While the NCAA is in the midst of March Madness, many parents experience their own form of intensity this time of year as kids gear up for spring sports. Prior to actually having children, I thought all organized sports for kids was a terrific way for them to get involved, get active, and learn to work as a team. Granted, I still think that today, but I also know that each season I have a small sense of anxiety as I anticipate the costs per kid per sport. Last year we wrote some savings tips for outdoor sports. This year we sought some outside help.
A family we are particularly close to has four, count ’em, four boys – all of whom are not only interested in sports but happen to be incredibly talented athletes. I decided that this was the perfect set of parents to talk about how they manage saving on spring sports each year. Here are a few of their tips:
Savings Tip 1: Set A Limit
It can be a parent’s dream to have children who naturally excel in sports. It’s not only fun to watch your child “perform,” it creates a bit of pride inside. With a child who adores playing both baseball and soccer (and is GREAT at both) it’s hard to tell them they have to choose one. However, even getting to all the games for each kid can present a challenge, so limiting each kid to one sport also makes things less hectic. This also equals savings on sign-up fees, gear, and gas. Another perk? For my friends, it means they make it to more games for each child, rather than just running a carpool.
Savings Tip 2: Only Buy New When Necessary
If your child plays baseball – he will need a glove. It does not have to be the newest, nicest glove though. Hand me downs are great, and can come from neighbors or friends, as well as family.
We’ve mentioned hosting an equipment swap before too. Invite several parents over on Saturday and tell them to clean out their kids’ sports gear. With enough people, nearly everyone can go home with a “new” glove, ball, cleats, etc.
Check consignment stores, outlet stores, and discount stores for additional savings on spring sports gear.
If you are buying new, get those deals asap. Now is the time that online retailers are offering some great prices and coupons.
Another tip: ask the store if they can do better. Sounds crazy, right? It’s not. When I went to buy new running shoes, I was prepared to shell out big bucks to get the right shoes. By merely asking if there was another option, the clerk informed me that the new versions had just arrived and he could give me 40% off last year’s. They were all still just sitting in the back!
Savings Tip 3: Plan Ahead
A huge part of my anxiety about costs each sport season is for the unknowns: the coach’s gift, the pictures, the snacks. Silly as it sounds, these little things start to add up. By taking the time to be prepared, I can make lunches, shop ahead for snacks on sale and take my own “team” photo.
My friends also make easy, plan-ahead meals so that no one is rushed after a long day out on the fields. This makes eating out a lot less common.
For any family looking to keep things in the budget, these strategies can help immensely for saving on spring sports. Personally, once the costs are out of the way, it leaves me free to enjoy my favorite part: watching my child play.