The extra cost of after-school extracurricular activities
You’ve finished paying for all the supplies and new clothes your children need for the school year. It’s a great feeling to have those expenses behind you knowing you’re done shelling out cash for another school year, right? Not so fast, my friend.
Money magazine says extracurricular activities can come with their own expenses and some can be “insane.” There are plenty of low or no-cost activities in which kids can participate, but some of the most popular don’t typically fall into that category.
Playing sports is a great way for young kids to get involved in school, learn teamwork, and refine their social skills. People who participated in athletics from elementary through high school often look back on those times with great fondness. Their parents might also have that feeling, but may remember the financial side with less affection.
Equipment, uniforms and other expenses can easily set a family back hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year if they have multiple children participating in one or more sports.
Specialty footwear is at the top of the list of expenses. Football, baseball or soccer cleats typically range from $50 to $200-plus; basketball and tennis shoes can easily carry a price tag that high. Footwear for other youth sports such as golf, bowling and cheerleading can also run up costs very quickly.
Other expensive items for which parents are often responsible include baseball bats and gloves, tennis racquets, golf clubs, etc. and assorted warm-up garb and gear bags.
If you think sports are expensive, wait until your children come home and say they want to join the band. PBSParents says music is a wonderful way to enhance learning, and children who learn to play instruments can realize a lifetime of enjoyment. However, musical instruments can really knock your wallet for a loop.
Depending on the instrument, you might be able to get off the hook for several hundred dollars, or you could spend thousands. For instance, if your child chooses a flute or piccolo, the cost should be manageable. If your son or daughter comes home enthused about playing the piano, bass violin or tuba, you could easily spend several thousand dollars to provide them with their own instrument.
A word of advice: If a child is just being introduced to band or orchestra, many music stores have instrument rental programs that allow you to “try before you buy” which is a safeguard against having your kid decide after one school year they don’t like music after all.
Of course band isn’t the only non-sports extracurricular, but it is generally the most expensive. Be prepared: Activities such as ballet and chorus can be expensive too. So can drama clubs, chess teams, gaming groups, student government associations and many others.
Almost every extracurricular activity comes with fees that help pay for a wide range of extra expenses such as food and drink during competitions, travel, awards banquets and other associated costs. If the fees become daunting, you may be able to participate in school-sanctioned opportunities that allow parents and kids to perform jobs for which the compensation is credits toward the fees. Typical activities include working a concession stand at a ballgame or a school performance, selling candy or participating in fundraisers such as walk-a-thons, car washes, etc.
Do you need help paying for your son or daughter’s extracurricular activities? LightStream lends money for all kinds of education-related expenses and may be able to help!