- Age 0 to 6: At this age, they’ve probably started to take note of your spending habits, so take them through your weekly shopping routines; even if you’ve switched to getting your groceries online, talking through your decisions about what to buy and what constitutes a good price, or not, sets a positive example. Giving kids an allowance and letting them make money mistakes (and wins!) will help them to grasp the fundamentals. Activities like playing “store” can help children learn the money basics, too. Read on for more information on helping small children learn about money.
- Age 7 to 12: This is such a great age for kids. They have enough independence but they’re still appreciative of your support (and not just because you own the Bank of Mom & Dad). So an allowance is a good idea, but so is talking about your own spending habits—even if it’s in a drive-thru about what you are willing to pay for fast food, for example. They should be able to learn and understand budgeting and the reasons behind spending money. In turn, they will learn about saving, too. It’s also a good time to help them open a bank account and set small goals. Read more on spending and saving for adolescent kids.
- Age 13 to 17: As teenagers start earning an income from part-time jobs, they learn about their wage versus their “take-home” pay. It’s also a good time to teach them about the value of saving up for a short-term goal, like a school trip or a car, or a long-term goal like contributing to their post-secondary education fund. Important decisions, like whether they should have a credit card or clothing allowance, can pop up around this time, too. Here’s more on how to educate teens about money.
- Age 18 and older: At this point, your kids are preparing to enter the real world. Hopefully, they have a good grasp on the value of money and the know-how to responsibly manage a savings account. Now’s the time to talk to them about budgeting, education costs, student debt and more.
How to get kids into the habit of saving
Knowing the value of a dollar helps set kids up for a better relationship with money. Getting them started with their own bank account helps foster that knowledge. Look for a kids’ bank account with low or no fees, since the last thing you want is for fees to eat up their smaller contributions. If you can find an account that pays interest, even better. Plus, it will help them learn about banking and form good habits long before they head off to university. Read more about what to look for in a kids’ bank account.
Strategies for teaching kids about money
A piggy bank used to be the go-to way to teach children the value of saving and the costs of spending. But since fiat currency is becoming an increasingly digital endeavour, teaching methods should adjust to that. We outline six simple strategies for teaching kids about money, including spending, saving, budgeting, tracking spending and earning. It also offers ideas for families who don’t want to use allowances to encourage kids to do household chores—every member should help out!
What is an RESP?
An RESP is an investment account geared towards saving for a child’s education. It allows investments inside the account to grow and earn money tax-free, meaning that no money is owed to the government based on capital gains, interest nor dividend payments. A major benefit of this account: The government pays you to save by kicking in a grant of up to $7,200 over the life of the plan—and potentially more if your family has a low income. Read more about RESPs.
How to withdraw from an RESP
When it’s time to cover the costs of post-secondary tuition, housing and books, you’ll want to know the steps involved in withdrawing from your family RESP. Regardless of who made the contributions—a parent, grandparent, other family member or family friend—the withdrawals are usually taxed on the student’s income. Typically, a student’s income is much lower than the contributor’s, so the tax amount owed is very low or even $0. That’s the top-level strategy, but there are other planner-approved tips to help you maximize your RESP savings and returns.
How to make RESP withdrawals for kids with different educational paths
Parents know that no two kids are the same. One kid may be headed off to culinary school, while another pursues academia, and another goes to an arts college. Different educational paths come with different costs and challenges. Read the advice from a financial planner on how to pay for different types of schooling.
How to help kids save money on student housing costs
The cost of housing can be a big one (it can easily add up to a shocking $50,000 bill over the course of a four-year degree). However, there is a way to turn this financial burden into an opportunity, if you are fortunate enough to do so: Buying a property in the vicinity of your kid’s chosen post-secondary institution. Read how to become their landlord to help you both save money (especially if your kid rents out rooms to their classmates).
How to save money for an education, parents-edition
Financial aid for college and university in Canada
There are many paths to funding your education, aside from your own savings and your parents’ contributions. Get a list of the bursaries, scholarships, grants and provincial loans that may be available to you.
If you need to fund your post-secondary education but don’t have much in the way of savings, you can use student loans to fully or partially cover costs, depending on your approved amount. The provincial government loans, such as the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), work in conjunction with the federal loans and grants programs to help you pursue the education you want, with a relatively low interest loan. Here is how to apply for loans and grants for Canadian students (and if you’re in Ontario, how to apply for OSAP).