Tips for Affording Extracurricular Activities

affording extracurricular activities

Back-to-School is coming and that also means extracurriculars are going to start up.

With all of the costs of back-to-school already piling up I think it’s pretty fair to say that those extra classes may be more of a want than a need.

Last week, along with some other blogging moms, we got to meet with Shirley Malloy, Associate Vice President of Everyday Banking at TD, and parenting coach Terry Carson, about how to do extracurriculars right and tips on how to be able to afford them. A friend of mine recommended that myself and the kids, should undertake Tennis Lessons Miami, FL. If we ever visit Miami, that would be a dream. It is possible to do on a budget but you have to be a bit of a savvy parent.

TD recently polled Canadians and about 40% of Canadian parents with children under 18 spend $1000 or more per child during the school year on extracurriculars and half of them finding budgeting for these activities stressful. Of those polled 50% admitted to not putting their kids in programs, or limiting the number they participate in, due to cost. That a whole lot of kids who are missing out, including mine some years. 

BUT.

There is always a BUT. I got some pretty great tips and tricks from the ladies that evening and I think they will make your life easier, possibly less expensive, and quite possibly help you to be able to afford to put your kids into something.

affording extracurricular activities

Tips for affording extracurricular activities, from Shirley Malloy

  • Avoid costly surprises: Think about long-term costs. Equipment, travel, parking, costumes, accommodation if needed for tournaments all add up. Class cost may be feasible but the whole package may put you in a position where you are uncomfortable regarding fees. Think ahead.
  • Create a budget and stick to it: Now is the time to sit the kids down and make a budget for the next year’s extracurriculars. By getting them involved you can teach them about money management from an early age and explain to them that the activities are not free, hopefully allowing them to choose wisely. Put some money into savings or a TFSA every month to cover what you budgeted PLUS 5-10% additional for incidentals. There will always be incidentals so better to be prepared.
  • Shop around for discounts: Kids equipment and supplies can really add up. I can tell you from personal experience that buying second hand has been the difference between one kid doing sports or two. Whether it is a visit to your local consignment shop, garage sales, buy and sell groups online or other parents you may be able to score some great deals and save some cash for the important things…like coffee at the 5 AM hockey practice.
  • Don’t invest too much off the bat: Your kids have no idea whether they like a sport before they try it. No matter how excited they (or you) are do NOT spend all the money until you have established you will be staying in the activity. I am now the proud owner of 7 pairs of skates, a Taekwondo outfit and some dance shoes that are growing dust in our basement. Wait till they are committed to purchase the big ticket items.
  • Think return on enjoyment: Make it a regular thing that you have a sit down with your kid (kids) and talk about their activities. Ask them if they are happy, what they like about the class, what they don’t, and keep this in mind when it comes time to consider classes for next year/season.

affording extracurricular activities

Listening to Terry Carson

Parenting coach Terry Carson also  spoke in a way I think many of us parents could really relate. 

She reminded us that we should put our kids into activities that THEY want to do or will enjoy, not what WE want them to do. Our kids are not our second chance in life to become prima ballerinas or star hockey players, they are individuals with their own interests and needs.

Terry mentioned that our sanity is also important as parents, things like over-scheduling or forcing our children to go to activities that they don’t enjoy are detrimental to everyone involved. Our children’s only jobs right now are to be students and if that means only doing one activity, we need to be accepting of that.

Great Extracurricular Activity Ideas from the Great Folks at TD

  1. Girl Guides of Canada: Guiding offers the widest range of activities for girls aged 5 to 18, with opportunities to explore the arts, sciences, outdoors and more. Your child may also want to participate in Girl Count, a Girl Guide program in partnership with TD designed to help girls gain essential financial literacy skills. A family discount is offered when three or more children are registered. And, don’t forget to inquire about incremental fees, which could include costs for special outings and camps, and the purchase of a uniform.
  1. Scouts Canada: Scouts is Canada’s leading youth organization, opening the doors for kids and young adults to discover new activities and develop into confident and well-rounded individuals. For the early birds, a discount is offered on the annual membership fee. Remember to inquire about incremental fees, which could include the purchase of a uniform and costs associated with camping and special events.
  1. YMCA: A YMCA membership means fun for the whole family. From swimming to karate to dance, it offers activities and lessons for kids of all ages, while parents can also enjoy the fitness facilities. Family memberships are offered at a discounted price, and for a small additional charge your child can have access to registered programs, such as swimming lessons, basketball lessons and martial arts.
  1. Curling Clubs: Curling is a fun kid-friendly sport that’s available in most areas of the GTA through a local curling club. The Richmond Hill Curling club, for example, is a non-profit community organization offering an instructional kids’ program every Sunday afternoon. Inquire about incremental fees, which could include equipment rental or locker fees.
  1. Young People’s Theatre: With four different nearby locations – downtown Toronto, Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough – Young People’s Theatre offers year-round drama classes for children of all ages. Professional educators provide an exciting learning environment full of theatrical innovation and creative development. A discount is offered when registering your child for three consecutive terms.
  1. Pursuit OCR’s Play Your Best Series: Pursuit OCR is the first fully indoor obstacle course training center, located in Toronto. Through its Play Your Best series children are guided through programs that help develop creativity and concentration, improve self-regulation, and manage stress and anxiety. Three ninety-minute timeslots are offered on Sunday mornings for an affordable fee. So, remember to reserve your spot early as they book up quickly.
  1. 4Cats: 4Cats offers creative art classes across Canada, with many locations in the GTA, including Barrie, Oakville, Aurora, and more. The cost for most classes includes materials, but additional charges may apply if you wish to upgrade.
  1. PowerSkating Academy: Offering a funSKATE program for children between the ages of 4 and 13 in Toronto, Vaughan, Belleville, Oshawa and Stouffville, this program teaches children the foundational skills of skating. Inquire about incremental fees, which could include the purchase of skates and a helmet.
  1. Parks & Recreation: Community centres across Canada offer a wide range of extracurricular activities for free or a small fee. Dance programs, for example, offer a wide variety of styles for all skill levels and ages, including jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop and more. Music classes are also very affordable through local Parks & Recreation programs.
  1. Participate in local events: Look for free or affordable community events you can participate in that are hosted by local stores, cities, national organizations or the like. For example, TD Tree Days is a family-friendly event taking place in communities across Canada this September and October, which helps green urban spaces by giving people the opportunity to plant trees. Check your city’s homepage to see what is happening locally.

Finding the right fit for your kids is a lot of trial and error. We may have these ideas of what our kids need to do, what we think they should do, or what we think they will like but ultimately the choice is theirs. Let them choose and keep them accountable once they commit.

 

This post was sponsored by TD, but opinions are my own

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12 Comments

  1. Jamie hall
    August 17, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    Great tips it really can be so costly , my friends son is in hockey and it’s mind boggling

  2. Treen Goodwin
    August 18, 2016 / 9:20 am

    thanks for sharing , its very costly i can’t believe how much some of these sports cost , its unreal , great tips tho i will pass it on to my Son ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Victoria Ess
    August 18, 2016 / 9:35 am

    What a great list! I had no idea where to start looking!

  4. Lynda Cook
    August 18, 2016 / 11:54 am

    Great tips and there is also a group for our township that you can post for help with getting uniforms and what not, and everyone tries to pitch in and help to pass on old uniforms and whatnot which is also a great idea!!

  5. kathy downey
    August 19, 2016 / 3:11 pm

    You are so correct in letting them choose but its so important to keep them accountable once they commit,. We live in a small area and the cost of most things are usually reasonable..This year we are signing up for voice and track

  6. DARLENE W
    August 20, 2016 / 2:23 pm

    My daughter is a single parent who finds activities the kids can do that are affordable and fun. Each has a membership at the local Kiwanis club where they can enjoy swimming, basketball, where they can learn to cook and generally just have fun

  7. loriag
    August 21, 2016 / 8:29 am

    We always made sure the kids each were able to do a sport and a musical instrument. Even when it was tough on the budget as we felt it was important in their growth and development.

  8. Anna Roszak-Robinson
    August 28, 2016 / 12:10 am

    It’s always a challenge with 3 kids, great tips.

  9. Caryn Coates
    August 28, 2016 / 2:46 pm

    I have 6 children so I am always trying to find sports that are fun an affordable. Baseball and soccer are favs in our household.

  10. Darren Scrubb
    October 5, 2016 / 2:01 pm

    Great tips that people with kids will find useful for sure.

  11. kathy downey
    February 21, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    Honestly i canโ€™t believe how much some of these sports cost .

  12. Debbie White-Beattie
    October 22, 2018 / 3:57 am

    I think it’s terrible that sports are so expensive when they really shouldn’t