Note from Hint Mama: You may have noticed it has been somewhat quiet around here, and it’s likely to remain that way for a bit longer. That’s because I have big news: We’ve moved to the Chicago area from San Francisco. So, I’ve been swamped trying to figure out our new life in Chicago, with a focus on finding a preschool, childcare and extracurricular activities for our two children.
As I look into ballet and music classes for my little ones, I’m making sure I follow the helpful money-saving tips below from Hint Mama contributor Melissa Lawrence, the co- founder of CloudMom. As the mom of five children, she knows a thing or two about cutting the costs of afterschool activities.
With the crazy expenses involved in extracurricular activities these days, you’re probably looking for ways to cut these costs. So just in time for the start of winter sign-up season, I’ve compiled my top three ways to save money on after-school activities.
Give it a trial period. It’s smart to give your child’s activity a “trial period” before really committing. Call or email the activity provider and schedule a free trial class, and ask if you can pay a drop-in fee for the first few weeks. If by the end of the trial period (whether it’s one class or a few weeks), your child is just dying to learn the violin, or play on the local travel soccer team, then you can be a little more reassured that the money for instrumental lessons or cleats is going toward something worthwhile.
Explore your options. Besides having your child choose only one or two serious activities per season, reach out to friends, family, or your local recreation center for help. Our family has saved a lot by receiving used baseball and soccer gear from friends. In addition, the club teams and afterschool activities at our local rec center have been great (and cheaper!) options for sports and various classes and lessons than other programs available.
Buy in Bulk. It seems that every sports season, I’m rushing around buying loads of snacks and fancy electrolyte water for my little ones, while also contributing to home game events and pasta parties. If you’re doing the same, you know that these food costs can really take a toll on your wallet. So, I recommend buying food for these events in bulk and using coupons when you can. Also, it’s okay to just stick with simple snacks and water. And for pasta parties for the team, try to coordinate with the other moms beforehand so you’re not buying or making too much extra.
I hope these tips help save your worrying and your wallet this winter season. And best of luck staying warm on the sidelines and managing those schedules.
Melissa Lawrence, co-founder of CloudMom, lives in New York City with her husband and 5 young children. With a few parenting tricks up her sleeve, Melissa posts how-to videos and blogs for parents on a range of issues including baby, toddler, kids, fashion, travel, and well-being. Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.