Last week, I attended an event with TD all about affording extracurricular activities throughout the year. It was timely. With back to school less than a month away, many of us are getting ready to register our kids in programs this year. There are several ways to make sure first your kids are in the right activities for them and then to afford those activities. I knew for us last year it was about affording karate, this year it is all about dance.
Did you know that half of Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 limit the number of, or don’t sign their kids up for, extracurricular activities simply due to cost according to a recent TD survey on affording the school year? There are many ways to save on extracurricular activities. It does not have to be a drain on the pocketbook.
According to that same TD survey, four in ten parents spend more than$1000 per child on extracurriculars and half of those find budgeting for it stressful. That stress can be taken away many times. Really!
Here are my five tips.
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
You want to make sure you have the right fit. Ask your kids what they want to do.Hold them accountable to a degree but make sure those weekly outings are fun for them and you. I know I pulled my daughter for one when I saw bullying. From that, I learned to research and do my homework. I needed to know my daughter and her needs first and foremost. I also needed to check out the activities.
2. DON’T OVERSCHEDULE
I have learned that my teen needs downtime. She needs that time to unwind. Most kids do. For us, family time to chill together has become sacred and in that downtime, we have played and learned together, and that has been awesome.
3. LOOK FOR THE FREE
Here in Toronto, I am amazed by the number of free programs that exist. I have talked about them here on my blog each season. From free skates and swims in the winter to free summer camps and drop-ins, there are many programs in this city that have no cost attached to them. When my daughter was younger, we especially loved the programs put on by the Toronto Library. In cities across Canada, there are free programs you can access.
Check out the Parks and Recs programs in your city. As well check local blogs and groups. They often share free activities going on around you.
It is easy to blow a budget when you don’t know the costs. At the event, TD spoke about when signing your child up for an activity to think about all those little costs that will add to the fees you are shelling out. Remember to check out those extra costs.For my daughter andI, we created a budget for each season and checked it to make sure we were on track. It’s a great way to teach them about budgeting.
5. THINK USED
TD also spoke to being able to find so many bargains and deals on equipment and gear instead of buying new equipment. We love consignment shops and even garage sales for this. You can also find groups online in your local community where you can exchange gear or buy it for cheap. We love finding gently used items.
Whatever you decide to do with your kids throughout the year remember to think about what is important to you as a family. Think about it. Is your child enjoying the activities they are participating in? Are you stressed out just to get there? Stop the insanity. Make sure things are fun and bringing you joy. As TD highlighted that evening, it’s about the return on enjoyment.
The TD event had two wonderful speakers who shared tips for affording the costs to tips on picking the right activities for your child, and many of the words they spoke were things I have echoed over the years. Simply, make sure you and your kids are having fun and it isn’t draining your pocketbook.
*This post has been sponsored by the TDand I have received compensation for it, but as always my opinion and thoughts on the topic are my own.