**This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of EQ Bank. However, as always, all opinions are my own.
I am at the stage of parenting, where I can actually see the finish line; a shimmering mirage in the distance. I’m a little out of breath, limping a little, but the promise of crossing that finish line dragging my two girls into adulthood, whether they like it or not, is a powerful motivator. When you’re in the marathon this long, you learn a few things along the way about making it the distance, and to be honest the hardest lessons have been about money.
No surprise to anyone reading this, kids are expensive. The funny thing is that we start out thinking that they’ll be the biggest expense at the front end but the reality is they only get more expensive. Sadly, I can’t go back and change what I foolishly spent money on raising my kids, but for those of you just starting out, here is some advice that will make things much easier as you get closer to the parenting finish line.
Five Things I Regret Spending Money on
Kids do not care for labels or designer duds. They are happy to be in comfortable, clean, and practical clothing. If I could go back in time, I would have bought 90% of my girls’ clothes from consignment stores until they were old enough to care. I knew a mom who did this and I foolishly judged her because I knew she could afford to buy her kids new clothes. Looking back, I realized she saved herself thousands of dollars in the early years on something that truly didn’t matter.
Oh boy, this one stings a little. Those big plastic castles, kitchens and play sets cost a lot of money, are hurtful to the environment, and are a giant waste of money. Drive by any garage sale on the weekend and pick up a second-hand version. Trust me, your kids will not care, and you’ll get your money back when you put it in your garage sale.
I have strong opinions about competitive sports, and most of them were formed after dropping thousands of dollars into something that was completely unnecessary. Unless you have a money tree, and a truly exceptional athlete, put your kids in rec sports and save your money.
A Magical Christmas
When my kids were little, all I wanted was to give them a magical Christmas that they’d never forget, and for me that meant spending money. The reality though, is I could ask my kid a month later what they received for Christmas and they couldn’t tell me. The holidays my girls remember are the ones where we did something as a family. It may sound trite, but your kids really just want to be with you, the presents are secondary. If I could go back I would have adopted the four gift rule; one want, one need, one read, one wear.
Personally, I am on the 8th version of my phone and I still get the same things out of it that I did on the first version. As a society we are so eager to race out and get the latest and greatest gadget that we don’t really take the time to evaluate if the upgrade is really going to make a difference to our lives. Looking back, I would have let my kids wear out one electronic device before moving on to a something new.
Five Things I Wish I’d Spent That Money On Instead
Oh how I wish I had taken all the money I spent on fancy clothes and plastic playsets and invested in Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs). Even smarter, I would have used a laddering technique and spread out my maturity dates. These little investments of cash that matured over time would have come in really useful now that we’re in the teen years, where child rates no longer apply, and designer duds are a necessity.
Smart parents will find that EQ Bank offers some of the most competitive GIC rates with the 1-year rate at 2.76% and the 5-year rate at 3.50%. The minimum deposit for a GIC at EQ Bank is $100 and can be purchased online, making it as easy as whipping out your credit card to pay for something you don’t need. So the next time you’re about to make an impulse purchase for something your child doesn’t need or want, consider purchasing a GIC instead. Keep in mind that EQ Bank GICs are non-redeemable, so only invest if you don’t need that money during the term.
As a new parent, I can’t tell you how many times I heard from seasoned parents about how fast time goes. The thing is that when you’re up to your eyeballs in diaper changes and new baby love, you simply can’t envision your child walking on stage to get their high school diploma; it just seems so far away. I didn’t start saving for my kids post secondary education until much too late and now I’m scrambling. If I could turn back time, I would have set up an auto-deposit for my monthly child benefit to be deposited into a Registered Education Savings Plan. Learn from me, people.
This is going to be short and sweet. Put your child in recreational sports and spend money on tutors to ensure they get the best education possible.
Admittedly, we travel a lot, but if I could go back, I would have planned trips further afield and for longer periods of time with my kids. Travel is the one thing I have never regretted spending money on, and it has opened up a world of possibilities for my kids along the way.
While working diligently to ensure my children have a bright future, I forgot to think of my own. While you’re busy socking away for college education, don’t forget that once you do cross that parenting finishing line, you’ll need to take care of yourself. Don’t stop investing in your future once you have kids. That’s a regret you don’t want to live with.
Rates shown are in effect as of May 28, 2018 and are subject to change. For GIC terms equal to one year, simple interest is calculated on a per annum basis and paid at maturity. For GIC terms of over one year, interest is calculated on a per annum basis and paid either annually (simple interest) or at maturity (compounded annually). Interest is accrued for the entire GIC term. Non-Redeemable. For more GIC rates and information, visit eqbank.ca. EQ Bank is a trade name of Equitable Bank.