Parents-How To Budget for Extracurricular Activities [and Not Go Broke!]
Knowing how to budget for extracurricular activities can be tricky.
Those art lessons cost a TON of dough, and little kid gymnastics for birthday parties, well they're over the top...
And face it, it’s a lifelong challenge.
From high school all the way through the college admissions process, money always seems tight.
On the one hand, you want to offer your children plenty of opportunities to develop their various skills.
And on the other hand, greenbacks simply do not grow on trees—although most children truly believe that is the case. (Cue the laughter of every living parent!).
Here’s the thing about sticking to your financial goals while still providing learning experiences for your children, there are no hard and fast rules.
You find what works for you, and you run with it.
Nevertheless, here are a handful of things to consider when you go to budget for extracurricular activities.
Pinpoint Activities That Align with Their Interests
As you may very well know, it doesn’t take much to peak a child’s interest. The real kicker is knowing if the activity truly aligns with what your child likes. After all, something can look very cool on the outside but turn out to be a real drag when in the heat of it.
Rather than throwing all your hard-earned cash toward every single one of your child’s interests, be picky. Have a heart-to-heart with your child to hone in on what really interests them.
Also, feel free to “try it on for size.” Meaning, before you go tossing dollar bills toward expensive uniforms, for example, let them have a taste of the activity first.
Figure Out How Much It Will Really Cost
As with many things in life, it seems that there are always additional costs when it comes to extracurricular activities. In other words, a $125.00 enrollment fee is never simply kept at that amount.
There are many other costs to consider when you budget for extracurricular activities—musical instruments, uniforms, travel and/or lodging costs, snacks, etc. For this reason, it’s important to see the big-picture view.
To do the math, simply review hypothetical scenarios relating to the activity. Or, ask yourself what your day will look like with this extracurricular activity in it. And then, compute the figures accordingly.
Weigh the Cost Against the Benefits
Another facet in how to budget for extracurricular activities is knowing whether the benefits will exceed the cost or not. When it all comes down to it, will the good your child takes away from the activity be worth what you pay for it?
This goes back to knowing exactly what your child is truly interested in and what’s simply a passing fad. However, it can be challenging to place a cash value on character values.
Take a long, hard look at how your child responds to the sporting event or to the dance class. Are they excited or is it just another check on their to-do list?
Your child’s activities need to be well worth it. To put money aside for half-hearted effort is simply cutting holes in your pockets.
How to Budget Like a Pro
It can be challenging to strike a balance between your own financial goals and finding the right way to budget for extracurricular activities (and school activities!). Sometimes, those few endeavors just don’t agree. So, here are 3 strategies that just might resonate with you.
Another helpful strategy is simply to take the overall costs of the activity and divide it by the number of months your child participates. This can work well for sports and academics because they’re usually only active during certain times of the year.
Knowing those months will be a bit heavy on your wallet, you might pull back in other areas. Or, simply alter your lifestyle with meal-planning, carpooling, etc. to lower your bottom line. And don’t forget to look for other ways to afford your child’s activities on a budget.
Similar to the monthly strategy, bi-monthly works well for those who have a tough time hanging on to cash. It also works well if you get paid every two weeks.
Again, take your overall cost, only this time divide it up differently. For example, if your child is enrolled in a chess club for a 4-month period, you’ll want to contribute to your extracurricular activity 8 times during those months.
How to Plan for the Unexpected
Keep in mind that there will always be twists and turns in the road. Life is just that way. So, it’s important to know how your children would continue to participate in their extracurricular activities should something ever happen to their source of funding—you.
When you consider how to budget for extracurricular activities, remember that they may potentially extend beyond your lifespan.
A vital step to take is to land a top-notch term life insurance policy that would offer security to your child’s current lifestyle. To make sure you get the right policy for you, take the time to work with a trusted and knowledgeable broker who can get you the very best policy possible.
Take the Next Step
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