6 signs your youth sports budget is out of control

According to CNBC, youth sports have become a $7 billion dollar industry. Expenses can range from a $50 registration fee to more than $10,000 annually for club membership and private lessons.  Because many parents consider sports participation an investment in their child’s future, they may be reluctant to cap spending.  Real cost, which include the price of transportation, meals and hosting team parties, may be excluded from the family budget.  Wondering if you’re overspending on youth sports? The following are six sure signs.

1. Borrowing money today for payoff tomorrow

If you asked most parents if they would take out a high-interest loan to pay for their child’s soccer participation they would laugh. However, that’s exactly what many are doing when they rack up credit card bills to cover youth sports cost.

If you’re running up debt on private lessons and expensive camps in hopes of landing an athletic scholarship in the future, rethink your college savings plan.  Consider less expensive ways to participate in sports. If thousands spent on a sport where invested in a 529 plan instead, you’d be much closer to paying for the college of your child’s choice.  

2. Your child feels the financial pressure

According to sports psychologist Travis Dorsch, overspending puts unnecessary pressure on a child to perform. Dorsch

links parents who overspend to lower levels of young-athlete enjoyment and motivation. Dorsch told the Wall Street Journal that, "When parental sports spending goes up, it increases the likelihood either that the child will feel pressure or that the parent will exert it.”

Has how much money you’re spending come up in conversations about your child’s performance?

3. People notice

It may start with a flippant remark. However, if other parents make snide comments about the amount you spend on your child, take notice.

Is your six-year-old the only tennis player in camp with a professional-level racket? Do jaws drop when you tell other parents that you purchased your child his own boat to practice rowing? Even if you have the means, splurging is another word for overspending.

4. Road game expenses rival your vacation budget

You lament that you can’t afford a Caribbean getaway. That’s probably because you’ve sunk hundreds into AAU basketball road trips. Because players often sleep four to a room, road trips seem like low-budget deals. That’s until they start to pile up.

Mike Trombley, a financial adviser from Wilbraham, Mass., told the New York Times that when he was a kid, the farthest he traveled for a game was a couple of towns over. But he recently drove hours to a weekend-long high school tournament in New Jersey

Trombley, who played baseball at Duke University, spoke with the New York Times about the financial burden.  “Some people are not in the financial situation to pay for their kid to do it,” he said. “I think sometimes kids aren’t playing multiple sports anymore because it’s just too expensive.”

5. The disproportionate size of your youth sports spending

If you were to divide your family budget into a pie chart, how big of a slice would your daughter’s gymnastics take up?

Many financial advisers recommend keeping your housing cost at 30 percent of your budget. Your child’s sports participation should be nowhere near that. If it is, spending is out of control.

Next time you’re going over the monthly or annual budget, take a serious look at how much is being spent on sports participation. Include every expense, even the latte you pick up on the way to your child’s practice.

6. You can no longer afford to participate

The biggest sign that you are overspending is if one day you find yourself tapped out. Perhaps you are maxed out on credit cards and the team organizers are hounding you for payment. Instead of borrowing, you may have to face reality and find another way for your child to participate in the sport.

Ask if scholarships are available. Some sports organizations set aside money to help offset cost for families with financial needs.

If you have to quit a sport, be honest with your child about why they can no longer participate on a team or in a league. Modeling financial fitness is a more important to learn than any sports skill.

What is your opinion in how much is spent each year on sports? Let us know in the comment section below or on our Facebook page

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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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