TORONTO, ON – It has been a sad week for many Canadians – not only has the end of summer arrived, but the NHL lockout officially became a reality. For fans of our national past time a winter without hockey is like cereal without milk. However, for Canadians carrying high levels of debt, the lockout could be the financial power play your budget needs.
According to the 2011 Team Marketing Report, the average price of an NHL regular season hockey ticket in Canada is $81.85. Parking will run you another $14 (as long as you are not in Toronto or Montreal) and a beer and hot dog is an additional $12. That is more than $100 – if you go to the game alone. The same report valued the average total fan experience in Canada at $433 (based on four average priced tickets, parking, food, beverages and a souvenir)
“As Canadians we get very passionate about our hockey, and have strong opinions about the players, owners and empty arenas in our cities,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “But as sports fans, we can’t control this aspect of the business. What we can control is what we’re going to do with the money we’re saving without professional hockey.
For those Canadians who are living paycheque to paycheque and carrying high debt, the potential of a prolonged NHL lockout could mean extra cash flow in your budget. Here are some tips to use that extra cash flow to help you score a financial hat trick:
- Pay off credit card debt – Credit cards are revolving debts, which means the amounts you are required to pay each month increase along with your total balances. The more you owe, the higher your bills. If you use this extra cash to reduce credit card debt or pay off a few credit cards completely, you actually free up additional cash flow each month. This means you have even more money available to improve your financial outlook.
- Build savings – Ideally, you should be saving about 15 per cent of your take-home income each month. This money can be divided up between short-term savings to create a safety net for your finances and long-term savings for things like RSP contributions, RESP contributions and safe investing.
- Manage your money – With your debt under control and a good saving strategy in place, your extra cash flow can finally be directed to taking positive steps with your finances now. For instance, with the winter holiday season coming up, you may wish to put that money aside so you can avoid using credit for gifts and decorations this year. You can pay for vacations and purchase big-ticket items using cash instead of credit.