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According to Time Magazine, youth sports costs add up to a $15.3 billion industry that has nearly doubled in the last 10 years.
How is that fact affecting your wallet?
Most families enter into their youth sports experience, expecting certain expenses like team fees and uniforms, but they are not prepared for other costs that crop up and add up very quickly.
What are those hidden costs that may catch you by surprise?
Even if it’s only soccer or basketball, which don’t require a lot of equipment, your child will likely not want just any old shoe. And quite honestly, you should get a sturdy pair of shoes that are comfortable and will take the wear and tear for the season. You do get what you pay for.
Then your child will want a good ball, then a hoop for the driveway, then a soccer net for the backyard. Then there’s shin guards and ankles braces and gear bags and matching socks for the whole team and the list goes on and on.
I had no idea I would be running to Dick’s Sporting Goods so many times in one season and I certainly hadn’t planned on spending that much on what I thought was a simple season of youth sports.
Life without youth sports would probably mean dinner at home most nights and time to get home and fix dinner–albeit quick–for the family while they do homework.
But life with youth sports turns that scenario upside down. After-school practice means less time to fix meals and if you’re tired after a long day, it’s much easier to order take out or bring something home from your favorite restaurant. That alone will increase your food budget on a weekly basis.
Then add meals on the road when you travel to an away game or go to a weekend tournament. Unless you take the time to pack a cooler of food, you’ll spend money on 2-3 meals out a day for the whole family. Yikes! That really adds up.
This is something that many families don’t figure into their budget as they sign their kids up for sports.
Unexpected, unplanned – and unwelcome – injuries happen to most athletes. Ankles get tweaked, arms get broken, elbows get bruised, toes get broken–I could go on and on about all the injuries my three kids suffered over the years. Many of them cost you a trip to the emergency room, orthopedic doctor or walk-in clinic. And there’s often physical therapy to follow so your athlete can get back in the game.
You most certainly can’t control what injuries happen in the game or practice, but you can be prepared for when they do. Start by checking on what your health insurance deductible is and if your plan includes any other provisions that could trigger out-of-pocket costs, like co-payments and co-insurance. According to a recent study by Securian, nearly half of parents with employer-sponsored health insurance have had a child experience a major injury, with 71 percent saying the injury cost up to $2,000 out of pocket. The most common incident involved an emergency room visit. (Securian Benefits Survey, September 2017)
If you feel frustrated because your out-of-pocket costs are way too high, check to see if your employer offers add-on or supplemental insurance. Benefit payments from these coverages can be used to help cover those costs.
Once you pay the club fee for your child to play, which can vary from $500-over $2000, depending on how “elite” the team is, you will be faced with the prospect of weekends away from home, staying in hotels.
It was during the years that my kids played travel ball that I became a discerning hotel customer and knew which ones had good beds, good free breakfasts and reasonable prices.
Nonetheless, the price tag for a weekend in a decent hotel was still $200-$300. Multiply that by 4-5 times in a club season and that’s a major hit to the wallet, especially when you add in the food.
I know we had a budget when we did this and I also know that we totally blew that budget many times with costs that we had just not considered.
If your child starts to get serious about their sport and wants to take it to the next level, whether that’s high school or college, they may get to a point where practice is not enough.
They want more and you may want them to have more, so you go looking for clinics, private coaches, and camps to help them with their skills.
Private coaches can cost anywhere from $30-$100 an hour, day camps $200-$500 a week, and specialty away camps $500-$1000 a week. Higher-end programs like IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida start at $1000 a week and go way up from there.
Count the Youth Sports Costs
Most parents signing their little ones up for soccer or t-ball do not even think about what the cost of youth sports will look like down the road. Each family needs to look at the year, choose the sports, camps, lessons, and travel teams that they can afford, make a budget for youth sports and always be prepared for the unexpected cost that may crop up no matter how well you plan.