10 ways to save money on youth sports expenses

It is not uncommon for parents to spend $2,000 or more per year on youth sports. Team fees, camps, lessons, team travel, equipment – it all adds up quickly.

If your child’s sports-related expenses are consuming too big of a bite out your budget, here are five ways to save:

1. Opt for group lessons

If your child participates in an individual sport such as tennis, horseback riding, golf or ice-skating, you’re probably forking over big bucks for private lessons. Instead of private lessons, consider enrolling your child in group sessions. Even sports instruction with a small group of students, costs considerably less than private lessons. You could also reduce private lessons from daily to three times a week. Speak with the instructor about your desire to cut cost, but keep your child in the program. Often times, instructors will offer individual attention to kids during a group session.

2. Carpool

Share transportation expenses with other families. Besides saving on gas, this can also save you time that can be spent working or tackling household chores. Make sure any carpool arrangement is consistent and equitable.

3. Buy and sell used equipment

Opting for used equipment can cut cost in half. Craigslist, Ebay, and sites such as Swapmesports.com, offer used sporting goods in like-new condition for a fraction of the cost. Play it Again Sports, a used sporting goods store, sells and buys everything from baseball gloves to football cleats. Consider selling your used items to offset the cost of new equipment.

4. Pick one sport at a time

If you have more than one child participating in multiple sports or activities, cost can skyrocket. Taking ballet lessons compliments gymnastics. However, if you can only afford one, encourage your child to choose. If a child wants to play more than one sport, restrict participation to one sport per season.

5. Drive by the drive-thrus

Often, in an effort to get to practice or games on time, parents use fast-food drive thrus. Eating out, even at fast-food restaurants, is a budget killer. Four “extra-value meals” can cost more than $35. That same $35 could purchase ingredients for a week’s worth of lunches.  Pack lunch or snack bags the night before. A loaf of bread, smoked turkey and easy to eat fruits such as grapes, oranges or bananas are less expensive than fast food and more nutritious. Even if you cut your drive-thru purchases in half, you’re looking at significant savings.

6. Take care of the equipment

Use this as an opportunity to help reinforce responsibility with your kids. Items left out in the rain, or not properly cleaned and conditioned after each use will lead to quicker deterioration, wear, and tear. 

7. Register early

Many teams offer discounts if you register your child early. Discounts can be anywhere from $5-$20. Cha-ching!

8. Join the team

If you have a good sense of how to create a budget, consider joining the team's finance committee or board. Being able to recognize where and when savings can be made can not only help cut costs for you personally, but the entire roster can benefit. Money saved can either be refunded to parents, or put towards the cost of an end-of-season party.

9. Make your own sports drink

A case (24 pack of 20 oz bottles) of Gatorade costs about $33.00 and a case of Powerade costs around $38.00. If you have one or more kids playing sports, you're buying at least one case a month. Save big bucks - at least $400 annually - by making your own electrolyte sports drink. Get the recipes on our Pinterest page.

10. Lighten up

Let's face it, many kids aren't going to be collegiate or olympic athletes. For those that just don't seem to have the desire or athletic ability, look into free sports classes or teams in your community. There will be less pressure on your child and a lower strian on your wallet.

How to you save money on sports for your family? Share your tricks with others in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.

RELATED: 6 signs your youth sports budget is out of control

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett Follow

The bumper sticker on her car says it best: I don't have a life. My kid does crew. Besi... View Full Bio

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