Watching my kids play sports is one of my all-time favorite warm-weather traditions. Watching 4-year-olds run in the opposite direction around the bases is better entertainment than Netflix! However, with these childhood memories we cherish can come a hefty price tag—especially if you have more than one kid playing a sport! My monthly budget has a tiny column for sports, so it’s imperative that I stretch every dollar wisely. If you’re like me, then you’ll want to make sure and check out these eight tips for saving money on summer sports!
1. Purchase gender-neutral equipment
My daughter is a girly-girl and loves pink and purple, but my son’s favorite color is red. Since summer sports have a very short season, the equipment is typically in great shape when the season ends, and you can easily use it again for your next child. Purchase equipment such as shoes, cleats, gloves, socks, bats, and balls in neutral colors such as black, brown, white, or green so that either a boy or girl will want to use them in the upcoming season.
2. Suggest sports equipment for birthday gifts
My son loves anything you can throw! Footballs, baseballs, and basketballs are always on his birthday list. If your child has a favorite sport that he or she plays every year, higher quality equipment makes a great birthday gift. My daughter started tee-ball with a glove that came from the dollar store, but as she evolved into a great little leaguer, she asked for a glove that cushioned her hand for fastballs. The grandparents were happy to supply a high-quality glove for her 10th birthday!
3. Get creative with a business sponsor for uniforms
My son’s team picked the name “Ninja Turtles” for their baseball team. A team member’s parent contacted a local Mexican restaurant in the community with a request for them to sponsor the team and have their name on the shirt. Green shirts with the Mexican restaurant logo was a hit for the kids! Put your resources to work for your kids and involve your community in supporting their team.
4. Invest in used sporting equipment
One of my favorite places for used sporting equipment is Play It Again Sports. I found two stores within a 45-minute drive of my home. I can purchase new or used equipment for a much lower cost (and trade in old equipment for cash or credit). Currently, Play It Again Sports is wanting to buy things like bikes, baseball bats, cleats, and gloves.
5. Sign up for early registration for additional savings
Many recreational programs in your neighborhood or community will offer a discount of up to 20% if you register early. By registering early, the sports program is better able to plan how many kids their program needs to accommodate, set up game dates, and coordinate coaches. You’re doing the program a favor by completing early registration, and the program rewards it with a discount.
6. Ask about sponsor scholarships
Many county programs offer scholarships to kids whose parents want them to play but are unable to afford the registration and equipment costs associated with the sport. Issaquah Little League is a great example of a scholarship-sponsored Little League program in Washington State. For available scholarships, check with your local county sports programs.
7. Shop garage sales, local flea markets, thrift stores, or other parents for equipment
Last year’s cleats for my son were more than $30. Of course, he’s outgrown them for this season! I was able to pick up a pair of cleats at a garage sale this year to fit his ever-growing feet for 75% less! Another great way is to network with your local neighborhood. We have kids of all ages in the neighborhood, and most of them are on teams. Put out the word that you’re looking for a specific size or color, and you can save loads of money. Also be sure to check Craigslist for deals on sporting goods.
8. Offer volunteer services in exchange for registration, uniforms, or equipment
Last summer, the local parks department was in short supply of tee-ball coaches. Thankfully, a few parents volunteered to cover all of the teams. Oftentimes, the coach’s kids get to play free or for a discount. And what begins as a free service can become the highlight of your summer!