Many kids go from sport to sport, looking for one that fits their likes and abilities. You know the drill: soccer one season, baseball the next. Between registration and sport-specific equipment, all this dabbling gets expensive.
The costs definitely add up once your child decides to pursue a particular sport to a higher level. You can expect to potentially add higher coaching fees, travel costs for competitions (including gas, hotel, and food), event entry fees, membership fees, and more specialized equipment. It can be a costly endeavor to keep your children physically and mentally active, but it doesn't have to be that way. We've come up with seven ways to help you support your sporty kid.
- If your child specializes in one particular sport, it can be expensive.
- Asking for financial assistance in the form of local sponsorship is one way to help pay for the high cost of children's athletics.
- If your child is older, ask them to find ways to earn money to help pay for the extras, like new gears, shoes, or uniforms, associated with playing on a travel team.
- If your child shows potential in a particular sport, ask the coach if the team's league or organization can offer financial assistance.
Soliciting your friends' and relatives' financial help can be uncomfortable, yet most people you ask would be willing to donate a few dollars to go towards a specific goal. Cite specific reasons why your child needs X amount of dollars before a certain date. For example, "Josh needs $100 to attend a two-day camp that will really help develop his skills as a goalie." Depending on your child's age, they can be the ones to approach friends and relatives. Ongoing support from any sponsor is ideal because it's money you can count on.
Many recreation centers and schools offer financial aid or scholarship programs to ensure all children have access to the gear and uniforms they need for after-school sports.
Local Business Sponsors
The chances are slim that you can get signed on with Nike when your kid is eight years old, but you can secure financial assistance from local businesses. Again, it is best to approach the business with a particular goal in mind, or at least a set of statistics. Make to provide potential sponsors with the average yearly costs associated with participating in the sport and the sport's positive individual and community aspects. Cite possible advertising opportunities, and offer to write a thank-you editorial in your local newspaper. Think of creative ways to incentivize the business. Most businesses like to help kids be fit and active because it's good public relations.
Rather than donating cold hard cash, some businesses might consider giving products such as equipment or unrelated goods that can be raffled off to raise money. Ensure the donor approves of the raffle; chances are they will since it can provide great publicity. This can be a good opportunity for a team fundraiser. In addition, you can also speak to your child's sports league about an equipment swap, where families can trade or donate gently used uniforms or gear.
Work a Deal with the Organizer
Some sports, such as gymnastics or tennis, require expensive monthly tuition for your child to participate. If you have a special skill that the organizer can benefit from or don't mind "volunteering" at the front desk, you might be able to strike a deal for reduced registration. Depending on your skills, you could offer to design their website, repair a piece of equipment or sew costumes. Think of ways you can save the organizer money and offer it in exchange for payment.
Make a Website
Many young athletes have websites to let the world know about their dreams. Be sure the website includes detailed directions for donating, such as a PayPal "Donate" button.
Donors enjoy seeing what the athlete is up to, so be sure to update competition results and other achievements. Let everyone know about the website, and ask them to share it with people who might be interested. Many kids are tech-savvy enough to create and maintain their own websites, monitor them for safety reasons, and ensure that they remain professional and relevant to their sports training.
People who are reluctant to fork out cash just for the warm fuzzy feeling they get supporting your kid might be encouraged to donate if they get something tangible in exchange. You and/or your child can make something to sell—anything from cookies and cakes (include an ingredient list if people have allergies) to necklaces or even plants (start the seeds at home and sell when they are ready to plant in the garden). Ask a local business if you can set up shop in front of the store, and if so, advertise in the local newspaper, including the place, date, time, sale items, and the sale benefits.
Put the Kids to Work
If your child is pursuing an upper-level sport, the reality is that he or she will not have much time left over to devote to making money. That being said, your child can still help out by earning an allowance (even though this is your money anyhow, it teaches the child to work towards a goal, like attending a sports-themed summer camp, and you get some chores done in exchange), or by doing odd jobs as his or her schedule permits. Older kids can mow lawns or babysit; younger kids can offer to feed a neighbor's cat while they are away or pull some weeds in a neighbor's garden.
The Bottom Line
Sports are pricey, especially once your child gets to a competitive level. All of the travel expenses, equipment, coaching, memberships, doctor visits (gulp), and fees add up, and you, as the parent or guardian, have to come up with the money somehow. Rather than mortgage the house, you can hunt and gather bits of money from several different avenues.