As a parent, saving money can seem hard. You’re bombarded with a big list of costs: from clothing and groceries, to school trips, sports equipment, swimming and dance lessons, it’s an endless list. These costs can make saving towards post-secondary education look challenging.
Setting aside funds for your child’s post-secondary education is critically important and now is a great time to start. The Government of Canada deems one month in the year as Financial Literacy Month: this month-long initiative is designed to give us all tips on how to make a budget, set financial goals, be fiscally smarter and borrow money wisely. This year’s theme is “Take charge of your finances” and is rich on ways to manage your hard-earned money.
There are some easy ways you can easily kickstart your savings right now:
Consolidate your debts. It’s hard to save when you owe money, so make reducing debt a priority. The average Canadian owes $1.82 for every dollar earned(1). If you are carrying credit card balances, consider consolidating those debts while taking advantage of a lower interest rate. Lines of credit tend to offer interest rates considerably lower than those of credit cards, so paying off balances with this lower interest loan makes sense. You save on interest, plus dealing with just one lender makes it easier to manage your finances.
Take advantage of employer matching plans. Many employers offer to match your RRSP contributions when you have them deducted off your pay. This is like free money for you, so be sure to use this to the max. The great thing about payroll deductions is that you likely won’t even miss the money, since funds are diverted before they get to you. When you get your tax refund from your RRSP contribution, put those funds into your child’s RESP.
Make savings automatic. Most financial institutions can set up automatic transfers from your chequing account into your savings account. Simply arrange the amount, and the frequency with which you want this to happen. Arranging for transfers to coincide with your pay periods becomes a painless way to save.
Make a few simple lifestyle changes. Forgo buying coffee twice a week. Limit lunch out to just once a week. Take public transit instead of paying for parking. Visit the library instead of buying the book. These simple acts can yield you a little extra cash each week, that you can start collecting in a jar. Every couple of months, deposit that money into a savings account in your child’s name, and watch the interest grow.
Start a Registered Education Savings Plan. A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is an easy way to save towards your child’s post-secondary education. You can contribute as little as $10/month to a CST RESP with CST Consultants, and start growing your money tax free. CST Consultants will help you determine the contribution amount needed to reach your savings goal. One of the great advantages of an RESP is that the Government of Canada through the Canada Education Savings Grant will boost your annual contribution by 20%, up to a maximum of $500 each year and a lifetime limit of $7,200 per child.
The sooner you start saving, the more time you’ll give your savings to grow. And if you’re taking advantage of those government grants, starting early gives your investment income that much more time to grow too. Use your Financial Literacy Month learnings to help you get started with saving for your child’s future.
Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan is only sold by Prospectus and is managed and distributed by C.S.T. Consultants Inc.