Raising kids takes a lot of time, patience, love, and- of course- money. It’s difficult enough to keep your child entertained but especially frustrating when you’re trying your best to stick to a family budget. Whether you’re looking to cut costs on activities your children are already in, or looking for affordable plans for the whole family, it can be tricky to find solutions that make sense. Luckily, I’ve come up with these 5 simple ways you can save money on the things your kids love the most:
For Existing Activities:
Check Out Your Local Community Center!
The YMCA (and similar community centers or religious centers) usually offer classes for kids, including swimming, soccer and basketball. Some of these programs let kids sample a sport each week to get an idea if they want to pursue it. This helps you avoid making an investment into something your child may not enjoy.
The Best Equipment is Worn in!
Some sports and activities can come with added fees for equipment.. Look for lightly used and new sporting equipment on sites like Craigslist and Ebay to cut down on costs. Check at the place the activity is held for second hand items. My daughter’s dance studio had a place to donate used dance shoes that could be taken for free by others. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and neighbors for outgrown uniforms, shoes and other equipment. If your child is exploring a new activity, look into renting equipment. This route is a good option since kids may pursue an activity and then decide to not continue it. It’s a great way to save money in the long run.
Let’s face it, private lessons aren’t worth the investment!
If your child is interested in a sport or musical instrument you may find yourself paying a fortune for private lessons. While you want them to get better and have that competitive edge, private lessons from a seasoned expert come with a big cost. Consider hiring a high school or college student to teach your kids lessons for their sport or instrument. Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s coach or teacher for extra help either, they will most likely be glad to do so for free!
If You’re Looking for Something New:
Have a Bake-a-thon!
Not only will you be able to enjoy some delicious treats, but you’ll be teaching your kid a valuable life skill. Baking is an activity that inspires creativity, teaches the importance of following directions, and is very affordable. You could even use it as an opportunity to learn something yourself too! Consider teaming up with another parent and child to split the costs of supplies. Browse the internet for inspiration and recipes suitable for your child’s age. Even if you’re not the next great baker, you and your kids are sure to have a fun time while in the kitchen.
Visit the Library!
An often forgotten perk of tax dollars, the library offers all sorts of affordable entertainment. Most libraries offer movie rentals, community-run activities, crafts, story time, museum passes, and, of course, books! Visit your local library’s website to see what awesome perks they might be offering.
Don’t forget about School District Options!
School sponsored programs are not only a great source for low cost babysitting after school but is also a chance for your kids to spend extra time with friends doing something fun. The costs are usually very reasonable and if not there are often hardship options for reduced costs.
Hopefully, these ideas will help to ease the cost of your child’s free time. It’s important to remember that while these tips might save you money, the real value is in the memories they’ll help you to create. Money doesn’t have to be an obstacle keeping you from giving your kids fun activities!
Leslie Tayne, Esq., is a consumer and business debt-related attorney and advisor. She founded Tayne Law Group, P.C., concentrating solely in debt resolution and alternatives to filing bankruptcy for consumers, small business owners and professionals. In addition, Tayne Law regularly consults and advises on debt management related issues.