According to CNN Money, the cost to raise a child from infancy to the age of 18 has risen to $245,000 for middle-class families. With such a staggering figure only representing the costs of room, board, education, and other necessities, saving money is on the minds of most parents. If your kids are involved in lessons, the cost can be even higher. However, lessons and activities you want your children involved in, such as art, music, sports, and dance, are excellent enrichment for your child and not something you need to cut out entirely. There are ways to find discounts and cut corners without pulling your child out of their favorite activities.
Reconsider the Number of Lessons
Some kids are self-motivated and don't need to be told to practice. If your child is this way, it might not be necessary to pay for multiple lessons a week. This is especially true for activities that rely on muscle memory, such as playing a musical instrument, or creating art. Your child needs time and repetition to master these skills, not necessarily more instruction. You can scale back the number of lessons and still allow your child to progress by providing ample practice time and supplies.
Try to Negotiate a Yearly Rate at a Discount
If your child has been getting great lessons for a long time, and shows no sign of ever wanting to give up their activity, consider approaching their coach about a year's worth of lessons at a discount. While this may not work at a huge gym or dance studio, a smaller studio or sports coach may love to cut you a deal in exchange for that larger lump sum. This can also work with freelance tutors, such as those who give lessons in foreign languages or teach the arts. It certainly can't hurt to ask and might save you some cash.
Shop for Other Venues
There's little reason to pay for your six-foot-tall daughter to go to the Olympic-level gymnastics studio downtown unless she's absolutely in love with the place. The same can be said with sending your son to a Julliard-trained violin teacher when he didn't pick up the bow until he was 15. Some activities will still be enjoyed knowing full well that doing it on a professional level will never happen. Look around for other lesson options, and consider leaving those who groom the professionals and prodigies for those with bigger dreams. Changing venues can add up to big savings, especially if your child enjoys the activity itself, more than who is coaching, teammates, or other variables.
Consider Group Lessons
Some activities are quite fun to do as a group, especially if your child just wants to try it out. Swimming, for example, can be taught to multiple children at once because the pool is so large, and the movements are learned through muscle memory. For example, SwimJim, a swimming education program which offer swim lessons, almost always start kids with a group class.
Some forms of dance and art can also be taught to a group at a fraction of the cost for individual lessons. Group lessons can also be a great idea for kids who are shy, as the coach or teacher won't be focused solely on them, giving them a chance to get out of their shell on their own through the group.
Switch to a Related Activity
While this won't work with every child, some won't mind if you switch them from a very expensive activity, to one that is similar and cheaper. For example, if you have a little girl that just loves to dance in general, the expensive ballet studio probably doesn't matter to her. She'd likely be just as happy learning jazz or modern dance down at the community center. The same can be said for kids who just love the movement aspect of sports. Hockey and football can be outrageously expensive, but track and soccer can be far more wallet-friendly, and just as fun and competitive for kids.
With the rising cost of raising a child, pinching pennies where you can is important. If your child takes lessons, and you are hoping to scale down on the cost, one of these strategies may be just the solution you need.