As many parents with school-aged children know all too well, enrichment activities don't come cheap. And with every passing year, there’s increased pressure to add more to the mix: Karate for confidence! Ballet for poise! Mandarin lessons for college admissions!
Before you know it, you’re overscheduled—and your bank account is crying for mercy.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, says Katie Brewer, a certified financial planner™ at LearnVest Planning Services. While there’s much to be said for being selective, you needn’t forgo sports, arts or other opportunities that your child wants to pursue. Instead, seek out smart ways to save.
“Extracurricular activities are no different from any other purchase—it pays to do your research,” notes Brewer. “Investing just a few hours at the beginning of each season can save your family hundreds, and possibly even thousands of dollars, over the course of the year.”
Word-of-mouth—“Psst! Gymboree’s offering coupons online!—is a great start, but you shouldn't stop there. “Call your church, school, community center and YMCA to see what they offer," says Brewer. "Often, community and nonprofit organizations have high-quality activities that cost far less than other places."
She also recommends buying gently used sports equipment and musical instruments, as well as pooling resources. “As with nannies, you can often team up with another family to split the costs of language lessons, tutoring and the like.”
Want more smart cost-cutting strategies? We spoke to seven savvy parents across the country to share their best tips for saving big bucks on after-school activities.
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LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial adviser for advice specific to your financial situation. The people quoted in this piece are not clients of LearnVest Planning Services.