Have Kids? These sports could cost you $2,000-plus per year

Image source: Getty Images Does pee-wee football have sponsors? Key points Winter sports and those with lots of gear tend to be more expensive, including ice hockey, skiing/snowboarding, and field hockey. Travel costs are another huge factor, especially in team sports that have “away” games. The least-expensive Sports are those with minimal equipment, as well as some of the most popular sports where gear is inexpensive or easy to find used. Most kids are like the Energizer bunny. They just keep going long past when their parents are ready to take a nap. That’s why giving them a proper outlet for that energy, such as organized sports, is practically a necessity. Unfortunately, that necessity starts to look a lot more like a luxury when you start diving into the personal finance impacts. The average cost of a year of just one kids sport (for a single child) is nearly $700. And most kids actually play two or more sports. The price to play can vary quite a bit from sport to sport. Many of the least expensive sports also require the least amount of gear. But that’s not the only factor. Popularity, ease of finding used gear, and travel needs all play their parts. Winter sports top the chartsIn a survey by the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, parents offered cost data on 21 sports. At the top of the chart — ie, the most expensive sports — are ice hockey and skiing/snowboarding. Five most expensive kids sports:Ice hockey: $2,583Skiing/snowboarding: $2,249Field hockey: $2,125Gymnastics: $1,580Lacrosse: $1,289The top two sports are a good example of how costs can be highly dependent on different factors for each sport. Ice hockey, with an average yearly cost of $2,583 per kid, seems to just be expensive across the board. Registration and travel costs far outweigh the costs of equipment or lessons. Skiing/snowboarding, on the other hand, seems to be near the top of the list based on the cost of equipment alone. Of the $2,249 average annual cost, $1,174 of it — that’s 52% — is from purchasing or renting equipment. Which makes sense; Just buying the necessary layers to keep from freezing can be costly. And that’s before you add in the high cost of skis or snowboards. At the other end of the spectrum, the least-expensive sports tend to be those with minimal equipment requirements. Track and field, cross country, flag football — all sports where the uniform is basic and you likely don’t need pads, sticks, or other pricey gear. Five least expensive kids sports: Track and field: $191 Flag football: $268 Skateboarding : $380 Cross country: $421 Basketball: $427 That being said, sports that require lots of equipment but that are very popular/common can also be quite affordable. American tackle football, for example, can have a lot of gear requirements. However, football is so ubiquitous that the gear is not only fairly affordable when new, but also pretty easy to find used. Gear is expensive, but travel can be worseWhile equipment costs may be the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating a new sport , it’s actually not the driving factor for the total cost for most sports in the survey. No, the cost of travel is actually the biggest expense for quite a lot of sports. For example, field hockey has an average cost of $2,125 a year. Only about a quarter of that cost is from equipment. It’s the $934 a year spent on travel to and from games that makes up the majority — 44% — of the cost to play. This is often hours of driving in a van full of kids who spent the last two hours sweating through their pads.Talk about labor of love.) Of course, even just registering your kids for their sports teams can be expensive. Ice hockey registration alone reportedly costs an average of $634 a year. Two other top five sports also have pricey registrations: field hockey is $409 a year, and lacrosse is $411 a year. Even if your child would rather play a sport without teams, you’re not off the hook. Most non-team sports are the type that require some sort of classes or lessons. Gymnastics, for instance, costs an average of $1,580 a year, and more than a quarter of that (27%) is just the cost of classes. But that’s not even the worst one. More than 40% of the $1,170 average annual cost to play tennis is from class costs. And more than 60% of the costs associated with martial arts come from lessons. Ways to save Being involved in sports can be beneficial to kids in myriad ways. It helps them develop self-confidence and sportsmanship — we need fewer sore losers in the adult world, that’s for sure — as well as providing a healthy outlet for excess energy. But when you’re on a budget, that extra $700 a year can seem like a lot; Raising kids is already expensive without the extra cost. Happily, there are a few ways you can trim the costs of your kids’ sports without having them cut them out entirely. Rent first: Most parents have been through the pain of shelling out hundreds just to have your kid decide three weeks in that they don’t like the sport anymore. If possible, see if you can rent pricier equipment until you’re sure your kid will stick with it. Buy used: Kids can outgrow gear long before it’s at the end of its useful life. Try to pick up used gear from friends, family, and teammates. Many independent sporting goods stores will also sell gently used gear. (Don’t buy used helmets; they can lose effectiveness.) When you can, share travel expenses with other parents to minimize your out-of-pocket costs. Bundle classes: If your child is in a sport that involves taking a lot of classes, ask their gym/dojo/etc. about class bundles. Many places will offer package deals at a lower per-class cost than you’d get paying for one class at a time. If nothing else, consider the cost of your kids’ sports an investment. Your kid will likely be happier and healthier. Plus, you get some entertainment out of it, too. You’ve never laughed until you’ve watched 7-year-olds in full hockey gear try to skate! Alert: highest cash back card we’ve seen now has 0% intro APR until 2024If you’re using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our expert loves this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until 2024, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. In fact, this card is so good that our expert even uses it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. Read our free review

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