Summer holidays have arrived. For many, that means that it’s time to choose some summer activities or summer clubs for their children. While extra summer activities can be excellent opportunities for children to improve themselves, learn new skills, and find their passions, these extra activities can also be expensive.
It’s true that you probably want your children to enjoy their summer, as well as learn new skills and be involved. However, it’s probably not wise for your purse to have your children involved in too many activities. If your budget is tight, here are some things to consider as you help your child choose activities to keep them busy during this summer.
First of all, this is a chance for your child to learn important lessons about priorities. We don’t always get to do everything we want to do all the time, so it is a good idea to help your child understand that now, especially if your budget just can’t handle a lot of activities. Some of the things to help your child consider when choosing activities include:
- How much the child enjoys the activity.
- Whether there is a chance to excel at the activity.
- Time the activity takes to accomplish.
- Other obligations that conflict with the activity.
- How expensive the activity is.
Help your children list the activities they are involved with and decide on which they enjoy the most. This can also be a good way to help your child see that he or she might have time to excel at a particular activity, with time to practice. Having more time to work on one activity might be beneficial, and your child might decide that a little extra time to work on a particularly interesting activity is of benefit.
Understanding Your Budget
While you don’t want to overburden your child with the specifics of your financial situation, you should still explain matters. Talk over how much you can provide for summer activities in your budget. Perhaps your child might be willing to participate in two or three less expensive activities, if budgetary constraints mean that he or she could only participate in one expensive activity.
You might also consider encouraging your child to help pay for some of their summer activities. It is possible to earn money with a part time job, do odd jobs around the house, babysit or find other ways to help pay for expensive activities.
Falling into debt because you want the best for your child is not the route that anyone should go down. Although we do all strive for the best at all times, sometimes it just isn’t possible. Loan companies are in the business of making money and even though those payday loan adverts might be tempting, you are best advised to think long-term. If that means cutting the plastic and binning the cards, then so be it.
Saving Money on Extracurricular Activities
There are ways to save money on some activities your child may choose, even when they are expensive. One of the most common ways is to rent equipment if you can. It is usually possible to rent sports equipment, musical instruments and other necessities for a short period during the summer.
How to Determine the Total Cost Extracurricular Activities
If your child is contemplating a sports activity or a summer club, here are some ways to determine exactly how much you will pay.
- Talk with the coach or instructor. Before signing up, talk with those who organize the sports to determine what the final cost will be.
- Talk with other parents. While coaches or instructors may forget to add the costs of things like the recital and DVD, for example, most parents will remember. If you can find a parent to talk to before you enrol your child, you will likely learn more about potential “hidden” costs that you don’t discover until it is too late to drop out of the activity.
- Plan on a gift expense. This will often not be stated, but more and more frequently, parents are asked to contribute for a gift for the instructor. In my experience, this has run $10 to $20 per family.
- Remember the registration or administration fee. Many sports and extra-curricular activities charge a registration fee or an administrative fee. This can run from $25 to $50.
- Equipment expenses. Most sports or activities have equipment expenses from uniforms to specialized shoes to protective gear. Get an idea upfront how much this will cost. For example, if you want to enrol in a summer dance school, dance shoes are needed, and this can be an additional expense of up to $70.
If your budget is tight or if you have a child who is involved in multiple activities (or more than one child involved in activities), paying for each of their activities can be expensive.
Being comfortable with all expenses involved before signing up is something that will put your mind at rest and ensure that both of you can enjoy the benefits of your child being active and social during the Summer holidays.