Having children participate in youth sports is now a popular choice among parents and in many cases it is also a big financial investment. As a father of two boys ages six and nine, I know firsthand about the high costs because my children play in several local youth sports leagues.
I am also preparing for future costs that may come if they choose to move up to more advanced club play. The frequency of year-round play, offseason training, equipment costs, league fees and sometimes travel can make finances a burden for many families. The Statistic Brain Research Institute estimates that 35 million children are playing organized sports nationally, with 60 percent of those children playing outside of school-sanctioned leagues.
But I have learned, though, with a little bit of planning in advance, there are ways to save money and allow your children to keep playing.
This could be the difference between saving anywhere between 10 to 60 percent and paying full price. If your child is playing a seasonal sport, shop ahead for the next season by making purchases at the end of the current season.
Look for consignment sales or for stores that offer used sporting goods. While it’s important to purchase new equipment for safety reasons, a lot of sports equipment can be purchased used and simply cleaned up if you are willing to take the time to shop for them.
We all know that children grow over time. While parents often don’t have the choice of uniform brands, style, or where to buy - particularly on competitive teams, you can always buy a slightly larger size while still keeping the style mandated by your child’s club. This allows uniforms to last an extra season or two.
When your child is considering competitive play, compare what the fees are for each club. Club play often runs 9 to 11 months out of the year, so expect them to be higher. Fees often cover coaching, league costs, tournaments, uniforms, and more. Fees between clubs often differ based on prestige, winning tradition, location and more, so if your child really loves the sport they play make sure to compare all options before making a decision.
Travel can be one of the highest expenses for youth sports, especially if your child is on an elite level club team. If possible, travel with other team members to save on these costs.
Playing sports can be one of the most rewarding experiences for children by helping them develop lifelong social skills and discipline. I know I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself from being a sports dad and seeing my kids grow as soccer players. Hopefully these tips can help you enjoy your child’s game while making it a little easier on the pocket book.
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