Hockey dreams. Musical prodigies. Harvard graduates. Having a child naturally inspires a sense of optimism, and big dreams for what they might accomplish one day. If the kid actually begins to display an early acumen for guitar, shooting the puck into the net, or forging convincing replicas of Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, of course parents want to be supportive.
But many parents wonder where to draw the line between being supportive and going all-in on a make-or-break strategy to get your kid to the big leagues. Tennis lessons turn into elite personal coaches. Coding camps turn into international competitions. Riding lessons turn into actual horses. And boarding. And grooming. And vets. Competition fees alone can be enough to make some parents consider a second mortgage.
If the talent your child exhibits is rare, the temptation to start channeling funds away from savings and into the potentially more lucrative, long-term pay-off of a Wimbledon win or an NHL career can be tempting. After all, if it happened to the Staal family of Thunder Bay, Ontario not once, but four times, why couldn’t it happen to yours?
A 2015 survey in the US revealed that 26 percent of parents of high school athletes “hope their child will become a professional athlete one day.” That rises to 39 percent among families with household incomes of less than $50,000 annually.
Yet, as famed football coach Vince Lombardi warned, “Hope is not a strategy.” According to a TD Ameritrade survey, one in five dads worry about how spending on their children’s sports will impact their retirement savings. TD’s research also found that “sports parents spend twice as much time on their children’s activities than they do on financial planning.”
Providing your kids with the right resources, equipment, coaches and training will undoubtedly contribute to the success of their endeavours. Similarly, your own financial situation requires a well-considered strategy to balance the expenses of giving your kid great opportunities and providing for your own financial stability. Your own future deserves professional support too.
After 19 year-old Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title, news and sports commentators delved into her past to figure out her winning formula. She worked with prestigious coaches and is lauded as a hard worker and a natural virtuoso. But Andreescu herself was quick to give big props to her parents for instilling in her the mental fortitude to remain calm and focused under pressure and how to envision her victories before they happened. Notably, these were factors that did not cost her parents a dime.