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12 Ways Parents Can Save Money on Kids Playing Organized Sports

By Casey Slide

kids soccer lessonsIn most American suburbs, sports are a big deal. Kids go to practice almost daily, and the fields are full of excited and dedicated players while parents and fans cheer from the stands. Similarly, adults take tennis lessons and practice their golf swings at local country clubs.

While these activities are great for you and your children’s health, they can wreak havoc on your pocketbook. Lessons, equipment, greens fees, gas to and from practices – the price of sports can add up in a hurry.

But it doesn’t have to. Here are 12 ways you can save.

Equipment

1. Buy Used
If you or your child is new to the sport, there is no need to buy brand new equipment. You can find gently used equipment at used sporting goods stores like Play It Again Sports. Don’t forget to check out eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and garage sales. Also, check local consignment shops for items such as dance shoes and leotards.

2. Sell the Old to Buy New
If your child is advancing up to the next level, or growing out of old gear, sell the old equipment in order to buy upgrades. Chances are that there’s another family that would want to buy your child’s gently used equipment.

3. Host an Equipment Exchange
This is a great option if you have multiple children and are friends with other families who have multiple children as well. As your kids get older and bigger, and try new activities, swap items with other families. Then, as your next child is ready for the equipment, swap back.

4. Rent Equipment
Depending on the sport, you may be able to rent equipment, such as golf clubs, skis, or bikes. Only rent the equipment if it is a high priced item that you do not plan to use for very long, or if you are trying out a sport before you make a full commitment to buying all the necessary gear.

Leagues & Lessons

5. Sign Up for the Early Bird Special
Have you ever ran in a 5K? Generally as the race day gets closer, the admission cost jumps up in price. This is also the same for sporting leagues. It pays to plan out what sports and leagues you or your children would like to participate in early instead of the day that the league begins.

6. Be the Coach
Do you know anything about soccer? How about basketball? Volunteer to coach. Sometimes coaches will get discounts for their kids to participate in a league. You do not have to be an expert at the sport either. You just need to be enthusiastic and dedicated. It will also allow you to have some special bonding time with your child as you spend many hours at practice and games.

7. Join School Teams
When I was in middle school, we had a soccer team that anyone could be a part of. It was free to all students, and there was no tryout involved. Check with your child’s school to see if they offer any sports teams. Also check out your local YMCA or community center. These places are typically cheaper than other leagues.

8. Barter with Your Skills
If you have a certain skill set and want to learn a sport, such as tennis or golf, perhaps you can find an instructor who would be willing to trade lessons. You would not have to trade just sports skills – you could also trade music lessons, art lessons, or cooking classes.

Other Tips

9. Carpool
Not only does carpooling save you money, it can also save you a lot of time as well. Let’s say your son has soccer practice 20 minutes away from your home for one hour. Are you going to go drop him off, come back home, and go right back to pick him up again? Probably not. You will sit there in your car and read, answer emails, or surf Facebook. If you carpool, you would save yourself the hour sitting there waiting.

10. Choose One Sport at a Time
Many sports involve several nights of practice in addition to weekly games. By only participating in one sport at a time, you or your child will not be overwhelmed or over committed. This will also cut down on fees and equipment costs. For example, if your child is into dance, cut down to one class at a time to save money in classes and in recital costume costs.

11. Do It Yourself
Play catch in the backyard. Get a basketball hoop in the driveway. Kick around a soccer ball. There are lots of ways to learn how to play sports, but the best way is to practice. You do not need to be in a league or take lessons to practice.

12. Try Non-Team Sports
There are a lot of activities that have minimal costs because you are not on a team or part of a league. Two of my favorites are running and biking. There is not much of an investment to get started in either of these sports, and they are great fun for you to do with your family and friends.

Final Word

Being active doesn’t have to cost a fortune. By using some of the above tips, you and your kids can participate in sports and lead a healthy lifestyle without spending your life savings. Score!

How have you saved money on sporting lessons?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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