5 Easy Money Saving Tips to Stretch Your Family Budget — That Can Help You Grow Your RESP

Raising a family successfully takes hard work, commitment, love, and money. And while most parents want to contribute to their children’s future and their post-secondary education, coming up with money for investing when trying to stick to a family budget can be challenging. Yet it’s not impossible.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you find money you didn’t know you had – money that will grow even more when saved within an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan).

  1. Cash In Credit Card Rewards

Got a rewards credit card? Cash in those rewards and use the money towards something you’d normally pay for with your credit card. Then apply the money you would have spent for that month towards your RESPs.

For example, say you have $300 in credit card rewards and apply this amount to your monthly credit card bill.  Since you don’t have to use the $300 from your family budget for this month’s bill, apply it to your RESP.

  1. Renegotiate TV, Cell Phone & Internet Plans

When it comes to your TV, cell phone, and internet plans, look for every opportunity to negotiate a lower bill. Watch out for offers from local competitors that are lower than your current plan. Call up your service provider and ask them to match the competing offer.

If your negotiations reduce your bill by even just $10 for the next six months, that’s $60 to use towards your child’s education savings. Should you be eligible for the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and  Canada Learning Bond (CLB), that $60 can turn into more than $72.

Learn more about available government grants here.

  1. Sell The Stuff You Don’t Need

We all have it – “stuff” that’s just sitting around in our attics, garages, and basements. Whether it’s unused sports equipment, furniture, musical instruments, or small appliances, selling items online is fast, easy, and a great way to raise some cash for investing in RESPs. Search your city name and “online classifieds” to find a local site, or simply visit Kijiji to see what’s available in your area.

  1. Use Coupons and/or Moneysaving Apps

As long as you have a pair of scissors and a mobile device with internet access, you’re holding two tools for shaving money off your family grocery budget – money that can help grow your child’s RESP.  Consider clipping paper coupons from weekly grocery flyers or magazines, or try a digital grocery money saver. Today’s Canadian families have access to several mobile couponing or moneysaving apps that are as close as your smartphone.  Try apps like Flipp, Checkout 51, Cartsmart, or Snap. Easily access local retail flyers and use the app at the register for price matching at applicable stores or watch your mobile coupon savings add up, and redeem them to receive a cheque or PayPal deposit (depending on the app) that you can then use as an RESP contribution.

  1. Windfalls, Raises, Tax Refunds and Benefits

Though it may seem hard to believe when times are tough and money’s tight, at some point in your future, you or someone in your family could receive a windfall of unexpected cash, such as a raise, a tax refund, an increased tax credit, or a tax benefit. Any one of these is a great way to keep investing in RESPs while staying within your family budget. Perhaps you receive a small inheritance, or win the 50/50 draw at a football game.  Perhaps you receive an annual raise or a performance bonus. Instead of going on a spending spree, why not take half, or even a third of your winnings and use it as an RESP contribution?

Even if a windfall isn’t in the cards, getting money back from the government is a real possibility. The Universal Child Care Benefit can give eligible parents of children under six an additional $720 per year, and a $60 per month (or $720 per year) payment for each child between six and 18. Even earmarking only a portion of this additional grant money can help with investing in your children’s RESPs.

Saving and investing money in RESPs when you have a tight family budget requires determination and creativity. Keep an eye out for opportunities to cut spending costs where possible, and make sure to save at least some of any unexpected earnings or cash gifts towards your children’s education savings.