Finances: RDSP Tips and Resources
Like most parents, we signed up for a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) when our son was born. Life does not always go as planned. As the saying goes, “life is what happens when you are making plans”. After getting the autism diagnosis at the age of three, we learned about the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) that had just been created by the federal government. RDSP had not been part of our vocabulary until months prior, but we quickly learned that this was a new savings vehicle that could grow money quickly if invested properly.
Let me share some tips and lessons earned over the years as a parent and a Regional Coordinator at AutismBC!
Tip 1: Your RSDP will require some TLC
Do your due diligence, ask questions, and look at statements. This is an important asset for your loved one(s) and deserves some TLC. When we first started our RDSP, our banking institution was new to all of this too and did not invest the money in any fund, so our contribution along with the government’s just sat and did not gain any interest. Our financial advisor soon clued us into this. I could not blame the bank as it was a new program and they were learning the ropes as we were, and I am sure the banking institutions are now better versed in growing an RDSP. After moving the RDSP over to our financial advisor’s capable hands, our son’s RDSP has since grown with contributions from us and the government.
Tip 2: It’s Okay to Start with Small Contributions
I am aware that not everyone can make regular contributions to their loved one’s RDSP, but keep in mind that even if the contribution is small, it will still grow. The government has a program called Endowment 150 that starts with a one-time grant of $150 to help kickstart the growth of one’s RDSP. Check out the following link for eligibility requirements:
About Endowment 150
Also, find out how Erin’s RDSP has grown from $15,000 to $90,000 over ten years:
Erin’s RDSP Story
Tip 3: Check out PLAN/DABC’s Websites
We realize that as a caregiver to a child with a diverse ability you have a lot on your plate. What if you just can’t figure it out on your own? PLAN Institute can help you. They have experts in the field, an online tutorial, web resources, and even a toll-free help number! Their Toll-free Helpline is 1-844-311-7526.
What is it?
Disability Alliance BC is another great resource that will help walk you through the process—
Help with the RDSP and DTC
Tip 4: Be Mindful of Restrictions
RDSPs are for the long-term. These are savings vehicles that are meant for when our loved one is well into adulthood, but not for that trip to Hawaii they may want to go on. There are specific restrictions surrounding withdrawals from RDSPs and the timing of withdrawals. The websites above will give you all that information.
Tip 5: Deal with Your RESP
If there is already an RESP in place for the child, check with a financial advisor about whether it should be left as is or if there is any other option. The professionals will be able to provide you with some good answers and options.
Here’s a blog on RESP that may be helpful to you:
My kid is disabled. How could be RESPs be relevant to us?
Additional information on RDSP:
Life on the Spectrum Podcast:
Written by Lisa Watson, Regional Coordinator for Interior BC