July marked my tenth wedding anniversary this year. All of our family members wanted to send a gift. Do you know what we picked? RESP contributions to our sons’ education funds. Saving is hard. Especially with groceries costing a fortune, kids wanting to enroll in activities and the odd shoe sale that gets our heart racing and credit card exercised. While we all earn different incomes, have varying levels of expenses and manage finances differently, UrbanMommies has a few money-saving tips that will help you save sheckles (my Grandmother called them that) for the RESPs.
Because if you don’t save, you’ll be stressed, the kids may not get to attend the school of choice, they may graduate with debt, and (drumroll please) you will miss out on FREE money from the Canadian Government. Yes, free money. (The Canada Education Savings Grant will match up to 20% on the first $2,500 contributed annually. That could mean up to $500 a year, up to a lifetime maximum of $7,200.) i.e. You would feel like a putz if you skipped free money.
10 Secret RESP Budget Tips:
- Make it a game. Develop a budget and see how far under you can come each month. Split the leftover between a fun jar and an RESP jar. Here are some budgeting basics.
- Once or twice a year, empty bags, purses and make a few forts with cushions in order to find spare change. (And undoubtedly a few missing lipsticks too). Have kids of any age separate the coins into piles – by colour, beaver, loon or Bluenose, and use the time as a math game. Roll the coins and take them to the bank as a family. Think: pigeon scene at the London bank in Mary Poppins.
- Do you have a talent? Though I’m awful at piano, I can get my head around notes and theory. I’m planning on committing a year to teaching the little ones piano myself instead of paying for costly lessons. Maybe a grandparent has karate or swimming skills…
- If your kids are young and you receive the $100 per month, funnel all government allowances into their RESP.
- I worked for a man in finance once who was on a company benefit plan. He paid for prescriptions and dentist bills and when he was reimbursed by the insurance company, funnelled all checks into the kids’ RESP funds. Sneaky.
- Coupons. And not your Mom’s spend-6-hours-clipping coupons. Buy grocery items on sale and stock up on what you can safely store. Check resources like Cardswap in order to save on what you really need.
- Try to clean your house once per month using inexpensive vinegar and baking soda instead of costly brand-name products. It’s safer for kids too.
- We’re the beneficiaries of several cords of wood. This winter we’re going to try and turn down the heat in favour of real fireplace warmth. It cleans out the yard, and at the end of the winter we’ll put the difference between what we spent on fuel this year to last into the kids’ RESP.
- Craigslist, ebay and Kijiji. If you have a hankering for an air popper, travel stroller, bedframe or stand mixer, check these sites first. And then sell the stuff you don’t need. (We got most of our baby equipment on Craigslist and I sold it after 7 years of kids. It cost us almost nothing).
- The next time you’re in a bad mood, call your cable provider, cell phone company, credit cards, insurance people, etc. and threaten to leave unless they reduce your fees. You will be surprised. And even if you don’t save money you’ve probably gotten rid of the bad mood and improved your negotiation skills.