While it’s every parent’s dream to see their child graduating from post-secondary studies, the costs involved aren’t for the faint of heart. StatsCan has estimated that the average cost of a four-year post-secondary degree in Canada to cost over $90,000, and that doesn’t even account for living expenses, textbooks and other supplies your child might need.
Investing in an RESP is vitally important to help cover or reduce education costs after high school. But it’s not always easy to find the extra money to contribute to an RESP. Here are a few tips that you can use to find some extra money to put towards your child’s education:
Ever feel like the toy chest in the playroom is overflowing?
With the holiday season just over the horizon, and many other gift-giving occasions throughout the year, most kids are blessed with more toys than they can play with. If your relatives are open to it, consider requesting a contribution to your child’s RESP instead of more toys.
Some relatives may like the idea of putting money away for your child’s education more than buying a gift they’ll quickly outgrow.
Let the government fund your RESP!
As a Canadian parent, you likely qualify for or receive benefits for your child, such as the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) or other payments at the federal or provincial level. If your situation allows, you can use this money, even in part, to help fund your child’s RESP.
This way, you don’t necessarily need to allocate a significant portion of your budget towards saving for contributions.
You may have heard that the government will match 20% of your RESP contributions, up to a maximum grant of $500 through the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG).
To qualify for the maximum grant, you’ll need to save $2,500 per child per year.
To help you save this amount over the year, try setting up automatic deductions from your bank account. If you split the total sum over 52 weeks, it adds up to less than $50 a week — less than the cost of a takeout meal for the family.
If you’re lucky enough to have the funds available to make a lump sum contribution, do it early.
You’ll start earning interest on the amount, plus the government grant for the remainder of the year, which can add up over time.
Don’t have the full amount available? A few larger deposits early on in the year can have a similar effect!
An older child may be able to help with a portion of the contributions. For example, if they have a part-time job, they can put aside a percentage of their earnings for their post-secondary savings.
Birthday money and other cash gifts for special occasions can be treated the same way.
For some future-oriented teenagers, earning money towards a much-anticipated education can motivate and make their next step seem more real.
When you begin saving, the younger your child is, the longer you have to earn interest on your savings. Even a small, regular contribution can get you closer to your RESP goals. The great thing is, RESPs are a very flexible savings vehicle, so if you’re unable to make the full $2,500 amount in one year, you can do so in the future—your CESG room carries forward.
In the end, the most important step to funding an RESP is just starting!