Don’t turn to debt to pay for extra-curricular activities

With the cost of living increasing in a number of cities across the country, raising a family is getting more expensive. It’s often hard to make ends meet just to cover basic needs like food, shelter, gas and clothing. As a parent, you want to enrich your child’s life as much as possible, which can mean participating in extra-curricular activities, like sports, clubs or the arts. While these activities are a valuable experience, they often are costly.debt

The experience that comes with participating in extra-curricular activities is so important to some parents that they are willing to forgo savings and/or use debt to pay for sports and activities, according to a new survey.

The fourth annual Beyond the Blue Line survey found that:

  • Twenty-nine per cent of respondents have either borrowed money or know someone that has in order to pay for extra-curricular activities
  • Intent seems at odds with action for some Canadians; while 61 per cent feel that saving for their child’s post-secondary education should be the priority, 16 per cent of respondents have chosen (or know someone who has) to defer savings in favour of paying for extra-curricular activities
  • The majority of parents have an afterschool sport equated with Canadian identity; 60 per cent of parents surveyed feel that every child should have the opportunity to play hockey because it is “part of growing up in Canada”
  • Sadly, the prohibitive cost of extra-curricular activities has some kids sidelined, with one in three respondents saying that they’ve pulled their children from all sports and clubs because of the high cost

It’s all about balance

“It’s admirable to want to provide your children with everything, but when providing them with every opportunity  means going into debt or ignoring your savings, it’s not beneficial to anyone in the family,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

It comes down to balance. If you get creative with your budgeting or find ways to cut costs for extra-curricular activities you can find ways to include these important activities while staying on track financially. There is no reason that you need to participate in every sport or club either. Try to stick to one a season and incorporate downtime, which is as important for your wallet as it is to manage time management stress.

Justified spending?

It’s not uncommon for parents to justify spending the money today for extra-curricular activities (particularly for sports) because they feel that the more they spend on their children’s development, the greater the chance they have at landing a scholarship.

“Even if your child shows some talent in a sport, the competition for scholarships is extremely intense and the logic of spending now in order to save spending later for your child’s education is flawed. The best way to make sure that your child has financial assistance for their post-secondary education? Put money away every month now,” says Schwartz.

How to cut costs

If the high cost of extra-curriculars has your child sidelined or if their participation means that you are accumulating debt, here are some hints to help defray those costs.

Always ask about registration discounts. Many associations and clubs offer sibling discounts, as well as subsidy help for families in need. Additionally, ask if you can break out registration fees so that you can pay them manageably within your budget (e.g. split into quarterly or monthly payments, instead of all at once, which will help avoid turning to credit.

If you are carrying a high debt load, you may not be able to support your family in the way that you’d like. The answer is to pay down that debt today and free up your cash flow. We can help you get started. Call us at 1-888-294-3130 or click on our online debt analysis.

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