This post is courtesy of our contributor Kristie…Saving for my kids’ education fund has been a huge priority since the day they were born. When the kids were small, I always saved the government Child Tax Benefit allowance and put that directly into savings; however, as the kids got older and extracurricular activities became a priority, I haven’t been able to save as much of that money as I would have liked.
A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan (CST) indicated that:
- 3 out of 5 Canadian parents say they, or someone they know, have borrowed money or used their retirement savings to put a child through hockey or extracurricular activities
- 36% of parents believe that paying for extracurricular activities like hockey is more important before saving for post-secondary education
- 89% of parents believe it is important for parents in Canada to help their child pay for their post-secondary education
Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation is a non-profit organization that has been helping families save for post-secondary education for over fifty years. They’ve recently launched a new initiative to encourage educational success in our children. I’ll tell you more about this initiative and you can be involved in a moment.
Extracurricular activities are a huge part of my family’s life. Even as a single-parent, it is one of my first priorities. My theory is that kids who are involved in activities after school are the kids who stay focused on their personal goals and out of trouble. Since my kids were small, I have always enrolled them in activities. We started with small activities such as swimming, skating and recreational gymnastics once each session, but as the kids got older they wanted to pick which activities they liked. For my oldest, my daughter chose dance as her activity and has continued to pursue her dance at a competitive level. We typically have 4-6 dance/classes per week which include ballet, jazz, hip hop and competition rehearsals. For my son, he has been playing hockey since his Timbits and is now in his second year of Atom (6th year of hockey). Between hockey practices and games, we are typically at the rink 3-4 times per week.
Hockey vs Education – Saving For Both:
In order to balance the cost of extracurricular activities and saving for the kid’s education funds, I’ve really focused on getting my kids to believe “we’re all in this together and we all work together to achieve our goals”. What that means to my kids, is they help out with chores around the house to earn a small bit of allowance to teach them the value of money. They also help out with odd jobs at my office to help their mom out and they have a paper route. We coupon clip weekly and always make sure when we shop we are conscientious about what we buy. My kids even know how to look for used equipment on Kijiji! Each year we also participate in the Sport Chek skate buyback program, which saves money on my son’s skates. My kids whined a bit at the beginning, but it’s now become a way of life. They know that sometimes we need to save – like last year when mom gave up coffee for 6 months to help pay for Spring 3on3 hockey.
In order to help save for RESP’s, each year I look at the activities my kids want to enroll in and then balance it with how much we can afford that would allow them to stay active and put some savings aside for their education. Since my son’s regular hockey fees are fixed, it’s usually my daughter’s dance that varies from year to year and we compromise on how many and which classes she can take. We also try and take advantage of her school’s extracurricular activities which are typically a minimal cost, but allow her to stay active and enjoy some new options, such as volleyball and drama.
Then for my son’s hockey we give him the minimum which is playing a full regular season of hockey with our community Hockey Calgary team. There is a lot of pressure from other parents and coaches to play spring AAA hockey and personally I’m not sure I’ve seen the benefits outweigh the costs. We’ve taken a few springs off to play soccer and also played spring hockey and each spring we are placed in the similar level team with the kids whose parents have spent significantly more on spring hockey and several summer hockey camps. So in my opinion, it’s all about balance. Kids are still getting the benefits of physical activity, whether it’s an expensive spring hockey team or a lower-cost community soccer team.
With all this hard work of balancing, I have been able to save for kids’ education (even if it’s a small amount each month) while still allowing them to continue on with extracurricular activities and I wouldn’t change a thing. I love making a cooler full of food for our hockey tournament weekends, I love spending time coupon clipping with my kids, and most of all, I love spending time with my kids! I think having the attitude of “we’re in this together” has made us such a close family and taught us that when we work together we can all achieve our goals, which in our house includes playing hockey, dancing and getting an education!
Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan Initiative:
CST loves hockey but they also believe in saving for post-secondary education. They are launching a new community education initiative where inviting hockey communities – teams or associations – to tell them what they’re doing for their community and to encourage the educational success amongst their players. By sharing your story, you will get the chance to compete for $10,000 to go towards your program and help alleviate the cost of hockey for parents. You can learn more about this initiative at beyondtheblueline.ca.
Twitter Chat Announcement:
Want to learn more with a chance to win some great prizes? There will be a Twitter Chat hosted by Canadian Scholarship Trust plan on December 17th at 9pm EST where they will be discussing the cost of hockey vs. education and RESPs.
Disclosure: I am part of the C.S.T. Consultants Inc. Beyond the blue line blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.