Find ways to save on your child's sports fees.Today, parents of athletes face many challenges: fitting in all the practices, games, races, and meets into tightly packed schedules, teaching time management to balance sports and school, helping kids cope with the challenges and rewards of competition, and helping kids determine what the right sport is for them. But for many parents, the rising costs of children's sports is rapidly becoming a 'deal breaker'. With the increasing selection in sports activities comes a sometimes hefty price tag. If parents are willing to get creative, there are some ways to make child's sports fees more affordable.
Talk to the owner.
If your child is participating in a 'for profit' program, like karate lessons or ballet class, talk to the owner about ways to save. Sometimes signing up for an autopay program, or committing to an extended amount of classes will qualify you for a discount. Small businesses depend on customer satisfaction, and know that positive word of mouth recommendations will not only bring in new customers, but will keep current customers feeling good about participating. At our local karate studio, by signing a one year contract and using auto deduction from our checking account, we get unlimited lessons and discounts on clothing and supplies. It never hurts to ask!
Offer to trade services.
Think about what you do that would be worthwhile to someone else. Bartering services is an old method of trade, so why not try it with your sports activities? Can you do childcare, bake or cook meals, style hair, do manicures, or give lessons on something yourself? Maybe you can do computer repair, offer financial services, or automotive repair? Don't underestimate your talents-often small business owners don't have the personal time to take care of these things, and would love to trade what they do for what you do!
Investigate scholarship opportunities.
Many sports programs have booster clubs or foundations that have funds to sponsor kids who cannot afford tuition. Our ski racing team has fundraisers each year that create a pot of money to fund scholarships. It takes a bit of time to complete scholarship applications, but even a small amount can make the difference in participating partially or completely.
Get a job with the school or organization.
Most programs need people to run them. At both our gym and karate studio, parents and teens are able to work a variety of jobs to help reduce or eliminate tuition. Working at the front desk, cleaning, teaching beginner classes, or maintaining the snack or pro shops are easy part time jobs. And best of all, it gives parents a chance to become a part of their child's activities.
Create a parent network.
Aside from fees, uniforms, and gear can really drive up the cost of participating in sports. Each season I keep a box of outgrown ski clothing, and at the start of the next year, I put an email out to all the new parents stating what I have for sale. I have never had a problem 'recycling' the used gear, and usually find anything I need from other parents who catch the email bandwagon! At our gymnastics training gym we used a 'leo swap' for parents to donate used leotards their girls had outgrown, and in return could take one that fit their child. Reusing is a good habit!
The bottom line is this: be creative and think out of the box. There are many ways to avoid paying full price for your child's sports activities, you just need to figure out which way is best for you!
Content by Jennifer Wolfe.