Kids Activities on a Budget
by Melissa Winger
Sports and activities for children can get expensive! This time of year it’s usually Soccer, Baseball, Track, or Softball which means cleats, balls, bats, registration fees, etc. There’s always dance, gymnastics, and scouting too amongst many others going on. With a host of activities to choose from, parents can quickly break their budget. Do you know how to save money while still allowing your children to participate in activities? Here are some ideas:
1- Shop Second Hand. There are second hand stores that cater to used sports equipment buyers, as well as online Facebook swaps geared towards this market. Check with the local club for the sport, as they usually have donated shoes or uniforms that others have outgrown. Used gear is generally in good condition since kids outgrow it so fast. Ebay, Craigslist, and garage sales are also good places to pick up a deal.
2- Register Early! Many programs offer a discount for registering early or by a certain date. If you plan on signing up anyway, it’s nice to save that $5 or $10.
3- Volunteer. If you can make the time, some clubs will offer a free or reduced registration fee for your child if you coach, set up fields, or man the concession stand. You will never know if you don’t ask.
4- Barter. I knew someone who cleaned the dance studio, so their child could get free ballet lessons. Does your music teacher need her lawn mowed or some landscaping done? If you have a gift, a business, or a creative mind, the ideas for bartering can be endless.
5- Explore Options. Does your son really want to play basketball, but you just can’t make the traveling team work money wise? See if your local community center, church, or fitness facility offers a recreational league. The costs for these tend to be lower.
6- Free Programs. If your child isn’t particular about activities, yet just wants to be involved, try to find some free activities. Library programs, County Programs, The Department of Natural Resources, and School Clubs are all great choices!
Extracurricular activities balanced with family and school time offer many benefits to children such as learning to play as a team, physical exercise, confidence building, and fostering a love of an activity, instrument, or sport. If you aren’t stressed about breaking the bank on activities, then you’ll be able to enjoy watching your child grow and learn.