Guest Blog written by Anya Willis
Supporting Your Young Star: Tips for Financing a Child’s Sports Interests
If you’re a parent with a budding hoops star or soccer prodigy, you want to do everything you can to foster that talent and give him or her every opportunity to succeed. That can be difficult if you’re on a tight budget or if your child plays a sport that requires lots of equipment or travel time. It’s very easy to spend a lot of money on a child’s blossoming sports career these days, especially if he or she is into something like hockey or lacrosse. It can easily become a full-on investment, such as private school or violin lessons. The more you can do to minimize the financial burden, the more your child will get out of the experience. Consider the following tips for budget-friendly ways to help your youngster develop his or her talent.
Used, Not New
There are many used sporting equipment outlets that offer good deals on everything from shoes and cleats to racquets and gloves. Buying used gear is one of the easiest ways to avoid the thousands of dollars you can spend on equipment, fees, uniforms, and transportation, especially if there’s more than one young athlete in the family. This is one area where “dent and scratch” shouldn’t deter you. Padding and equipment are covered up anyway, so paying less for obviously well-used options is no big deal. Used baseball gloves are often preferable because there’s no need to break in a stiff and brand new glove, which can take weeks to get just right.
If your child is a tennis player, you can easily find perfectly good racquets for under $50. Be careful, however, when purchasing used soccer or football cleats, ice skates, or running shoes. A bad fit can quickly result in a twisted ankle or torn tendons. Also just because you’re buying used, doesn’t mean you can’t look over product reviews to help you make your decision.
If your child loves basketball, a basketball hoop and backboard in the driveway can be a major advantage and an opportunity to work on his or her shot, ball-handling abilities, and agility. Do your research to find the most durable and easy-to-assemble hoops at the best price.
You’ll probably find that some of the other parents are in the same boat and are looking for ways to economize on equipment. Consider setting up a swapping program, where you can exchange shirts, jerseys, pants, pads, and shoes, which is an effective and budget-friendly way to ensure everyone gets well-fitting uniforms and practice clothing. Another family may have older children with items that might fit your child perfectly. You never know until you try, so don’t be afraid to check with other parents. You can also do some swapping with other families, or buy at online on sites like sidelineswap.com and swapmesports.com.
This is an obvious one, but if you’re serious about saving money, you need to take advantage of all the family hand-me-downs you possibly can. Use them until they’re ready to come apart at the seams. If you’ve gone through everything at home, reach out to siblings and cousins with young athletes to see if they have anything that might work for your kid. It that’s not an option, check with any neighbors you’re comfortable approaching.
Be Choosy About Trips and Tournaments
Traveling to out-of-town tournaments and exhibitions can really rack up the travel costs, so be selective about any games that aren’t absolutely necessary to attend. For travel games that are “must-play” situations, ask around to see if any other parents are willing to carpool and/or share hotel costs/accommodations. Redeem hotel and airline credit card reward points.
There are lots of opportunities to support a child’s sports interests without ruining your budget. Get to know other parents on your child’s team who may be willing to work together to cut costs. Also, use your creativity and resourcefulness to come up with new ways to do more with less.