It’s the 7th of September, and the children are heading back to school.
Where did the funds for paying for all the school supplies and new clothes come from?
Did you already max out the credit cards paying for all the summer activities?
Did you apply for a new card to pay for back to school purchases?
Were you all stressed because you are unable to buy school supplies?

Here are the reasons why September 1st became the official new year of our family.
Read on and see if you can relate to some of our experiences as a family when our first child Gillian began her educational journey.

I began using September 1st as my family’s official new year when our daughter Gillian started junior kindergarten. I realized at that time with our daughter beginning her educational journey, what was regular to us would definitely have to change. From mid August our entire focus was all about Gillian going to school. Her school bag, her snack bag, her clothes, her shoes, socks and all the other things she would need to begin this new chapter in her life.

We also had tons of other concerns like how would she adapt to school, what if she does not like going to school, what if she does not make new friends and what if her teacher is not just the right one for her. With all of these thoughts I realized that we did nothing for the entire month of August but think about the beginning of Gillian’s educational journey.

It was at that time I decided to make our new year the same time as Gillian’s. September 1st became our family’s new year.

I started planning everything for our family to begin new or fresh from the day after Labour Day. I began planning the cost for any big purchases, vacations, and summer activities for Gillian from September 1st onwards. In August we visited the doctor’s office we all got our shots and we would be ready for school with all vaccinations done.
Financial Plans were changed; revamped, modified and new goals were set.

We looked at the cost of the summer camps, soccer, basketball, track and field, and any other activities the children were involved in throughout the previous year from September to August. I totalled the entire amount, added 10% and divided that number by our pay periods we had in the year. That amount was automatically saved in a special account or accounts, so whenever one of these expenses came up we had the funds ready to pay for these activities, which meant we did not use a credit card to pay for any thing.
Making September 1st the official New Year of the family meant everyone started off to work or school well prepared. The bustle and activity in the household encouraged the children to know that it’s a special time and school was special and important to the entire family.

I recommend that you begin this weekend to make some changes in your plan; it is the right time to look at your finances. Make the changes that will prevent you from using credit cards or lines of credit to pay for your family’s annual expenses. Take a look at what you purchased or paid for using credit, can you make some changes in your finances that would better serve your family in the future? What about setting up a savings account to pay for the children’s summer expenses?

Have you given any thought to starting a Registered Education Savings Plan for your children? This is the right time to start. The moment the plan is open the Federal Government will contribute $500.00 and $100.00 annually until the child reaches the age of fifteen. For every dollar you contribute to the RESP the Government will contribute 20 cents. What investment is giving 20% return in this economy? A RESP for your children is a win-win situation for you and your family, and you should take full advantage of it.

Try revamping your goals and plans in September and see if it works better for you instead of January.

Tessa- Marie Shillingford is the author of Controlling the Debt Monster. She is Personal Financial Planner, with a designation from the Institute of Canadian Bankers, and a Financial Counselor certified by the institute of Canadian Banker. She is presently a Program Facilitator of Financial Literacy at JVS Toronto. Tessa- Marie was employed by TD Canada Trust for twenty years in the retail section of the bank. During her tenure at TD Canada Trust she held various positions interacting with customers of the bank. As a Financial Advisor and Manager of Financial Services she led a group of Financial Advisors in helping customers of TD Canada Trust successfully manage their finances. Details of her book… Controlling the Debt Monster, can be found at


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