After-school activities are great for providing children with opportunities to play sports, learn musical instruments and engage in other interests outside of their regular studies, but they can be expensive. Between having to pay fees to help the school cover the costs of programs to buying equipment, parents often end up paying a lot of money for their children’s extra-curricular hobbies. Fortunately, there are ways to enroll children in these programs without breaking the bank. Here are just a few examples.
Register for Sports Programs Early
Many schools offer incentives for students who enroll in sports programs early in the year. Depending on the program and the school, you can save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the total registration cost if you pre-register. Talk to your child about any sports they may be interested in before the school year begins so that you can register as early as possible. You usually have to register about two months before the season begins, but it is well worth it if you can save some money.
Find Programs Outside of School
After-school activities don’t have to be limited to those offered by your children’s school. Organizations such as the YMCA and SwimJim.com often have athletic programs that are much more affordable. Take a look around your community and talk to other parents to find programs that fit within your budget.
Buy Secondhand Equipment
Some people may turn their noses up at buying second-hand sports equipment, but it is a great way to save money. Most second-hand sporting goods that you will find will be in decent shape and work just as well as something that is brand new, so why wouldn’t you buy it? As long as it’s regulation equipment, it will serve your child just as well as something that is brand new and costs nearly twice as much.
Look for Scholarships
Depending on the program and how much you can afford to pay, you may be eligible for scholarships that will cover at least part of the cost of an after-school program. These scholarships are surprisingly common, yet many don’t know they exist. Ask the head of your child’s chosen program if any scholarships are available.
Rethink Private Music Lessons
If your child wants to learn to play a musical instrument, private lessons are probably the best way to get them started. Unfortunately, a great professional teacher can be very expensive. Instead of spending money you may not have on the services of a private teacher, look for upperclassmen in your child’s school district who is willing to give beginner lessons at lower prices or even for free. Otherwise, you can teach your child yourself if you know how to play an instrument, although it’s best not to pick up an instrument for the first time for this reason. You’ll just be a beginner providing lessons to another beginner. It may be fun to learn the same instrument together, but you should seek the opinion of someone who is at least at an intermediate level.
Rent a Musical Instrument Instead of Buying
Many people who don’t know much about music are shocked when they find out how expensive high-quality musical instruments can be. For example, a good stringed instrument in the violin family costs thousands of dollars. Buying such an instrument is an investment and probably the largest expense you will have if you’re enrolling your child in a music program. Instead of buying an instrument, check your child’s school district or local music stores for rental opportunities. You probably won’t get the greatest musical instrument money can buy, but you will have something that your child can play at an affordable price.
After-school activities can be important for a child’s educational development, and your child deserves a chance to be involved in one. Consider these money-saving tips, and don’t let a limited budget stop your children from doing what they love.