It is exhausting.
Visiting the schools. Reading the brochures.
Hoping and praying that we can manage this, but wondering how to keeping track of where the money goes.
We are in the thick of trying to figure out how we are going to finance another child through post-secondary education. It is never an easy task, as all the colleges and universities make the decision harder with all those shiny baubles called residence, state-of-the-art facilities and award-winning faculty members. She sees the program of her dreams; I see the dollar signs dancing in front of my face. I asked myself, how did my parents do it? They managed to send four out of five children to university. I feel like it will be a struggle for all three to go.
I know I helped with tuition costs that were reasonable. What cost me ONE semester doesn’t even cover one course at most post-secondary institutions. I had part-time jobs throughout the school year and a full-time job during the summer. I worked after school and on the weekends. I was a waitress when I was in university (and a terrible one at that) but every little bit counted. Every nickel and dime and measly tip helped. It seemed like a struggle at the time but I felt earning something, anything, is definitely better than nothing, right?
As we prepare for children number two and three to attend university in the fall of 2017 and 2019, it’s now time to have a reality check. Can we really afford to do this? Do we need to make a budget, and how do we teach our children what financial literacy really is?
Financial literacy can start at a very young age. TD has even made it fun for little ones with a great interactive literacy tool for them to work with. It is a 24-page booklet with colouring, puzzles, challenges and fun activities to work through with your kids. The Money Fun Booklet can be printed out and you can have a very frank conversation with your young children on what it means to save for the future. It is never too early (or too late) for financial education.
In today’s world where tuition can be exorbitantly expensive, how do we do it?
Getting Schooled on Financial Literacy – 5 Tips on getting your Family on board!
- Have a frank conversation with your partner or spouse. Together we brought this human being into this world, happily we have raised them and together we must work to secure their future. As a blogger and freelance writer, my income can be unpredictable. My husband has a steady income. We need to determine what money we have coming in, what expenses go out and how we can save. Maybe at the source we can put some money away immediately.
Do we need to consider a line of credit? A second mortgage? A second job? Are there tax implications or can we use a tax-free saving account (TFSA) to access ‘tax-free’ money? These are strategies that we need to discuss.
Review each child’s savings and figure out how to grow it. Through the years we have socked away those cheques from the grandparents, summer jobs and babysitting money. Each child has a certain amount that they must maintain in their bank account for the bigger picture that is their future. Reviewing what we can place into an RESP at this point in time and finding other sources of income to add to that nest egg will help us. I’m confident that TD can help us with those Registered Education Savings Plans.
Review the cost of staying at home or going away. This may be the hardest talk that you have to have with your teen but you need to have it sooner rather than later. I believe with our first child, we did not plan enough ahead and consider the financial impact of being away from home for four full years. In order to avoid those costly mistakes with our last child, we took him, along with his sister, to a university open house this weekend. Located in the city that we live in, Western University is a very good school (Go Mustangs!) but he was not convinced that it was the school for him. Having a good look around campus, asking questions, meeting with students and faculty helped tip that scale for a school that is closer to home. Helping him process that going away for university or college may not be an option, we have invested time sending him to Western day-camps, engineering week activities and now a campus visit to ‘plant the seed’ that being close to home may be beneficial. The cost of living away from home has to be clearly illustrated. It is all about dollars and cents.
Discussing NEEDS vs. WANTS. This has to be one of the hardest concepts to teach our youth today. In a world that is focused on #bling, we need to help bring the focus back to what is important, essential and affordable. Part of financial literacy is having a discussion about what we need (food, shelter, health and basic education) and what we want (an “ivy-league” education, living in residence, a car). It also lets us open the conversation to what is important in life. Make sure to have a frank discussion on needs vs. wants.
Create a financial map and budget. Sit down with your children and do the math… create the going-to-school-and-paying-for-it roadmap that will help you understand what your financial goals are, how to save towards achieving them and what to expect in the future. These financial literacy tools will help you and your children understand what sacrifices have to be made to get into a post-secondary institution. Once both you and they sit down and work the numbers (tuition, room and board, books, groceries, transportation costs, extras etc.) as a family you can decide what the next logical steps are. Working with a budget may be very useful.
You may also want to open your children’s eyes to the many scholarships and bursaries that are available to them. There may be a grade point average that needs to be achieved, or a number of volunteer hours that have to be accumulated, or a letter of recommendation that needs to be acquired. There may also be grants, tax breaks and government funds that they can tap into. All of these options require a tiny bit of legwork and a whole lot of learning! Bring your child aboard the money-train!
As parents we have a tendency to teach our children all the basics: eating with your mouth closed, saying please and thank you, getting exercise, cooking a meal or two, and even doing the laundry. We may even teach them how to spend (*cough). What we don’t always teach them is how to use their money wisely, spend it sparingly and save regularly. We often think that our children will learn financial literacy at school in classes like advanced functions or home economics. Maybe your elementary school has a Junior Achievement program that brings a volunteer in from the community to teach them financial planning skills. Or you may have none of those options. Having some sort of financial literacy talk with them will help. Preparing our children for the future is what we do as parents, right?
How do you teach your children to Save?
Disclosure: This post is part of the YummyMummyClub.ca and TD #FinanciallyFit sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.