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Kids & Money: Choosing Extracurricular Activities

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extracurricular activityBack to school time has arrived. For many, that means that it’s time to choose extracurricular activities. While extracurricular activities can be excellent opportunities for students to improve themselves, learn new skills, and find their passions, these extra activities can also be expensive.

It’s true that you probably want your children to enjoy their time at school, as well as learn new skills and be involved. However, it’s probably not wise for your pocketbook to have your children involved in too many activities. If your budget is tight, here are some things to consider as you help your child choose extracurricular activities:

Priorities

First of all, this is a chance for your child to learn important lessons about priorities. We don’t always get to do everything we want to do all the time, so it is a good idea to help your child understand that now, especially if your budget just can’t handle a lot of activities. Some of the things to help your child consider when choosing activities include:

  • How much the child enjoyes the activity.
  • Whether there is a chance to excel at the activity.
  • Time the activity takes to accomplish.
  • Other obligations that conflict with the activity.
  • How expensive the activity is.

Help your children list the activities they are involved with, and decide on which they enjoy the most. This can also be a good way to help your child see that he or she might have time to excel at a particular activity, with time to practice. Having more time to work on one activity might be beneficial, and your child might decide that a little extra time to work on a particularly interesting activity is of benefit.

Understanding Your Budget

While you don’t want to overburden your child with the specifics of your financial situation, you should still explain matters. Talk over how much you can provide for an extracurricular activities in your budget. Perhaps your child might be willing to to participate in two or three less expensive activities, if budgetary constraints mean that he or she could only participate in one expensive activity.

You might also consider encouraging your child to help pay for some of the his or her extracurricular activities. It is possible to earn money with a part time job, do odd jobs around the neighborhood, babysit or find other ways to help pay for expensive activities.

Saving Money on Extracurricular Activities

There are ways to save money on extracurricular activities, even when they are expensive. One of the most common ways is to rent equipment if you can. It is usually possible to rent sports equipment, musical instruments and other necessities for extracurricular activities.

You might also find out if there is fund available to help you pay for items that you need. In some cases, there are funds set up, designed to help those with budget constraints pay for different items. This can be one way to get help with extracurricular activities.

In the end, though, sometimes you need to make hard decisions — and sometimes your kids need to make those decisions, too.

(Photo: besighnyawn)

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3 Responses to “Kids & Money: Choosing Extracurricular Activities”

  1. Dawn says:

    I have 7 children ages 16 and under. They didn’t participate in extracurricular activities until a few years ago. Our first attempt was a karate class we were all involved with. That worked well until time constraints put an end to it.

    Because of time and money, my children are only allowed to participate in one sport/activity per year. For two of my boys, that means football. For another, wrestling. We do not have the time or money for everyone to do everything.

    They get free music lessons at school (I do pay for the instruments) and if they want to participate in more that one sport in high school (they provide transportation at that level), they must contribute for the necessary equipment.

    It works pretty well for us.

  2. thunderthighs says:

    I’m glad you didn’t suggest simply expecting your child to pay for all of his own extracurricular activity costs; I wouldn’t feel right charging my child for something my parents willingly provided to me.

    I was rather disgusted by a slideshow on CNN Money that featured parents bragging that they made their children pay for their own restaurant meals. My friend’s parents treated their children this way, and my friend has some emotional issues with cash as a result.

  3. Monica Clark says:

    I never realized how much money and time my parents spent on all my activities, until I became a parent myself! My kids have tried various things through the years, some have stuck and others have not.
    When they tried a new sport, we bought most of the equipment from a sports consignment shop, excluding shoes and mouth guards. We looked at Craigslist and garage sales also for sports equipment and musical instruments. We compared the fees of different recreation centers to determine which was the better deal. It can be expensive, but if they find that one activity they love, then its worth it.


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