By contributing writer Laura
Spring is finally here! The change of season means warmer weather and more time outdoors. Plus, spring ushers in a new season of tee ball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, soccer, track and field, golf, and other sports. Whether you have one kid or seven, you know that the fees for sports teams and equipment can add up to a big chunk of change for a family.
What can you do to save some cash on costs associated with kids sports? Here are some of my top tips, so you can help your child burn energy without burning a hole in your wallet!
Ways to Save on Sports
Free Programs or Discount Days
Search for programs available in your area such as free bowling during the summer, discount ice rink days, reduced open gym dates, and other similar programs or specials. This can be a great way to save money and enjoy sports activities for your youngsters. Typically free programs are non-competitive, less structured and do not offer any or much instruction, but you can’t beat free! Make sure to sign up for the e-mail newsletter or “like” sport club venues and companies on Facebook such as local ice skating rinks, gymnastics or tumbling centers, bowling alleys, etc. so you find out about special offers and discounts.
Some sports may have expensive equipment, but if you’re looking to save on enrollment fees, search for community clubs or groups instead of pricier private clubs. You can typically save money by joining community clubs, homeschool sports leagues, or enrolling in lessons or teams through your local parks and recreation department. You can also try to organize an informal group of your own with other families who may be interested in meeting up to play a sport once a week or a few times per month.
Consignment stores are a great place to buy used sports equipment, uniforms, and other goods at 20-60% off retail prices. Play It Again Sports is a well-known consignment store chain specializing in sports gear with hundreds of locations across the US. A big benefit of going the consignment route is that you not only save money by buying used gear, but you can also trade in or consign your own gear once your child has outgrown it or abandoned that sport for another.
Perhaps one of my favorite ways to find used gear is to check with parents of older teammates. If they have a child who is a larger size than your child, see if they’d be willing to give you the outgrown gear or uniform for free or at a deep discount. This can save you a bundle, plus you can take satisfaction in helping another parent feel good about clearing out a cluttered closet or garage while simultaneously helping a young athlete put the gear to good use.
Find out if your team, league, or organization has any swaps at the end or beginning of the season. This can be a great way for all parents to get an opportunity to shop others’ outgrown and unneeded uniforms and goods. If none exists, coordinate a swap yourself and collect items from other parents so that the community can pass on items and you and your friends can all save money in the process.
End of Season Sales
You can search for clearance items post season or shop end of season sales to find steeply discounted sporting equipment and gear. Planning ahead for next season and buying items when they’re not in high demand is a smart move. Retailers want to make room for high demand, in-season goods on their shelves, so they will often mark down items not in season, particularly when new models or lines will be introduced next year when the new season starts.
There are many ways you can save on sports on the Internet. You can find discounts on both new and used gear on sites like Amazon and eBay. You can also search Craigslist and Freecycle for relevant sports equipment and gear that others are looking to get rid of on the cheap, and sometimes giving away for free. Plus, I recommend checking daily deal sites, particularly hyper-local sites with kid-friendly offerings, to find discounts on new sports club enrollment, lessons, or sports camps.
Facebook is another great place to find used gear from members of your local community. You can find local yard sale groups and even niche sport equipment exchange groups. Through a quick Facebook search you can see if any exist in your area like this Clark County, Washington group, Temecula, California group, or Dickson County, Tennessee group. Simply conduct a search on Facebook for groups titled “sport equipment exchange” plus your city, county, or region to see what pops up. You can then request to join the group so you’ll have access to the listing of used sporting goods for sale, as well as be able to list and sell your own used equipment.
What ways do you save on all the expenses that come along with having your children active in sports? Do you have any other tips, such as limiting the number of clubs or sports each child can participate in? Be sure to leave a comment below and share your own advice for saving money on kids sports!