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It's Important for Your Kids to Be in Sports: Here's How to Budget for Them

By Ginny Garbowski, Universal Specialist, Affinity Federal Credit Union

It’s important for kids to interact with other children. A great way1 to make sure they do is to sign them up for sports, music lessons, dance classes, art classes, etc. Extra-curricular activities are a great way for kids and teenagers to get involved and create incredible bonds with their peers.

Budgeting for Kids in Sports

Although extra-curricular activities are an amazing opportunity for children and teenagers, they do have quite the hefty price tag – and it’s the parents who pick up the bills. As a mother to three boys, I can say through personal experience that it all adds up, and it can become too much to handle sometimes. Through my own personal journey, I’ve figured out some tips and tricks on how to budget for extra-curricular activities.

Cut down on eating out/ordering in. When it comes to sports, there is a lot of traveling involved. Going to and from practices and games is common, especially when you have three kids going to all different locations. When traveling so much and with practices usually after school or later in the evening, parents don’t even have time to think about dinner. That is where our first costly item comes in to play: food. When you’re on the go and have multiple children in different activities, it’s easy to depend on fast food. But the costs add up fast! Also, vending machine costs can also add up quickly, especially when you have a sibling coming along as a spectator. 

My advice is to consider cooking and preparing some food in advance – I love my crock pot; it’s been a huge time and money saver! And share the load – speak to other team parents about setting up a snack schedule so the burden isn’t always on one or two families.

Learn how to budget for future extra-curricular expenses. There are a lot of expenses that parents don’t plan for when signing their kids up for extra-curricular activities. These include the equipment, instruments, paint, etc. And the fact that kids grow quickly means it’s not uncommon to need new shoes, skates, sticks or pads during a season. Check your child’s equipment often; if something is missing, you’ll want to know before they’re ready to hit the field. Plan in advance to replace items during the year and you’ll save yourself a headache!  Also, plan on team outings and events. It’s great for the kids to spend time with their teammates off the field, but those costs add up too!

Chat with other parents who have kids on the same team and see if they may want to participate in carpooling as well. They may need a night off too!

Start local. Search out smaller house leagues and recreation programs first. These often offer less commitment and are less expensive. This can help you and your child decide if they’re going to be the next Babe Ruth or if baseball is just a fun hobby. Then, if your child (and your family) are ready to commit to more extensive travel or a more competitive team, you’ve had some time to save money! Also, look for local sports consignment shops – they’re a great alternative to buying new equipment and what’s even better is you can return some of your child’s gently used equipment once they’ve outgrown it.

Overall, the cost of participating in an extra-curricular activity can financially hurt a family if they aren’t careful. You want to give your children the world, especially if they love what they are involved in, so it can be easy to be blindsided to the costs. These are a few easy ways to let your kids have fun without breaking the bank. Be sure to learn more about how to manage your finances with Affinity!

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This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition are made. 

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