Today, it is not surprising to hear that parents are spending anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 a year per child on sports, dance or other activities. In some cases, that amount can be even higher, when there are several children in the family and each are taking several activities at a time. According to financial guru Dave Ramsey, “some parents can spend up to $10,000 a year funding their child’s athletic pursuits.”
Why is the cost so high these days? First of all there is equipment that parents much purchase, everything from figure skates or hockey skates, to baseball equipment and golf clubs. Include protective gear such as helmets and shin guards. Often, the parents overspend to get top-of-the-line equipment in the hopes of giving their child an edge. Certain coaches may also insist on more expensive equipment.
To these costs, add in the cost of high end uniforms or costumes that can average $150 to $400 depending on the sport or activity, and in some cases, a child may need several changes or versions.
Next, there are team fees, show fees, plus travel fees and hotel expenses. In some cases, parents must pay an entry fee to watch their child’s game, a show or competition.
Parents can also add in group coaching fees and private coaching fees or the costs of special camps. As a child shows more interest and talent in a sport or activity, those fees will go up. In addition, certain activities may include additional costs, such as ice time for a figure skater, or horse rental or boarding for an equestrian.
So what is a parent to do? It can be heartbreaking to have to say no to a child who has a love of a sport or other activity.
1. Stay within your means. As you can see, costs for these activities can quickly get out of control. That is why it is so important to be able to budget what you can for these expenses and stay within your means. If you can’t afford extra coaching, be up front with the everyone involved.
2. Consider recreational instead of competitive sports. While it is getting harder and harder to find recreational teams and activities for children, some are still out there. The fees and the expectations are much less than with competitive sports. Your child will still be able to experience the sport without the inflated costs associated with it.
3. Limit the number of sports or activities. When a child is in multiple activities, the fees really add up. Instead, choose just one or possibly two sports or activities per child per year. Not only will this give you a break on your budget, but you will also find yourself leading a less hectic lifestyle.
4. Buy used when you can. Opt for used equipment, uniforms and costumes, and then sell them when your child has moved on in size or skill level. You can ask other parents within your child’s group or opt to buy and sell online. Every little bit helps.