Extracurricular activities help kids develop social skills, work ethic, teamwork and self-discipline—all worthy pursuits. At the end of the day, sports are much less about winning and much more about having fun and making friends. But when it comes to your pocketbook, not all activities are created equal.
The costs of these activities can easily escalate. Football may have a registration fee of $50, but what about cleats, a mouth guard and the “optional” camp during the summer? These extra costs can add up quickly, especially for older kids
Costs of different activities vary depending on the league the child plays in, the frequency and duration of competitive/performance seasons, your child’s age and how serious you and your child are about advancing in the activity. Here we offer only an estimate of which activities cost the most for young kids just starting out.
Nothing says “summer” like a day at the ballpark. Maybe that’s why so many families sign their children up for baseball—or maybe it’s because city league baseball teams are inexpensive for young children. Some city league baseball teams cost as little as $15 per month. Money-saving tip: Borrow a baseball glove from a neighbor. This saves money for you and makes things easier for your child, who won’t have to break in a new glove.
If you have a little gymnast in the family, it’s quite affordable to get her started. City recreation departments offer classes for young children starting at about $20 per month. However, as gymnasts progress and join competitive teams, those costs can multiply quickly. Money-saving tip: Keep the leotards your older children grow out of so you don’t have to buy new ones when younger siblings take lessons.
Swimming lessons for young children start at about $20 per month. While some schools have competitive swim teams, most kids at swimming lessons don’t take it that far. Additional costs include swimwear, goggles and maybe nose plugs, but chances are you have those on hand for trips to the pool anyway. Money-saving tip: Group swimming lessons cost less than private lessons.
7. Figure skating
Have the Olympics given your future gold medalist the figure skating bug? Local rinks offer lessons for all ages. You can find beginning figure skating lessons for elementary school students for about $40 per month, which includes equipment rentals. Or if you just want to spend a leisurely night out with the family on the ice, you can skate at Peaks Ice Arena for $5 per person. Money-saving tip: See if the rink owners have any work you could do in exchange for lessons.
6. Art classes
Some city recreation departments also offer classes in art, including photography, painting, watercolor and more. The price of these classes varies, but classes for younger kids cost about $40 per month. These fees generally include supplies as well. Money-saving tip: Join with family or neighbors to take advantage of any group discounts.
Tackle football is one of the more expensive team sports for kids in Utah County (though flag football costs less). If your son wants to play football, you can expect to pay about $50 to $60 for registration fees. In most cases, this includes a jersey and equipment but no mouthpiece or cleats. Money-saving tip: Sign up for only one sport at a time. This will not only save you money but will also make things easier for your child, his team and his coach.
Golf is easily one of the most expensive sports for anyone, and it’s no different for kids. If you walk for nine holes at an inexpensive course, you’ll probably spend about $15. If you want to ride in a cart and play a full 18 holes at an upscale resort, you’ll pay significantly more. Some middle and high schools have golf teams that provide season passes with registration fees, which are usually about $30 per month. Money-saving tip: Borrow golf clubs.
You can get your little kids started in hockey for about $50 per month, which includes helmet and skate rental. There are fewer ice rinks in Utah County than there are baseball diamonds or basketball courts, so if your little one was inspired by Miracle, you might have to look a little harder for options. Money-saving tip: Be sure to meet payment deadlines to avoid any possible late fees.
2. Private music lessons
Not surprisingly, the most expensive activities for younger kids involve one-on-one instruction in a specific skill set. Music lessons—in voice, piano or another instrument—can cost anywhere from $15 to $35 per lesson. These are generally held once a week, making private music lessons cost anywhere from $60 to $140 per month. Money-saving tip: Look into options for renting instruments, which can cost thousands of dollars if you buy your own.
Utah is home to the best snow on earth, and skiing on that snow can be pricey. A two-hour beginning ski school lesson at Alta, for example, costs $60—as much as an entire season of some team sports. And even if you don’t enroll in a class, the tickets themselves are expensive. A child’s season pass (ages 8-10) to Brighton costs about $60 per month and a one-day ticket costs $35 per day. Money-saving tip: Carpool whenever possible. It saves a lot of time and money, especially when driving to mountain resorts.