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Personal finance

Educational savings: The benefits of starting early

December 6, 2022

The next 12 months may be an opportunity to adopt better financial habits—starting with the following 3 resolutions.

1- Make a financial assessment

Whether they're enrolled in public or private school, expect significant expenses. For example:

  • Tablet for distance learning
  • Science supplies
  • Sports equipment
  • Extracurricular, sports and cultural activities
  • School trips

Curious about your spending habits over the past year? Check out the My budget tool on AccèsD for this important information, and more. You'll find a chart showing how much you earned and how much you spent on things in categories like Housing, Food, Telecom services and Retail stores. Click a category to display sub-categories, which is where the exercise becomes really interesting.

Maybe you spend a lot more on restaurant orders than on groceries. Maybe your budget isn't quite as balanced as you thought. Taking a closer look at where your money goes is a good way to check in with yourself and think about some changes to make sure your budget and your lifestyle add up.

« Même les petites sommes comptent. Épargnées de façon régulière, elles s'accumulent. Plus on s'habitue à faire un virement périodique, plus ça devient facile, car on n'a plus à y penser. », développe-t-elle.

It feels great to pull on a new pair of designer jeans and unbox the latest gadget, and it feels blissful to spend the day at the spa. But you might not feel the same way when you look at how much you've spent on clothing, electronics and entertainment. Instead of acting on impulse, it's a good idea to plan ahead for purchases and treats like these.

Taking a step back and thinking about where your money's going isn't about feeling guilty. It's about being mindful of your spending habits. Who knows, you might just find some wiggle room to save up for something special.

2- Plan inspiring projects

It's easier to save when you have a specific goal in mind, like getting a new car, going on vacation or buying your first home. When you know exactly how much you need to reach your goal, you can set up automatic transfers into a dedicated account to put a little aside every pay day. Once you're in the habit, you'll be surprised how quickly your savings grow and earn interest—getting you closer to the big day. You might want to start with a very small amount and gradually increase it. Try putting $5 aside the first week, then $10 the next, and so on. When you get to an amount you're comfortable putting aside, then stick with it.

3- Build an emergency fund

There are some surprises we’d rather avoid. Surprises like a flat tire on the highway, a refrigerator that stops refrigerating or a smartphone that takes a nosedive down the stairs.

For example, by contributing $1,000, you are eligible to receive between $200 and $600, depending on where you live and your net family income. In Quebec, government grants are worth 30% of the amount you invest**.

An emergency fund can cover these types of contingencies without affecting your other plans. This means setting aside enough money to cover all your regular expenses for at least 3 to 6 months, even if you’re not working. Since you can’t predict when you’ll need to withdraw your savings, it’s best to put them in an easy-to-access account like a tax-free savings account (TFSA). TFSAs can be a great option for an emergency fund account. Your money can grow tax-free and you can withdraw amounts at any time, depending on the investment vehicle you choose.

Creating an emergency fund is just like saving for anything else. Choose a goal, set up automatic transfers and let time work its magic on your savings. The Savings goals tool in AccèsD is designed to make it easy. See how much you need to set aside based on your situation, and set up automatic transfers to your emergency fund account. You're always in control of how much you transfer, and how often.

It's easy to make New Year's resolutions, like buying local, eating organic, joining a gym or learning to play a new instrument. And it's easier to stick to those when you start with good financial resolutions!!

For more information or to open an RESP, contact your advisor or see Registered education savings plan - This link will open in a new window..

* Financial planner and mutual fund representative for Desjardins Financial Services Firm Inc.

** The lifetime maximum per beneficiary is $7,200 for federal grants and $3,600 for Quebec grants. Yearly maximums also apply.

***Canadian students, tuition and additional compulsory fees, by level of study / Statistics Canada