Kids are naturally curious and tend to get excited about sports, musical instruments, and all sorts of group activities that can lead you to a headache and a concern about funding it all. Here are my personal tips on saving money while allowing your child to explore their interests.
Rent (and Rent to Own) Your Needs
When it comes to music, I learned quickly how expensive it was going to get. My son wanted to play the violin and I wanted to support that. The school offered us an option where we could pay a rental fee and use what they had in the music department. It is a great resource for many families who don’t want a huge commitment in the first year! Or for families who cannot afford to buy one at all. If your child is exploring music at school, start with them to see what your options are.
If your child is really committed to music in and outside of school but cannot afford the gear, you can opt for a rent-to-own deal at a local music shop. I chose this option and I have no regrets after my son used his for a few years. My payments were low and manageable. We just paid it off and he now has it for life. I paid careful attention to my son and realized he is a kid who is very dedicated. If you have a child who consistently tries things and stops after a few months, then you can just return the instrument.
Secondhand is Good Enough
Sports gear and musical instruments do not have to be brand new. You can find quality music instruments and sports supplies that have been gently loved and needing a new home. It may be that the sellers’ child played soccer and quit. The mom with four boys who outgrew their hockey gear needs to sell theirs for new gear for a new endeavor. The piano bought for Little Jimmy may have been a big mistake and has to leave the house for good.
Don’t forget the kindness of other families! Some dance groups will donate the costumes and shoes that their children outgrew for the newest members of the dance academy. Sports teams will send their used gear to younger groups (within some reason) so they have plenty to practice with. You and other parents can also host a clothing/gear swap so that everyone gets what they need and not spend a dime.
Minimize Their Schedule
Children (and plenty of adults) have very little impulse control. It is very easy to see all these wonderful things to do and want to try it all. Take a breather and consider that the child does one thing that season. Your child does not need a weeklong schedule of practices, rehearsals, games, and recitals. They do need some time to relax and be with friends. Yes, it will save you a lot of money. It will also save you a lot of time and give you and your child a chance to practice healthy self-care.
You can make your kids’ dreams come true with a little ingenuity and thinking outside the traditional box. Good luck!