Family budgets: The midwinter of our financial discontent

Sandra offers tips on how to survive surprise seasonal expenses.

Photo: JenD/iStockphoto

I predict that one of these things is happening to you right now:

a) Your kid’s winter boots are leaking/wrecked
b) His snow pants can barely zip up because he grew a full clothing size since you bought them on sale in August
c) A key piece of equipment for your child’s favourite activity recently got lost

No, I’m not a mind-reader; I’ve just been there. So have we all — it’s called the Midwinter Money Blahs.

Possibly the most frustrating part of this phenomenon is the fact that there’s no reliable prevention. For example, this week a mom on Twitter bemoaned the fact that her children’s “high-quality,” higher price tag winter boots are already in ruins. Lesson: Spending more for winter supplies does not guarantee they will last the season.

My kids are down to a single pair of mitts apiece. Don’t get me started. (There’s only so much name tags can do…)

Isobel’s hockey elbow pads actually started popping off and coming loose — that’s how much she has grown since the season started in September.

And even more annoying than it is to have to pay for replacements mid-season? The fact that your chances of finding your kid’s size in stock — anywhere — are slim.

So, aside from being lucky enough to have another kid whose outgrown gear can fill in, and quick (not so lucky here — we have one ballet dancer and one hockey player, and they are four years apart), what can you do?

Look into repairs. Damaged skates, boots, coats and more may be fixable, for a fraction of the price of buying a replacement. Bring your wounded into your local sporting goods store, shoe repair shop or dry cleaner.

Ask around. Friends and neighbours may have gently used gear they’re willing to lend or give to you.

Shop online. Internet retailers often have more seasonal stock at this time of year than bricks-and-mortar stores. Bonus: Stuff may even be on clearout sale.

Do you have other tricks for dealing with mid-season crises? Share them with us here.

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