7 Ways to Save Money on Kids Sports and Activities!

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Image via Momof6

As the snow melts and the weather warms up, it's time to look ahead at the wide variety of options for kids spring sports and activities. And with so many fun programs to choose from, it's understandable that you would want to expose your child to all of the opportunities available! But not only does overscheduling your children lead to meltdowns and exhaustion (for both you and them!), it can also break the family budget.

With a little planning, you can find the right mix of fun and affordable. So here are 7 ways to save money on kids sports and activities!

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Image via Flickr/ kellyv

#1 Choose activities that make sense for your child's age and experience level

The younger the child, the more “entry-level” the sport or activity should be, which should also include a moderate beginner-level session price. If your 3-year-old's gymnastics class is running $40 for a half-hour session, you are probably spending far more than you need to for such a young tot! (Does your toddler really need to be taught by a former Olympian in a first-class facility?) At this age, you should be striving for your child to discover the joy of the activity and learn that their bodies are strong and awesome, which can just as easily be discovered at a local rec center for a much lower cost. As kids get older and express a desire to build their skill set, that's when it makes more sense to move to a higher-level facility with professional instructors.

{ MORE: Introducing Your Child to Sports }

Tip: Be sure to inquire as to whether or not the program offers a free session or class to make sure that your child really enjoys the sport or activity before you commit to spending the full amount for the session. 

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Image via Flickr/ frankpierson

#2 Register early to take advantage of pre-season discounts!

Many local rec leagues, art studios, and swim clubs are anxious to fill their class rosters and will often offer a discounted price for registering early and paying in full. This can be a great way to save some money! Just be certain that your child isn't going to change his/her mind after you've committed your non-refundable enrollment fee.

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Image via Flickr/ Keoni Cabral

#3 Scout out hand-me-down or used equipment (Where it makes sense!)

If your child is signing up to play soccer this spring, it is perfectly fine to borrow the league's required uniform from an older sibling or a family friend. Balls, gloves, lacrosse equipment, and even pads are also great items to buy used or borrow until you know for sure that this is a sport your child is committed to. One exception to this rule is footwear: if it has been well-worn and loved by the previous owner, it is not going to fit your child's foot properly, which could lead to blisters or even injury. 

{ MORE: How to Create a Budget-Friendly Baby Registry }

This advice applies for art supplies and practice attire for dance and gymnastics, too. Borrow it if you can!

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Image via Momof6

#4 Limit sports and activities to just one per season for each child

The fastest way for budgets to get out of control is by signing each of your children up for multiple sports and activities during the same season. While I think kids should be encouraged to explore all kinds of different interests, it doesn't all need to happen in one three-month period! Consider allowing each child one spring sport and then take an art class or dance class in the summer. Spreading it out like this will allow your child to more fully enjoy each activity individually and decide what they would really like to pursue going forward.

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Image via Flickr/ pocketwiley

#5  Skip team photos

During every sports season, there comes that weekend when my kids each come home with flyers announcing that it is time to sign up for the team and individual photos in their cute little uniforms. But do I really need to pay $30 for a photo package featuring my child on a “sports magazine cover” or on a personalized key chain showcasing their “stats”? The reality is most of us already have a great camera on our smart phones and can take our own sports shots of our children and their teams!

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Image via Flickr/ battlecreek cvb

#6 Ask yourself if travel teams are really worth it

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As kids become older, there is a push to move them on to travel teams with professional (paid) coaches who can give kids access to better training, helping them to develop their skills while also allowing them the opportunity to play against other teams of similar abilities. And while all of that sounds really good, travel teams require a large commitment on the part of the player as well as the entire family. The financial commitment is usually triple that of a regular town recreational team. Travel teams often practice 2 to 3 times a week with games on the weekends that might require a family to travel locally or up to several hours away.

{ MORE: Youth Sports: 5 Things You Should Know When You Sign Your Youngster Up }

So before rushing to join a travel team (especially if your child is still in the 2nd or 3rd grade!), give it some serious consideration as to whether or not it is worth both the financial and the time commitment for you, your child, and your entire family.

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Image via Flickr/ Sarasota Dance Studios

#7 Carpool and pack your own snacks

Whether it's dance class or diving lessons, you can always save money by combining rides to/from activities with other families. Take along your own snacks and reusable water bottles from home rather than relying on vending machines or concession stands when feeding hungry kids after sports and activities! 

{ MORE: What Should Youth Sports Really Be About? }

What other ideas do you have on how to save money on kids sports and activities?

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7 Ways to Save Money on Kids Sports and Activities!

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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1 comment

  1. mommy nhoj says:

    Good tips! I am excited for my little one to try some of these activities in the future!

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