This post is part of an editorial series, “Money Matters.”
As a mother of three children, who are at ages when sports, dance, cheer, and even choir are a must, I find myself counting nickels and dimes more often than I would like. I have two boys who are baseball players. One of them is on a travel team, and the other made All-Stars this last spring. Neither team is cheap. Our one girl, was in Texas Girl’s Choir for a while, but has now retreated to the dance studio at her charter school. As you can imagine, having three children in travel sports and a traveling choir can get pricey. However, I have found ways to help pay for our children’s hobbies that keep us from going broke.
When my daughter first joined Texas Girl’s Choir, we cringed to learn of the bi-annual tuition fees, camp fees, travel costs, and uniform expenses. However, once in the choir, we discovered they have a fund-raising squad that is second to none! To our amazement they have fund raisers at Trader Village, the Ranger Games, and Texas Motor Speedway to name a few. They held training meetings to teach parents how to pay for their child’s expenses on a regular basis, and they had a board set up with fundraising opportunities to help parents stay abreast of the latest fundraising venues. That experience taught me a lot about raising money to fund my children’s activities. I learned that there are more ways to raise funds for extracurricular activities than I had previously realized. Therefore, I’d like to share some of the wisdom I gained with you all.
Corporate sponsorship is a real good way to pay for team, choir, or dance expenses. In fact, we never paid for my daughter’s tuition the entire time she was in the choir. My husband’s employer picked up the tab; all we had to do was ask!
So, before you get overwhelmed by the high cost of youth activities, ask your boss if your company sponsors kids in sports, dance, choir, etc. You might get a surprising, “yes.” We did!
One of our teams have from time to time asked local restaurants to sponsor us by giving us a percentage of their profits from a set time on a select day. Those profits go to the team to help with buying bat bags, new cleats, team jerseys, and a whole host of other things. All we had to do was get the word out and show up to eat.
Corporate sponsors also have made one time donations to the dance program, choir, and athletic teams in exchange for their name showing up in a play bill, or on our team banner or on our team shirts. Corporations like the low cost advertising. It’s a win, win for everyone involved.
Buy-sell-or-trade groups on social media. Now that my daughter is in dance, buying shoes costs us around $80 per year. That is if we are lucky and her foot doesn’t grow. One way we have found to save us money on expensive dance shoes is a co-op of dance parents who trade or sell used shoes with each other via social media.
Buy-sale-or-trade groups have popped up all over the greater Fort Worth area. They have become my go to source for used dance and sports equipment. It cuts the cost by more than half. I recently was given a pair of size 8 tap shoes for my daughter for free! Currently, I am a member of 10 buy-sell-or-trade groups and none of them charge a fee to join. Some neighborhoods and schools have them as well.
The other great feature of those sites is that you can sell your old gear. That means that you don’t have to have a garage full of sports equipment that your children have outgrown. You can use last year’s gear to fund this year’s gear. Same for dance class. If you school, dance studio, choir, cheer squad, or team doesn’t have a parent buy-sell-or-trade group yet, you should start one!
Other ideas you may want to consider: Of course, there are other ways to pay for the high costs of your children’s activities. Some groups have scholarships that help parents pay for lessons. Others groups fund raise together and split the money between those who show up to work the fundraiser.
One of our teams got involved in football squares during the Super Bowl last year. That one event made our team more money than any other fundraiser we did all year. I have heard of teams and cheer squads setting up go fund me accounts and then sending letters out to all their family and friends when they have a major trip or event coming up. Recently, I heard of a team that used this method to go to an out of state tournament. It worked well for them.
The bottom line is children’s activities can be expensive. They don’t have to be. You can find ways to trim down expenses. This is doable if you get creative.