As the mother of two active kiddos, I find myself talking about sport programs, scouting, dance and music classes quite a bit with other parents. Of course, we’re passing on information about programs that we think are great, but the conversation also usually drifts to how expensive and costly all these activities can be. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are many benefits to getting kids involved and keeping them active.
However, there are ways to pay less for kids’ activities. Many kids, especially young ones, are still sampling sports and activities, so save as much money as possible, while letting them discover their true interests.
1. Sign Up for FREE Activities
There are many places throughout Des Moines that offer free activities to kids. Places such as schools, libraries, community centers, churches, parks and recreation departments and even businesses sponsor or provide free classes and activities. If at all possible try to steer your child towards one of these options. If your kid is interested in music, sign them up for choir or band at school. If your church sponsors a sports team, get them involved. Local libraries seem to always be hosting some kind of club whether it’s Legos or arts and crafts and they’re free. Of course, you still may need to purchase equipment or supplies, but not having to pay for the class can be a big help.
2. Seek Scholarships
Many programs for kids offer scholarships to at least a few of the participants. Ask the program coordinator, coach or instructor if there are scholarships, registration fee waivers or discounts available. Parks and recreation departments and non-profit organizations that support kids may also provide scholarships. You will most likely need to complete an application and justify need for the scholarship. But if you receive the assistance and it allows your child to participate, it will be worth it.
3. Register Early
Many programs offer a discount if you register early. Some places will also give discounts for automatic bill payment or if fees are paid in full, rather than on a monthly basis. You may need to ask for these options, as they’re not always posted in an easy to find place.
4. Enroll in Community Center or Parks and Recreation Sports and Activities
Especially if your child is young or trying a new activity, consider enrolling them in classes offered by the local community center or parks and recreation department. The classes tend to be shorter and less expensive than privately run options.
5. Volunteer & Barter
There may be volunteer opportunities for you or your child through the sponsoring organization. Parents may receive a discount if they coach, take tickets or provide services such as web design or office work. Kids can also volunteer by offering cleaning services or helping out with younger kids. I did this when I was in Junior High and received a discount on dance lessons. If may seem awkward at first, but it can really be a win-win for your family and the organization.
6. On-Line Classes
While trying to play a sport on-line may defeat the purpose there are other activities that lend themselves to it. There are companies that provide on-line training using web-cams and on-line tutorials to conduct classes in dance, music, art, drama etc. Bonus, you save money on gas, not having to taxi the kids from place to place.
What are you favorite ways to save on kids’ activities?