RESP from Start to Spend

I supply the following scenario as a simple example to show how RESPs can work, and include some advice from my experiences using the program.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

So, now you have had a baby, and you are sure that your child will be a Doctor one day, or an Engineer, or maybe a Plumber? If you are thinking this, and you want to help them meet this goal, by helping financially, you might want to start working on saving money, and luckily (in Canada) the Government is kind enough to have set up the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

What is your first step? Get your child a Social Insurance Number (the day after they are born, would be a useful time to apply, given how busy you will be in the days after that).  Get that done, right away, or you will have to start waiting, and time is your friend at the beginning of this process, but don’t procrastinate, you are wasting valuable doubling time, if you do.

Next step, go set up an RESP with whomever you feel comfortable dealing with, or whomever gives you the best deal (Shop Around, don’t just use your bank because it is convenient). Check the RESP page for my experiences, and I would recommend try to stay away from Bank Mutual Fund accounts, give yourself enough freedom to use some simple Couch Potato Portfolios to invest your funds (remembering you have a relatively short period, and shouldn’t be too risky either, as you don’t have a lot of recovery time in your investment plan).

Now we have reached the part where you make your money start working. I am assuming that currently your family income is over $87,123 and that you can invest somewhere that will give you an average of about 4% growth per year. The big assumption is that you contribute the current maximum every year to the RESP $2500. What does this look like? Funny you should ask, I have a table right here for you:

Year Principal Contribution CESG Growth Year End Total
1 $0.00 $2,500.00 $500.00 $0.00 $3,000.00
2 $3,000.00 $2,500.00 $500.00 $120.00 $6,120.00
3 $6,120.00 $2,500.00 $500.00 $244.80 $9,364.80
4 $9,364.80 $2,500.00 $500.00 $374.59 $12,739.39
5 $12,739.39 $2,500.00 $500.00 $509.58 $16,248.97
6 $16,248.97 $2,500.00 $500.00 $649.96 $19,898.93
7 $19,898.93 $2,500.00 $500.00 $795.96 $23,694.88
8 $23,694.88 $2,500.00 $500.00 $947.80 $27,642.68
9 $27,642.68 $2,500.00 $500.00 $1,105.71 $31,748.39
10 $31,748.39 $2,500.00 $500.00 $1,269.94 $36,018.32
11 $36,018.32 $2,500.00 $500.00 $1,440.73 $40,459.05
12 $40,459.05 $2,500.00 $500.00 $1,618.36 $45,077.42
13 $45,077.42 $2,500.00 $500.00 $1,803.10 $49,880.51
14 $49,880.51 $2,500.00 $500.00 $1,995.22 $54,875.73
15 $54,875.73 $2,500.00 $200.00 $2,195.03 $59,770.76
16 $59,770.76 $2,500.00 $0.00 $2,390.83 $64,661.59
17 $64,661.59 $2,500.00 $0.00 $2,586.46 $69,748.06
18 $69,748.06 $2,500.00 $0.00 $2,789.92 $75,037.98
Totals $45,000.00 $7,200.00 $22,837.98
Assuming 4% Growth
Assuming family income over $87,123

Amazing watching money grow like that isn’t it? Did you look closely at the table? Did you notice that the current CESG max for you is $7200, so once you reach that maximum, you won’t get any more CESG kick ins (for now, given time, all these max values for contributing and CESG may change). Also remember that once your child turns 18, you would get no more CESG kick in either.

Remember that the Growth and CESG funds, will be taxed, in your child’s name, (from the example $7200 + $22838)  so figure out how you wish to extract money from the account once your child goes to Trade School, University, College or any of the other Ministry Approved post secondary programs, to minimize any tax impacts on your child. This can get tricky if your child is lucky enough to work in a CO-OP Program.

You should also realize, that if your child leaves home, this will only really cover tuition and fees.

 

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RESP : What does $350 Look like ?

Continuing on with my discussions about the relative cost of school and such, I have found another interesting example for all of those parents out there that are wondering, “Should I start saving for my child’s post-secondary education ?”. I have already scratch this topic a little with, So That is What $50,000 looks Like, but read on, it will be entertaining.

University Costs for RESP

Those Two Books Cost $350.00
(the computer is not included in that price)

First, a question: What does $350 look like at University (or to a parent of a child who is at College/University) ? Look at the picture on the right hand side of this, those two books. Those two books represent $350 or so in costs (the computer on top of the books is a lot more).

Big deal, says you? Yes, maybe that isn’t that expensive, except those two books are for only 1 course, and in some programs like Engineering or Computer Science there can be many courses with many very high-priced texts. A good number to remember is typically programs have at least 5 courses per term, with two terms a year and a four-year program, you have about 40 course sections that could have some expensive books to buy (or even more interesting expensive lab fees).

More numbers for thought would be that the Basic CESG (grant for your RESP) for a year is $500 (if you have max’ed out your deposits to your child’s RESP), so these two books pretty much almost ate that whole grant.

Do you still think an RESP is something that can wait for when your child gets older?

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RESPs Another Year and More Fun

Every year, as my children pass through the post secondary system, I withdraw moneys that we have put into our TD Mutual Fund RESP system. If you look at the RESP Menu item, you will see my long record of interesting occurances, putting money into and then attempting to take funds out of the TD RESP Mutual Fund system.

Previously I have had issues with changes in the RESP rules causing me to be unable to easily take money out (without entering a TD Branch), and as each year passes, more interesting things seem to happen, and this year is no exception.

The Circle of Savings in Canada

The Circle of Savings in Canada

This year, I only needed to worry about a single RESP, the one for my youngest daughter. I was quite chuffed, because I was able to navigate the Trent University web site and order a letter stating that my daughter was a full time student (it is not as easy as it sounds, but this letter is crucial to withdrawing RESP moneys from an RESP (allegedly you can use a Tuition receipt, but that strikes me as less likely to work)), but as usual things did not go as smoothly as I would have hoped.

As all I wanted to do was take out money, I had the letter, and had no other requests, I thought I could easily deal with any of the “Mutual Fund Experts” at my local branch (or so I thought).

After having to make an appointment (for a day after I was ready to do my task), I showed up and all seemed to start just fine. The young man I dealt with was polite, if not a little overly nosy (in my opinion), but I noticed that he seemed to be running from a script, which made me very wary.

I had all the relative information I thought I needed, however, a few wrinkles appeared in this “interview” that caused me to get a little confused. First the amount quoted as being the CESG moneys (Government Grant) seemed very high in comparison to what I remembered. Given the grant amount is 20% of up to $2500 per year, it could have been $500 per year, but I was sure I had cashed out some of the grants already, but it seemed like 80% of the remaining moneys was grant money?

I decided to cash out more of the Grant Money this time, however, that is where things got more confusing. The moneys that were not CESG or growth, showed up in my bank account on Saturday (I did this on a Friday), however, the CESG portion which was supposed to show up in my daughter’s account, but it has not shown up as of Monday night. I am hoping that this is just the need to inform the CRA and such, but the fact that moneys showed up in two parts worrie(s|d) me.

The other “grind point” for me was as we went through the steps to get the money, I kept getting sales pitches asking had I spoken to one of their “Investment Specialists”. I really don’t like being upsold services in any situation, and in this situation, I almost got rude, but decided to ignore the statements. I did (however) point out that I own TD E-series index funds, and was not interested in any Balanced Funds or direct stock trading, I thought that warned off my interrogator, however, he did come back again at the end of the interview suggesting I chat with someone about investing, this time I replied a more firm “No!”.

So now I sit and wait hoping for the second portion of my moneys to appear in my Daughter’s Saving Account, or for a call explaining how things may have gone a little wrong (I hope not)?

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Back to School Week

In some parts of Canada school is already “back in” but in Ottawa, we have another week until school is back in session, and I am enjoying some time off, but for those who may not be up to date with my encyclopedic library of posts, here are a few good ones for your back to school planning this week.

It just all adds up don't it?

It just all adds up don’t it?

When my kids were going to High School I was never very happy with all the hidden costs, little did I know how that was nothing compared to higher eduction:

 I Thought Public School was Free?

I was running low on ideas and asked my wife for a topic for today’s blog and she came up with the cost of our “free” education system. She had been out shopping for back to school supplies (a HUGE industry in itself) and was telling me about all the “bargains” she was going to have to find to pay for all the unwritten educational expenses.

(click here for the many hidden costs in your Public Education)

September is actually a financial mayhem month for those with kids going to school. I am sure one year September will not be like this, and I may even miss it, but not this year.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Not just a very good song by Green Day, but also an anthem in my personal financial life. September seems to create a “perfect storm” of debt load that appears every year and I think I can give you the list of the things that are the causes:

(to see the list of mayhem click here to read the whole article)

For University Students going back to school:

Advice is Best Served with Water

It is the magical Back to School season so many of my compatriots in the Personal Finance Blog world have taken it upon themselves to pass on sage advice to the future leaders of our world.  The advice given is very good and I wish someone had told me some of this advice before I started off at University, but then again, I most likely wouldn’t have listened (after all I was much smarter back then).

(click here for the rest of this piece of advice all University Students could use)

For more interesting ideas about back to school and RESPs, remember to read my entire RESP Page, which outlines the fun and games I have had setting up, putting money into and then attempting to extricate money from an RESP.

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Canadian Students Pay Net Zero Tuition ?

The Higher Education Strategy Associates and specifically Alex Usher feel that Canadian Students (in higher education) have it better than any generation previously according to their publication Canadian Students Pay Net Zero Tuition.

The arithmetic put forward is quite simple:

An interesting little bit of arithmetic (note I do not call in Mathematics), but a little simplistic in some ways as well.

Are We Graduating a Generation of Debtors ?

Are We Graduating a Generation of Debtors ?

Data ignored in this study  are:

  • Accommodation and living expenses, how many students live away from home ? One might argue it is the student’s choice to move away from home to study “abroad” as it were, however many programs are only offered in specific places, and Canada has many Universities, but not one in every town.
  • Books and similar supplies are not really mentioned. Yes, many E-books should be cheaper, but from my small sample they really aren’t (but I do agree they are easier to pack up at the end of a school term).

The student assistance model seems to have a flawed assumption that all the “$10B” is offered to every student, which is really not so.

  1. They mention "...$350 million or so in First Nations’ Band Funding under the Post-Secondary Student Support Program ...", my kids (and a majority of students) have no rights to make claims against this.
  2. Then we have "...universities collectively gave out just over $1.5 billion in scholarships...", again these are not necessarily available to all students, some are Merit based (i.e. marks), some are activity based (athletes, volunteering, etc.,) and some are Academic Area based (e.g. Scholarships specifically for Electrical Engineering students, etc.,)
  3. Grants? "... $350 million for provincial merit grants and tri-council scholarships ..." , again many kids are excluded from those grants because their parents are too affluent, and thus the student is not deserving to receive that grant.

I am not really disputing the numbers, I think the studies are quite comprehensive, but also naive in my opinion. I do like the follow-up article by Mr. Usher Good and Bad Arguments Against Education Tax Credits.

Most of my readers already know my opinions of the sometimes oppressive costs of Post Secondary Education (check out my RESP menu item and scroll down a bit), I think the statement about Net Zero Tuition is hokum, but I do agree Canada tries to make Post Secondary Education less fiscally destructive than in the U.S., but I think Canada can do better. A University Graduate with $50,000 in debt to start paying off the day they graduate is a worrisome concept, in my opinion.

My real opinion is that Post-secondary education should be available to anyone who wants to do it, at no cost, I guess that is my Quebecois roots showing.

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