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Budget Busters: Family Sports

According to the National Council on Youth Sports, parents spend an average of $671 per year on youth sports, with 20% of parents spending over $1,000 or more per year—on each child!

The good news is parents have options when it comes balancing sports-related spending.

Often, parents find themselves dipping deeper into the family savings or reaching for the credit card to pay for their kids’ sporting experiences. Before you fork over big bucks for coaches, travel expenses, league fees, uniforms, and equipment, consider these tips to help you budget and lower your costs—and still have fun!

Be realistic.

Evaluate the reason for the sports experience. If it’s to prep your child for a major league career before they’ve even attended their first practice, lower your expectations. Skip the expensive equipment and costly travel teams and focus on fun.

Borrow equipment, not money.

If your child is starting in a sport, always try to borrow before you buy. Ask friends and neighbors if they have anything to share. Additionally, if your kid is joining a league, it may have a supply of loaner equipment for beginners.

Buy used equipment.

For amateur athletes, buying expensive pro gear won’t make you a star. Instead, buy used equipment while your young athlete learns the fundamentals. They can work their way up as their game improves. You can also shop during the off-season for better deals.

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Sell old equipment to help fund new purchases.

Instead of letting old, unused equipment pile up in your garage as your kids get older, sell it. If online selling isn’t your thing, find a resale store that will let you trade up for new equipment.

Pay attention to quality.

As your kids get more serious about a sport, make sure the equipment is durable. Obviously, you want to keep them safe, and high-quality gear should last for at least one season. Rule of thumb? If an item is new but suspiciously cheap, you should probably avoid it.

Choose your sports carefully.

Financially speaking, not all sports are created equal. Among the most expensive? Ice hockey, skiing, and horse riding. Even traditional sports like baseball and football can get costly once you factor in equipment or take part in travel teams.

Go with local recreational leagues instead of travel teams.

Travel teams are not cheap. It can cost thousands of dollars for your kids to be on a travel squad. Not to mention the travel expenses parents will incur during the season.

Budget and save for sports.

For families active in multiple sports, it makes sense to add sports expenses to your budget. An effective way to save for sports is to do it throughout the year. Open a separate savings account dedicated to sports expenses and contribute to it regularly. Small, consistent contributions will add up fast.

Don’t go into debt.

No matter how tempting it may be to finance your child’s sports career, avoid borrowing or using credit cards to make it happen. It won’t make you a bad parent. Instead, plan out your expenses, save throughout the year, and evaluate every sports-related purchase before committing family dollars to it.

Individual and team sports can be a great way to provide a healthy, active lifestyle to large and small families. Parents that commit to a plan will find that it is possible to enjoy the benefits of sports without breaking the family budget.

Next Steps

There are many resources available from PenAir to help you take steps to securing your financial future. Here are just a few:

Meet With a Financial Coach
Get One-on-One Counseling
Financial Fitness Courses
Explore our free resources
Financial Calculators
Crunch the Numbers
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