We love that our kids want to be a part of a variety of activities. We all know it's better than having them lay around the house whining that they are bored. It's also time away from staring at the television or other electronics.
Unfortunately, these activities can really leave a hole in your wallet. When you and your child decide they are going to participate in an activity you are soon paying registration fees, uniform or costume fees, tournament fees, equipment fees, concessions and maybe even tickets to attend your child's activity. Next thing you know you have shelled out a whole lot of money or collected a hefty credit card bill.
Being active is important for kids' physical and mental health. It doesn't mean that you have to spend large sums of money or go broke getting them involved in summer activities.
1. Plan ahead...Talk with your kids prior to the spring or summer sign up dates to find out what activities they would like to be involved in over the summer. You might think they want to play soccer but they were also hoping to spend a week at camp with their friends.
2. Research options...Once you find out what your child is interested in doing over the summer start during your research. Find out what options are available and the expected expenses. If they want to attend a basketball or theatre camp you might find there are several organizations hosting them over the summer. The prices and duration of the camp can vary by hundreds of dollars. Determine what option(s) will work best for your family.
3. Determine how much you want to budget...Once you have done your research you should know about how much each activity will cost you. If you already do a monthly budget you should have a pretty good idea of how much money you can put towards summer activities. If you don't budget and just spend as needed you should still set a dollar amount. If you don't, then little Johnny's activities are going to rack up quickly and you'll wonder why your wallet is empty when it's time to buy school supplies.
OVERWHELMED WITH THE IDEA OF BUDGETING? I CAN HELP.
4. It's okay to say no...If you just can't swing it, don't put yourself in debt because you don't want to say no to your child. If your child really wants to play baseball, soccer and attend a couple camps that might be a little too much for you to commit financially. Discuss which activities are most important to them and prioritize a list. If you can only swing one or two activities then your child knows that their top choice(s) made the cut.
5. Organize your own activities...Who remembers getting friends and neighbors together for a game of kickball or softball? It was a blast! And it was free! No registration fees and no uniforms required. If you don't have it in the budget for your kids to play in a sport or attend a camp then organize a neighborhood activity. Have the kids put on a play in your backyard or invite friends to join you at the ball field. I know most kids would love to challenge their parents to a game. What a great chance to bring out your inner child!
These tips have helped us to schedule our summer activities and feel confident that we won't break the bank. We don't use any plastic (you know those credit card things) so it feels awesome knowing exactly what we have paid and not waiting 30 days later to see a big ugly bill that shows you a whopping list of expenses. I don't know about you but that sounds like a stressful way to end a fun summer.
Start planning and saving for your summer activities now so can relax and enjoy watching your kids in action!