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Daycare in most provinces is almost like a second mortgage payment every month. What makes the load bearable is the idea that daycare is only needed until a child starts school.

But it’s becoming clear that parenting in today’s world means putting your kids in lots of expensive activities. In this Globe story, you’ll read about $500 birthday parties, competitive dancing costumes costing $2,000 to $3,000 a year and tutoring bills amounting to $4,800 a year. So much for the daycare dividend when your child reaches Grade 1.

Answers to the question of why parents spend so heavily on extracurricular activities can be found in a blog post written by a woman who is trying to reconcile the cost of these activities with the benefits they provide. She herself participated in lots of sports as a kid, at significant cost to her parents. Now, she wonders how she and her husband can afford similar activities while saving for their son’s postsecondary education.

Her thinking right now: “We’re not signing our son up for toddler tumblers or little kickers soccer camps (and definitely not $475 hockey camps), but we’re reserving the right to change our minds.”

Just so you know what parents with young kids are up against, I’m including a link to the latest survey of child-care fees from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It shows a median cost for preschoolers as high as $885 to $1,200 or so in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto and its surrounding cities. Cities in Quebec, with its subsidized daycare, come in below $200.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

The best-performing housing markets are…

Goodbye, Toronto. See ya, Vancouver. The biggest price gains in the past year have come in smaller cities like Victoria, Guelph, Ont., and Ottawa.

Help with the cost of college or university

A mom blogs about how her kids won more than $20,000 in scholarships and bursaries. It’s a good motivator for parents and students to seek out this kind of financial help. According to Statistics Canada, the average cost for graduate programs in 2017-18 was $6,907, a 1.8-per-cent increase over the previous year.

Marriage money matters

A blogger who recently wrote about the cost of her wedding tackles a crucial financial question for newlyweds: Keep their finances separate, or merge them? I vote for a single chequing account, with separate savings accounts on the side.

Are mortgage brokers unbiased?

All about how compensation for mortgage brokers – they’re paid directly by lenders – can affect the advice they provide clients. If you’re using a mortgage broker, ask how he or she will be paid for the mortgage you’re getting, and how that compensation would vary with other mortgage options.

Today’s financial tool/app

Self-directed investing: A beginner’s guide to getting started as a DIY investor

Ask Rob

Q: What is your opinion on annuities as a source of income for retirement?

A: Big thumbs up. Not for all your retirement income, but for a portion of it. A little background: An annuity is a contract where you hand a lump sum of money to an insurance company in exchange for a set monthly payment for as long as you live. The payments can be indexed to inflation, or not. Interest rates have a big impact on annuity payouts, which means today’s rising rate trend is positive for annuities.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

What I’ve been writing about

  • Seniors the first to crack as rising rates crank up debt stress
  • There are better ways to defend against rising rates than paying down your mortgage
  • Canada’s favourite dividend mutual fund and dividend ETF square off (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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