From CST RESPs to Rewards Cards: Finding Balance To Meet Tomorrow’s Needs

Cartoonist Bill Watterson, creator of the popular Calvin and Hobbes, might easily have been describing the balancing pressures many parents feel today when he commented: “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”

It’s not just work-life balance that can be a challenge, it’s finding a way to enjoy the things our families find important today and tomorrow – and making sure we’re able to put enough aside to make it count. We all know how important it is to save for our children’s future education, our eventual retirement, for a house down payment and more.

But, does that mean we have to  compromise on our present?

Of course not.

There are effective ways to save for our families’ future needs, and luckily for us, the government offers various programs to help us along. A common-sense approach to budgeting and planning is key to achieving the balance we need. That process begins with a comprehensive tracking of your family’s income and expenses to help you understand what’s coming in and going out.  You should also take the time to set your financial goals.

One important long-term financial goal is saving for the future education of your children. Having enough saved for their post-secondary schooling is a common concern; achieving this goal is made easier through Canada’s Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs). CST Consultants Inc., points out that funds invested can generate income on a tax-deferred basis until they are needed by your child for schooling. Another advantage of RESPs is that federal and some provincial governments encourage you to save through grants that match a portion of your contributions to your plan.

Although an RESP requires a budgetary commitment, CST Consultants says the type of plan chosen should match your financial means. Take CST’s Group Savings Plan 2001, a RESP solution where your contributions are professionally managed. One of its advantages is a low minimum investment: subscribers can contribute as little as $9.50 per month to begin a plan.

Your children’s future education is a long-term goal. Consider short-term goals, too. Look at some of your standing bills like utilities and cable. Can you make adjustments to trim those back to put more aside for savings? Then, there are groceries. A shopping list and detailed food budget will not only save you money in the long run, but can also reduce food waste.

While better budgeting and planning will help you achieve a better balance between your present and future needs and wants, it also makes a difference to think about them creatively.

For example, when you need a bigger ticket item, don’t just drive over to your neighborhood big box retailer and buy it off the shelf. Do a web search to compare prices or see which retailer has a sale coming up. Look for coupons. See if you can get it second-hand. That’s more money in your pocket to save or put against another need.

Also, don’t forget to take advantage of rewards programs.  It’s surprising how many people sign up for rewards programs – hotels, airlines, credit cards, retailers – and never use them. If you’re going to be using the service anyway, sign up, track your points and let them accumulate until you can use them for something in the “now” like a family vacation or something for the home.

Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan is only sold by Prospectus. Investors should read the Prospectus before making an investment decision because it includes important detailed information. You can get copies of the Prospectus from www.cst.org or by calling 1.877.333.RESP(7377).

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