When it comes to your kids' volleyball, basketball and everything in between, costs seem to be rising every year. This puts extra pressure on already-strained family budgets, and can sometimes lead to skipping the very activities that kids enjoy most. Before you scrap plans for putting Junior on the team, check out these simple tactics for getting more game time for your hard-earned dollar. (For more, see 7 Ways To Fund Your Child's Athletic Pursuits.)

IN PICTURES: 8 Money-Saving Tips For Sports Fans

Keep it In the Family
While every child is unique, and there is no guarantee that all siblings will enjoy the same sport, a shared love of football, soccer or tennis has its financial benefits. In addition to the possibility of combining carpooling duties and saving fuel, there is the chance to hand down equipment and uniforms to younger brothers and sisters. Many class athletics, like karate and gymnastics, will give discounts of 5-40% to each additional family member that signs up for lessons after the first enrollment. Your mileage will vary for this "bulk buying" approach, but it has worked for many large families over the years. (For a related reading, check out The Dark Side Of Buying Bulk.)

Skip the Fundraising
Selling popcorn, greeting cards and holiday wreaths in an effort to fund athletic programs comes from pure intentions. Unfortunately, the time and effort involved can quickly drain a fundraising mom or dad (and is not usually welcomed by the family and friends you peddle to.) Before you sign up to market pizza coupons to your workplace, see if there is possibility to simply donate the cash equivalent of what the organization would net on the sale. Profit margins on fundraising items can be dismally low, and many people would rather just see that the child be supported - sans the overpriced gimmick.

IN PICTURES: 20 Lazy Ways To Save Money

Allow Your Child to Pitch In
Many kids want to be involved in every sport available to them, and when forced to choose just a few, it can cause turmoil and tears. We agree that most of the money for at least one athletic program should come from the pockets of the parents, if possible, but if a highly-motivated player wants to do more, let them help with the cost. In addition to allowance and job earnings, kids can choose to redirect gift funds into their athletic pursuits. You may be surprised to learn just how much Grandma would enjoy seeing her $20 birthday cash go toward the promise of a future athlete. (To learn more, see Teaching Your Child To Be Financially Savvy.)

Research Costs
By nature, some sports will cost much more to participate in than others. Therefore, it's perfectly acceptable to nudge your child towards those pursuits that fit into the family budget. Be sure to take the entire season into account when figuring up the total bill; many sports last almost the entire year, involve several clinics and drag out their post-season events until the next season is about ready to start.

Likewise, it's best to avoid those sports that require a large initial investment until you are certain that your child is both mature enough and passionate enough for the pursuit. Nothing is worse than plunking down hundreds of dollars for special equipment, only to find that your child hasn't the gumption to play past the first week. If you are unsure about how well your child will take to a new sport, inquire about a special visit to an actual game or participation in a free lesson or practice session. You can usually get a feel for any major conflicts or fears before putting any cash down. (For more, see The Most Economical Sports For Kids.)

Ask for Help
In today's trying economic times, it's not uncommon to see families struggling to put even the smallest amount of their paychecks towards sporting hobbies. As a response to the need, many schools and private organizations offer scholarships, grants and payment programs designed to get kids off the bench for a more reasonable fee. If the private team in your neighborhood or school is still out of your budget, your child may benefit from playing a community sport or engaging in free play at the local YMCA. (A loosely-structured team environment is still better than no team at all.)

The Bottom Line
Childhood obesity and the school dropout rate are reminders of how important athletic pursuits can be in a child's life. In addition to providing life skills, positive character traits, and physical fitness benefits, they are a great way to get kids connected in the school and community. Make the time to get your child involved in a budget-friendly sporting activity while they are young, and realize a return on investment that cannot be beat in any marketplace.

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    6 Tips for Investing in Antiques

    Historically, antiques are highly appreciating assets, but be prepared for a long-term investment.
  2. Insurance

    How to Shop for Home Insurance

    Tips for getting the best protection for your place and possessions.
  3. Personal Finance

    The Future Outlook of the Golf Industry

    The popularity of golf peaked in 2003. To regain popularity and survive, the industry is adapting to appeal to a younger generation of players.
  4. Personal Finance

    Sending Money: MoneyGram vs. Western Union

    Comparing the differences between the services – and the fees.
  5. Professionals

    Top Financial Planning Issues for Older Parents

    Clients who have children later in life present an opportunity for advisors. Here are the key the financial planning issues that need to be addressed.
  6. Budgeting

    The 5 Most Expensive States for Child Care

    To get a better sense of how child care costs can fluctuate, here's a look at the costs of child care across the country.
  7. Retirement

    Why Retiring Sooner Might Be a Bad Idea

    Learn why even though most people dream of early retirement, it has plenty of downfalls that include less money, lower productivity and schedule upheaval.
  8. Professionals

    How Advisors Can Help Expectant Couples

    Bringing a child into the world makes parents more acutely aware of their finances. Here's how advisors can help expectant couples prepare.
  9. Retirement

    Why Millennials Should Invest in a Roth IRA

    Saving for retirement is important, and it's important to start early. A Roth IRA is a great option for low-earners just entering the workforce.
  10. Home & Auto

    Are Home Inspections Worth It? - Price vs. Value

    If you’re wondering whether home inspection is worth the investment, the following information will help you decide.
  1. Hole-In-One Insurance

    A product that offers financial protection to golf tournament ...
  2. Linked Transfer Account

    Accounts held by an individual at a financial institution that ...
  3. Merchandising

    Merchandising is any act of promoting goods or services for retail ...
  4. Pension Risk Transfer

    When a defined benefit pension provider offloads some or all ...
  5. Foreign remittance

  6. Marginal Propensity to Save

    The proportion of an aggregate raise in pay that a consumer spends ...
  1. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do alimony and child support factor into my taxable income?

    The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, applies a different tax treatment to alimony than child support. Most forms of alimony ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How is marginal propensity to save calculated?

    Marginal propensity to save is used in Keynesian macroeconomics to quantify the relationship between changes in income and ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why is Manchester United (MANU) carrying so much debt?

    The takeover of Manchester United by the Glazer family beginning in 2005 saddled the historic club with substantial amounts ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are Manchester United's (MANU) largest revenue sources?

    Manchester United is one of the most popular U.K. soccer teams. Its principal stadium is Old Trafford, located in the heart ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Does Manchester United (MANU) own Old Trafford stadium?

    Old Trafford Stadium was built for and is currently still owned by Manchester United Football Club (Man Utd.). This means ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!