Getting your kids involved in extracurricular activities helps them both socially and physically. It teaches them the importance of teamwork and discipline. They have an opportunity to develop skills and learn self-confidence.
While these are great for kids and often activities parents encourage, they can be a bit taxing on the wallet. There are ways to save money on both fees and even equipment and items needed for participation.
Saving Money on Fees
Join School Activities
Many times, the events sponsored by the school have little-to-no fees at all. These are a great way to get to know kids in the school, with whom children may not have other classes.
The saying goes “The early bird gets the worm.” So is the case if you get your child registered early. Many programs offer a discount of upwards of 30% if you sign up early.
Check Out Community Centers/City Groups
Were we live, there is a parks and recreation department. This group puts together classes and sports teams. The idea is not to compete to win, but rather, to teach and educate kids on the principals of the game. It also allows kids to explore ideas and showcase talents they may not have a chance to use otherwise. The cost to join is often less than high-end or competitive leagues and is the perfect way to introduce your child to something new.
If you know dance, you might be able to volunteer to help out at your daughter’s dance class in return for reduced lesson fees. You might even find a way to help them advertise for free, help with the front desk or other ways to get a discount on lessons for your child.
Try it First
Before you commit to a contract, check to see if your child can try a class or two first. Once you and your child get a feel for the class and the instructors, you will feel better about making the financial commitment.
Saving Money on Equipment
Check Out Second-Hand Stores
If you need to purchase any type of sporting equipment, stores such as Play It Again Sports, are the perfect way to save money. Since kids tend to lose interest fast, this allows you a way to afford the purchase, without too much investment. In addition, you can turn around and sell items your child no longer uses.
Ask a Friend or Family Member
Check around with other friends and neighbors who may have children who have played the same sport. They might find the ballet slippers are sitting at the bottom of their daughter’s closet and might just give them to you.
My daughter wanted to learn to play the fiddle, and so we were able to get my aunt’s sent to us and just paid to get it restrung (and for a new bow).
Check Online Marketplaces or Auction Sites
You can find just about any type of equipment needed for any sport or activity on online auction or classifieds sites. From baseball bats to tap shoes, you can often find what you need at a discount. When you are done, you can also use these same sites to sell your own items.
Don’t necessarily rush out and purchase a brand new instrument for your child’s band lessons. Look to rent one for a few months to ensure it is something your child really wants to do.
Getting your child involved in extracurricular activities is a way to help them grow and develop skills they will need later in life. However, don’t allow yourself to get so caught up that you end up spending more than your budget allows. By taking a frugal approach, you’re teaching them good money habits.
[Editor’s Note: You can see how your debt levels are affecting your credit by using Credit.com’s free credit report card, and by pulling your free annual credit reports each year at AnnualCreditReport.com.]