Setting up students for successful saving
BY KORNEL SZREJBER
SAVING MONEY on back-to-school shopping is
a surefire way to help keep money in your bank
account. Here are a few more education-related
strategies that can save you thousands and help
keep you and your kids out of debt.
Give your kids a big advantage
Looking back, one of the best decisions I ever
made was enrolling in a co-op/internship program at both the high school and post-secondary
level. If your child enrolls in such a program at
the high school level, the real-life work experience in a professional setting, plus the relationships and references they will end up earning,
will put them above and beyond their peers when
competing for jobs. And it will build a strong
foundation for their career.
When it’s time to apply to college or university, that co-op work experience will make your
child’s post-secondary application look that
much stronger, while also making it much easier
to be accepted to a co-op program at the post-secondary level (which may be paid and can offset
the cost of tuition).
The experience and network that your child
can build through these placements is invaluable, and it’s not uncommon to receive offers of
employment upon graduation. It also gives them
an overwhelming advantage over other students
looking for work who merely took classes and
will leave the campus with little to no work-related experience.
Be careful with the RESP
Of course, no discussion about education is
complete without highlighting the importance
of starting a Registered Education Savings
Plan (RESP) for your children. The ;; per cent
match from the government is the easiest money
you’ll ever earn, and is a no-brainer for anybody
looking to send their kids for post-secondary
education. That said, there are some critical
components to be aware of.
While there are many great advisers and
companies that can help you with your RESP,
remember to read the fine print on the fees,
rules and penalties that they enforce. Nobody
works for free, and claiming that they do is an
instant red flag that you probably shouldn’t work
with them (due to the hidden fees they are likely
charging you on the back end). The more hands-
off you want to be by letting others administer an
RESP for you, the more fees you’ll generally pay.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you have
some interest in investing, you can do it all yourself and pay the lowest possible fees by using a
discount broker. This will involve doing some
online research on unbiased, reputable websites
that aren’t trying to sell you investments (e.g.,
You can also use a robo-adviser—an automated financial planning service—to manage
this for you. The fees are more than if you do it
yourself, but they are reasonable, and it’s a great
way to get started while receiving some guidance
and not paying outrageous fees.
Hunting for scholarships
Work with your child to find out early what
entrance scholarships are available for the
schools that your child will be applying to, and
what the grade cut-offs are. Communicate this
goal to your child, and encourage him or her to
meet the goal. Knowing exactly what grades they
have to achieve for an entrance scholarship can
be a big motivator, especially if some incentive
is on the line.
Don’t forget to seek out other sources of
scholarships too. Many employers—including
Costco—offer scholarships, and be sure to ask
your friends and family if their employers also
The internet has made it easier than ever to
find sites with scholarships, and several sites list
different scholarships across Canada, such as
scholarshipscanada.com. All in all, a few days of
work can result in thousands of dollars in scholarships. How’s that for a nice hourly wage?
There’s no shortage of quick and easy back-to-school tips to save a few bucks. But keep in
mind that while the above tips do take some time
and effort to execute, the results they can generate are easily in the thousands of dollars—and
have the power to help keep you and your kids
out of debt while setting a strong financial foundation for years to come. C
Kornel Szrejber is a contributing author to
Canadian MoneySaver and the creator of the blog
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