Making the most of the Enhanced Universal Child Care Benefit
You know that feeling when you find a $20 stuffed in your pocket that you didn’t know you had, or when you think you don’t have any cash on hand, and realize the bottom of your purse is lined with stray loonies?
If you’ve found a small amount, you can probably get away with blowing it on lunch or a new sweater, but what if this ‘found money’ is more significant- and could be part of a longer term strategy?
If you are a parent of a child under the age of 18, you can expect to be receiving a bit of a windfall of sorts this month. The Enhanced Universal Child Care Benefit will take effect on July 20 with retroactive payments back to January 2015.
You may already be receiving the $100 a month Universal Child Care Benefit for each child under the age of six. This is going to increase to $160 a month under the Enhanced Child Care Benefit. So those of you with children under six are going to receive this new payment in a lump sum retroactive to January on July 20.
Parents of children aged 6-17 have not been receiving anything under the Universal Child Care Benefit, but will now receive $60 per child per month. And this payment will also be made in a lump sum on July 20, retroactive to January.
“As part of managing your household finances, you should always make sure that you are taking advantage of all of the assistance available to you- from government assistance to tax credits to special family discounts. Raising a family is expensive and every little bit counts,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“Parents should plan ahead on how to spend both these lump sum payments as well as the extra amounts going forward,” adds Schwartz.
If you’re not already receiving the UCC or have not in the past, make sure that you get enrolled ASAP. You are literally leaving money that you are eligible for on the table. Visit the Canada Revenue Agency’s website to apply today.
List your priorities
Given that these payments are meant to help defray the costs of raising a child, take a look at some of your child-related expenses. Look at where this extra cash would be of most benefit going forward. Could it help with child care? It might help cover the grocery bill (which seems to be constantly going up).
Deciding ahead of time how to incorporate this money into your monthly budget means you will get the most value out of it every month instead of wasting it on impulse purchases.
The lump sum
While your kids may be eyeballing that swing set at your local department store, or bugging you to hit the amusement park, there are better areas to direct the lump sum that you’re expecting.
You can either use it to pay down existing debt or put it aside in anticipation of child-related expenses.
Even though summer has barely begun, don’t forget that school will be back in session before you know it, along with all of the expenses like school supplies, after school activities and back to school clothing.
Are you making the most of your income by setting a budget and sticking to it? Not only will a good budget help you manage your family finances better, it will permit you to pay down your debt more quickly. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 or check out our free online debt analysis tool to get started.