Birthday money taught me how to save, a lesson I'm passing along to my kids

Thomas the Tank Engine - Happy Birthday

This guest post was written by Adam Dolgin, a CST Planholder and the voice behind the popular parenting blog Fodder 4 Fathers.

Remember the good old days when people didn’t buy gifts for kids; they gave them money? No? I do. I actually had several family members-aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles- that would only give me money on my birthday or during the holidays. It always pretty much went down the same way every year:

1) I made a list of all the presents that I wanted (G.I.Joes, He-men, Star Wars action figures) which I would give to my mom to pass on everyone else;

2) The list never left my house; and,

3) I ended up getting gifts from my parents and grandparents and a whole lot of cards from everyone else.

I hated those cards - cartoon kids with enormous heads with notes that said the most generic things, like “To a Great Nephew.” I resented them. I loathed them. But I was young. I wanted presents. What I didn’t realize was that these people were giving me the gift that kept on giving in those cards – compound interest.

That’s right, cash; cold hard cash (or stocks or bonds back in those days). Open one card and out slid 5 dollars. Open the next card and out slid a $10 bill. Do it a few more times and you’re looking at $25 dollars (which was a lot in those days), and that added up to a lot of toys. But, you never got to spend it. No, back then cash went right in to the bank. Not your piggy bank, the BANK; a savings account of your very own, to be exact, to help you learn the value of money. And I hated it. I had action figures to buy and Cobra’s Command Centre to purchase, and I had to let that money sit and do nothing, in the bank? No way! I would cry and I would fuss and I would fight each and every time I got money for my birthday or Christmas and say “I just want to buy some toys!!!!”

But my parents always made me put it in the bank. And let’s be honest, I’m glad they did! Little me wasn’t too happy, but adult me loved them for looking out for me and making me put all that money in the bank for all those years. I mean, back in the day, banks used to give out pretty good interest, and when I went off to college, my mom handed me the bank book for that account and I was pleasantly surprised to find I had several thousand dollars in it. THOUSANDS - and they were mine. Sure, I never got to play with my own X-Wing Fighter or buy a Chewbacca, but I had cash for college: spending money so I wouldn’t have to eat Kraft Dinner every night! And I had my parents to thank for that (and the thousands of dollars they paid in tuition too).

Vintage Star Wars Toys

I also have to thank them for teaching me a valuable lesson about saving and starting early and it’s the same kind of lesson I would like to pass on to you when I suggest you open an RESP – specifically, a Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan - for your kids with CST Consultants. That’s what I did. Short-term pain for long-term gain, I say. Forget the toys you want, but don’t need, and put that money to better use by starting a savings plan that will pay for your child’s education, or maybe even your own. Not sure where to start? Just follow this link to talk to a representative. You won’t regret it. 

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For more updates from Adam, visit his blog Fodder 4 Fathers or follow him on Twitter.

Learn more about CST’s plans by visiting www.cst.org. You can also check out CST on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.