We are definitely in back to school season, and often time with back to school season the extracurricular activities begin as well. If you are like my family the timing is a little rough as we already are feeling a little poor from all of the back to school purchases and saving money on other things has become a priority. Fortunately there are many, many money saving tips to help us alleviate those expenses. 35 in fact and I’ve decided to share them with you.
Saving Money on Enrollment and Tuition Fees
Enrollment and tuition fees can seem insurmountable when you are prioritizing saving money and looking to enroll your kids in extracurricular activities. Here are some money saving tips to help you lower your costs.
1. Register early to get the early bird discounts. At the very least don’t enroll late. Some activities have a hefty late fee that can really ding your pocket book.
2. Take advantage of family discounts. If family discounts are not readily apparent, don’t be afraid to ask to see if they can give you a family discount.
3. Barter. Do you have skills that you can exchange for enrollment fees, piano lessons, or any other activities that your kids might be interested in? Think about bartering for those services.
4. Watch the daily deal sites for coupons or other discounts.
5. Involve your kids in the process. This is one of my favorite money saving tips as it allows your child to become more educated about the various costs of living they can expect. If you want to take it one step further have them earn their extracurricular activities or have them help pay for them with their allowance. Often times involving them this closely can help them to make good decisions about the activities that they are really interested in.
6. Seek scholarships.
7. Look for teen mentors or college student instructors for cheaper fees.
8. Look for group deals. When my son played select soccer, the coach wanted the members of the team to have some personal training sports conditioning sessions. The team worked out a deal with a local trainer who specialized in training for soccer, and each kid received a discounted group rate. Don’t be afraid to ask for these group rates.
Saving Money with Better Choices
Often times a lot of the expenses that can be incurred with your kids extracurricular activities are optional expenses. Take the time to think about every expense before you make your purchases, and to help you make these decisions here are some areas to consider.
9. Choose recreational instead of competitive or select teams. Think very carefully about your goals for putting your kids into any extracurricular activities and decide if your goals for them could be met without the expense of these competitive or select teams.
10. Limit activities. My husband and I have a strict rule about activities for our kids. They each can participate in one sport and one arts program. This rule has really made a difference not only in our budget, but also in the decision making process my kids make when they decide which extracurricular activities they choose.
11. Say no to expensive activities: Before signing up for any activity, ask yourself if those type of activities are actually necessary and could your child get the same benefits from a less expensive activity.
12. Take lessons every other week.
13. Carpool. Over the years, we have saved a lot of money by setting up carpools with other parents to away games or performances, and quite frankly my kids love it more when they get to ride with their friends.
14. Try non-team sports. Individual activities such as running are a great way to keep your kids busy without having to fight the pressure of a team and their members who don’t worry about their budgets.
15. Take your own team photos. If you’re not a great photographer another option is to find another parent who is and barter with them to grab a few great pictures of your kids for you.
16. Bargain shop for travel expenses. Always be sure to look for hotels that offer breakfasts, free parking, or other benefits, and don’t forget to ask hotels if they could offer you a discounted team rate.
17. Avoid the team equipment for the fans. Soccer Mom t-shirts, My Kid Swims bumper stickers, etc. are all fun items to buy while your kids are participating in extracurricular activities. But they aren’t necessary, so if you need to cut some expenses this is an easy place to start.
18. Bring your own drinks and snacks. Drinks, candy, and snacks are always priced for a lot more at concession stands than if you bought them at a store and brought them. Take the time to plan ahead and use those coupons and sales flyers ahead of time to cut your budget.
19. Use reusable water bottles.
20. Ask for separate checks at group meals. There is always some kid who forgets their money or some parent who never puts in their fare share of the group bill at the fun group meals that sometimes happen after extracurricular activities. If your budget is an issue, ask for individual checks to avoid this problem.
21. Coach. My husband and I have both been coaches at one time or another for the past 9 years. One of the benefits to coaching is that part of your payment sometimes includes free admission to the events, free hotel rooms at the out of town games, and parents like to buy your lunch at those group meals I just mentioned. Think about coaching as a way to save money.
22. Volunteer. Not only is it nice to do, but volunteering at extracurricular events can help your pocket book as well. Like with coaching you can get discounts on goods, free admissions, etc.
Saving Money on Equipment
Purchasing equipment is often a killer when it comes to your kids extracurricular activities. Here are some money saving tips to help you spend less.
23. Don’t buy brand names unless mandated to do so.
24. Only buy the necessities.
25. Avoid buying the backup uniforms. Instead suggest the team buy a couple of backup uniforms that the coaches can keep with them for emergencies.
26. Suggest your team buy team gear in bulk.
27. Borrow equipment.
28. Rent equipment. This is an especially good one for musical instruments as they are extremely pricey, and often times a kid is done with that activity after only one year.
29. Buy used.
30. Know when not to buy used. Buying ill fitting sports gear that has already been molded to another athlete can cause another big expense, injuries.
31. Sell your old equipment.
32. Arrange a uniform exchange.
33. Re-use uniforms. Kids hate hand me downs, but you know what? They’ll hate not being able to participate in a group sport because you can’t spend the money on new uniforms more.
34. Shop end of season sales.
35. Make a wish list. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends are always looking for gift ideas for your kids. Make a wish list for your child that will help you alleviate your extracurricular expenses.
What are some other ways you have saved money on your kids’ extracurricular activities?