Now that school is back in, you’re probably trying to adjust to the new schedule — and the costs associated with attending school. Among the costs of attending school are those related to extracurricular activities.
If your children are involved in activities like music, sports, drama, science olympiad, or other extracurriculars, you know that things can get expensive. I participated in a number of extracurricular activities growing up, and now that my son is starting middle school, and I see the costs, I begin to understand why my parents sometimes limited me.
As you try to navigate the budget associated with extracurricular activities, here are a few things you can do to reduce the costs:
First of all, you can limit the cost by saying no to some activities. The reality is that you probably can’t afford to have your child do everything. You have to prioritize your life and your budget, and now is the time to teach your child the same lesson. Figure out how many extracurricular activities are reasonable for your schedule and budget, and then tell your child to limit what he or she does. It will bring down costs dramatically.
Rent or Buy Used
Another strategy, when it comes to equipment, is to rent it or buy it used. My parents bought a gently used clarinet for my use through junior high and high school. They also rented the tenor saxophone I played in the jazz band.
There are also programs that allow you to rent sports equipment, or buy it used, so that you don’t have to pay full price. Look around to find quality used equipment, or find out if you can rent it. It costs much less than buying.
Also consider swapping, or using hand-me-downs. You might be able to exchange your old equipment for someone else’s, or you might have a friend or relative whose child has already participated in the activity. Ask around before you pay money for equipment.
Discounts and Sales
Don’t forget to look for discounts and sales. Coupon codes and promo codes are also possibilities. You can usually find what you need at a lower price if you look online. Consider asking a local store to price-match what you find online.
Consider Lower-Cost Alternatives
It’s also possible to consider lower-cost alternatives to some activities. Be realistic about the possibilities. Go through the school or through a community organization, instead of paying top dollar through a private organization. You can also look into programs designed to help those short on cash. If you have budgetary constraints, ask around to see if there are programs through a local charity or foundation that can help you pay.
Look Online for Lessons
In some cases, you might be able to look online for less expensive lessons. There are do-it-yourself lessons that can help your child learn to play instruments, or learn the foundation principles of dance or acting. While your child will eventually have to move on from these lessons, the truth is that it can be a good start — and it can help you gauge how serious your child is about pursuing an activity before you spend even more money.