If you have a child entering sports, ask any experienced parent: the costs can add up.
In fact, The New York Times reports that according to experts, sports families often pay over 10 percent of their gross income on their kids' involvement in sports. To put that in perspective, if a family's annual income is $60k, the average American parent is forking over about six thousand bucks a year for little athletes to excel in sports.
Thankfully, there are ways to save money. Here are 6 smart ideas for parents who want to offer their kid the myriad benefits of organized sports - without stressing the budget.
- Gear up for less. Buy used equipment or host a gear exchange. The concept is simple: no kid uses the same lacrosse stick or tennis racket forever. When neighbors, siblings, or even strangers outgrow their gear, it can often be reused by kids a few years younger. Start by hitting yard sales and online resale sites for great deals. Many towns even have a shop dedicated to used sports equipment that can save you gobs when your child is ready to enroll in a particular activity. Score!
- Stay local if you can. Most kids will reap the many benefits of youth sports without the pressure of trying to go pro. If you're not grooming the next Kobe Bryant, consider ditching the travel team in favor of a recreational league that stays local. You'll save a ton on travel costs, including hotel stays. The result? Mom: 1, Financial Stress: 0.
- Work for the Win. Many youth sports leagues give grownups a break on fees if they're willing to work the dugout, arrange calendars, or even coach the team. Plus, with your enthusiastic involvement, your child is more likely to enjoy the activity.
- Lessen Lessons. Offer to swap private lessons with an instructor for something you have at your disposal. Gardeners could offer produce. Dog-walkers can offer pet sitting. Musicians may exchange one-on-one instruction. Whatever your skill, swap your smarts with a sports instructor for a win-win.
- BYOC. Bring your own concessions. Instead of doling out cash every time you need a drink or snack at games, pack your own healthy alternatives in a cooler. Portable fruits and veggies like berries, bananas, carrot sticks, and cucumber slices cost much less than nachos, candy, and soft pretzels. Not to mention, they'll deliver the vitamins and minerals young bodies need to perform their best.
- Narrow it down. Let each kid choose a sport. Or at most, two. Keeping your sporting schedule simple does wonders for your calendar and your budget. If you're looking for the best ways to save money, consider saying "no, thanks" to excessive participation.
Having a kid in sports can benefit the whole family in many ways. And with these creative tricks, involvement can also score a win for your fiscal goals.
Image Source: Flickr