Whether it’s shelling out for the latest hockey skates or buying a new guitar for music lessons, juggling the costs of extracurricular activities while still trying to save for a child’s post-secondary education is a budgetary dilemma for many Canadian families. According to a new survey, Canadians are struggling to find the right balance between paying for children’s activities now, and saving for their education in the future.

The fourth annual Beyond the Blue Line online survey, conducted by Leger for the CST Consultants Inc., polled 1,571 Canadians between Nov. 7 and Nov. 11.

Peter Lewis, the vice-president of CST Consultants, says that a number of factors, including rising hydro bills, higher taxes, and the growing costs of recreational sports, such as hockey, have all contributed to the financial pressure. At the same time, Lewis says, university and college tuition fees have been going up too, leaving many families to make some tough choices between extracurricular activities and saving for their children’s education.

“When you look at the amount of money people are putting into extracurricular activities and then you offset that against the fact that roughly half of Canadians don’t have an education savings plan for their kids, you just have to ask yourself that question, what are parents doing in terms of the priorities?” Lewis told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday.

Lewis recommended that families prioritize saving for educational costs over extracurricular activities, such as hockey or music lessons. He said he didn’t want to diminish the importance of those activities but he thinks education should always come first.

“Post-secondary education is the best way to set your kids up for long-term success,” Lewis said.

He also said that Canadians should look into finding less-expensive extracurricular activities that will fit within their budget.

Here’s a breakdown of the survey’s results:

• Nearly 80 per cent of Canadians say they, or someone they know, have pulled their kids out of extracurricular activities, such as hockey, or have borrowed money or used retirement savings to keep their child in the game.

• 60 per cent of Canadians believe that every child should have the opportunity to play hockey despite the costs. That number is down six per cent from 2014.

• Just over one third of those surveyed said they are either pulling their own kids out of extracurricular activities, such as hockey, or know someone who is.

• In 2016, 29 per cent of Canadians borrowed money from a line of credit, credit card or personal loan or know someone who borrowed money to pay for extracurricular activities. That number is up three per cent from 2014 when 26 per cent of Canadians needed to borrow for activities.

• A small percentage of families (16 per cent) have resorted to using their retirement savings, or know someone who is, to help pay for the cost of their children’s activities. That percentage is unchanged from last year.

• 61 per cent of respondents said they believe it’s important for families to start saving for post-secondary education before spending money on sports or other activities.

• Men are more likely to agree that it’s important for parents to start saving for post-secondary education before spending on extracurricular activities than women (66 per cent versus 56 per cent).

• One-fifth of Canadian families are spending more than $1,500 per child on extracurricular activities each year.

The Leger survey of 1,571 Canadians was completed online between Nov. 7 to Nov. 11, using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.