Parents tend to want their children to be well-rounded both scholastically and with extracurricular activities, from sports to the arts to community service, in order for each child to grow as a person and best contribute to society.
When a child begins participating in extracurricular activities, however, parents quickly realize something else: Activities can become expensive. Sports equipment, music lessons, art supplies, dance attire, and club or team costumes and trips don’t come cheap.
If you’re concerned about your child’s extracurricular activities putting a dent in your budget, consider these tips:
Take a trial run. Because children might be enthralled with something one day and completely over it by the next day, make sure that your child is truly passionate about an activity before committing to it long term. For instance, take him or her to a field to play soccer a few times before signing up for a soccer league.
Buy second-hand gear. Whether it’s a clarinet or a pair of basketball shoes or oil paints, your child will most likely need some kind of equipment to participate in extracurricular activities. Although you might think that your child needs the best new equipment, this probably isn’t the case, especially if your child is just beginning a new activity. To save money, consider buying the equipment at a second-hand store or online.
Teach your skills and abilities to your child. Just because you would like your child to develop skills doesn’t mean that those skills shouldn’t include your own. Do you play a sport or instrument, speak another language, love to cook, or volunteer at a local nature center? Coach your child in whatever your talents and interests might be, so that you can spend more quality time together and save money to boot.
Sign up early. If your child is passionate about an activity and ready to sign up for lessons or a sports league, try to do so early on. Organizations sometimes offer a discount to people who sign up early within a specified period. As long as you are sure that your child is serious about the activity, be sure to take advantage of any early savings opportunities.
Know when to say “no.” Although your child may eagerly claim to want to participate in every club, sporting team, or activity that he or she hears about, it’s important to realize when the family schedule or budget has reached its limit. All family members need time to relax and to spend time with each other and friends. If your child already participates in too many extracurricular activities, help him or her to choose those that he or she enjoys most.