Did you play sports as a kid? At some point, most of us played in a basketball, baseball, or softball league whether we liked it or not. Being on a team teaches kids how to work and socialize with others. It’s a great way for kids to meet other kids and for parents to meet other parents, but it can get expensive.

Working with my financial coaching clients, we’ve found a number of ways to save on kids’ activities. Here are a few.

Talk to Other Parents

When you’re looking for the best fit for kids’ activities, talk to other parents. Ask about their child’s experience, which leagues they played in, and the cost. You’ll find out not only what the other parents and coaches were like, but if there were any unexpected expenses or time commitments that popped up. They also will be the ones in the know if a new unannounced team or league is starting next season and could give your child a better shot at making a team in their chosen sport.

Choosing the League

From city, YMCA, and Boys and Girls Club leagues to travel or club teams, there are options. Selecting kids’ activities isn’t just a financial question, although that may end up being a deciding factor. Consider your child’s level of interest in a particular sport. They may play in a more expensive club league for soccer because they are talented in that sport but play in a church or city league for basketball because that’s where their friends are playing.

Options for leagues include:

  • City or town
  • School or church
  • YMCA or Boys and Girls Club
  • Club or travel (the most expensive)

Remember, where you start isn’t necessarily where you’ll end. You may introduce your child to a sport in a less expensive city or non-competitive league and then advance to a more expensive option as they progress and show dedication to the sport.

Consider Coaching, Scholarship, & Sponsorship

Before you cross off a club or travel team from the list of options due to cost, find out if your child’s fees can be subsidized. Parents may be able to coach in exchange for a fee waiver or get paid for coaching. There also may be opportunities for scholarship and sponsorship of athletes. It will take some work on your part as a parent, but it could be worth it for your child’s experience.

Saving on Sports Equipment

You don’t have to break the bank buying new equipment for every sport and every season. Ask friends and neighbors if they have newer used equipment lying around. Look on Craigslist and check used sporting goods stores like Play it Again Sports. While there are certain items you will have to buy new, there are probably a lot more you can borrow, trade, or buy used to save money.

Budgeting Fees

As your child progresses, you will have a better idea of the cost of their activities. Ask coaches for the costs for the season as soon as they know. It’s easier to save a little each month for a big expense than to try to find the money when fees are due.

Kids’ activities can be a rewarding experience for children and parents. Do your research, add fees to your monthly budget, and find ways to save so you’re not breaking the bank.

For more posts about kids and money, check out our Carmen’s Corner series