Back-to-school season is in full swing, which means it’s also fall sports registration time. Active families are getting their extracurriculars in order—and getting ready to pay the increasingly high price tag. Luckily, there are ways to do sports cheaply (and even free!). Check out these tips for saving money on sports for your kids.
1. Prioritize your child’s main sports interests
If you sign up for every sport, your bank account will obviously dwindle. Your time and money would be better spent on the activities they love best. Sit down for a chat with your child about which sports are their favourite and why. Do they love the team element of hockey? Do they feel most motivated by outdoor sports like mountain biking or skiing? Are they more of a solo athlete, who likes to run or cycle? Narrow down the options to save both time and money.
Also, the younger your child, the better it is to try many different sports and activities, which means that you can balance more expensive sports in one season, with less expensive ones in another.
2. Find out about free school teams
Before you get in line to register for extracurriculars, be sure to check with your child’s school to find out which sports are offered for free or for a small fee. Many students (especially grades four and up) can do track and field, volleyball, basketball, and more at school facilities after hours. These sports practices and games are usually held after school and in the evenings in the school gym, so it’s the same as having an extracurricular, but it’s actually just free. It’s a great and accessible way to be involved in team sports.
3. Consider low-budget sports (like dodgeball or basketball)
Skiing and hockey are wonderful, but they’re not cheap. Your town or city likely offers lower-cost sport options like basketball that are equally fun and active, but don’t require you to spend a mortgage payment on it. For example, our town’s hockey association charges $600 per season, while the community centre charges $100 for a season of dodgeball.
4. Buy equipment secondhand
If you’re committing to a more expensive sport because that’s where your child’s interest lies, you can still save on supplies. The best way to buy sports equipment is to get it for free! Friends and family hand-me-downs are obviously the number one choice, but you can also check local buy-nothing groups, buy-and-sell sites, and secondhand shops like Play it Again Sports to ensure you’re getting the equipment you need for the lowest possible price. Other secondhand shops like Once Upon a Child usually have things like soccer cleats and skates for a reduced price. Here’s some more info on how to find sports equipment on a budget.
5. Think of the full cost before committing
Often, the registration fee for a sport isn’t even the biggest cost associated with it. Equipment, driving, and hotels or food and drinks associated with out-of-town tournaments all add up. Before committing to a sport, keep all the added costs in mind.
6. Sign all your kids up for the same sport
Family sports are one option that can keep everyone active while also staying relatively cost-effective. For example, you can all hit the ski hill together, get a family pass for the season, and go whenever you want. You can also hand down equipment from child to child, so you’re only buying it once.
7. Organize a fundraiser for your child’s team
If you’ve tried to steer them in a frugal direction but your child just loves horseback riding and hockey, then it might just be time for a fundraiser. Get together with other team parents to brainstorm ways to fundraise. The kids might sell doughnuts, wash cars, have a bake sale, or host a concession stand at the next game. Money raised can cover everything from new equipment or uniforms to travel expenses, especially for traveling teams.