Organized sports are great for your kids.
They get them off the couch and up being active. They give them an outlet for all their excess energy rather than getting into trouble because they are bored.
But sports are not cheap. You have uniforms and equipment specific to each activity. Then you have travel costs to practises and games. Here are some ideas to help keep your child in sports but keep cash in your wallet.
Buy sports equipment during the off season. Buy hockey equipment in the middle of summer and baseball bats in the dead of winter. Check out the end of season sales. This will save you some money on whatever type of gear you need.
If you have the option, try slightly used sporting goods. This will always be cheaper than buying brand new. Certain stores specialize in selling used sporting equipment try the yellow pages to locate one.
Check your local discount store for a lot of the basic stuff.
Places like Wal-Mart have a good selection of hockey pucks and all types of baseballs, soccer balls, etc. Depending on the item it can be between $5 to $10 cheaper in the sporting goods section of a store that carries more types of things than the big name sporting goods stores.
Another option would be to go to a sports outlet store location. They work with the same principals as a clothing outlet store. The items may be last year’s model but they are way less expensive than buying the newest model out there. The items have nothing wrong with them they just did not sell the year before. You can go online and find some amazing deals as well. Use your favourite search engine to find the online stores.
If this is a new sport your child wants to try for the first time and they are not sure if they will even enjoy it, try to find a place that offers lessons. This way your child can try it out and see if it is going to be something they want to continue with or if they discover that it is not something they want to do.
For many sports, such as skiing, you can get lessons and rent the equipment you will need. This way you do not go out and pick up everything you need to go skiing only to have your child not want to go back after the first time out on the ski hill.
You will not have a pile of gear collecting dust and taking up space in the garage.
Spread the word among your friends and co-workers. Parents are all in the same boat and will often sell or trade equipment for very little money. People who have older kids quite often will have perfectly good equipment in their basement as their own children have outgrown it.
If this is a school sport ask the coach he may know when the school is buying new stuff and they may want to sell the older equipment.
Sandra Nolan is a freelance writer from Rocky Mountain House. Her column will appear every other week in LIFE. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org