As parents, we’re all aware that enrolling our children in extracurricular activities can help to improve a child’s physical and social development. These activities often teach them skills such as working as part of a team, confidence building, improving their physical endurance and evening honing in on artistic skills that they may not have even know they possessed. However, not only does getting your child to these activities require a lot more time in the car, they can also be difficult for parents to afford. Many times these programs even come with costs that you didn’t anticipate from the beginning, like pictures and the cost of snacks. Below are a few ways to help you afford your kid’s extracurricular activities without having to sacrifice any of the fun.
Know What You’re Signing Up For
It’s easy enough for you to determine what the registration and equipment fees are ahead of time, but those incidental fees tend to creep up on you. This often leads to parents finding themselves with expenses that they hadn’t budgeted for from the beginning. A great way to combat this is to take the time to talk to the coach or other parents whose children are involved in these programs before signing your child up. Even if they aren’t able to give you an exact number, they should be able to provide a pretty accurate ballpark figure. If you budget that, plus an extra 10% for any surprises you encounter, then you shouldn’t find yourself taking on a second job in order to keep your little one in their favorite sport.
Although activities are fun, your child doesn’t need to have a jam-packed schedule of extracurricular activities. It’s okay to allow them a little downtime in between school, homework, dance, and soccer. In fact, most kids are actually the happiest when they only have one or two activities to focus on outside of school. Let your child decide what they’re interested in and not only will they be happier, but you won’t have to hear, “I don’t want to go!” after you’ve already spent money on activities for them.
Look for Cheaper Options
A great way to reduce the costs of extracurricular activities is to find non-profit or school-based programs. Of course every sport and activity is going to have coaches that offer private instruction, but those are going to be the most expensive methods for getting your kids involved and active. Instead, check out your local YMCA, or similar clubs, and sign your children up for intramural sports there. They often have several options, and while they won’t be free, they’ll be much less expensive than the private options.
Extracurricular activities and programs can be expensive, but they don’t have to break the bank. By taking the time to be proactive and do a little research on your budget, as well as your choice of activities, you can keep your child involved and your checking account in the positive.
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