Whenever I facilitate a workshop on finance the very first question I ask the participants is WHAT ARE YOUR FINANCIAL WISHES?      Most of the participants are stumped by this question.

In The story of Aladdin’s Lamp the Genie once released from his imprisonment in the bottle asks Aladdin. “WHAT DO YOU WISH’   I refer to this fable to illustrate a point.  When Aladdin was confronted with this question he hesitated, and like most of us, he did not have a list of specific wishes.  He had a vague idea of what would provide the most immediate pleasure and comfort.  He did not have a working plan and he did know what he wanted.  I ask, the Genie’s question a little differently. What is it you to accomplish financially?  The common response is “You know I have never really thought of that.”

At the beginning of a workshop on finance I get those same reactions. So let’s see if I can help guide you to achieve your financial goals

It is Tuesday night and you are watching reality television wishing you were one of those rich people or one of those getting rich doing their show.  You wished so hard that the Genie appears,   “Give me a list of the ten things you want now and they all will be yours in five years.  You will receive the first one in January and the second one in June and every year after this for the next five years.  There is only one catch; you must name these ten things in 120 seconds.”

How many of you are able to do this now?  Stop reading and get your, I phone, I Pad, purple, yellow or blackberries and begin writing taking only 120 seconds to complete the list.  How was that for you, did you complete your list in 120 seconds or were you mystified, dumfounded, and exhausted, well you are not alone you are just like 90% of the population over the age of 20.

Kids know what they want; we have all seen or experienced with a child who wants a particular toy, they know the name of the toy, they know where it is sold, what colour it is, how much it cost and they also know you will move heaven and earth to get it for them.

The Genie feels sorry for you and decided to give you another chance.   He tells you “I will be back in seven days and if you have those ten things listed they will be yours.”

What are you going to do, are you going to turn off the television, and get your note-book or one of those berries and begin writing or are you going to do it after this particular show is over?  It is all your choice, remember. The decisions you make today determines the life you live tomorrow.

You decided you are starting now.  The first list you created you set aside, NO! You say out loud as you jump out of your chair, this is not what I really, want.   You start again.  This time you date and time the second page and begin, using the previous list as a reference, you look at the list again and will see the things you know you need, also what you don’t want.

Here are  some things you might have on that first list.

  1. Be happy,
  2.  Have good health
  3. Travel
  4.  Have a fancy car
  5. Eat at superfine restaurants
  6. Have a big House
  7. Buy designer clothes and shoes
  8. Want to be comfortable
  9. Get married
  10.  Have a family

Now here is a list of the things you need and want to accomplish.

  1. Stop borrowing money to buy things
  2. Bring my current debt up-to-date
  3. Pay off all my debt Buy a Home
  4. Create a small only God knows fund
  5. Create a Big emergency fund
  6. Buy a house
  7. Open a  Registered Retirement Savings Plan
  8. Save my children’s education
  9. Have an annual vacation
  10. Pay off the house

A very different list from the previous one.  Are these better choices?

Try creating your own list using the above as a reference.

When you have these things in place, peace of mind, happiness and contentment will follow, and your Financial Advisor aka Genie will have guided you to reach your financial goals.

It requires some practice and it will definitely take much more than 120 seconds to get it right but it is worth doing.

Let me know how you felt before and after the exercise.





In this section we are discussing Canada Education Savings Grant and Canada Learning Grant.


  • Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)
    The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) program provides grants to Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) contributors until the beneficiaries reach the age of 17.


  • Canada Learning Bond
    The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) program provides a $500 bond for children born to families who receive the National Child Benefit Supplement under the Canada Revenue Agency’s Canada Child Tax Benefit program.


Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) is money that the Government of Canada will add to your child’s savings in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

The grant has two parts:

  1. Basic Canada Education Savings Grant

The Basic Canada Education Savings Grant will give you 20% on every dollar of the first $2,500 you save in your child’s RESP each year.

Depending on your net family income, you could receive an extra 10% or 20% on every dollar of the first $500 you save in your child’s RESP each year.


Eligibility Information

Who can get the grant?

  • All children under age 18 are eligible, as long as they are Canadian residents and an RESP has been opened for them.
  1. Special rules apply if your child is between the ages of 15 and 17. See Special Rules for Children Aged 15 to 17 Additional Canada Education Savings Grant

Canada Learning Bond

The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) is $500 offered by the Government of Canada to help start saving now for your child’s education after high school.

Plus, you child could get $100 every year until he or she turns 15 years old to a maximum of $2,000!


Eligibility Information

  • The child’s family must receive the National Child Benefit Supplement.

Children must meet the following criteria:

Financial Information

  • The children qualify for $100 Bond installments until age 15 for each year their family is entitled to the Supplement.
  • The Bond is paid into an RESP established by the family.
  • The first Canada Learning Bond payment includes an additional $25 to help cover the cost of opening the RESP account.

Application Information

  • Visit the CanLearn Web site at Service Canada to get more details on CESG.
  • Information on RESPs and CLB application procedures is available from banks, mutual fund and brokerage companies, insurance and trust companies, companies and foundations that specialize in education savings plans, and other financial institutions.

It is important and very simple to do.   Visit your financial institution and talk to a Financial Advisor, they will be happy to help you. Please take advantage of this opportunity to make your children’s education much easier.






While facilitating workshops throughout the city I am surprised at the number of  families, who do not take advantage of savings available for their children.   The Government of Canada continually sends out communications telling parents of the amount of money that is available for their children’s education.

This is done to encourage families with children to open Registered Education Savings Plan for their children’s education.

Today we will discuss Registered Education Savings Plan.


Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
The Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) allows savings for education to grow tax free in a special savings plan registered by the Government of Canada until a child named in the RESP enrolls in a post-secondary education program.

Eligibility Information

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

 Application Information

  • Information on the RESP application procedure is also available through financial institutions, such as a bank or credit union.  There are also other providers.  These institutions, planners and dealers are known as “RESP providers.”

It’s a good idea to ask some questions before choosing a Registered Education Provider.

Here are a few questions you should ask when talking with a RESP provider.

  • Once I have opened an RESP, will I have to pay any fees?  If so, what are they for and how much will I have to pay?
  • Do I have to put a minimum amount of money into an RESP?
  • Do I have to make regular payments?
  • What are my investment choices?  What are the benefits of each choice? Can the value of my investment go down?
  • Can I withdraw money if I need it?  Are there any fees or penalties for withdrawing money early?
  • Can I transfer the RESP to another person, or to another RESP provider?   What is the cost to transfer?
  • What will happen to my savings in the RESP if my child does not continue his or her education after high school?
  • Does the RESP provider limit the types of qualified educational programs that I can use my RESP for?
  • What happens if I close my RESP early?
  • What if my child decides to go to school part-time?
  • Does the RESP provider offer all education savings incentives including the additional Canada Education Savings Grant and Canada Learning Bond?

Next week we will discuss all the other Savings available for families including the Canadian Learning Bond and the Canada Education Savings Grant.