Ideas for Saving Money on Kids’ Activities
By Ashley Schafer Karcher
From karate to theatre, parents have plenty of extracurricular activities to choose from for their children. These activities allow children to work as team members, improve physical endurance and hone artistic skills. Whether it’s sports or science, these hobbies give children another forum to demonstrate competence, which is important for self-esteem, particularly for kids who are struggling in school.
In addition to the benefits extracurricular activities allow, there is often one problem: cost. Between the fees, uniforms and equipment, these activities can sometimes be expensive. There are ways parents can pay less and still reap the benefits.
Here are a few ideas:
Many programs offer a discount for pre-registration or if the fees/tuition are paid in full or by automatic debit.
Enroll in Community Center Sports or Join a League at the YMCA
These programs typically run for a few months, allowing your child to decide if he or she wants to continue. If you are unable to afford the YMCA membership fees, you can apply for a scholarship.
Don’t Buy New Equipment
Kids grow quickly, so most sports equipment in consignment or thrifts stores are typically in good condition. You can also find used equipment on local online sales pages.
Ask For Discounts
Some programs offer a multi-child or sibling discount.
Look For Coupons
Thanks to sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial, there are coupons for just about everything now, including extracurricular activities. Don’t forget to look for discount codes when shopping for uniforms, equipment and other required items.
Do a Trial Run
It’s frustrating and expensive when your child asks to participate in something and then wants to quit a couple of weeks later. If you’re not sure that your child will stick with a particular activity, ask if there’s a way to try it out before making a full financial commitment.
Skip the Add-ons
Just because your child participates in an activity doesn’t mean he or she has to have every item offered for sale. Professional photos and videos are fun to have, but the costs can really add up.
Limit the Number of Activities
Limit your child to one activity per season. This will save you money and stop your child from getting “burned out” or falling behind in school work.
Participate in Free Public Library Events
Local libraries have several different fun and free activities throughout the year.
Consider these resources for extracurricular activities:
YMCA — Ymca.net
Boys and Girls Clubs of America — Bgca.org
After School All-Stars — Afterschoolallstars.org
Girls on the Run — Girlsontherun.org
Afterschool Alliance — Afterschoolalliance.org
4-H — 4-h.org
Girl Scouts of America — Girlscouts.org
Boy Scouts of America — Scouting.org
Ashley Schafer Karcher lives in Ocean Springs with her husband and four children and spends a lot of time driving her children to their extracurricular activities.