Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Value Of A Dollar (And The Importance Of An RESP)

Money doesn't grow on trees! It's a phrase I often tell my kids (and myself) as a reminder to not spend as much as we do, and to try to teach my children the importance of saving, and not spending. Teaching children the importance of saving money and the value of a dollar are lessons that are best learned from an early age.

I have a bad habit of shopping without a budget, and that's not a good thing. I'm a spender, and a shopaholic—it's one of the things I do best, which is sadly, not the most amazing quality to have. Since I've become a mom, though, I've learned that saving money isn't as painful as I once thought, especially because I'm saving for my children and their education. Starting an RESP is not that painful or difficult.

I started working part-time when I was 15 years old, and although I saved some of what I made, I'm very fortunate that my family paid for me to go to university—without their help, I wouldn't have been able to graduate. Not only did they help me with university, but I decide to go to college afterwards, for another degree, and they helped me with that, too. Of course, being the great financial planners they are, they had started saving money from when I was a little girl, so all these expenses weren't so outrageous to them when the time came to 'fork over the money', so to speak.

After university and college, I accepted an internship at CBS TV in Washington, D.C. so a move to the US was also something I needed help financing. Again, thanks to smart parents who knew about the benefits of starting an RESP early, I was able to make those dreams come true for me, too. I want to make sure my husband and I are doing all we can to help our children achieve their dreams, too.

My parents taught me well, and even though I am more of a spender than a saver, I've learned that even though our children are young now—only nine and six years old—time goes by quickly, and soon, they'll be the once applying for university. (Dear God, please in the same city as me, and please, let them move within walking distance from me!) Saving for my boys is almost an enjoyable process, because I know this is something that will benefit them in the long run.

With regular contributions into their RESP, you'd be surprised how quickly your money can grow. (For example, $25 a week can add up to over $50,000 in 18 years—pretty impressive, right?) Because of the decisions my parents made for me—and the decisions my husband's parents made for him—it motivated us to make the same smart financial choices for our children.

RESP only sounds scary, and at first, you might not have all the answers. In fact, you might have a lot of silly questions, but don't worry—when you sit down at the bank, there is nothing you're asking that hasn't been asked before. And remember: no question is a stupid question! So ask away. Ask about what happens if you need quick access to the money, ask about how much you have to put in annually, ask anything you want. (Did you know that other family members can also contribute to your child's RESP? For the kids that have everything, I think that's pretty brilliant, no? After all, who needs more toys in the house gathering dust?)

Here's some useful information that I think is worth sharing: The Canada Education Savings Grant will match up to 20% on the first $2,500 contributed annually. That could mean up to an additional $500 a year in your RESP, for a maximum of just over $7,000.

Right now, you can enter to win money (there are four prizes of $500 that'll go toward your child's RESP) for your child's RESP through RBC. It's an easy contest to enter and so worth it. 

With RBC, you have flexibility to use your children's RESP for university, college, apprenticeship, non-credit courses, and more. For more information, check out their site. They'll have all the answers you need!

Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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