SMS 047 – The Cost of Extracurricular Activities

The real cost of extracurricular activities

Here’s a breakdown of the survey’s results:

• Nearly 80 per cent of Canadians say they, or someone they know, have pulled their kids out of extracurricular activities, such as hockey, or have borrowed money or used retirement savings to keep their child in the game.

• 60 per cent of Canadians believe that every child should have the opportunity to play hockey despite the costs. That number is down six per cent from 2014.

• Just over one third of those surveyed said they are either pulling their own kids out of extracurricular activities, such as hockey, or know someone who is.

• In 2016, 29 per cent of Canadians borrowed money from a line of credit, credit card or personal loan or know someone who borrowed money to pay for extracurricular activities. That number is up three per cent from 2014 when 26 per cent of Canadians needed to borrow for activities.

• A small percentage of families (16 per cent) have resorted to using their retirement savings, or know someone who is, to help pay for the cost of their children’s activities. That percentage is unchanged from last year.

• 61 per cent of respondents said they believe it’s important for families to start saving for post-secondary education before spending money on sports or other activities.

• Men are more likely to agree that it’s important for parents to start saving for post-secondary education before spending on extracurricular activities than women (66 per cent versus 56 per cent).

• One-fifth of Canadian families are spending more than $1,500 per child on extracurricular activities each year.

Jennifer and Steve

·      Two sons both involved in rep hockey and rep baseball sports, “didn’t think that pickup sports was enough for their two boys” which set their family back $10,000 a year

o   So before I go any farther I just want to drop two stats

§  1) rep sports is an estimated $5.7 billion market

§  and a little bit more frightening, 2) a recent survey revealed that 30% of parents used a credit card, drew from a line of credit, or used retirement savings in order to pay for their child’s extracurricular activities

·      I find this number a little frightening

o   Before the show you were sharing with me that your son was in rep hockey, can you walk our listeners through your and your wife’s decision to put him in rep hockey, how significant the cost of rep hockey played on that decision.

o   You said your son only played for a few years – was there a financial factor to that?

o   Can you talk a little bit about the expenses you experienced first-hand with rep for any of listeners who might not have had kids in rep sports or aren’t aware of the expenses it entails?

o   Being immersed in this world did any other hockey parents even share any of their own comments about the rep fees or cost of having their own kids involved?

§  Do you recommend rep sports as an extra circular option or did your children derive as much value from recreational and pickup sports as they rep?

·      Getting back to the article, it says that Steve’s father was a drafted pro baseball player and claims that talent ran in the family, which must of put pressure on the Steve and Jennifer to have their own kids in baseball and more specifically rep baseball.

o   Did you ever feel any pressure to have your own kids in rep sports or any sports even?

·      I want to move onto the idea of paying in installments

o   Installments can be both dangerous and beneficial – can you speak to both?

·      This couple emphasized how rep sports, for them, was very much “keeping up with the Jonses”

o   In your experience, is this accurate

·      How far will you go? This couple went into a consumer proposal to involve a licensed insolvency trustee, who “helps debtors strike a deal with their creditors to pay down a manageable portion of their outstanding unsecured debt.

o   They negotiated a settlement and will continue making monthly payments until 2019.

·      Through all of this, they kept their kids in rep sports and this is with “no savings, no rrsp, no pension (other than cpp), no house to sell and all of their income going to bills




·      Let’s look at a less extreme example from called ‘For the love of the game: Canadians struggle to balance cost of hockey and education, (by Jackie Dunham)

o   Two biggest expenses: extracurricular and post-secondary education

o   When you look at the amount of money people are putting into extracurricular activities and then you offset that against the fact that roughly half of Canadians don’t have an education savings plan for their kids, you just have to ask yourself that question, what are parents doing in terms of the priorities?”

o   Post-secondary education is the best way to set your kids up for long-term success,” Lewis said.

IN CONCLUSION: A study (linked in the show notes examined whether participation in extracurricular activities helped or hindered children’s academic success and behavioural outcomes…


Less-expensive extracurricular activities options that will fit into your budget

Tips from Ivan


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