Parents whose children play sports know that back-to-school also means an increase in money spent on uniforms, team fees and equipment. Travel fees are also an undeniable part of the back-to-school sports budget. The recession is already burning some serious holes in many back-to-school budgets, and school sports can add more money stress on top of what’s already there.
If you are concerned about the cost of school sports, here are some things you can do to try and alleviate the pressure on your wallet:
1. Buy Used Equipment
There are plenty of places to buy quality used equipment. If you don’t get essential equipment as part of your team fees, consider buying used. You can find used equipment on eBay (Stock Quote: EBAY) and Craigslist. It is also possible to take advantage of Play It Again Sports. Play It Again Sports offers used sports gear at low prices. Best of all, you can bring in your own used equipment and get store credit, further helping you stretch your dollar.
2. Rent Sports Equipment
Your kids are growing. Chances are, the sports gear you buy this year won’t fit next year anyway. Many school districts allow you to rent sports equipment, and many local parks and recreation programs have sports equipment rental programs. Renting often costs much less than buying—and you don’t get stuck with stuff you can’t use the following year.
3. Shop the Sales
Shop the sales when purchasing sporting equipment. Look for clearance sales of last year’s items. It is often easy to find shoes, shorts and other sports-related clothing that is marked down in order to make room for new items. Sign up for catalogs or e-mail alerts so that you know when the sales are likely to happen. Look for coupons and special events to help you save money.
4. Get your Kids to Contribute
Insist that your kids help pay for some of the cost of their school sports experiences. If you give them an allowance, or if they have an after school job, make sure they know that they are responsible for contributing a certain amount toward their sporting. Maybe you agree that they cover half of the costs, or perhaps they will be required to cover travel expenses or buy their own shoes. Figure out a way to make them partially responsible for the things they want to do.
5. Limit the number of school sports your kids can play
You may hate to make your kids choose, but one way to save on school sports is to limit participation to one or two sports. Many school districts have been cutting the number of games played and sports offered in districts as they feel a budget crunch. Your own family budget crunch may require some of the same prioritizing.
6. Look for Community Help
If you truly are need of financial help when it comes to school sports, look around in your neighborhood. Many communities and school districts have programs designed to help defray the costs of sports for families in difficult circumstances. Programs like Pitch In For Baseball can help with equipment and other expenses. You may have to demonstrate your financial need in order to receive help, however.
You can also ease the cost of school sports by budgeting it in all year. During the off-season, set a small amount of money aside in an interest bearing account. Have your children do the same for their portion of the contribution. That way, when the school sports season rolls around next year, you won’t be scrambling quite so much to come up with the funds.
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