Growing up I had one baseball mitt, one soccer ball and a dog-chewed Nerf football…I think I had it pretty great. Name most sports/hobbies today however, and along with it comes an exhausting list of expenses: club soccer tournaments, hockey gear and practice ice time, dance competitions and outfits, horseback riding lessons, etc. We are no strangers to these financial demands, as two of our daughters (Shannon & Phoebe) are competitive ice skaters, and our third Hadley takes pottery lessons.
In both cases, these are year-round commitments of time, energy and significant money. I vividly recall the first time our financial coach Laura asked the question of how much we spend on ice skating and pottery in a month…we gave her a deer-in-the-headlights answer of, “a lot.” In fact, one of the most eye opening outputs of setting up a monthly budget managed through Summit sub-savings accounts (groceries, mortgage, insurance, etc.) was the amount of dollars that we allocate towards our daughters’ activities.
Laura’s next question was even harder to answer. “Do you and Heather want to spend in the present or save for the future?” Crickets.
The truth of the matter is, we are doing whatever we can financially today to keep all of them engaged in their activities. We feel that our investments in these present activities are giving our daughters essential skills and experience for the rest of their lives. For our family, the benefits of confidence building, creativity, sportsmanship, physical fitness and team work, far outweigh the dollars we pay.
We’ve started including our daughters in our conversations/decisions about these expenses we incur, so they can better understand why getting to practice/lessons on-time and doing their best is both personally & financially important.
So to have any chance at winning Project Money and maintaining a budget that results in savings put away each month, we are figuring out how to get maximum benefit through minimal cost.
Here are a few examples of what we are doing differently now, compared to the past:
- Although it is a joy to watch my daughters compete, Hadley and I no longer attend out-of-town competitions. This enables Heather to share a hotel room with another family and drastically reduce cost by about $200 per trip.
- Hand-me-down outfits for competitions. New they are $100-$300 and usually only get worn once or twice. This has become a great way to save money and the girls love the outfits!
- Instead of expensive birthday gifts, Hadley has started a tradition of making and gifting her pottery to family and friends. My orange wolf pencil sharpener is worth more to me than a million bucks!
- Heather’s iPhone takes amazingly clear pictures of Shannon & Phoebe on the award podium and with team members (as opposed to paying the professional photographer) …a savings of at least $100 per completion.
- Carpooling! Heather teams up with other moms to share a vehicle for out-of-town competitions and cut the costs of gasoline, toll, parking, etc. to the tune of around $75 per road trip.
- Snacks, lunches and drinks. Ordering room service, eating out meals and convenience store visits really add up! We now shop at Woodman’s ahead of trips so that the majority of meals and all snacks are covered. In addition to eating healthier, we are saving about $150 per trip
Please share any money-saving for your kid’s activities that you have come across as well!