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Ideas for Saving Money on Kids’ Activities

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:

Register Early

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:


Boys and Girls Clubs of America —

After School All-Stars —

Girls on the Run —

Afterschool Alliance —

4-H —

Girl Scouts of America —

Boy Scouts of America —


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.

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