Compared to Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) or even the relatively new Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are a low priority for the mainstream financial institutions. The reason is quite simple: relatively speaking RESPs are small fry for the big financial institutions. While Canadians hold more than $600 billion in their RRSP accounts (2005 figures from The Wealth of Canadians report by Statistics Canada), the total value of RESP accounts is just $26 billion (2009 figures from the Canada Education Savings Program – Annual Statistical Review 2009). This mismatch is also reflected in books: a number of RRSP books are published every year but to my knowledge, there are no books covering RESPs.
Mike Holman who writes the Money Smarts Blog has filled this gap by penning a valuable resource on RESPs. The author starts off by explaining the unique and sometimes complicated rules governing RESPs. He then talks about the main reason RESPs are the best way to save for a child’s education for most people: the various grants available from the Federal Government and additional grants that Alberta and Quebec residents may be eligible for from their provincial governments. The final chapters deal with how to open a RESP account and how to invest the contributions and grants.
To be honest, most of the information available in the book can be found scattered between Government websites, newspaper articles, blog posts and forum discussions. But frazzled new parents will likely appreciate that the author has put everything together in one slim volume. And hopefully most readers will take the author’s advice and open a self-directed or bank RESP. Or at least opt for a Group RESP after carefully considering other options available to them.
The RESP Book: The Complete Guide to Registered Retirement Savings Plans for Canadians is available from Amazon.ca for $15.99. It should be noted here that a review copy was provided by the author. I should also mention that I’ve personally known Mike for many years and consider him a friend. You can find links to more reviews of The RESP Book on the Money Smarts Blog. The Globe and Mail recently published an excerpt from the book.