Knowledge is Power
Saving is a mindset – and it pays to change your mind early.
For Deirdra Ness, her own experiences when she was first out of school helped her realise the importance of having a plan for your finances.
“After I graduated from high school, I applied to university, but I wasn’t quite ready,” says Deirdra. “I worked a lot of tough jobs, and I realised I wanted more for myself. And if I wanted to do better, I would need to go to university.”
Though Deirdra says it was a challenge to budget for school after she had been out on her own, it was the financial challenges she faced after graduating that made her realise just how important it is to save.
“I was five years out of high school when I went to university. I had a car, a credit card and now I had student loans,” says Deirdra. “When I graduated, I didn’t have much left for rent and experienced my first cockroach fumigation and learned a lot more about bedbugs. But it was the cost of standing on my own two feet.”
Even though Deirdra faced debt, she knew this was the cost of education, and that it changed her life for the better.
“My education gave me independence and power,” she says. “Life comes at you with all kinds of challenges, so being self-reliant is very important.”
While education cost remains a massive barrier for many young people, Deidra believes that children also need a lot of guidance when it comes to deciding what direction to take.
“It’s hard for an 18-year-old to decide what she wants to do for a career,” says Deirdra. “There is no easy answer, but parents can help remove barriers.”
She believes that having honest conversations about money is a great place to start, even when these conversations are difficult.
“If you’re not a financially-minded person, this stuff can be really intimidating,” she says. “As an adult, it’s hard to figure out financial goals for yourself. But your role as a parent is to help teach your children how to live in this world, and finances are a huge part of this.”
Deirdra and her husband created a savings plan for their children when they were still very young and have encouraged their kids to be involved in watching it grow. Starting early, even if you can’t afford a lot, will not only enable you to watch your savings grow over time, but will help instill a mindset of saving – both for yourself, and for your children.
“It’s something that’s always been there for our kids,” she says. “Even when we didn’t have a lot of money, we always put a bit away. And they’ve watched along the way, knowing that this money was there for them on whatever journey they might decide to take.”
“Our small investments grew quicker from the Canada Education Savings Grant which increases the return on your RESP contributions,” she acknowledges, “Unfortunately, many people do not take advantage of this grant because it's your standard poorly marketed, difficult to understand government grant.”
There are so many options out there, and the choice alone can be confusing. Deirdra believes that talking to a financial advisor and seeking information from organisations like READ Saskatoon can help parents navigate the often-confusing financial world.
Saving early helps to set parents and children at ease. When children see their parents leading by example, they will learn to understand the importance of financial decisions and realise there is a way to support their own dreams for the future.
“By saving, you are showing them how to be responsible without being completely focused on money,” says Deirdra. “When you’re planning your education and your career, money isn’t everything, but it’s still really important.”
By saving early and talking with your kids about finances, you can open the conversation to more exciting things, like helping your children discover their interests and guiding them towards making good decisions about their futures.
“It can take some time to decide what you do with your life,” says Deirdra. “But no one can ever take away your education.”