Top 7 Useful Tips on How to budget for Youth Sports Activities
The benefits of enrolling kids in sports have never been more important. The up-and-coming generation is inundated with touch-screen enticements that do not provide them with the character-building and physical fitness assets they need in life.
While every parent wants the best for their children, the cost of youth sports continues to rise. Introducing youngsters to values such as cooperation, hard work, and self-discipline tasks parents with learning how to budget their way through the sometimes-expensive sports industry.
Things to Think About Before Picking a Kids’ Sport
To say the costs of youth sports have risen in recent years would be something of an understatement. The average family spends nearly $700 per child for each sporting endeavor. Travel typically ranks as the largest expense of an industry that is expected to exceed $77.6 billion by 2026. And kid’s sports that require specialized equipment, recurring monthly memberships, and expensive facilities — such as hockey and skiing — run into the thousands per season.
Parents who want to expose their child to real-life activities must be cautious about the per-season costs. But knowing how to budget and make smart financial decisions can reduce stress and save you money.
1: Know the Total Cost Upfront
Before signing your child up for an extracurricular activity, make sure you can afford it. Some leagues charge excessively high fees, and you could be on the hook for out-of-state travel if the team makes the playoffs.
Consider building a spreadsheet with all the fixed expenses, as well as potential cost escalators. This process prepares you to pay the initial fees, buy equipment, purchase team photos, and it provides a road map of how to budget for the season. Then go to work pooling for ways to reduce expenditures and save money.
2: Buy Used Equipment
The more specialized equipment a sport requires, the more expensive participation becomes. Track and field tends to run on the low side because items such as running shoes and clothing are relatively inexpensive. But sports such as hockey and skiing run on the higher end of the spectrum. Skates, snow boots, and skis can be pricey, and youngsters outgrow them. That means finding seasonal replacements.
There are plenty of second-hand sporting goods stores that offer considerable discounts. Ecommerce platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist, and even Amazon list used sports equipment. Parents can also lean on community members whose children have outgrown their gear, and then pay it forward once their child finishes the season.
3: Ask For Discounts
Learning how to budget for youth sports comes with a learning curve. One of the things parents are often unaware of are the discounts that exist. For example, youth sports organizations generally offer a family discount when a second child signs up. It’s also not unusual for people who serve as volunteer firefighters, active military, veterans, and in other capacities, to enjoy a family discount.
That’s why it’s essential to check the organization’s platform and ask. If you don’t qualify for one of these discounts, consider using a credit card that offers extra spending flexibility. The lower interest rates you receive from using a credit card can help you save money help you get the most out of your budget.
4: Spread Out Your Purchases
Paying the signup fees and purchasing the necessary sports equipment strains the budget of working families. And on the heels of those expenses, the high cost of travel follows.
It may be more budget-friendly to put some or all of the upfront fees on your credit card. This allows families to spread out the cost of youth sports over a few months. This budgeting strategy also leaves you with the financial ability to handle travel expenses and go out for ice cream after games
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5: Carpool with Other Parents
The high price of gasoline and diesel are unpredictable costs that impact how much spending money working families have. How to budget for fuel and other travel expenses remains something of a mystery. But the solution involves working with community members.
Consider meeting other parents during signups, youth sports gatherings, or during the first practice session. Exchange information with the goal of starting a carpooling system and helping each other out in a pinch. Some of the more proactive youth sports parents can create a private Facebook group to organize a carpooling schedule and post valuable cost-saving information.
6: Open a Dedicated Savings Account
Everyday people open savings accounts for wide-reaching reasons, including family vacations, retirement, emergency car repairs, etc. These are innovative ways to plan ahead — come what may — and youth sports expenses can be added to the list.
You may not know what sport your child will pursue next. But after a single outing, you’ll have a good idea about the upfront, travel, and hidden costs of kids’ sports. By establishing a savings account, you will have the cash on hand to enroll your child without scrambling at the last minute.
7: Play One Sport Per Season
The enthusiasm of sports households sometimes leads families to overextend themselves. Coming off a positive youth sports experience, enrolling in more than one activity the following season puts more stress on people and budgets than anticipated. Shuttling kids to multiple practices and games on weekends stretches time and resources thin.
It’s important to take a step back and breathe. In the interest of keeping things lighthearted and fun for children and parents alike, consider a one sport per season family rule. It’s a blessing in terms of a positive experience and your monthly finances.
Creating a Successful Budgeting Plan May Require Help
Managing your kid’s sports activities can be a full-time job, and we want to help parents feel prepared and not experience unnecessary stress when payments and cost come into play. Planning ahead, budgeting, and using smart financial tools can help you avoid added stress. An ACU VISA® Credit Card is the perfect tool to help you spread out payments and regain control of your finances with no balance transfer fee and no cash advance fee.
Membership in America’s Credit Union is open to anyone who lives or works in Dallas, Rockwall or Collin Counties, Texas, and their family members. Employees of select employers may also be eligible. See our Membership page for details.