How to stretch your dollar for kids’ activities

With summertime near, kids out of school and long hours of daylight ahead, chances are you’ve already opened up your web browser once or twice to look into camps, soccer teams, piano lessons and other extracurricular activities to keep your children busy.

When it comes to our kids’ enjoyment and well-roundedness, of course we want to give them the world. The truth is, however, that there isn’t an infinite amount of money available to fund these activities, and it’s easy to let the spending spiral out of control as piles of classes add up.

So how do you maximize time and money when it comes to your kids’ extracurricular activities? Read on to learn five ways you can stretch your dollar:

1. Set a maximum spending limit

As with most things we spend our money on, unless you put some parameters around what you’re willing to spend (instead of “finding” the money as activities pop up), it will be easy to lose control. Set a maximum you’re willing to spend for the season or year and then begin to divvy up activities within that designated amount.

2. Quality trumps quantity

Does little Susie really need to be in piano, tap, soccer, karate and Girl Scouts? Ask yourself which activity will have the most positive impact on your child’s personal and physical development. Are you putting them in an activity that you chose for them or that they chose for themselves? Opt for groups or classes that will contribute to their social and educational skills and consider rotating in one or two activities at a time. Less could actually be more when it comes to ensuring your child can fully absorb an experience.

3. Set some parameters

Maximize the experience provided by each activity by working with your child to set goals around their commitment. What skills do they hope to develop? What do they want to be able to walk away from this particular class having accomplished? For karate, it could be to earn a yellow belt. For piano lessons, it could be to play Chopsticks. For Boy Scouts, it could be to earn certain badges.

By working with your children to set goals around activities now, you’re teaching them how to plan for their future and how to course-correct if they get off track or don’t achieve something on the first go-round.

4. Stick to a schedule

Since less is more, you don’t have to do everything at once. Look beyond summer and map out what activities are ahead for the remainder of the year. Choose two for summer, two for fall and two for winter. Or consider one activity for weekdays and one for weekends. Setting and sticking to a schedule will ensure neither your family nor your wallet will be overwhelmed.

5. Be creative

While some extracurricular activities can be costly, there are plenty of free or reduced rate activities and events available. Check out your local YMCA, civic or community center for classes or look into volunteer programs for youth.

Summer is a fun time for kids and families, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Work with your kids as a family to choose affordable, impactful and fun activities that they’re excited about.