Canadians need to evaluate what they’re holding in their tax-free savings accounts to see if they are getting the benefit of the TFSA, say financial planning experts.

New numbers from the Bank of Montreal show nearly half of Canadians had a TFSA last year, but 43 per cent of them used it as an emergency fund.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you need to pay down debt, says Jason Heath, financial planner at Objective Financial Partners.

In this interview with CBC’s The Lang & O’Leary Exchange, he explains how to use TFSAs at different stages of life.

There are six different kinds of investments that can now be placed in TFSAs, including bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and stocks.

But most Canadians have GICs or high interest savings accounts, a reflection of how new the TFSA is as a savings vehicle.

Mike Henry, ScotiaBank’s senior vice president and head of retail payments, deposits, and lending, says a TFSA has to be worked into an overall financial plan to get the most out of it.