When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of organized activities after school or in the summer. For the most part, I just met my friends outside to “play” and that could mean pretty much anything including hide and seek, organizing baseball cards, playing with Star Wars action figures, or all-day Whiffle Ball tournaments.
But it’s a different world now and kid’s activities are much more organized and regimented than they used to be. Part of me misses the freedom of unorganized playtime, but I do believe extracurricular activities are important for developing social skills, boosting self-confidence, and improving physical health.
I have three young children (ages 11, 9, and 5) myself and they all participate in some form of extracurricular activity. Obviously, cost is a concern so we’re always looking for ways to get them involved without breaking our budget.
For starters, they each know they can’t do everything. For financial and scheduling reasons they know they have to choose one or two activities that mean the most to them. For my daughters, that means soccer and Girl Scouts and for my son it means soccer and baseball.
Limiting their options helps keep costs under control but there are other ways to save money on sports and extracurricular activities.
Look For Free Or Low Cost Options
Not all activities will cost you an arm and a leg. Look for offerings sponsored by your school, town, or local library as they are usually free or very inexpensive.
For example, my town offers a “recreational fun time” for school aged children twice a week from October through April. Every Monday and Wednesday we drop the kids off for an hour and a half of fun and exercise where they get to socialize and play soccer, basketball, run relay races, and many other physical activities. The cost is only $15 per kid FOR THE WHOLE YEAR. How can you beat that?
Sign Up Early
When it comes to saving money, the early bird usually catches the worm. Most sports and other activities offer a discount when you sign up early and that has certainly been my experience.
Early signups give activity organizers an idea of how many participants they can expect (and how much supplies or equipment they’ll need) and keeps them from being inundated at the last minute. Sign up early and you can easily save ten to twenty percent of the total cost.
Volunteer To Be A Coach Or Helper
Everyone wants their kids to be involved in extracurricular activities but no one wants to pitch in and help. Activity organizers need parent volunteers to help out and that’s one way my family has saved a bundle. I’ve coached both my daughter’s in soccer and my son in Tee-ball too. I’m not a professional coach, but I’m a caring dad who wants to be involved in his kid’s lives. Scheduling can be tight and it is definitely a thankless job, but it is still rewarding and it saves me money too.
What kind of extracurricular activities do your kids participate in? What steps do you take to save money on kid’s sports and activities?
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