Cost to keep juniors busy
Take them off the couch and screens… and occupy them.
It’s a mantra many parents had for more than 18 months of the pandemic, when in-person school and extracurricular activities were often outside of childcare hours.
Now parents are reintegrating children into after-school programs, if public health notices allow.
While doing mental arithmetic regarding health risks, many parents are also engaged in basic budget arithmetic when enrolling their offspring for swimming, dancing, guiding, soccer, soccer, golf courses. football, music and art and, finally, the cult of hockey.
Indeed, Canadian sport is often the most expensive. So much so, the New York Times published an article on its economic impact weeks before the pandemic hit. The bottom line was that it costs so much that it leads to economic exclusion.
The basis of the story was a Scotiabank 2019 hockey club and online fundraising platform FlipGive which found that nearly 60 percent of the 1,000 parents surveyed spent more than $ 5,000 a year on hockey, from registration for equipment, travel and other needs.
Of course, it’s not just Canada’s one-ice religion that slashes the wallets.
Money management experts agree that whatever extracurricular activities may be, they can cause palpable pain to the wallet, especially in the fall, when many sports and other activities intensify with l ‘school.
“Extracurricular activities always cost more than you might think,” says Christi Posner, home economist and mother from Winnipeg.
“There are real unspoken societal pressures that parents face when considering extracurricular activities, which can lead to overworked children and financially overburdened parents. ”
Parents certainly have good reason to enroll their children, says Annie Kidder, executive director of People for Education in Toronto, which this year released a report on the impact of after-school programs canceled due to COVID-19.
“It’s important for physical health and social engagement, but it’s also important in terms of the wide range of skills that are learned by participating in extracurricular activities.”
Yet the report showed children were falling behind as schools went to distance learning or limited in-person education.
“We have gone from 90 percent of schools offering after-school programs to more than half offering none,” she said of the report focusing on Ontario schools.
The loss may not seem that much, as many parents have found other ways to keep their children active. But still many children missed it, she says.
Low-income families probably suffered the most, as their access to these extracurricular activities was more likely through public school programs, she says.
In Manitoba, there are community programs that offer financial assistance and can be found at www.winnipeginmotion.ca, but that assistance does not extend beyond that.
More generally, many families generally have money to pay for extracurricular activities. Financial planning for them is most often the problem, says Calgary financial advisor and planner Kevin O’Hagan with Edward Jones.
“You constantly have to deal with expenses that arise, so if you can plan early, you might cut back on expenses today to adjust.”
Still, it’s no easy task, he admits, noting that he’s been there and done it with three older kids who have gone through hockey.
“An average for a hockey family, at the bare minimum, is probably $ 2,500 a year,” he says.
“But you should probably budget around $ 1,500 a year at a minimum, regardless of the activities.”
A smart financial move is to open a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) and put money aside weekly or monthly, along with cash gifts from grandparents and other members of the family. the family to help the cause.
“This savings strategy is like filling a bucket,” says O’Hagan. “You fill it up, use some of it, then fill it up, but you never really empty it… because there’s always something to pay for.”
The challenge is to find a balance.
Yes, extracurricular activities are great for development, but there is also the economic reality.
Director of Client Welfare Laurie Campbell of Bromwich + Smith, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee in Toronto, saw firsthand the impact of a financial overrun.
“Parents really want to do what is right for their children and, unfortunately, by the time they come to see us often, they can no longer afford to do it,” she says. “They tried so hard that they had financial difficulties.”
Sometimes “just saying ‘no’” is the right thing to do, she adds.
Posner – a former debt counselor – says a full consideration of costs, from fees to equipment, to travel and related social events, needs to be framed within a larger framework.
“Do you need to take a look at your overall view of the family?” ”
Do Thing One and Thing Two (or more) have to be in three activities each?
This may be easier to answer given your debt load and goals like retirement.
“Maybe your kid signs up for one activity per season or one paid activity per year,” Posner explains.
“Don’t try to follow the Joneses; stand firm in doing what’s right for your family.”