13Nov 17

When Planning For Your Children’s Future, Time Is Your Friend – Felix Thomas

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“When planning for your children’s future, time is your friend.”

Former Tribal Chief Felix Thomas knows there are a lot of options – and barriers – for parents who are wondering about how to best prepare for their children’s future. There is so much to consider, and it is difficult to know where to start.

“Saving for your children’s education is like saving for your retirement,” says Felix. “You need to start saving early. It doesn’t need to be a lot, but every little bit helps.”

Post-secondary education is expensive, and the biggest hurdle for most young people seeking to further their education remains the financial burden. And while it can be difficult for parents to know where to start, he believes the first step is to know what’s available.

“It can be hard for parents to know what’s out there,” he says. “But there are options, and there are people who can help.”

He believes that speaking to someone who can help you with a financial plan is important, and that organizations like READ Saskatoon can play a valuable part in the planning process.

“READ has the ability to let parents know that there are great opportunities to save for your children, even when you’re not sure that’s a possibility,” Felix says. “They are teaching members of our community that there is a way to support your children, and that it is manageable. It gives parents that early support they may need to begin planning.”

Giving your children the financial support they will need to go on to post-secondary education is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. It is a legacy that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

"Every parent wants the best for their child,” says Felix. “We all want our children to succeed and have more than we did. Saving for their education is part of how you can do this.”

Felix is originally from the Kinistin Saulteaux Nation. When he graduated from high school, he received a bursary to attend the University of Saskatchewan. This support enabled him to receive an education without the financial stress that many students face.

“It was enough to get by,” he says. “It sustained me during my studies, and that made a real difference.”

Thankfully, this meant he did not have to rely on student loans as many others did. Today, he believes RESPs are an important consideration for parents who want to help sustain their own children while they attend college or university.

“Your investment is partially matched by the government, and makes your savings go even further,” he says.

Alleviating the financial burden of your child’s education helps set them on the path to a better future, and helps them see the kinds of opportunities available to them.

“Education opened up every opportunity I’ve had in my life,” says Felix. “In our learning economy, we need a post secondary education to achieve a good quality of life. If I hadn’t had that, a lot of those doors would not have been open for me.”

Financial doors are just some of the challenges young people face, but Felix believes once these needs are met, parents can focus on supporting their children in the other ways they will need on their journey.

“Regardless of their endeavours, our children will always need our help,” says Felix. “We need to make sure we are cheerleaders and champions and advocates for our children.”

“This is why it’s so important to start planning early. Every little bit will help and grow exponentially, if you take the time to plan.”