Equipment. Uniforms. Fees. Travel. Time. Lots of time. The costs associated with keeping your kids active in organized sports can mount quickly. If you’re interested in keeping your kids in shape and letting them learn the importance and intricacies of teamwork, there are ways to lower the costs associated with kid’s sports.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Most sports programs re-use much of their sporting equipment from year to year. In football that includes pads, helmets, and jerseys. For baseball, bats, balls, and helmets are regularly re-used. If you need to buy some sports equipment, don’t be afraid to use equipment that’s been used before. There is a stunning amount of barely used gear available at resale stores such as Play It Again Sports, in online ads on eBay and Craigslist, in newspaper ads and at yard sales. You can save as much as 40 percent by purchasing sports equipment through such avenues.
Sell your own
Play It Again Sports not only sells sports equipment, they also buy it. You might be able to get more for your used stuff on eBay, Craigslist, or your own yard sale, but Play It Again is a good backup. Use the money to help offset other sporting goods costs.
If your child makes it onto a traveling team, your costs can skyrocket quickly. Check out sites like Restaurant.com for cheaper ways to dine out and save on food costs, but don’t be afraid to bring along your own cooler.
When it comes to hotel stays, Priceline is a reliable way to go if you have enough advance notice. You can get some idea of what to bid by checking out Expedia (they also are pretty good for last minute travel). One tip: to reduce food costs on the road, opt for a hotel that offers a free continental breakfast, or for accommodations with a refrigerator where you can store easy-to-eat items.
How motivated is your child as far as this particular sport is concerned? If you see genuine motivation, talent, or even scholarship potential, then it may be worth it to pay the higher fees for the “club level” of play. Otherwise, the lower-cost “recreational level” might be a better bet, both for your child and your wallet. It’s a little less stressful too, if you know what I mean. Coaches and parents at the club level are pretty intense, well, okay, they’re overly intense.
Don’t go overboard
Depending on your personal circumstances, you might want to limit the number of sports your child participates in. Some sports are cheaper than others. Basketball is relatively inexpensive equipment-wise. Golf, at the other end of the spectrum, can be pretty expensive. Sports seasons can overlap, and when that happens, they can become overwhelming — financially and in other ways too. Personally, I don’t want my kids to think that sports reign supreme and that our family’s life revolves around a recreational activity. It just isn’t worth it.
Remember that your kid has an incredibly slim chance of playing professional ball. It would be much better for him or her to enjoy their sports activities, get some good exercise, and learn some great lessons on teamwork, responsibility, and self-discipline. Those lessons can last a lifetime.
Photo by Brian J. McDermott