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How to Afford Activities for your Children

If you’re like a lot of parents, you want your children to have incredible experiences and interesting adventures. You may even want them to take part in all of the activities that you couldn’t as a child. This is a natural instinct. However, the costs of piano lessons, swim classes, soccer memberships, gymnastics, art classes, and the wide variety of other potential activities can get very expensive very quickly.

If you aren’t careful, you could find yourself spending quite a lot of money on various extracurricular activities for your children.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips to help you afford sports, clubs, and classes for your kids.

Don’t Overcommit

If your child is trying out a new activity, don’t feel like you need to go “all in” right away. There’s a good chance that your child may not stick with the activity long-term, so if you can avoid buying expensive equipment, materials, or instruments early, try to do so.

If you’re signing up for a sport, consider choosing a recreational league at first, rather than a more competitive one. The sign-up fees for these leagues are often lower. If your child shows a particular interest or aptitude, you can always change leagues later.

Go Second Hand

If you need to buy equipment or instruments for an activity, see if you can find what you need available second hand. Shop online, at local thrift stores, and ask friends or family members for help. You might find that you can borrow something from a family member for a short time if you ask. This can help you take the class and see if your child likes it without paying a large upfront cost.

Estimate the Full Price before Signing Up

Remember that, for most activities, there are other costs in addition to the registration fee. You might have to purchase equipment or instruments, or you may be expected to pay for accommodations for overnight trips (such as with a sports team or other traveling team). Ask the coaches or organizers about any materials or extra costs before you sign up, and be sure to budget for these costs. That way, you won’t be surprised.

Shop Around

Different classes have different costs, depending on where you take them. If you want to sign your child up for an activity, look around and see which nearby establishments offer it. The prices will often vary.

You’ll also want to shop around for discounts. Some programs will have coupons or discounts available online or special discounts if you’re referred by a friend.

Look for Free Programs

Not all children’s activities have to cost a lot of money. Libraries, community centres, and various other locations tend to offer several free or low-cost activities for kids. These classes and activities are often high quality and fun, so don’t overlook them.

Avoid Over-Scheduling

Kids get tired and stressed out from having hectic lifestyles, just like adults do. They need downtime to relax, play, read, and come up with things to do on their own. Consider signing your child up for only one activity at a time, or one per season. Not only will this give them the rest they need, but it will help make it more affordable for you as well.

Don’t Feel Pressured

Many parents worry about missing out. They don’t want their children to miss opportunities or to skip an activity that their friends are going to. They worry that they’ll be harming their children’s development or keeping them from having fun if they don’t sign them up for every class. The reality is that children don’t need to take part in absolutely everything. Don’t let the pressure and fear of missing out cause you to overexert yourself (and your children) on multiple costly activities.

It’s important not to allow other parents to pressure you either. If the other parents you know are signing their kids up for a different class each day, you might be tempted to do the same. This is understandable, but it’s not necessarily a good idea. Set a limit for how many activities you’re going to sign up for each year/season and then stick to it. You can always try out something different next year if you realize you missed out on a great class.