Extracurricular activities are an important part of a child’s development. They allow students to shine in ways that may not be possible in the classroom. It also helps kids step out of their social circles to forge new friendships. They may even be your child’s gateway to a college scholarship and possibly a lucrative career.
But extracurricular activities are expensive. If you’ve got several school-aged children and each wants to participate in two activities, you can be looking at an investment as high as $10,000 or more for fees, equipment, uniforms, instruments and supplies.
No worries though; you don’t have to choose between your budget and your children’s happiness. Here are some ways to save on your kids’ extracurricular activities:
1. Limit the number of after-school activities you allow for each child
If you’ve got several over-ambitious young ones at home, consider limiting extracurricular activities to just one per child. You’ll be doing your children a favor by forcing them to pick an area of focus, allowing them to channel all their energy in one direction. Plus, it’ll be easier for them to keep track of just one schedule — and it’s a lot easier on your carpool calendar, too!
2. Register early
Lots of children’s’ sports programs offer discounts of up to 30 percent just for signing up early. Speak to your children about after-school programs and sports teams well before the season so you can register early and snag those early-bird specials.
3. Purchase used equipment
Save big on sports gear by purchasing gently used equipment from sites like PlayItAgainSports and SidelineSwap. Some of these sites also allow you to sell your own used equipment.
4. Swap equipment
If you have friends with kids who are also into sports and music, see if you can swap equipment and instruments from year to year.
5. Rent musical instruments
If you’ve got budding musicians at home, consider renting the instrument they’ve taken up this year. There’s no way to tell if that burst of passion they’re currently nursing for the oboe is just a passing phase or the beginning of a lifelong hobby. Some instruments, like the French horn, can cost as much as $1,000 but can be rented for as little as $50 a month.
If your child is convinced they’ve found their instrument of choice, you can purchase gently used musical instruments from resale sites like Craigslist, eBay or Reverb.
6. Volunteer your time
If you’ve got the time to coach a team or to walk around selling refreshments during games, you might be able to nab a discount on the program’s fees and equipment.
By making smart, frugal choices, you can turn your children’s dreams into reality without draining your wallet.
Your Turn: How do you save on your children’s extracurricular activities? Share your own tips with us in the comments.