Make sure you’re balancing the experience and the cost.
Here we are at the time of year when school is almost out and kids are gearing up for an active summer. I know with my two boys, it seems like each year their energy levels just go up and up and my wife and I put them in more and more sports and activities to keep everyone busy.
As I’ve talked to other parents and clients with school-age kids, I always notice the huge financial component to all of this. We all know kid sports are expensive. From sign-up fees and YMCA memberships to uniforms and special shoes (that they outgrow every few months it seems), costs can really add up. Then there’s the time factor too. How much of your daily life are you dedicating to driving them around to practices, watching games and hosting the end-of-season backyard parties?
Although I agree it’s important for kids to find sports and activities they enjoy (and to burn off some energy), there’s a balancing act that needs to be managed between the child’s experience and the costs for the parents.
One thing I hear some parents say as they talk about the financial burden kid activities can create is a hope (and sometimes an assumption) that all this will result in a college scholarship, making all that time and money pay off in spades. While that’s a nice idea in theory, and if your child is the next hotshot NCAA quarterback recruit, great – but keep in mind a few things if this is your motivation/justification for blowing your budget on youth sports.
First, different sports offer very different scholarship opportunities. If you truly do have an athletic phenom on your hands playing a lucrative Division 1 college sport like football, basketball or volleyball, then sure. Go for that full ride and all the D-1 glory. But keep in mind too that smaller, more niche sports can also offer lucrative scholarships. Think bowling, or golf at smaller schools. Some colleges and universities will actually offer full rides for students in these less visible sports.
However, we’ve seen families spending huge amounts of money on every kind of sport and activity, and the reality is, not every kid will land a scholarship package. So make sure you’re still being proactive in your college saving and planning, and staying on track with the family financial goals.
Second, pay close attention to the schools your child is considering if he or she is trying to get a sports scholarship. While some small schools do offer full rides, many smaller colleges and universities that try to base their reputations on academics instead sports choose not to offer scholarships, or the ones they do offer are small. Some athletic conferences don’t allow their member schools to offer any scholarships. These schools can still provide great athletic opportunities and experiences for student athletes. You’ll just have to pay for it some other way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying discourage you from letting your kids find sports and activities they enjoy. Just keep your expectations realistic and your budget intact. At Family Financial Partners, our team members are busy raising eight kids among us, so believe me, we understand all this. If you need help budgeting for summer activities and fall sports, we’re here to help. Need to set up a 529 or other college savings plan? We’ll help with that too. And don’t forget to have a little fun this summer.
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