Your kids are your world. Unfortunately, keeping your world happy isn’t a cheap pursuit.
As your children get a little older, say around the five- or six-year mark onwards, all that energy and enthusiasm they bring to the table needs to be channeled into more than just playtime at home. Once they get to school age, they’ll be presented with a plethora of extra-curricular options, maybe the opportunity to join the football team or an after-school group.
While this is great news for both you and your kids, many of these activities can cost a lot of money. You might need equipment for a particular sport, or to pay a membership fee for a certain club. Again, that’s fine, but what happens when you’re dealing with a typically fickle child whose interests change quicker than their clothes?
Managing the costs of extra-curricular activities can be tough, but here’s how you do it without spoiling your child’s fun.
Being tight with your cash doesn’t mean you have to be tight with activities. Instead, what about creating some yourself rather than relying on something else?
It’s even easier this time of year when there’s lots of seasonal stuff to get up to. A homemade Easter egg hunt, egg painting or making Easter bonnets all spring (sorry) to mind.
None of the activities you do are going to keep them occupied throughout the entire school holidays, however, you can keep taking advantage of one-off events to keep your kids happy and your costs low.
Fear the fear of missing out. Yes, understanding FOMO and its tempting effects can help to temper your spending when it comes to your children.
As parents, we never want our children to feel like they’re missing out. That means we want our kids to go on every trip and do every activity to ensure they get to enjoy as much as possible. While that’s only natural, it can have a damaging impact on your pocket, as you’ll find there are a million and one things available for your kids to do, each of which they’re (at least initially) very much interested in.
Thus, when you get a letter through from school for the next ski trip to France – at a cost of just £600 – it might be worth taking some time to think if you can really afford it alongside everything else your child does. Being firm in your thinking every now and again will not only save you money but also manage your children’s expectations for the future – i.e. they won’t expect to be able to do every activity imaginable.
Try before you buy and find a passion
Speaking of every activity imaginable and your children’s perceived interest in said activities, you, of course, want them to find something they really enjoy; however, it makes sense to approach this process with an air of caution.
With so many options to choose from and so much energy to offer, look into operating a ‘try before you buy’ method when it comes to new activities. That means going for a kickabout before you buy boots, shin pads and kit for football – and definitely waiting for a sample day or two down at the stables before you take out a loan to buy a horse.
Of course, this isn’t fool proof, your little ones are still very much able to change their mind a few weeks or months into something, but doing your due diligence where possible will save you a few quid buying equipment you definitely didn’t need to. There’s no getting around the financial commitment required to get your kids up and running with their favourite activities, but there are ways to limit your unnecessary spending while your children find out what they’re interested in.
A little homemade fun combined with a considered approach to finding your children’s hobbies should see your extra-curricular budget stay within reason.