TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 1, 2012) - Summer camp is a great way for kids to stay active, develop new skills, improve their confidence and make new friends. But with many sleep-away camps costing upwards of $1,000 per week, sending a child to camp can be a major financial commitment.
"Summer camp can demand a significant financial investment, and for many parents, striking a balance between providing your child with the best experience possible and staying within the budget can be difficult," said Lily Capriotti, Vice President, BMO Bank of Montreal. "However, with some sound financial planning, the costs associated with sending kids to camp can be manageable over the long term."
Ms. Capriotti suggested parents create a camp savings plan well ahead of the summer - or even years before kids are eligible to attend. An account such as a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) could allow savings to build up quickly through compounding. She noted that TFSAs allow Canadians to save and invest up to $5,000 per year without paying tax on any interest earned, or withdrawals.
With that in mind, BMO offers the following tips on how to plan financially for summer camp costs:
Prepare for hidden fees - Costs for camp services such as transportation, laundry, day trips and uniforms are typically in addition to the camp's base rate. Include these extra fees in your savings plan to ensure you can cover the entire expense. Using a tool like BMO MoneyLogic makes it easy to set your financial goals and keep track of your progress along the way.
Send your kids to the same camp - Many camps offer discounts if you register your kids together - even if they attend at different times.
Refer your children's friends - If your camp offers discounts for referrals, ask your children if they have friends who are interested in attending camp. By facilitating their registration, you can save money and enhance your own children's enjoyment.
Claim costs as a deductable - Some camp costs qualify for a child-care deduction or a children's fitness tax credit. Do your homework ahead of time to determine whether you are eligible for some tax relief. Keep your receipt for summer camp expenses to support your claim.
Consider less expensive alternatives - Non-profit organizations' camps are often less expensive. Additionally, many camps offer payment plans to spread the costs over a few months and some offer subsidies or financial aid. Enquire about what sort of help each camp can offer you before making your decision.
Register early - Plan ahead! Many camps offer reduced rates to campers who submit their forms and fees well in advance. If summer camp is in your summer plans, don't wait until the last minute to register.
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at April 30, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.