I’ve seen my Dad cry twice.
The second time was when we were at his mother’s side the night she passed away.
And the first was as he said goodbye to me after helping me move into my dorm room for my first year of university — before driving away.
Going to university was always a given for me. There was never part of me that wavered; the only question was where. Fortunately, the question was never — not once — how.
Now, before you go assuming that I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth, let me preface this tale of two working parents by sharing with you that although my Mom and Dad paid for university, they didn’t do it on extravagant salaries. Not even close.
They did it by starting early, working hard and being consistent.
Back to my father. He’s a planner. A long (long!) term kind of planner. As in the kind who’s already bought and paid for his funeral and burial services so we, his very adult children, won’t have to worry about that kind of thing down the road. The kind of man who always — and I mean always — has a pen in his pocket JUST IN CASE someone needs a pen.
So this father of mine, always in planning mode, started socking money into education funds for my brother and I when we were very little. Not because he was wealthy — because he was smart. My parents never went into debt to save for our education nor did they get a second mortgage to help us through once we were in post-secondary.
But they saved. Bit by bit, year after year.
That’s where the “how” comes into place. Because without my CST (Canadian Scholarship Trust) funds for four years, I would have had to figure out how to come up with the approximately $5,000 to $7,000* or so it provided. Every year.
Here’s what I knew about CST before last week:
- It was a pretty huge cheque every year that got slapped down on tuition, books and other student levies and fees
- It was a gift — and it kept on giving for four years
Here’s what I now know about CST:
- It’s a non-profit foundation, which was founded in 1960
- Not only is it an RESP, but it was essentially the first education savings plan in the country and trailblazed the RESP landscape
- Its mission is simple: to advocate, develop, deliver and support solutions that will enable every Canadian resident to have sufficient financial resources to pursue post-secondary education
So what if we rarely went on fancy vacations? So what if I thought the Sears catalogue was the bee’s knees? So what if we weren’t in every activity imaginable? So what if we didn’t cottage or ski?
I can, without hesitation, assure you that I never missed any of those things. We ate meals together. We played board games together. Did puzzles together. Laughed. Wrestled in the living room.
I had the best childhood and never realized it was a frugal one.
And then? I got to go to university and not worry about a damn dime of it. In part because of the CST plan. And all because my parents had education-savings strategies in place early and they knew the power of compound interest.
Some startling stats
- Less than half (48%) of parents are saving money for their children in the form of a Registered Education Savings Plan
- BUT almost half of Canadian parents (43%) are willing to go into debt or even defer their retirement to put a child in hockey and other activities!
Let’s party (no RSVP!)
Join us on Tuesday, November 10 at 9 p.m. ET as we chat with CST about RESPs, share more startling stats (you’re gonna want to hear this, dance and hockey moms!) and help you identify what you should be doing NOW for your child’s future. No RSVP needed, and a money-savings expert from from CST will be on-hand to answer your important and burning questions about your options and situations.
And just for joining us and using the #LetsTalkRESPs during our hour-long Twitter party, you’ll be eligible (if you’re a Canadian, that is) to win one of five $100 VISA Gift Cards.
You won’t want to miss this one. We promise.
Prizing is open to Canadians only (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their provinces. There is no RSVP; simply tweet using the hashtag between 9 and 10 p.m. to be eligible to win.
One more thing! CST is launching a contest asking parents to tell them how they’re balancing education savings with the cost of sports and other activities; it’s your chance to win a $1,000 RESP. Simply use the hashtag #BeyondtheBlueLine on Twitter or Facebook. And to learn more about how you can balance your education savings and the cost of extracurricular activities, visit www.beyondtheblueline.ca.
*This was based on my personal plan and would vary between individual recipients.