As parents, we love nothing more than to support our children’s extracurricular endeavors. Whether they are interested in baseball, basketball, gymnastics, guitar lessons – or anything else in between – we are willing to do just about anything when it comes to helping them pursue hobbies and sports they show an interest in.
Even overspend on our budget or go into debt.
In fact, CompareCards.com released a survey in April of this year that found 62 percent of parents have dug themselves into debt when it comes to paying for their children’s extracurricular activity, and from those parents, nine percent owe over $5,000. Fifty-two percent admit they can’t afford those extra activities; however, 48 percent don’t regret spending the cash to keep their kids active and involved.
In fact, Go Banking Rates advised that 81 percent of these parents are under the belief that their kiddo’s activity may be able to earn them income someday. Interestingly enough, nine in 10 parents that lay down over $4,000 each year for their kids’ extracurricular think that their offspring will eventually turn this hobby into money.
Of those surveyed, 30 percent pay for the kids to participate on a sports team. While extracurriculars keep kids active, and also instill a foundation around routine exercise, they can also help with social skills, and confidence building. Having said that, parents should not risk their financial situation to ensure their kids are in these sorts of activities.
Below are some tips on how parents can pay for extracurriculars, without sinking into debt.
- Meet Those Deadlines: Most sporting team programs offer discounts if you register your kids earlier. Keep a track of registration deadlines, and ensure these payments are made on time. Some leagues also offer discounts for those year-round sports if fees are paid in full at the beginning of the year, which can be a huge money saver.
- Used Equipment: Sometimes the fees around lessons and sports teams aren’t the only expense that parents incur; equipment for said activities can hurt the old bank account as well! Thrift stores can be an excellent resource when it comes to purchasing gently-used equipment, as well as garage sales. You can even hop on social media and ask friends and family if they have any older equipment that they want off their hands; some may be more than willing to part with their kid’s older equipment at a reduced price. There are also buy-and-sell community groups on Facebook, as well as swap sales; which can be a win-win as you are unloading old equipment for new-to-you stuff! These are a few things that are far more cost-effective than buying your child new equipment each and every season.
It’s Okay To Say No: Kids can be full of energy and enthusiasm when it comes to extracurriculars. After all, these activities can be very fun, stimulating, and a great social outlet for our children. Having said that, no parent should have to go into debt to satisfy all the sports and hobby needs their kids have. It’s okay to narrow down one sport/hobby of choice to one activity per season or even years; and it is okay to say “no” to your kids on occasion around these requests.
Derek Lebert is a CPA and entrepreneur. Derek has worked in various senior roles in finance.