If you are a parent who has children involved in extracurricular activities and sports, you may already be aware of the skyrocketing increase in the cost of these programs. The costs for everything from music classes, to sports, to dance has seen a 3% to 10% increase according to Backpack Index.
As your children get older and more involved in sports and activities, that’s where it really starts to affect your wallet. Parents whose children are in elementary school can expect to spend an average of $463 per child on activities, while middle school parents pay almost $200 more per child a year on activities. High school parents brace yourselves because you can expect to pay an average of $1124 per child. The more activities your child is involved in, the higher the cost not only to participate, but for all the equipment, clothing, and travel required to be a part of the team or group.
As a parent, you want to encourage your children to try new things and be part of a group, but what do you do when sports, dance, or music lessons require a part-time job or a taxi service to keep up?
- Never sacrifice funding your retirement. A study done by TD Ameritrade found that 33% of parents neglected to regularly fund their retirement due to sports-related expenses. 40% of those parents don’t have an emergency fund, and 60% are concerned that their children activities will impact their ability to save for retirement.
- Stick to local teams/activities and competition. Playing for a local school basketball team will be much less taxing on your wallet and on your time than a travel team that plays across multiple states.
- Skip the high-end equipment. When your child is first trying a new activity or sport, consider purchasing gently used or middle of the road equipment versus the best and most advanced items out there. Until you are sure that your child will like the activity and they have some skill, having the top of the line goods won’t make much of an impact on your child, but could severely disrupt your budget. Ask parents in your circle, we can almost guarantee there is gear hiding in someone’s garage not being used!
- Look into low-cost options for your child to try before paid programs. YMCA’s, Park and Rec Programs, and even Summer Camps offer a variety of programs for kids to try different things before they commit to a paid activity.
- Offer to volunteer your time. If you are going to be waiting around for your child anyway, why not see if there are cost-saving options to trade some of your time for payment. This could include coaching, if you are knowledgeable, or keeping track of the book or scorecard during competitions or games or even running the concession stand.
Providing different activities and opportunities for your children is a great way to expose them to new hobbies, challenges, and groups of people. It can help them build confidence, learn new things about themselves, and show them how important working together as a team can be. BUT it also shouldn’t require parents to neglect making important financial decisions for their future or their children. It is a great financial learning opportunity that you can share with your children. Show them the family budget and how extracurricular activities come into play. If they want to exceed the budgeted amount, work with them on creating a savings plan to cover the difference.
Interested in learning more about our Savings Account and our NEW Graduate Account just for Young Adults? Check out our website here: CLICK HERE!
Branch Manager – Torrington