + some cash inside our TFSAs for some more investing in 2024 and we’re definitely working on having Year-1 of any potentialy RRSP withdrawals ready to go for 2025 if and when we need them.

          I like your call on deferring CPP for sure given assets you have…get the RRSP/RRIF assets flowing before having more taxation to pay in your 70s. Just a thought! 😉

          1. Love your thoughts on the RRSP withdrawl strategy. Two options: 1. Turn off the drip and let accumulate and do a withdrawl at the end of the year (would be be close to $18,000 before tax). This approach would see same or more dividends the next year with no real decrease in the account values. 2. Sell $18,000+ in holdings at the end of the year so that we actually see an decrease in the value of the RRSP accounts. Note would likely withdraw amount to take to the top of the current tax bracket. If $ not needed then they just fund next year’s TFSA and extra into Non-Reg. Thanks

            1. Well, I can share what I am doing/referred to in this post:

              1. I/we have turned off all DRIPs inside both RRSPs. Optimistic we can withdraw $25k-$30k for life from those accounts although we will eventually withdraw the capital since if we don’t, we’ll have millions in our 80s which is not helpful 🙂

              2. Slowly sell equities, over time, and get rid of those RRSPs/RRIFs before age 70-75. Otherwise, see #1. This way, we also smooth out our taxation burden over time and avoid lump tax hits.

              I think if you can devise an approach to smooth out taxation yourself, whatever that is, AND meet your desired spend that seems to be the best of both worlds IMO. So, if that’s $18k per year of capital sales, all good including anything to top-up TFSAs and spillover into non-reg.

              Our plan is to generally have no RRSPs/RRIFs by age 70. Spend it and/or move to TFSAs if possible.
              Do not touch TFSAs until our 70s, treat as a large emergency fund.

              Live life. 🙂

    2. I do the same. Our safety fund is in Wealthsimple Cash at 5%. I also have a small amount of GICs at EQB in the RRSP at the moment because the interest rate was above 5%. I am retiring soon and my cash wedge in personal accounts is rather low, not 2-3 years. But I also have a corporate account where I can pay myself dividends and I have a big cash wedge there. So if the market turns down, the dividends + cash is available to last up to 5 years. Probably too conservative but it allows me to sleep at night.

      I agree with the fear about Wealthsimple, EQ Bank, and even Questrade. They are all CDIC insured like the big banks. I do have a substantial amount at one of the Big 5, but my money is spread around. 🙂

  10. Hi both, for updates on HISAs and all GICs from credit unions etc. check out https://www.highinterestsavings.ca/chart/ (click on the link/tab up top on that site for GICs). I also use Hubert but am not thrilled with their platform since they merged with Access. Used to be that I could link external bank accounts, but lately I think Interac is the only means to transfer between banks.

  11. Holding cash in a saving account at Tangerine. I keep asking and getting promotional rates from them. A quick phone call boosts my interest rate. I am currently getting a higher rate then their listed 1 year GIC rate for the next 5 months. I have been doing this for years, if I call and hey say there are no current offers for me I transfer out a bunch of money and magically a week or two later I get an email about a new bonus offer from Tangerine.

    Of course the interest is taxed and not the best efficient form of investing, but for short term cash which is very accessible I haven’t found anything better.

    1. Nothing wrong with promotional rates, I just don’t like the jumping around stuff if I can help it. Seems time consuming.

      Are you keeping your emergency fund/cash exclusively with Tangerine or do you have other cash/cash alternative positions with your brokerage?


      1. All my free cash is sitting in my saving account with Tangerine. My brokerage accounts (from major banks) don’t have favorable interest rates on cash balances so I don’t keep any cash there and transfer cash from Tangerine to brokerage account only when ready to purchase investments. I agree jumping around is not the most efficient way of doing things and if I was recommending to a new investor I might recommend Wealthsimple or Interactive Brokers which offer a great interest rate on cash balances without having to keep getting promotional rates. Who knows maybe I will switch one of these days. I just need the motivation of Tangerine to stop giving me the promotional rates.

        1. Ya, might as well take advantage of some promotional rates while you can/when they are offered. All good!
          Thanks Tech and onwards and upwards for you!

  12. Lloyd (63, retired at 55) · Edit

    We use Hubert for holding all our non-reg funds (all our registered accounts are with TDDI and I use TDB8150 in those accounts).

    We hold ~ $17-20K (combined total) in two (one each) daily interest accounts. Immediate access.

    We then each have 3 X 1 Year Quarterly Terms. The amount in each currently varies in the $17-20K range as well. By staggering the purchase we have access to one of them, with no loss of accrued interest, every two weeks. In the event of an emergency, we can access all of them and potentially lose some interest. These used to have higher amounts but since the interest rates went so high and are likely to begin receding we reduced the amount in each last year and locked in some of the funds in longer term GICs (2-5 year terms).


    We do not consider any of these to be “investments”. Merely a place to park some guaranteed funds that are relatively accessible yet still earning something. Yes there is income tax to be paid annually. We’re fine with that at this point. YMMV

    Prior to retiring we didn’t have any non-reg savings or investments and we were 100% equity in the registered accounts.

    1. Great stuff, Lloyd.

      I’ve heard from a few folks they use TDB8150, for taxable investing.

      Smart on the quarterly stuff too…just in case.

      Thanks for the link, I wasn’t aware of that one and a good site:

      You’re very similar to what I’ve learned from others: such cash/assets are not “investments” but rather safe storage for future spending.

      That’s probably where we might differ in that we’re starting to position our portfolio for Year-1 of withdrawals, including spending any savings in non-reg. Are we being too conservative?


      1. Lloyd (63, retired at 55) · Edit

        Too conservative? That’s a difficult call for anyone other than yourself to make. I suspect what may appear too conservative now might change as time goes by. It did for us. You have your plan and I’ll bet a large double double and large box of Tim Bits you’ll tweak as necessary in the future. One thing I’m glad we did was keep our options open.

        1. Ha, thanks. Just trying to learn. 🙂 I have no doubt my approach will change but the general plan for us is to “live off dividends” while working part-time in a few years – that’s the goal anyhow, start with Year-1 and see where things go. 🙂

          I appreciate your comments.

      2. I’m using cash ETFs and one particular cover called ETF has given me good returns NUSI. I have over $20k in it which earned me over 20% in the last 6 months. The management fees is a tad high but still the returns more than make up for it. Highly recommend checking it out. And all of these are within my Wife’s and my TFSAs so no tax implications when we need to sell. I exclusively use Wealthsimple so I don’t need to pay for buying any stock, reinvest dividend automatically and loan my stock to make money.

    2. The staggered 1yr quarterly looks interesting, as does their GIC rates, thanks for sharing. I’d be interested in hearing how easy you found it to move money in and out of their accounts. I’ve noticed this can be somewhat of a pain with some institutions.

      1. Jake, think you are referring to my reply about EQ GICs? Extremely easy to move money in and out with their app.
        You open a savings account first, then you can view their GIC rates, buy GICs, etc. right from the app. At maturity, it automatically dumps the money, principal and interest, into the savings account. Then you simply buy another GIC using the app. NOTE all the GICs are locked in until maturity, hence the quarterly ladder. You also link to your other banking institution to move money to and from easily.
        I use it as a place to park some cash and still make a modest return. If and when GIC rates drop below 3-4%, I’ll consider moving over to a non-reg investment account as each GIC matures.

        1. Sorry, I meant to reply to Lloyd, lol about the Hubert savings account. I do have an EQB account which I like however it appears that Hubert is superior in terms of rates. I also like that ALL of your deposits are insured regardless of the amount by the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba, not just $100K. They are the online division of Access Credit Union. Largest in Manitoba and sixth largest in Canada. I’ve opened an account to use for laddering GIC’s.


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