10 Ways to SAVE BIG 💰 on Kids’ Extracurriculars ⚽️🎻

As I sit here writing this, Fall extracurriculars are in full swing. We homeschoolers are a little notorious for super-scheduling and packing our families’ schedules, trying to fit in all the wonderful opportunities that are available to us.

But if you have more than one kid, those costs can really start to pile up!

I wanted to share with you some of the ways we have saved a few dollars here and there on extracurricular activities, to add up to some BIG savings in the long run.

1. Look outside of the major organizations.

In many cities, they have large sports organizations that charge an arm and a leg for each child to play that sport. I have found that there are often cheaper alternatives to be found — like YMCA programs, local university programs, or programs run through your city or county parks department. They just take a little digging and searching to find them!

2. Consider a week-long camp instead of a season.

Often, kids will *think* they want to do something, but the reality of that sport or activity is different from what they had imagined. Look into week-long camps (most often held in summer), where kids can get a taste of the activity instead of a long-term financial commitment. These camps also won’t require purchasing a lot of expensive equipment, so you’ll save more there as well!

3. Look for a “family cap”.

Where I live, a lot of the programs offer a price per student, with a disclaimer that says “$X max per family”. For larger families, this can be a huge money saver! For example ~ last summer my kids wanted to participate in a local week-long camp that was $20 per kid. $80 for a week of learning is pretty steep… but then I found out that it was maxed $40/family, so that’s only $10 a kid! They were so excited and had a blast! I’ve also seen many music and dance programs with the same sort of cap.

4. Ask for financial assistance.

It never hurts to ask! Email or call the place of business where you would like to take classes, and ask if they offer low-income assistance. Many places do, even though they don’t advertise it. Additionally, every YMCA I’ve ever encountered offers financial assistance for their classes and memberships.

5. Keep your eye out for one-time events.

A year ago, both of my daughters were chomping at the bit to learn baton. They kept seeing the pretty baton-twirlers in the parades and they desperately wanted to learn. But at a cost of $40/month each plus costumes and supplies, it simply wasn’t doable for us. But then I saw an advertisement for a one-day baton twirling clinic put on by the local university. The girls spent the entire day (8am-2pm) learning how to twirl and perform a routine. Then that evening they performed at the university football game. It cost $20 each girl (though we paid $15, as they had a discount for families of students, and my husband was at the time). So we paid $30 for the perfect experience — The girls got their chance to do what they wanted to learn, and we didn’t have another ongoing class to clutter up my schedule.

6. Consider coaching.

When my oldest was 4 years old, he wanted to play soccer. Money was tight, so my husband coached his team. Our son got to play for free! It cost us nothing, and we had to be at the practices anyway, so it wasn’t even an extra time commitment. If you don’t feel like you know enough to coach, it’s simple to watch some YouTube videos or check out a book from the library to learn. My friend with NO experience whatsoever coached her daughter’s softball team, and they had a winning season! {not that winning is what matters, but my point is you don’t have to be super knowledgeable to lead.} If you really don’t feel like you can coach, or perhaps this particular venue already has a teacher/coach (like dance classes), ask if you can volunteer in some way to offset costs.

7. Look for secondhand equipment.

Soccer cleats. Baseball bats. Tennis rackets. Guitars. Leotards. Ballet flats. The equipment costs can pile up just as quickly as the enrollment fees! Pick stuff up when you find it at a yard sale or thrift shop, and stash it away for when the season starts. Hang onto outgrown or unused gear for younger kids who may want to play later. Stash it in a large tote, label it, and put it in your garage/basement/attic, so you know just where to look when you need soccer cleats in size 11! We have a large deck box as well wholly devoted to sports equipment, things like basketballs, baseball bats, etc. ~ so this is where we keep the stuff they might want to play with during their free time.

You can also ask friends to borrow gear. You might not even know that a friend has a baseball glove sitting around that you can borrow for the season. It never hurts to ask! (This is one area where social media rules!)

8. Barter for services.

If the cards fall just right, you might even be able to barter for services. Your daughter wants to take piano, but you can’t afford the lessons. Let the piano teacher know you have skills X, Y, and Z, and ask if she would be willing to trade 10 lessons for something else. For example, I do taxes, and I have done someone’s taxes in exchange for gymnastics. I have a friend who teaches sign language classes, and one woman watches my friend’s 2-year-old during the classes and her daughter attends the class for free. Mutually beneficial for everyone!  There are a million different ways to go with this, it just depends on the two people involved!

9. Ask the grandparents.

When my kids wanted to sign up for our local Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girls troops, they asked grandpa if he would cover the initial costs of the enrollment (sign up fees and uniforms). He was happy to give them a gift that kept on giving, and I was happy to not have such a large investment all at once. Many grandparents are happy to help, if you only let them know what you need.

10. Use the envelope system.

Even employing all the tips above, you’ll still have some extracurricular costs. Figure out how much money you need to set aside each month, and stash that away in a separate account. ((Click here to read about what bank I use to hold all of my digital envelopes, and why it rocks!)) If you set the money aside, even in months when you aren’t using it, then you’ll have a little cushion to cover the months when expenses are a little higher (like for initial costs associated with musical instruments, equipment, and uniforms).

 

I’d love to hear! Tell me YOUR tips to save money on kids’ extracurriculars, so I can learn from your knowledge as well! #ittakesavillage!! 

10 Ways to SAVE BIG 💰 on Kids' Extracurriculars ⚽️🎻
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