Not all children gravitate toward sports, but the ones who do usually go all in. Youth sports benefit kids in a variety of ways, from physical activity and mental stimulation to teaching responsibility and instilling a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. Plus, it’s just a wholesome, safe, and productive use of their free time.
However, sometimes sports can be expensive — even as much as 10 percent of a family’s income, according to one study. This simply isn’t tenable over time. Here’s how to let your child explore their interests without breaking the bank.
Save on Clothing and Equipment
By far, the biggest expense you’ll incur as a parent with a child interested in sports is clothing and equipment — balls, bats, rackets, bags, gloves, cleats, pads, pants, team shirts, etc. This is the area where you need to go the extra mile to save money. One suggestion is to buy used — especially on the equipment front. In some scenarios, you might not need to, however. There are plenty of discounts and cashback opportunities at major retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Avoid Private Leagues if Possible
Whatever sport your child decides they want to try, chances are there are multiple leagues for it in your town. Consider all of your public league options before joining a private league. Schools, churches, and city-run community organizations often offer sports leagues, and they are almost guaranteed to be cheaper than privately run leagues. You can also save money by volunteering in these public leagues. Many will give you a discount if you donate your time toward coaching, concessions, or field cleanup and maintenance.
Share the Responsibilities with Other Parents
Pooling your resources with other parents on your child’s team is a surefire way to save. Carpooling, for example, means you only have to spend time and gas money driving to and from sporting events once a month, maybe. Set up a schedule and alternate who makes and packs the snacks and Gatorade. When you go out for pizza after the big game, make sure to split the costs (and use coupons via Groupon). It’s a small thing, but it will add up over time.
Steer Them in a Specific Direction
If your child becomes interested in a sport that you once played or have some knowledge about, you can save money on equipment costs and avoid paying high prices for private lessons and other forms of training. Steer them in that direction. Of course, you don’t want to force your children into something they hate, but remember that children are malleable.
“It doesn’t matter that you aren’t a pro or don’t have the same agility you had as a teenager. Kids love to mimic their parents — so if it’s a sport you’re interested in, your kid will be more likely to give it a go,” notes the CBC.
Pick Lower-Cost Sports
In the same vein, turning your child toward certain sports can be of benefit to your wallet — some sports are cheaper than others. On the less-expensive side (considering league fees, equipment costs, etc.) you have soccer, track and field, swimming, and basketball. More expensive sports include lacrosse football, golf, and tennis. Strike a balance between your child’s desires and what you can afford, realistically.
The cost of sports in this country has been on the rise for some time, and parents are understandably worried about how this most quintessential of youth activities will affect their bank accounts. Luckily, there are ways to make it more affordable if you’re willing to go the extra mile in terms of discount shopping, volunteering your time as a parent, forging relationships with other team parents, and pushing your kids in a less-expensive direction.
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