Today’s kids are involved in many activities from Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts to sports and traveling teams. As a parent, one often must maintain a balance between involving your child and watching him grow physically and emotionally through his involvement in sports and your own bottom line. Kids’ extracurricular activities can be expensive—inevitably, they cost more than you thought they cost when you signed up your kids.
If your child is contemplating a new extracurricular activity, here are some ways to determine exactly how much you will pay.
- Talk with the coach or instructor. Before signing up, talk with those who organize the sports to determine what the final cost will be. My son has taken tap dance for three years, and recently he switched to a new studio. I understood the price to be the price of his classes for the year and a costume for the recital. Imagine my surprise at the end of the year when I discovered parents’ dance recital tickets are not complimentary as they were at the other studio, but instead are $19 a piece. In addition, there is no discounted ticket price for small children. For me, my husband and one of our young daughters, the price to attend the recital is $57. (Our two year old will sit on our lap so we can save paying another $19.) The DVD of the recital is another $35, and I still don’t know how much his recital picture will be. In just this recital week, we have added nearly $100 to the expense of my son’s involvement in dance, and this is an expense we had not planned.
- Talk with other parents. While coaches or instructors may forget to add the costs of things like the recital and DVD, for example, most parents will remember. If you can find a parent to talk to before you enroll your child, you will likely learn more about potential “hidden” costs that you don’t discover until it is too late to drop out of the activity.
- Plan on a gift expense. This will often not be stated, but more and more frequently, parents are asked to contribute for a gift for the instructor. In my experience, this has run $10 to $20 per family.
- Remember the registration or administration fee. Many sports and extracurricular activities charge a registration fee or an administrative fee. This can run from $25 to $50.
- Equipment expenses. Most sports or activities have equipment expenses from uniforms to specialized shoes to protective gear. Get an idea upfront how much this will cost. My son needs dance shoes about once or twice a year depending on how fast he grows, and this can be an additional expense of up to $70 a year.
If your budget is tight or if you have a child who is involved in multiple activities (or more than one child involved in activities), paying for each of their activities can be expensive. To decide how many you can comfortably pay for, it is important to determine ALL of the expenses involved before signing up. With some detective work and some assumptions about non-stated fees, such as a gift for the teacher, you can make an informed decision.