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How to Plan Your Kids’ Fun & Skip the Personal Debt

January is a great time to look back on the previous 12 months as a family and remember the fun you all had. And by doing so, you’ll quickly realize what activities led to too much personal debt, and which didn’t.

For many Canadian parents, affordability is a real challenge. If finding some relief from debt and avoiding consumer debt traps is a goal for your family this year, check out these articles on how to find family fun without losing your financial priorities along the way.

Start at home

The Minimalist Mom, Rachel Jonat, tackles an important issue: the amount of clutter, and the cost of having too many toys at home.

For many kids (and their overwhelmed parents) the sheer amount of toys that build up through the year, from birthday parties, generous family members, freebies at restaurants or events, and so on, can cause a lot of clutter.

And when you start to think about the cost of all of those items…it can be enough to bring tears to your eyes!

One of the suggestions in a Minimalist Mom post is to avoid gifts altogether for very young children. That can be a tough sell for parents. We live in an age of consumerism and if we aren’t offering a gift it can feel as if we aren’t showing or giving love.

But for a child under three or four, the birthday party, the cake and all the love is already a lot of stimulation and fun. If you can’t or won’t forego gifts altogether, you might find this four gift rule for kids easier to live by.

For older kids, consider doing a toonie or “fiver” birthday party.

Your child will receive a small amount of money, which they can save for a later date. When something very special comes up that they want, whether it be an item or an event, they can put their birthday money towards it.

For close friends and family, start the discussion about “experience” gifts. Making a date to take a child for a special lunch, to a movie, the library or the beach can have significant effects on their wellbeing and happiness.

The fact of the matter is, the sooner you can curb your child’s appetite for things, the better off they’ll be financially in the future. It will also help you (and those around you) avoid consumer debt.

Think free (or cheap) and fun whenever possible

If you have kids, you already know how difficult it can be to keep them entertained all the time — especially during longer holidays or school breaks when a routine can start to feel dull.

And too often, that’s when the consumer debt creeps in.

But, breathe a sigh of relief, because there are resources out there now to help you brainstorm activities that won’t throw you into debt. Red Deer in particular has some great freebie or cheapie activities for family. You can thank the great landscape for a lot of them.

50 fun or cheap family activities is a good post from that will get your creative juices flowing.

Think ahead (and creatively) about extracurricular activities

Inevitably, there are some activities that are going to cost money. Signing your kids up for lessons or team activities means there’s almost always a signup fee, and then the secondary costs of travel, hotels, equipment, transportation and so on.

According to a recent Ipsos poll, more than half of parents agree that their kids’ extracurricular activities put a strain on their finances. Yikes!

Check out this post on for some great money saving tips that can help you avoid relying on credit to fund your kids’ activities.

Saving money and avoiding personal debt is tough with a family! But fun doesn’t have to equal debt. Use the tips and strategies above to cut some of the costs this year.

How do you avoid consumer debt as a family? Tell us on Twitter. #LeaveDebtBehind #FamilyFinances #ChangeYourMind

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