Maximize Your Grants

Maximize Your Grants

Getting the most out of government grants 

Federal and provincial grants can add potentially thousands of dollars to your RESP; and, like your own contributions, they begin to earn tax-deferred compound returns as soon as they’re in your plan. By understanding how to qualify and when to apply, you can make the most of this free money from the government. Here are some tips to help you.

Contribute the Maximum You Can

With the Canada Education Savings Grant, you can earn 20% on the first $2,500 you contribute each year to your child’s RESP to a maximum of $500 per child per year. If you qualify for the additional CESG, you could earn an extra 10-20% on the first $500 contributed for an additional $100 per year. The combined lifetime maximum for CESG and A-CESG is $7,200 per child.

Note that grant amounts are set on an annual basis with a deadline of December 31 each year. In order to receive the education savings grants, be sure to get your contributions deposited in advance of the December 31 deadline. Otherwise, you could lose the grants unless you have carry-forward room as outlined below.
Take Advantage of the CESG Carry-Forward

The CESG also has a special feature that allows you to carry forward unclaimed CESG from years in which you didn’t reach the threshold. The maximum CESG (including the carry-forward) is $1,000 in any given year.

Here’s how the carry-forward works:

Sally opens an RESP for her newborn daughter and contributes $150 per month in the first year. The plan receives $360 in CESG, leaving $140 in unused grant to carry forward for future years. In the second year of the plan, Sally continues her monthly contributions and uses $1,400 of her income tax refund to make a “catch-up” payment, for a total contribution of $3,200. This enables her to receive $640 in CESG.

Read our Pay it Forward Fact Sheet on our website at  to learn more about how to take advantage of unused grant room. Then use our Grant Maximizer Calculator to find out how to take advantage of the carry-forward based on your situation.


To learn more, connect with Karen Wallace at Knowledge First Financial! She will also be at our Easter Hunt, Party & Play on Saturday April 4th and would be happy to share more at that time!


Canada’s Largest RESP Company

Thank you to everyone who attended our ‘From Bump To Baby & Beyond’ Show this past weekend! From expecting parents to parents of babies, toddlers and young children, we were so happy you came out to spend some time with us. Thank you for making the Mommy Connections show part of your day and your weekend, we are truly grateful for all of you!

At the show we had some awesome prizes courtesy of Buy Buy Baby, Mastermind Toys, Oyaco (GroBag), Pampers and My Smart Hands! Thank you to everyone who entered our draw, it was a good one! We are proud to announce the following winners:

Thank you to everyone who entered! We will be contacting all the prize winners by email so make sure to check your email and see if you are the lucky winner!

Our next big event will be Easter in April followed by a baby shower at Buy Buy Baby in May! Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter so you’re up to date with all our program, events and workshop information!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Financial stress affects almost half of working Canadians and cuts across all income levels. Planning for the future can play an important role in our overall sense of well-being.
Life in the early 21st century comes at you fast, and many of us recognize that attending to our emotional and physical health is a key component of living life to its fullest. There’s no shortage of advice out there about how to lead a healthier, happier lifestyle. But interestingly, popular strategies rarely address what the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) says is our biggest source of stress: financial worries.
It’s Not Just About How Much Money We Make
Our income level doesn’t seem to play a role when it comes to worrying about money, says FCAC. In fact, 48% of Canadians have reported losing sleep over concern about their finances, regardless of their annual paycheque. Meanwhile, a recent wellness survey conducted by Mercer Canada Financial revealed that most Canadians over 50 don’t have a strategy for retirement.
Getting out to the gym regularly and eating properly can certainly have a hand in keeping us healthy and giving us an overall sense of well-being. It turns out, though, that if the financial piece of the puzzle is missing from our wellness strategy, we might be in trouble.
People dealing with financial stress are twice as likely to report overall ill-health and are four times as likely to experience sleep problems, headaches, and other illnesses. More disturbing is the fact that unease about money can lead to even more serious problems like high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.
Tool to Use Today to Prepare for Tomorrow
The good news is we can readily adopt strategies that may ease stress and dial back anxiety. A crucial part of a good well-being plan means being able to pay for our immediate and ongoing expenses. Importantly, self-care also means having a sense of control over future financial needs. With a bit of smart planning we can gain the freedom to enjoy the things in life that matter to us.
Keeping up with monthly payments is often challenging enough, so it might seem counterintuitive to spend valuable energy thinking about the future. But there’s a huge difference between constantly worrying about the future and creating a written financial plan that will help achieve our life goals. Fortunately, in Canada there are some tools available to help along the way.
Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RSPs) can be useful for decreasing taxable income today and setting some money aside for retirement. If the company or organization you work for has a contribution-matching plan, check it out. Taking advantage of these types of programs can help you get started on saving for your future.
Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) might also work well for many. These unique savings accounts don’t reduce your tax burden up front, but any interest or dividends they pay out in the future will not be taxed, which means tax-free income that you can readily withdraw when needed with no penalties.
Investing in Your Children’s Education
It’s projected that children born in 2018 can expect to pay up to $126,000 for tuition and living costs when they head to university in 2036. Parents can help mitigate this burden on their children by participating in RESPs and taking advantage of government grants like the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). The CESG offers a 20% matching grant up to $7,200 from the Canadian government. Families with a net income of less than $93,208* can accumulate CESG more quickly with Additional CESG. The income earned in an RESP is tax deferred as long as funds remain in the plan, and the earlier you start saving the more time your investment has to grow. Knowledge First Financial helps parents choose the right approach for them and their future goals. Our RESP specialists can help ensure you’re on track to achieve the goals that are right for your family.
Modest income families don’t have to be left behind. With the Canada Learning Bond, you can get started on your education savings without making any contributions. Based on net family income* and number of children, $500 will be deposited into your child’s RESP. An additional $100 is deposited into the RESP to a maximum of $2,000, until your child turns 15. Knowledge First Financial has committed to helping 10,000 families who qualify for the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) with a flexible, no-cost CLB-only plan. The CLB is a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada for your child.
No matter your income level, if you’ve committed to a wellness regime, be sure to investigate all of the tools available that will help you and your family feel secure today and tomorrow.
*Income levels indexed annually.
For more information contact Karen Wallace of Knowledge First Financial:
Canada’s Largest RESP Company
Access our Free Will Kit here:
Most people take for granted that if they have a question or want to look up information, they can jump onto the internet and the answers will be at their fingertips. Kids today understand that they need to keep passwords private and that they have to be responsible about caring for expensive gadgets like tablets, laptops and smartphones when they’re being used away from home or their classrooms. But as WiFi becomes more available wherever we go, the internet can falsely appear to be a seamless, safe space when we move from home or the classroom into public spaces.
Parents and teachers still need to remind young people to keep in mind that how they connect to the internet in public is as important as keeping passwords private and not interacting with strangers online. Teaching your kids to always take a few mindful steps when connecting online in public can ensure that they don’t get more than they bargained for when surfing the net on open networks.
When in doubt, use your data
Now that wireless data packages are becoming more or less limitless, the hands-down best practice according to for internet use in public is to use your own phone as a private password-encrypted data hotspot. If that’s not possible, it’s important to keep in mind that no public WiFi service can be 100% secure.
Learn which networks are safe to use
If your children need to use public WiFi, remind them to be sure they know who is providing the service and to only sign on to networks they trust. Keep in mind, scammers can create very legitimate looking login pages. If in doubt, or if the page looks fake – misspellings in the URL or the colours are off – they can ask an employee if WiFi connection is legitimate. The number one way for hackers to access personal information and other sensitive information is to lure users into signing onto fake hotspots. Even if a WiFi service is legitimate, other users may still be trying to phish from your public online activities, so doing banking or other sensitive activities that require private passwords should be avoided on public networks.
Always click the “forget network” option
Companies like Starbucks and other large chains offer free internet access but can be cumbersome to sign on to because they may ask for information like email accounts and phone numbers. Allowing devices to automatically connect to frequently used spaces can be tempting. However, it’s best to limit the number of networks your devices automatically connect with and be sure to set up devices to ask if a public network is legitimate each time before signing on.
Turn off file sharing
Devices connected to public networks should also have file sharing preferences turned off, except for in specific circumstances like working on a group project and be sure to have firewalls active when using public services as well. When file sharing is active, hackers might be able to access any files on the connected device. So, turning this capability on and off as needed in public should be a required habit.
Use only HTTPS sites
While surfing on a public WiFi connection, teach children to avoid pages that aren’t encrypted with the HTTPS protocol. This encryption stops other people using the same public WiFi from snooping on their activities and will help them avoid insecure sites in general.
Turn on firewalls
Firewall warnings are often annoying when we’re using the internet on a secure system at home, so most people tend to turn them down or turn them off completely. But firewalls protect devices from malware and other malicious attacks from unsafe websites, so it should become a habit to turn them back on whenever using public WiFi networks.
Other sources:
For more information check in with our resident education expect, Karen Wallace at Knowledge First Financial!
See what our customers are saying about us
If the news about the rising cost of tuition and student debt are keeping you awake at night, you are not alone. Stories about young people graduating from university with mortgage-sized debt loads seem to be everywhere lately. But experts agree, that no matter our income level, parents can help their children meet their education goals by creating and sticking to a written plan.
Recently, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) released its findings from a cross-Canada financial well-being survey it conducted in early 2018. Their survey results show that “regardless of the amount of money someone makes, regular efforts to save for unexpected expenses and other future priorities appears to be the key to feeling and being in control of personal finances.”
It turns out, though, that less than half of us are actively saving for things like RESPs or RRSPs, let alone for other unexpected expenses. One in 10 of us uses credit to cover monthly expenses and a similar number of Canadians report that they regularly splurge and make purchases they can’t afford. These statistics beg the universal question: if sticking to a budget increases our overall sense of well-being, then why do so few of us actually do it?
Like anything that’s good for us, it would seem that budgets are easy to put off getting around to. Financial advisors suggest various reasons for this. Modest income earners may feel that having a budget won’t work for them because they have no discretionary income to save in the first place. Meanwhile, higher earners may be meeting their monthly payments, so they don’t see the value in bothering with a budget.
Another element that may be holding people back from creating a written plan is that the process can seem overwhelming. So, we created this simple monthly budget that you can download to get you started and help ensure that you’re contributing to your and your children’s future goals.
A basic budget can be created by using our tool and following these easy steps:
Determine household income. Include items such as your income, spousal income, interest, dividends, gifts, rental income etc.
List your expenses, including rent/mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, insurance, as well as discretionary spending like entertainment, clothing, eating out, gifts, etc.
Calculate income versus spending. If your final figure is a negative number, some adjustments for discretionary spending may need to be made. This number can help you establish realistic debt-repayment and savings goals.
Set goals and pay yourself first. Once you have a broad sense of your financial landscape, advisors suggest paying yourself first so that you can keep on track for your long-term goals. The easiest way to manage this step is to set up pre-authorized payments for things like RESPs and RRSPs.
Track your spending. Tracking spending is a great way to develop better budgeting habits. Smartphone apps can help make this step almost second-nature. After all, it’s all too easy to spend just $5 extra per day without noticing, but that can add up to a whopping $150 per month!!
By sticking to a written plan and tracking your spending, you can make more informed decisions about where you want your money going. You can also ensure that you are maximizing your ability to contribute to and enjoy the compound growth that comes with products like RESPs, RRSPs and by paying down debt faster.
To learn more contact Karen Wallace from Knowledge First Financial. 
According to Statistics Canada, tuition costs across the country rose by an average of 3.3% during the 2018/2019 school year. This is up to a full percent higher than Canada’s rate of inflation over the same period. Parents know that saving for their children’s post-secondary education will help their kids offset the cost of education when the time comes, but many are unprepared for how high tuition could be in the future. Children born in 2019 could pay over $30,000 for their first year in tuition and on-campus residence costs. By 2037, a four-year university program is expected to cost just under $70,000.
Tuition costs will vary for students, depending on which province they live in, and some costs may be offset by grants and scholarships. But with stories of the crippling debt that some students have to deal with after graduation, it can make one wonder whether the investment is worth it. The short answer is yes. Today, people with post-secondary education continue to earn more income over their lifetimes than people with only a high school diploma. As work shifts in the future, skilled workers will be in higher demand, while those with only basic education will risk being left behind or replaced by automation.
An RESP is a smart and proactive tool that parents and individuals can set up to earn tax-deferred benefits that grow throughout the lifetime of the plan. As well, all Canadians under 18 are eligible to receive up to $7200 in matching grants from the Federal government, along with various benefits from provinces. Tuition costs are on the rise, but the benefits of investing in higher education continues to pay dividends in the long term. By planning ahead and taking advantage of as many benefits and grants as possible, parents can give their children a head start when it comes to managing the costs of post-secondary education.
For more information about saving for your child’s tuition, contact Karen Wallace at:

Keeping an up-to-date last will and testament is a crucial component of estate planning and maintaining a solid overall financial plan for families. Surprisingly, however, more than half of Canadians don’t have a will at all. Another 15% of us acknowledge we don’t keep our existing wills up to date. That means as many as 65% of Canadians are at risk of letting an outside legal process decide what happens to their assets should they pass away. Drawing up and updating a will gives us control over our assets after we pass away, so why is it that so many of us put off making a will?

What happens if a person passes away intestate?

The worst-case scenario for people who die intestate, is that all the careful measures they’ve taken to care for their children and other beneficiaries for the future could suddenly become null and void. For instance, parents who have been paying into an RESP and who have claimed the Canadian Education Savings Grant (CESG) may risk losing those benefits if they die intestate. The administrator of their estate may have no choice but to collapse those plans and distribute them to all of their beneficiaries, while the CESG and other benefits may need to be repaid to provincial and federal governments. There are some fail-safes in various investments and insurance plans that may shift those plans to a spouse or partner if the worst should happen. However, without a will, if both parents pass away, their hopes and plans for their beneficiaries’ futures could unravel.

Planning your legacy

Drawing up a will can be a positive experience. It’s a process that can help us determine what type of legacy we wish to leave behind. We can leave gifts to charities or causes that mean something to us. A will is where can assign guardianship for minor children so that they don’t become wards of relatives we’d be uncomfortable raising our kids. We can even state who will take care of our beloved pets and set aside some funds for their care. Thinking about making a will can feel like doom and gloom, but in reality, by setting out our wishes and hopes for our beneficiaries and our assets, we can take control of our legacies with a fairly simple document.

What’s holding us back?

The most likely reason many of us procrastinate on the task of drawing up a will is that it’s not particularly pleasing to think about our demise. It’s also not a topic that is top of mind when younger people are starting careers and families. So it’s not surprising that people over 55 are more likely to have an updated will than those in their 20s and 30s. In fact, 88% of Canadians between 27 and 34 say they don’t have a will.

It’s understandable that people in this younger demographic just don’t think they’re old enough to even need a will. Yet this is the age group that is most likely to have young children who would need to be taken care of should their parents pass away. A will can help ensure that the supports, including RESPs, that parents have put in place for their young children are delivered in the future according to their wishes.

How much does it cost?

The other reason many people don’t set up a will is because they’re worried about costs. Finding and hiring a lawyer may be intimidating for many, and lawyers’ fees may be too costly for some budgets. There are a number of low cost will kits available for purchase that can help people set up simple wills. These can cost anywhere from $40 to over $250, and they can be useful for straightforward estate planning.

Luckily, Knowledge First Financial clients also have free access to the Knowledge First Financial Will Kit, that guides clients, step-by-step, through the process and allows them save their documents on their own computers and to make changes when necessary. Laws are slightly different in Quebec, so those clients should consult the province’s estate planning rules.

Have more questions? Meet Karen from Knowledge First Financial at our ‘From Bump To Baby & Beyond Show’ this February 8th! Or you can reach Karen at the email below:

We are looking to add one amazing person to our dream team! This December, we are looking to hire a program administrator to help with team organization of events, workshops, planning and business development. Take a look at the post and see if you fit the criteria! We are all about community and connection so if this is one of your core values, think about sending in an application!

Program Administrator – Mommy Connections Calgary
* The successful candidate is someone who is organized and efficient, who has an administration background and is capable of working with and managing a team. This person will be working from home, so highly motivated, and is able to work primarily 2 hours during the daytime hours as well as some evenings. Here are the details of the position:
1. Program Planning (planning 8-10 programs every session – 6 sessions a year)
2. Facilitator Documents & Agendas
3. Business Development (2-4 new businesses per month)
4. Responding to emails regarding programs (inquiries)
5. Rebooking presenters if they cancel last minute
6. Manage facilitator booking, contracts and invoice checking
7. Managing day to day of programs – any issues, you are the first point of contact
8. Weekly call with the Director and Program Manager
9. Managing workshops and events – booking facility space and presenter – following up with presenter, etc.
10. Participate in the facilitator orientation (every second month)
10. Any other duties as discussed and agreed upon.
Approximate Hours a Week: 15 hours (2 – 4 hours a day) * These hours will be daytime, but some may be in the evening. You will be working primarily from home with the occasional time you are required to attend programs, events and or workshops.
Compensation: To be discussed based on experience.
  1. Please send a cover letter and resume to our director Katherine at In the cover letter, let us know WHY you are applying, WHY you think you’ll be a great addition to our dream team and as well if you have taken a program with us before.
  2. Deadline for application for both of these jobs is Friday November 22nd. Please do NOT contact us, we will contact you if you are chosen for an interview.
  3. In person interviews will be held during the last week of November, with the successful candidates chosen and beginning in early December.

Good Luck!

My little man is 4 years old now and he’s quickly learning that winter brings more than just snowmen, sledding, and skiing.

Last year he got sick. Not just once but a handful of times. It seemed like our house just continued to pass along colds and cases of the flu all winter season. It wasn’t a great winter.

This year we are optimistic about change. He’s one year older, he has now been in preschool for one school term so hopefully, he’s slightly more immune to every single illness. But this year I decided to try something different.

My husband and I both take our daily vitamins but we also take echinacea which we have found to be very helpful during the cold season. So I did a little research and found out that a company does, in fact, make echinacea for young ones!

A. Vogel makes ‘Echinaforce Junior’ a cold & flu chewable tablet for prevention and treatment. It helps to prevent and relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (common cold and flu) and shorten their duration. It is recommended for children ages 2 and up. Bonus it contains no dairy and or wheat.

This is our first winter season we have decided to try it out and see if it works for my son. So far, he asks to take it every morning with his regular vitamin and he has no problem taking it. Check back with me after the cold and flu season has come and gone, when I will have more solid evidence but I can say that since September when winter really does begin in Calgary, he has yet to have a cold.

Like all of you, I just want the best for my kids, so I urge you to take a look and see if this might be an option for you in the fight to keep your little ones healthy this winter season! We handed it out at our recent Travelling Tot programs and I am not sure who was happier to receive it. Parents or the kids who thought it was a treat!

For more information on A.Vogel and ‘Echinaforce Junior’ you can check them out below.

Meet Venesa Wheatley. She is the creator of @Warrior Label, a brand of apparel designed to acknowledge, honor and celebrate warriors.

In 2015, when Venesa was almost 39 weeks pregnant she and her husband lost their daughter, Kate, to stillbirth. Venesa found in those early days that she really needed to be truly seen and heard; that she needed to share her story in order to process her loss and honor her daughter’s life. 4 years later, her need to be acknowledged for her story hasn’t changed, but where she once was so consumed by grief, she now feels stronger than ever for what she has gone through. She feels like a WARRIOR.

In her going through her own struggle, it also made Venesa acutely aware of other people’s struggles and their capacity for resiliency. She believes that there are millions of warriors out there, each with their own story, and feels they need to be both acknowledged and celebrated. She does this through the thoughtful designs of their apparel and in an on-line community she is establishing. 

When she’s not busy building Warrior Label, Venesa is working part-time (both as an HR professional and a substitute teacher), volunteering in the pregnancy and infant loss community, and being an awesome mom to their 2 living children. Warrior Label is a brand of apparel designed to acknowledge, honour, and celebrate all warriors, no matter where they are in their journey. In choosing fabric that warms and envelops the body, to creating designs that resonate with those who are warrior-ing on through their struggle, compassion, care and acknowledgement are infused in every part of their brand.

Warrior Brand also gives back 10% of their profits to charities that provide support to individuals and families going through adversity. To learn more about their apparel and how they support worthy charities head to their website here.

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