Going broke funding your kid's extracurricular activities? Try these smart money-saving tips. We don't have to tell you that there are tons of benefits to give your kids chance of participating in after-school activities. Extracurricular help a child's physical development, boost social skills, improve academic performance, and build confidence. The only potential down-side is the cost. Not to worry, these smart tips from HappyMom.Life can help you save on your child's extracurricular activities.
Fill out your child's registration paper-work and pay the fees as early as possible. Some organizations give a discount for early registration, and registering early gives you time to prepare for the activity so that you can accommodate it into your budget without last minute surprise expenses. Another reason to get your child enrolled early: you don't have to worry about forgetting to do it in time and then having to pay a late registration fee!
Ask For A Discount
Some activities offer a multi-child or sibling discount, but you may not get it if you don't ask. Even if you only have one child participating in the program, check if there are any other discounts for which your child or family might qualify. You never know. A program may give a small percentage off if you or your spouse are military or law enforcement, or if your child is on the honor roll at school. It never hurts to ask for a discount because every little bit helps.
Look For A Coupon
Yep, you may be able to find a coupon for your child's baseball team or dance class. There are coupons for just about everything now, including extracurricular activities. Do a quick search for the activity along with the month and to see if what discounts might be available before you register. It's also a good idea to look for discount codes when shopping for uniforms, equipment and other required items.
Volunteer or Barter
Volunteering with the organization can often reduce or remove the participation fees for your child. You can offer to help with bookkeeping, coaching, or cleaning a dance studio, or you could offer your professional skills, whether that be marketing or web design. Whatever you do, it doesn't have to be too time-consuming. It could be as simple as running the concession stands once a week. Every little bit helps, so talk to the program coordinators to see if there are ways you can pitch in while also reducing your child's fees. A couple of bonuses: You get to spend more time with your child doing something he enjoys, and depending on the activity, you may even get in a mini-workout.
Do a Trial Run
It's frustrating and financially draining when your child asks to participate in something, you fork over the cash, and then she begs to quit a couple of weeks later. If you're not sure that your kid will stick with a particular activity, ask if there's a way to try it out before making a full commitment. Some organizations will let your child to attend a class or two on a trial basis. It may be at no cost, or you may have to pay a small fee. Either way, it will give you and your kid time to see if this is really an activity she wants to be involved in, without you having to pay (and possibly lose) the whole fee.
Of course, there are some things that should only be purchased new (such as mouth guards and helmets), but for many other things, secondhand is just as good. Asking family, friends, or neighbors for hand-me-downs is a great way to score gently used items like cleats, uniforms, bats, and art supplies for free or cheap. Buying used can keep more money in your pocketbook too. And don't think that buying used means your child will get beat up gear.
Rather than paying for instruments, which can be expensive, look into renting. You can likely find rental options locally or through an online dealer. Another possibility: your library. Some libraries, particularly those in big cities, offer rentals of musical instruments with just your library card. Since you obviously won't be able to keep a library rental for the full school year, this option is best when your child is undecided about which instrument she wants to play and trying out different options.
Save on Gas
Another area that many parents don't factor into their budget with extracurricular activities is the added travel expenses. Organize carpools with other parents and take turns driving to practices, games, and performances. Since everyone's schedule is likely to be busy, reach out to others to try to create a game plan as early in the season as possible. When it's your turn to drive, make sure you save on gas.
Skip the Add-Ons
Just because your child participates in an activity doesn't mean he has to have every little item the team offers for sale. Professional photos, videos, and extra shirts are fun to have, but the costs can really add up. So pass on things that aren't necessities. You can take your own photos or videos, and skip the team shirts for mom and dad and show your support by wearing the team colors instead.
Just Say "No"
If your kid wants to do football, soccer and swim, you may have to give him a choice. Limit your child to one activity per season, and tell him to choose the one he wants to do most. If he has an interest in something else, he can do it at home or find a community center that is more affordable than. There may be some whining (or even tears), but you have to do what's right for your financial situation.
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