13 Ways For Youth Sports Parents to Save Money
Raising three girls who all played multiple sports, I know firsthand just how expensive youth sports can be. There really is no financial ROI; few scholarships could even come close to the money most of us spend on club and team dues, equipment, travel, training, food at concessions and on the road, and injury-related expenses.
But I wouldn’t change it. The lessons, friendships, and value our kids receive from sports go far beyond any financial expenditures. But that being said, wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t cost so darn much?
Well, there are MANY ways to reduce costs if your child plays sports. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Look for Community Programs
Many communities offer low-cost or even free sports programs for kids. Check with your local community center, YMCA or parks and recreation department to see what programs are available in your area. Not only will it save you money, but your child will also have the opportunity to play with other kids from their own community and not have to travel across the state for one game.
2. Buy Used Equipment
Before splurging on brand new equipment for your child’s sport, consider buying used equipment instead. You can often find gently used sports gear at second-hand stores, garage sales or online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. This is especially helpful for sports that require expensive equipment such as hockey or skiing.
3. Carpool with Other Parents
If your child’s team has games or tournaments in different locations, consider carpooling with other parents to save on gas and transportation costs. Not only will it save you money, but it also reduces the stress of driving and navigating to unfamiliar places.
4. Volunteer as a Coach, Assistant or Team Parent
Many youth sports leagues offer discounts or even waive registration fees for families who volunteer as coaches or assistants. This is a great way to save money while also getting involved in your child’s sport and building relationships with other parents and players.
5. Get Creative In Your Performance Training
Make your private lessons semi-private: Invite a handful of kids; they train together and share the cost. Also, your private instructor doesn’t have to be a pro. Find an older kid (13-18) whom plays in the same club, is an older brother or sister of a teammate, or even post on a Mom’s website. Finally, do shorter sessions. Even thirty minutes of focused practice on what your child needs to improve is enough to make a huge difference. This can cut the price in half if they are willing. If not, maybe you can find another child to take the second half of the lesson.
6. Swap Gear with Other Parents
Form a network with other parents and arrange for a gear swap. This way, you can trade equipment that your child has outgrown with others who have gear in the size you need.
7. Seek Sponsorships
Some local businesses may be willing to sponsor a youth sports team in return for advertising. This can help lower the overall cost of participating in the sport for everyone involved.
8. Make Use of Early Registration Discounts
Many leagues offer early bird discounts, so make a note of registration deadlines and try to sign up early to take advantage of these cost savings.
9. Pack Snacks and Meals and Order Ahead
Instead of buying food at the concession stand, pack your own snacks and meals to bring to games and tournaments. And when you are traveling, order ahead with a shopping app that will have the food delivered right to your hotel room and waiting for you when you arrive. We do this every volleyball season when we have extended stays in hotels. It beats paying a ton for unhealthy snacks and overpriced waters in the hotel lobby.
10. Consider Using A Youth Sports Injury Insurance
Pomi (Peace of Mind Insurance) is a supplemental accident insurance designed specifically for youth sports (since health insurance doesn’t usually cover 100% of the cost) to help protect your child and make sure you aren’t stuck paying an arm and a leg in medical bills. Get help paying for things like doctor exams, X-rays, therapies, medications, and more, and help avoid the stress and worry for as little as $25. I estimate that my daughter’s last ankle injury cost us over $2000 out of pocket but with an accident policy in place, I could have been saved some of those expenses.
11. Leverage Miles and Bonus Programs for Travel
If your child’s sports participation involves substantial travel, consider leveraging airline miles and hotel bonus programs to defray these costs. Many credit cards offer significant sign-up bonuses and reward spending with frequent flyer miles or hotel points. By planning ahead and using a dedicated card for sports-related expenses, you can accumulate points for free or discounted flights and hotel stays. Likewise, many hotels have loyalty programs that offer free nights or upgrades after a certain number of stays.
12. Talk to Other Parents
Lastly, don’t be afraid to talk to other parents and see what cost-saving strategies they use. I have received some of the greatest tips just from asking a question or mentioning a problem during the pre-game banter with the other parents. There are no greater resources than people with shared problems and concerns.
13. Talk To Your Club or League
Lastly, if you need more than money-saving tips, then inquire about scholarships at the league or team your child plays on or that you are considering. When I served on my daughter’s club team board, we supplemented or paid for several athletes each session. They had to share a few financial documents to qualify, but once they did that, we almost never denied a family going through a difficult time or just simply couldn’t afford to pay. It’s worth asking to find out if any scholarship options exist at your club.