Save The Best For Last

A break from the holiday hoopla that is dominating this guide at the moment. A friend of mine recently announced they were pregnant, and while visions of pint-sized tees and booties filled my head for holiday gift ideas, I also started to think a bit more deeply about what a good gift idea would be. It came to me yesterday, and upon looking into it a bit more, I’ve discovered it’s completely doable – whether you’re a mere friend or close family member.

Instead of giving baby something they’ll grow out of, literally, in days, why not give them something that will last them a helluva lot longer? Namely, I’m talking about setting up an RESP for the young ‘un. You’ve probably heard the acronym before, but not really given it any thought. If that’s the case, here’s a brief overview.

Much like RSP’s (retirement savings plans), the aim of an RESP (educational savings plan) is to set up a young person’s educational future. As long as the newbie has a SIN number, you can set up an RESP with virtually any financial institution – and it’s worth a gander to see what all the banks out there are offering as enticement. Just like with an RSP, the money you put into an RESP grows tax-free. In fact, you can make the money grow quite substantially by applying for the Government of Canada’s Education Savings Grant, and if you qualify, the Canada Learning Board.

The funds accumulate year after year via interest and matching programs, although consider using the child’s birthday or some other special occasion as a reason to make regular contributions. Once they’re ready to pursue post-secondary education (from qualified institutions via at least a three-week program) the funds are released and you’ve given your nearest & dearest’s second generation a solid head start on the financial burdens of pursuing higher learning.

One idea is to set up a fund with a group of your girlfriends (or guy friends) and all pledge to make at least one or two contributions per year, whatever you can spare. Another is, as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or even godparent, to bequest the brainy babe with an annual donation on their birthday in lieu of a traditional birthday gift…although I do urge you to be slightly less boring and top the donation off with a giant lollipop or something equally disposable to offset the lasting, loving gift towards the promise of learning.

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