Most families spend between $100 and $500 per month on youth sports. This may sound unbelievable, but when you start to think about equipment, league fees, uniforms, travel expenses, and all the other things that go into keeping a kid involved in a sport, you see how the costs can really add up. There are some ways to tone down this hefty price tag, however. Here are some ways to support your child’s interest in sports without busting your budget.
Find inexpensive at-home practice tools
One of the main costs parents incur when pushing their child toward sports is the cost of lessons and private practice. One way to save is to bring the practice home. Equipment such as small soccer nets, netted golf driving ranges and batter’s nets (for baseball/softball practice), and at-home basketball hoops are reasonably priced. Not only that, but having a hoop at home, for example, can give your kid a big advantage. Make sure you do some research online to find the best hoops — ones that have the best durability, material, size, price and ease of assembly. You can also save money on this purchase by using a Target coupon code or searching for a second-hand basketball hoop at used sporting goods stores.
Donate your own time
Many kids’ sports leagues are happy to offer discounts or even waive certain fees if the parents are willing to get involved. This can mean volunteering to coach. It can also mean volunteering to coordinate practices, travel, and field/sport center maintenance. The National Association of Youth Sports says “If you have time to become a member of the booster club, you may be able to take advantage of waived fees in exchange for membership.
This also means you should teach them at home. Many parents think they need to have expert sports skills in order to teach their kids sports. This is patently false. Kids sports are about building blocks, and as long as you can instruct your children on the basic rules, etiquette, and basic physical necessities of playing a sport, you can help them learn.
Consider forgoing the paid organized league altogether
Supporting a child’s sports interest isn’t that expensive at all if you do it yourself and without the help of an official sports league. Sure, it’s more difficult to go it alone if your child really wants to play a team sport such as soccer, baseball, or football — but free school and church leagues are available for that. Consider asking if your child wants to try a solo sport like biking, running, swimming or golfing. No matter what you and your child choose, try to stick to one sport at a time. This will help you save immensely. Also note that some sports are simply more expensive than others. Don’t make your child do something they don’t want to do in the name of saving money, but remember that you do have a lot of influence on their choices.
Coordinate with other families
One of the top youth sports costs is all that equipment. You can help yourself by coordinating gear swaps with other local families. In other words, used gear is swapped or passed down to other children (mostly because one kid either stopped playing the particular sport or grew out of the equipment).
Another way to save by pooling resources with other sports families is through carpooling. All that driving to practices, games, and league-related event adds up.
The more you can put into your child’s sports interest, the better for your bank account. Take time to scour the internet and secondhand stores for deals on clothes and equipment; participate in their leagues to reduce fees; get involved with other sports families to help share the burden and practice with them at home. Youth sports are a great thing for kids, and they can be great for you too if you find ways to reduce the excessive cost.