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How to Make the Most of Spring Break and Skip the Debt

Canadian parents with school-aged children are carrying the most consumer debt of any demographic. Many still owe student loans on top of credit card debt or lines of credit. When big holidays roll around, the pressure to spend can quickly turn into further debt. This spring break, take some pressure off by planning ahead so you won’t increase your debt load or your financial stress.

5 ways to prepare for upcoming expenses

Whether your spring break involves travel, day trips, or movies at home with the kids, it’s important to have a plan to help avoid overspending or adding to your debt. Here are some tips to enjoy the break without the debt:

  1. Make a spring break budget – Last year, parents planned to spend $600 on their kids during spring break. Plan ahead by tallying up your monthly expenses and see how much you can afford to save after everything else is paid for. Don’t forget to budget for occasional expenses as well. Use a budget worksheet or a budgeting app to map out your finances.
  2. Manage kids’ expectations – Can’t afford to travel? No problem! A stay-cation can be just as fun, and less stressful. Have an honest conversation with your kids about what’s affordable for your family and what’s not. Get them to plan activities at home such as a baking day, movie day or family games night. You can also check the newspaper or local websites for free activities.
  3. Get frugal –Talk to your kids about the importance of saving for financial milestones and allow them to take part in the process. Ask your kids to brainstorm how to reduce expenses, such as eating at home more often, carpooling to save on gas, or buying second-hand goods whenever possible.

How paying down debt will help you meet goals sooner

Spring break is just one holiday that requires saving and planning. Before you know it, summer holidays will be here again. To help stay on top of your financial goals, it’s important to keep your consumer debt to a manageable level. When your debt levels start weighing on your goals, it might be time to look at your debt relief options. Here’s where to start:

  • Test your financial health using this quiz. Debt can be sneaky and sometimes, it’s hard to know when you’re heading for financial trouble.
  • Speak to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee who will assess your personal situation and recommend the best course of action for paying down debt.
  • Compare your debt repayment options at a glance by using an online debt calculator. This allows you to see what your monthly payments could be, based on which debt relief option you choose.
  • Build a financial buffer by saving up in an emergency fund. Start small by putting a few dollars from each paycheque into a savings account and watch how it grows. This financial cushion will keep you from adding to debt when expenses arise that are beyond your monthly budget. However, it’s important to only use this fund for emergencies, like a car or home repair, and not to spend on a last-minute trip!

It’s still possible to have an amazing spring break while keeping your costs low. Use the break to teach your kids the importance of budgeting, saving and planning ahead for important events. To learn more about teaching your kids financial literacy, read this article from Parents Canada or follow them on Twitter for awesome, everyday parenting tips.

How will your family save money and avoid debt over spring break? Share your tips with us via Twitter #DebtSolutions #ParentingTips #KidsAndMoney

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