Deep in Credit Card Debt Over Your Children’s After-School Activities? Here’s How to Get Out of It
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When you have kids, you want to give everything to them. You want them to have the very best education and be able to participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible.
But as you know, extracurriculars and sports are expensive. And if you get divorced or separated from your spouse, you often have to carry the extra burden of these added expenses.
If you’ve gone into credit card debt over your children’s extracurricular activities, know that you’re not alone: two in three parents of kids who participate in extracurriculars have gone into debt as a result.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea.
In this blog post, we’ll first tell you a few ways that you can cut down on the costs of your children’s extracurriculars (sports and other activities). Then, we’ll tell you how exactly you can pay off all that credit card debt that’s piled up.
How to Save on Sports
1. Get sponsored
No, we’re not talking about getting your child sponsored by Adidas or Nike (although that would be nice, wouldn’t it?).
Instead, check with your child’s program director or coach to see if there are any local businesses that might provide sponsorship. When you approach the business, think of ways to incentivize them. Tell them the average annual cost of participating in the sport and the advantages that the sport provides. Offer to write an editorial in the local newspaper recognizing and thanking them for the sponsorship.
Every business wants to be associated with giving back, so chances are pretty high that you’ll find at least one local business that agrees to sponsorship.
2. Get a scholarship
Many sports teams offer scholarships to several students on the team. They might offer discounted rates or completely waive the fee. Check with your child’s coach or program director to find out if this is a possibility.
3. Register early
As the adage goes, the early bird gets the worm!
Many sports teams also offer discounts if you register your child several months in advance, if you pay early or pay all of the fees upfront (rather than on a month-to-month basis). If it’s not offered when you go to register, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. You’d be surprised how often people will give a discount if you just ask.
4. Sign up for community sports
Community center sports, like those offered by the Department of Parks and Recreation, cost less than typical classes and don’t require a year-long commitment (which is a big bonus if your child isn’t fully committed to a sport).
5. Join a YMCA sports league
The YMCA has a variety of sports classes available to children. They even have a class that allows members to try out a different sport each week.
Can’t afford a YMCA membership? See if you’re eligible for a scholarship, which would apply to both your membership fee and the class fee.
6. Trade your services
If you’re willing (and able) to give up a bit of your time, you could see if your children’s sports team needs any volunteers to help out. In exchange, you might be eligible for a discount on your children’s sports fees.
7. Buy (or Rent) Used Equipment
Let’s face it: Equipment costs are not cheap. But buying used equipment can save you a great deal of money. Here are a few ways to find used sports equipment:
Head to a second-hand sports retailer
If you want to ensure that the equipment is high quality, then you might want to head to a second-hand retailer, like Play it Again Sports. It’ll probably be more expensive than buying off of a site like Craigslist, but will be a safer bet.
Rent the equipment
You might even find that it makes the most sense to rent the equipment. That way, you won’t have to purchase new equipment as your child grows…or have wasted money if they decide to quit down the road.
Contact your child’s sports league way before the season starts to see if they rent equipment and if so, request to reserve it. If they don’t have anything available, you could also check out rental stores.
Participate in a half-back program
If you prefer to buy new equipment but your child is growing up fast (or they change their mind often), you might want to look into a half-back program.
With a half-back program, you buy the equipment full price at the store as you normally would, return it at the end of the season, and get half of what you paid in store credit. Some stores will even accept equipment that was purchased elsewhere.
You could also buy used equipment online via websites like SidelineSwap or Craigslist. Just make sure that you know what you’re getting before purchasing.
Check for off-season sales
If you’re buying sports equipment at full retail price, start looking during the off-season (just after the season has ended and far before it starts), and you just might luck out and find some sales.
One last tip: If you buy used equipment, make sure that it meets safety regulations. You might find a really good deal on your child’s ski or hockey helmet, but if it isn’t very high-quality, then that probably isn’t a risk that you want to take. On the other hand, something like soccer cleats or tennis sneakers are probably okay to skimp on.
How to Save on Other Activities
Sports aren’t the only activity that are expensive. Things like music lessons, drama clubs, language classes, and dance classes can be just as (and sometimes even more) expensive.
Luckily, we’ve got a few ideas on how you can save there:
1. Take classes online
Dance or drama classes might be a little hard to take online. But language classes and music lessons aren’t.
So why go online?
Oftentimes, you might find that there are cheaper rates online than in-person (especially if you live in an expensive city). You’ll also save time (and money on gas) with online classes.
You could also barter or offer a service in exchange for the lesson or activity. Perhaps you could help out with advertising or clerical work, for example.
Speak to your child’s instructor and see if you can work out a deal. And don’t be embarrassed—There’s no shame in asking!
3. Buy (or rent) used supplies
Like sports, all of the supplies needed for these activities are expensive…especially musical instruments.
Check your local area for places where you can rent instruments. If you prefer to purchase, check out discount stores and classifieds for used supplies.
4. Check your local library
Many local libraries also offer a variety of after-school programs and activities for kids. You might be surprised at what you find! Head to your local library and ask what activities they have available.
Getting Your Credit Card Balance Down to $0
Paying off your credit card debt can feel impossible if you’re drowning in extracurricular expenses. So first, take a good, hard look at where your money is going each month (or each year) and start cutting back in areas that you can—starting with your children’s extracurriculars!
Set a budget for your family and determine how much you’re able to put towards your debt payments each month. Setting a budget will help put you back in the driver’s seat and avoid impulsive overspending.
So which card should you pay off first? We recommend paying off the card with the lowest balance first (called the snowball method). This will help you stay motivated to keep paying down your debt (as opposed to paying off the card with the highest interest rate first, which might make you feel more defeated).
Got More Credit Card Debt Than You Can Handle?
If you’re only able to make the minimum payments on your credit cards each month, then you might want to look into a Debt Management Plan.
At DebtHelper.com, we work with our clients’ creditors to bring their interest rates down to a much more manageable rate (1.9% on average!). As a result, their monthly payments are much lower and they’re able to pay off their credit card debt much faster (generally in 3-5 years). And save potentially thousands of dollars in interest.
And just to briefly clarify: A Debt Management Plan is not the same as debt consolidation or debt settlement (beware of both of those, by the way!). It’s not a loan of any kind. And the amount of debt that you owe stays the same (Sorry, we really wish we could change that part!).
Want to find out if you’re eligible for the program? Or just want a little budgeting assistance? One of our Certified Credit Counselors can help! Get in touch for a free, confidential call today.