How do you save money for the future? We have a few different systems, depending on our goals.
We are incredibly fortunate to have a strong pension plan (which I hope will still be there when we need it - 2031 is still a long time away!), but in addition, my husband and I each have RRSPs, funded by preauthorized withdrawals made from our chequing accounts each month. Every couple of years we take a look at our budget and decide if we're able to increase our contributions, but at this point we still aren't maximizing what we could be doing. One bonus with RRSPs is that they do provide a tax break, which means some money back at the end of the year.
For the girls' education:
As soon as Frannie was born, we opened a family RESP, and used the Universal Child Care Benefit ($100 per month, per child from the federal government) to get it started, since it was new income that we wouldn't miss. Once I was back to work full time after both girls, we increased our monthly contributions. It's smart to maximize, if you're able (the government will add 20% of what you put in, to a maximum of $500 per year, per child - which means if you can put in $2500 over the course of the year, you're making the most of your money.) We still haven't decided what to tell our daughters about this chunk of savings. My husband and I each paid for our own post-secondary education, while I admittedly had the luxury of living at home and using one of my parents' vehicles, but I did cover almost all of my tuition and books myself through part-time and summer jobs. I would never want their opportunities to be limited because of money, but I also don't want them to go through high school assuming they have some sort of free ride. I'd like to see them working and saving, just as we did. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this one!
For large purchases:
We have monthly budgets (including set amounts for personal shopping/entertainment), and the difference between our income and expenditures goes into a joint account at the end of the month. Originally we were very strict about what we would use it for, e.g. a big trip, purchasing a large appliance, etc., but now it tends to be used for Christmas shopping, repair bills, anything not in our monthly budget. Fortunately our tax return is timed perfectly to fund our March Break trip (I know the financial experts wouldn't approve of that but hey, I'm being honest!)
A great way to make sure that your future goals are funded is to pay yourself first (I can still hear Monica's dad on Friends telling her "10 percent, in the bank!") and a great way to do that is to have the withdrawals set up through programs like the TD Automatic Savings Plan. That way you don't have to worry about transferring amounts each month, and the money is out of sight, out of mind...and ready when you need it in the future!
As I mentioned above, I'd love to know what other parents plan to do about their children's post-secondary educations...are you saving for them or expecting them to do it on their own? Is it a choice you're making, or financial necessity? How will their opportunities be different from yours?
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by TD. Opinions are, as always, my own.