The one-month countdown to Christmas has officially begun. In the next couple of weeks, most families will start putting up their decorations to give the house that cozy holiday glow. This will also be the time to take out a notebook and jot down gift ideas before hitting the local overcrowded malls.
While toys may seem like the obvious choice for children, this year, why not think outside the box? We all know our little ones love a heap of gifts under the tree they can eagerly unwrap with little decorum at 6 a.m. on Christmas morning. But let’s be honest, as a mother of two I know playtime with most of these toys will be short-lived and they will only end up cluttering the house. At best, the toys in better shape will eventually get donated while the less fortunate ones will make their way to the trash or recycling bin.
This holiday season, try something different and offer a less traditional gift, but one that’s meaningful and lasts a lifetime. Offer a child you love the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams with a registered education savings plan (RESP). In recent years, this interesting alternative has been gaining in popularity; a survey by the CROP polling firm carried out for Universitas found that 75% of parents in Quebec would be pleased if a relative invested in an RESP for their children as a Christmas gift.
Whether the child already has an RESP doesn’t even matter since both cases are a win-win situation. For new parents who haven’t gotten around to opening an RESP for baby, this is the perfect first Christmas gift. For starters, baby’s too young to be unwrapping anything; second, family and friends will be showering the new bundle of joy with gifts, so now’s the time to get those money donations or RESP gift certificates from relatives.
As for parents who already opened an RESP, extra end-of-year contributions will top-up the RESP and could attract additional grant money. That’s right, let’s not forget the added bonus that RESP contributions attract grant money from both levels of government in Quebec! Children in this province are entitled to a minimum 30% increase on the first $2,500 contributed in an RESP on their behalf per year.
Now this may all make sense to an adult, but a child will still always pick the latest Barbie or Marvel action figure over the RESP. Simply go for the toy on special at a lower-price store and offer your child the best of both worlds. Just think, 30 years from now, your child may not remember the teddy he or she got on that first Christmas morning, but he or she will remember that you planned, saved, and helped pay for a college education, something for which you’ll be thanked forever!
Click here if you’d like to order a colourful RESP gift certificate offered by Universitas, over 50 years of RESP expertise at your service!
By: Sarah DeMelt
 CESG: The Canada Education Savings Grant rate is 20% to 40% based on adjusted family net income. The annual limit is set at $600 and the lifetime limit is set at $7,200 per beneficiary. QESI: The Quebec Education Savings Incentive rate is 10% to 20% based on adjusted family net income. The annual limit is set at $300 and the lifetime limit is set at $3,600 per beneficiary. Certain conditions apply; refer to our Prospectus.