Football leagues, didgeridoo lessons, science tutors, Boy and Girl Scouts. The costs of after-school activities can add up fast for unprepared parents.
In fact, since the inception of the Huntington Backpack Index—which tracks extracurricular costs and supplies—annual costs of extracurricular activities have risen more than 90 percent. In 2019, school supplies, extracurricular fees and technology can cost parents:
● $1,017 for elementary school students
● $1,277 for middle school students
● $1,668 for high school students
We all want our children to succeed in school and in any after-school activities they want to do. So if you’re looking for options to keep costs down this school year, consider some of the following methods.
1. Find low cost tutors
Instead of shelling out money for high-priced teachers, search local college postings for student tutors. If friends or acquaintances specialize in a subject your child likes, see if you can enlist their help.
2. Look for local opportunities in your community
Community centers and libraries often have arts education programs ranging from basic watercolor painting to music, sculpting, or drama. Many art and science museums provide inexpensive or free programs for elementary and junior high students.
3. Early registration
Some after-school leagues offer percentage discounts for early registration. If you plan to register early, it will also give you some additional time to put more money into a savings account for costs when the season or class begins.
4. Scholarships and sponsorships
Some leagues and programs, especially local ones, have sponsorship programs with local businesses. Finding these programs through either community bulletin boards or your school can help keep costs down. Other leagues might provide scholarships to help with the costs.
5. Try Fundraising
Many sports teams and art programs will offer fundraising opportunities to help you pay for their activities. Ask ahead of time if the team or class will offer a fundraising opportunity. If not, consider putting together your own fundraising activity that your child can help with, such as baking cookies.
Find a way to volunteer or otherwise exchange services for a cost discount. Being able to provide coaching, technical assistance (think mending uniforms or maintaining equipment) or simply transportation can help you negotiate a lower cost.
In addition to these specific cost savers, there are more general ways you can save on after-school activities. Make some snacks or meals ahead of time to keep them from having to pay for restaurants. Renting equipment is significantly cheaper in the short term until your child is ready to commit to an activity. Finally, setting up carpooling groups with other parents can save cash on gas over time.
There are plenty of ways to use the money you save, whether it’s investing your child’s college fund or putting it towards other after-school expenses. Whichever you decide, remember to invest the cash wisely in a way that it can grow.