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Want to Know How Spring Break Can Save You From Summer Debt?

For many Canadian families, spring break is the first holiday opportunity to pop up in the new year. Many people are still recovering financially from the December holidays, and spring break brings its own expenses. If you aren’t prepared for it, spring break can also bring debt. Treat spring break as a cautionary tale, and use it to prepare for the costs of summer ahead.

Save now to avoid debt

According to a poll we conducted last year, 20 per cent of Canadian families were planning to take on debt to pay for spring break. With Canadian household debt at $1.71 for each $1.00 of disposable income, taking on more consumer debt isn’t in the best interest of most families.

Spring break is a good time to open up to your kids about money and explain how you make decisions to purchase things or participate in activities all year round. Avoiding debt and discussing how to keep expenses down can benefit both your kids and your budget.

That’s why it’s a good time to get serious about your summer planning. With several months to save, your family could avoid taking on summer debt by starting to save now.

For young children, Sesame Street has a series of videos where Elmo introduces kids to money.

Talk With Our Kids About Money has a variety of articles, games, and activities that introduce kids and teens to concepts like saving, budgeting, and spending.

Practical Money Skills talks about budgeting, and offers financial literacy tools for kids, including games and comics.

Make summer planning a family activity

Planning for the fun of summer can give your kids something to look forward to all year.

Get the whole family involved in brainstorming ideas for summer activities. Then start pricing them out. Here are some common expenses to consider:

  • cost of the activity itself (tickets, admission, etc.)
  • Travel and lodging costs
  • Clothing or gear (swim clothes, equipment, etc.)
  • Food and drinks (packing as much as possible at home can decrease costs)
  • Souvenirs or other on-site purchases

Once you’ve brainstormed activities and costs, start planning to see how much you’ll need to save each week or month to buy most things ahead of time and avoid debt. You can also let your child contribute a portion of their allowance or savings toward their activities, so they can see where their money goes.

Use The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s financial goal calculator.

Look for free activities

The easiest way to avoid debt is to avoid spending money. Most communities have calendars and lists of local activities, and some are free. Here’s a list of events for Peterborough and the Kawarthas.

Checking out different types of local activities can help expand your kids’ creative horizons and inspire their interests. It’s also an important financial literacy lesson—fun doesn’t have to cost much (or anything).

Focus on the benefits of saving

Budgeting can sometimes feel like a chore, and a sacrifice. But it doesn’t have to be. Teaching kids to focus on the benefits can instil good financial habits.

Make a commitment to sit down as a family every week or two, talk about your financial plan and see how your savings are growing. Show them that your ongoing commitment is getting you closer to your goal—the big reward of summer fun (and added bonus of no added debt).

Don’t forget to talk about the choices you’re making. Saving money doesn’t happen automatically because you write a plan. There will be times that you have to put something else off, but this can help teach your kids how to prioritize.

Choosing to cook at home, wash your own car instead of a car wash, giving kids hand-me-down clothes from siblings, or buying used hockey equipment are all choices that can benefit your budget and get you closer to your goal.

Each time you or your child makes a choice that helps the family budget, sit down together and show them how you can put those savings into your summer activity account. It can be exciting, and provide some more immediate gratification, rather than waiting until summer to reap the benefits of their hard work.

Using an app like can help keep your budget and your progress at hand.

How are you planning for your summer vacation? Tell us on Twitter. #DebtSolutions #ParentingTips #KidsAndMoney

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