RESP: Free Money Folks

Found this classic from many years back (2006). Added a bit of spit and polish and updated the data as well. To get more information and more about how I used the RESP Program, see my RESP page.

For those of you who don’t know about the RESP program (and are Canadian of course) you need to learn about it. It is for folks with kids under the ages of 17. This program is free money from the government for your kids to go to post secondary training program. It is not just University programs, college programs and post secondary technical programs also fit into this. As always, do the research about the programs covered.

The CESG

For up to $2500 you put in every year the government will kick in a percentage of their own depending on how much money you make in the year:

  • If your family income is greater than $98,040 or so, you get a 20% one time kick in from the government. This means if you put in $2500, it turns into $500.00 within 3 months
  • If you make less than $98,040, there is even up to $550 to be had in CESG (Canada Education Savings Grant)
  • If you make less than $49,020, there is $600 available

The maximum CESG for each individual in the plan is $7200.

The Canada Learning Bond (CLB)

…provides an additional incentive of up to $2,000 to help modest-income families start saving early for their child’s education after high school (post-secondary education)

Canada Learning Bond (CLB)

The CLB is available for children from low-income families born in 2004 or later and provide an initial $500 for the first year the child is eligible, up to age 15, plus $100 for each additional year of eligibility, up to 15 years for a maximum of $2,000.

RESP is After Tax Money

So the catch is that an RESP is not like an RRSP, in that the money put in is treated as after tax money. You don’t get to write it off your taxes, like an RRSP. Your kids also have to go into a recognized post secondary training program, or you lose the one time grants as well. However, these things are TRANSFERABLE to other children and even spouses, but they do have a set time period as well (but don’t take my word on this, READ first).

On the positive side, the program pays out in your child’s hands, so taxed at a lower rate (hopefully). The kids pay tax on any growth in the fund, the grants and the bonds added.

Go To a Bank and Open an RESP ?

Bank RESPs, will mean you put your money in Bank Mutual Funds exclusively. I did this, with Canada Trust, in 1992, but I wasn’t as sophisticated back then. My CT Mutual Funds, turned into TD I-Series Funds. These funds have MER’s of around 2%, yearly. I then learned about the TD E-series funds from the Canadian Capitalist. I transferred to those funds, and set up a good portfolio for each RESP.

You might do better setting up an RESP with TD Direct Line, Questrade or similar trading sites. You can then purchase whatever Index Fund or ETF you wish.

Even More on RESPs

Remember I have an entire page dedicated to the Registered Education Savings Plan.

Yeh, That is me, talking about RESPs and Free Money

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Advice for New Grads?

I got called by Insight Magazine to give some advice to new grads on what they should be doing about their finances, many years ago. It was so long ago, the magazine no longer exists. I gave some answers to the interviewer, but as usual, I was not sure I was very clear or eloquent, so now I will attempt to be more clear to those that might have read the article.

Get The Heck Out of Debt

You have just graduated from University, and you might be carrying upwards of $70K in debt (hopefully in student loans only). You most likely won’t be paying that debt off in your first year of working (should you find a job right away). If you can pay it off, good for you! However, you should put together a plan on how you are going to pay off that debt and WHEN it will be retired.

Carrying debt is a drag on your finances, and the sooner the debt is retired, the easier your financial life will be. You should not aspire to “get used to living in debt”, this is the one thing my generation does NOT want to hand down to you.

Don’t Fall In Love With Having Money

Just because you have graduated from University and you no longer have to eat Kraft Dinner with Hot Dogs for dinner, does not mean you must go out every night to eat. You have lived a frugal lifestyle as a student (I am assuming), but if you continued that frugal lifestyle for a while longer, you may be able to pay down your debt faster and then be on a much stronger footing financially.

Yes, you deserve to enjoy life, but it is very easy to get used to the “Let’s go out to dinner tonight we deserve it” lifestyle, and once you are in that lifestyle the habit is very hard to break (speaking as a 49 year old, I can attest to that issue).

You cannot live your parents’ lifestyle (yet) so don’t try. It took them 30 years to get where they are, don’t rush your spending habits to mimic their spending habits.

If your parents paid for you to have a Samsung or an iPhone or paid for your Cell phone bill, maybe it’s time to get rid of this expensive toy? You don’t need $120 a month cell phone bills. Discretionary spending (i.e. money haemorrhage) is a bad thing which you must watch diligently. Middle age mens’ wastes spread, but their spending spreads like that as well, don’t let it happen to you.

Have a Savings Plan

The sooner you start saving, the better it will be for you when you reach my age, however, saving while still carrying discretionary debt (i.e. non-mortgage debt) is paying Peter to feed Paul. Lowering your debt is first and foremost, if you have left over moneys from your year, yes, starting an RRSP early is a good thing to do, but pay your debts first.

Savings is good, getting out of debt is better.

Get the Heck out of Debt

Did I mention this yet?

Banks Can be Negotiated With

As I have pointed out before Free Banking is possible, but it is more likely for old farts like me, who have a good track record with the bank already.  Paying $12-$25 a month in bank service charges you should try to avoid, since you most likely don’t use enough services with the bank to justify this charge. Go with as cheap banking as you can.

The Three Worst Ideas After Graduation

  1. I deserve a new car! -or- I deserve a vacation in Las Vegas!
  2. I’m a little short until my next pay cheque, I’ll get a pay day loan
  3. I am only carrying a few hundred dollars on my credit card balance this month

Keep this in mind, did I mention Get the Heck Out of Debt?

Last Pieces of Advice for New Grads

Originally published in 2010

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Moving Expenses for Students

For students, there are a few well known tax credits, however, many forget about moving expenses.

As long as you are going farther than 40 KM from home to go to school, you should be able to claim line 21900 Moving Expenses.

Save up to 50% on life insurance.

Kind of Moving Expenses

Transportation and storage costs?

You should be OK claiming those but remember to keep all receipts.

Travel expenses

Yes, but be careful how you claim your usage. Check the CRA for exactly how to claim these. Remember to keep all receipts for meals, gas, and incidentals.

Expenses while looking for a place

Up to 15 days of expenses if you have to hunt around to find an apartment.

What if I am in CO-OP?

Moving every 4 months or 8 months can get expensive. The documentation states:
For co-operative students moving back after a summer break or a work semester, you can also claim your moving expenses as long as you meet the previously-stated requirements.

What if I am graduating?

For those graduating if you are moving out of your University living quarters and are moving to a new city to get a job, that is a moving expense. If your employer reimburses you for it, then you cannot claim it. The 40 KM rule comes into play here as well.

As a former Co-Op student, I ended up moving every 4 months. I became quite adept at making my life fit the trunk of a Mercury Zephyr.

Remember it is important to keep all receipts and proof of distance in case the CRA wants proof of moving.

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Tuition Fees Down

Stats Canada put out their yearly report Tuition fees (in Canada) for degree programs, 2019/2020 a while ago. It has some interesting data including the fact that Tuition Fee costs for undergrad students dropped for this year (with a caveat).

Ontario led the way with a 9.9% Tuition drop. In fact in the rest of Canada Tuition went UP? Isn’t it great how large data sets can skew things?

Table 37-10-0045-01UndergraduateGraduate
 annual % changeannual % change
Canada-5.3-4.5
Newfoundland and Labrador2.30.0
Prince Edward Island2.02.0
Nova Scotia3.52.9
New Brunswick7.33.5
Quebec3.73.8
Ontario-9.9-9.1
Manitoba5.33.6
Saskatchewan3.34.1
Alberta0.03.3
British Columbia2.01.3
Yukon8.5..

Remember we are only speaking of Tuition Fees and the Business of University Fees encompasses far more than just tuition. Evidently those fees have dropped slightly as well, but I am skeptical.

The other factor in Ontario is the revamping of the OSAP pay outs, so students get a large amount less than they have in previous years.

International Students face a tuition hike, which is where a lot of Universities are making their money.

Most Expensive Degrees

A very good graphic explains that.

Tuition Fees
If your Child wants to be a Doctor or Dentist, better have an RESP

The above graphic should emphasize the importance of an RESP for parents who think their kids might go to a post-secondary program. Don’t expect Tuition Fees to drop again any time soon.

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My 5 Best Investments

I have written previously about my 4 best investments, but I feel it is important to update and follow up on that statement. I now feel I have 5 best investments that I can boast about. No, this is not another 5 best stocks to invest in right now article. Plenty of other places to find that information.

5 Best Investments

In 2018 one of my daughters graduated as a Chiropractor, so now my 5 best investments are

The last 2 investments I didn’t actually spend that much on. The previous three investments I feel were mostly my investments. I did have a rule that I pay for the 1st degree (and if I pay for a degree I don’t pay for a wedding). As with all rules they have not been adhered to verbatim.

My parents invested in my education, and for that I am eternally grateful. I have had folks comment that if a child pays for their own education, they are more invested in the process. In my case, letting my parents down was actually a strong motivating factor. That makes it a wash in terms of arguments.

I like the fact that it wasn’t a foreign investment either. I don’t think I could have afforded sending my kids outside of the country. It was expensive enough out of the city.  If you are planning on helping your kids, an RESP is where you should start with your plan, and then look into CO-OP programs, OSAP and the Scholarships out there (and there are many).

Regrets?

My guess is if I hadn’t put the money away that I used to help my kids’ educations I would have blown it on something stupid, so I am glad I can point to something tangible for where the money went. It has also been pointed out that I didn’t do any of the work (aside from repairing a few computers). Why is this a good investment? I have always relied on the good works of others.

Guess the title is a bit of clickbait, but at least it wasn’t 5 best stocks to invest in right now.

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