Toronto, ON: There are very few things as Canadian as spending the long winter months inside an ice rink, cheering your kids on in a game of hockey. But for many, Canada’s favorite pastime can only occur at the expense of their financial well-being.
According to a new report from CTS Consultants, 61 per cent of Canadian parents say that “they have, or know someone who has, borrowed money or used their retirement savings to put a child into hockey or other extracurricular activities.”
As household debt continues to hit record highs, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada questions the willingness of Canadians to sacrifice their financial future for the love of the game.
“As a hockey dad myself, I understand the sheer joy that comes from watching our kids play a sport or do an activity that they love,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit. “But that joy should not come at the expense of your retirement fund, your children’s education or unmanageable credit card debt. There are better ways to provide for our kids without putting our financial future in jeopardy.”
As an organization that helps Canadians improve their money management skills, Consolidated Credit believes that there are many things parents can do to balance their children’s extracurricular activities with their retirement and savings goals.
Whether its hockey, dance, music or some other activity, these tips will help dealing with the high costs of kids sports:
- Plan ahead – Did your daughter play hockey last year? Did your son take guitar lessons? If so, you already have a good idea of what your annual extracurricular costs are. By planning ahead for these expenses you can avoid sacrificing future savings or putting yourself into debt.
- Budget – it is impossible to juggle competing financial priorities without a budget. This is money management rule number one. If you have planned ahead, you know what your anticipated extracurricular costs are going to be and you can include them as a line item in your monthly household budget. Budgeting will save you from dipping into your retirement funds for next year’s piano lessons.
- Split the cost – If your kids are old enough to work part time, offer to split the costs of extracurricular activities. Not only will you be teaching them a valuable lesson about money management, they will probably be less likely to skip practice if they are paying for it themselves.
- · Buy second hand – When it comes to sports and activities for our kids, the equipment alone is enough to send your budget spiraling out of control. Consider buying things like skates, hockey equipment, and musical instruments at second hand stores. And don’t forget to sell the outgrown equipment to help offset future extracurricular costs.
- Look at alternatives – Extracurricular activities can end up costing parents thousands of dollars a year – which is especially true if you are talking activities like rep hockey and competitive gymnastics. If the cost of your kid’s competitive activities is stretching your household budget too far, consider realistic alternatives. Perhaps playing house league hockey for the season or limiting the number of competitions for the year.
- Ask for help – Many communities, sports clubs and arts programs have designated programs that are geared toward providing access to extracurricular activities to those who can otherwise not afford them. For those who have experienced difficulties with debt, researching scholarship and assistance programs may allow you to balance your children’s extracurricular wants with your financial needs.