Raising a child can cost more than a well-meaning parent can ever imagine. Add in the expense of hobbies and sports, and you may end up with a much larger bill than you bargained for. These six sports are popular among kids, but cost much more than many of their athletic counterparts. (For a look at the other side of the coin, check out The Most Economical Sports For Kids.)
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The equipment costs of this popular sport can start out hefty. The price for skates, helmets, shin guards, elbow pads, shorts, shoulder pads, and sticks are overwhelming, and growing children can require many replacements before their career ends. Add in the cost of rink time, and parents may find themselves wishing for a more affordable hobby. While some items can be purchased used, it isn't always of the best quality, and some leagues may frown upon it. The total price tag for this sport can near $1,000 or more per season.
Riding a bike as a sport has one obviously large expense: The bike. New bikes can start at around $500 and go up with the level of features and the brand that you wish to purchase. Serious cyclers can spend thousands on a bike, and cycling shoes, helmets, and clothing will run an additional hundred dollars or more. Each race will require a fee, usually $15 to $30, but the transportation to the race costs extra. This sport, which used to be considered obscure, is growing in popularity, but events can still be spaced thousands of miles apart and require much time and effort to get there. (For a related reading, check out The Surprising Salaries Of Fringe Sports Stars.)
While the type of team will vary by age level, location and desire to compete, soccer has the potential to drain a parent's wallet for years. According to mom blogger Jessica Gottlieb, even "modest soccer" has its fees. While the regular season may cost no more than $30 a month and the cost of equipment (shin guards, cleats and sunscreen), the travel season is another story.
"You can plan on about $400 a month in travel and registration fees from January to May," she says. In addition, some parents will fork out an additional amount for private coaching, at a cost of around $35 for a half hour.
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Equestrianism is one of the top mentioned "expensive" sports among parents of today's competitive youth. In addition to the cost of lessons, usually $30 to $50 per hour, there is the cost of proper riding attire and the use of a horse, which can run well over $1,000. If a parent wants to provide a child with their own horse, the sky is the limit for how high the bill may rise. Horses cost from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, but their boarding, grooming, feed, medical and transportations costs are the bulk of the costs. One parent we talked to admitted to spending over $25,000 a year on their child's equestrian career!
Like many sports that have the potential to lead to Olympic accomplishments, gymnastics can start out with a simple once-a-week lesson - and turn into something with a much more frightening price tag. Professional private coaching can run into hundreds of dollars a month, and this doesn't include the cost of warm-up and performance clothing. Since each meet is likely to involve travel costs and registration fees, children in the older levels will incur more costs than those in elementary school. Many parents find that it is easy to pay $1,000 to $5,000 a year for basic expenses, not including additional skills camps and Olympic circuit training. (For more, see 5 Tips For Saving On Kids' Sports.)
With a lifespan that can start with children as young as three, and the potential to continue until college or longer, this sport has a high potential to break the extracurricular budget. In addition to the uniform, which can run $150 to $800, there are the costs associated with warm-up clothing, shoes, accessories and travel clothes. Even if your school team covers the cost of training and gym rental, there is still the expense of competition fees. These can range, depending on the level, and must be added to the cost of traveling to each event. Parents have spent thousands per year on this sport, even with the fundraising that many teams require of their members.
The Bottom Line
While many children have thrived in the environment that even the most expensive sports have provided, not all parents can realistically budget for the financial burden. Check the total bill against your own budget before committing to that first lesson. You may be able to find an alternative passion for your child to follow, one that could potentially leave a little more on the table for their college fund. (For tips on how to pay for your kids' hobbies, check out 7 Ways To Fund Your Child's Athletic Pursuits.)