How to Budget for Your Children’s After School Activities1st June 2015
Extracurricular activities such as sports or arts don’t just build the particular skill; they have undeniable benefits to a child’s development. Activities and hobbies help cultivate the very traits which will be useful throughout your kid’s future life and career – like responsibility, focus or teamwork. As a parent you naturally want the best for your kids, even when it means sacrificing big parts of your disposable income, time and comfort.
The True Cost of Extracurricular Activities
Children’s sports or arts lessons typically come with membership or course fees, but in many cases these are just a very small part of the true, total costs:
- There is expensive equipment or clothes you need to buy, often repeatedly as your child grows or advances in the particular activity.
- There are competitions, seminars or camps, some of them costing a small fortune.
- Your child’s regular travel to and from the activity, typically several times per week, also adds up. Moreover, it can also take a significant bit from your own already overstretched schedule.
Is there a way for you to still provide your kids with enjoyable experiences and valuable education, while keeping the costs under control and still having some time left for yourself?
Find an Alternative
If you feel your child’s particular activity puts too much strain on the family’s budget or life, try to think about possible alternatives – things your kid would enjoy as much as the existing activity, but at lower cost. For example, your son may enjoy running as much as ice hockey, with the former costing a fraction of the latter.
If you have multiple children, the costs and time demands grow proportionally. But do they have to? It helps to have all your children do the same activity. Equipment can be shared or passed to younger siblings. Sometimes you may be able to get sibling discounts on club fees. Moreover, if your children have their lessons all at the same time, you can save time when driving them there.
Of course, this is not always possible. If your son is really passionate about football and your daughter loves dancing, it may be difficult to find something good for both.
Talk to Your Kids
The most important piece of advice that underlies all the above listed tips is communication. Do not act like your children are too young for their own voice to matter. Spend some time discussing their wants and needs with them, as well as the implications to your own schedule and to the family budget. If your children are old enough to understand money issues, it may also be a good opportunity to give them some money education in the process.