Today we have a guest blogger Gretchen Lindow, an Army wife, mother and frugal living blogger at Retired by 40! In early 2015 she left her job as an accountant to take her online business as The Pinterest Assistant full time and is now living it up as a work from home mom. She help put together an amazing list on how to save money during soccer season. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Stats to help you save money during soccer season
Parents spend an average of $671 per year, per child on sports, according to the National Council on Youth Sports.
More than 20% of parents spend more than $1,000 or more per year! Although parents surveyed had children participating in all types of sports rec and select.
Even more shocking, the Kids Play USA Foundation notes that a children start to excel in their sport of choice costs can run upwards of $10,000 because of the costs of enrollment, equipment costs, facility fees, and coaches.
Numbers can have a significant impact on your budget
With costs aside, children that participate in sports show have been shown to have higher test scores. Also an easier time learning in the classroom, have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight, and are less likely to struggle with depression, ADHD, and other common disorders.
Then as the become teenagers, sports help keep them busy and out of trouble. We all know that these things that make our kids happy are worth the time and money.
Between ages 6-8 is a time where I think it’s hard to decide on what to do in terms of playing academy or rec. I mean you can get on an club team with the top 3 clubs in the state, but that doesn’t mean they are getting proper training.
The thing about the biggest clubs is they have tons of teams and coaches, so often times you end up with a dad/coach. Or even a full time coach that has 5-6 teams and hardly knows your kids name.
Since the non-monetary benefits of sports far outweigh the financial cost, how can parents get creative and save money during soccer season?
Save money & eat healthier
One of the best ways to keep your budget in check – and not just during soccer season – is to avoid eating out.
Not only is fast food calorie heavy and filled with chemicals, it’s expensive when compared with the cost of a home-cooked meal.
When life gets crazy with school, homework, and practices every night of the week finding the time for healthy snacks and meals from home becomes a real challenge.
Tip #1: Prepackaged Snacks
Kids, especially kids that play soccer, have an appetite that rivals that of a fully grown man!
The best way to be prepared for this is with healthy and inexpensive snacks that fuel their active bodies by buying snacks like fresh fruits, vegetables, trail mix, and yogurt from the grocery store.
Then, on Sunday night (or whatever night is the least busy for your family) portion the snacks into containers or baggies and place them in a bin located in your refrigerator or cupboard.
Whether you’re grabbing snacks as you run out the door or your kids decide they’re hungry, they’ll know where to go for pre-portioned healthy, cheaper snacks.
Some great ideas for snacks:
- Orange slices
- Baby Carrots
- Small cups of peanut butter (Option 1, Option 2, Option 3)
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Pineapple chunks – but these dried ones are great too!
- Dark chocolate covered raisins or almonds
- Honey-roasted cashews, peanuts, or pecans
- Salted almonds
- Home-made popcorn
- No Sugar Added Applesauce
- Greek Yogurt
- Frozen Yogurt Tubes
- Cheese Sticks
For more Soccer Snack Ideas (an amazing snack storage ideas!) check out our Pinterest Board, Soccer Snack Ideas For Kids
Tip #2: Meal plan (The easy way)
Mom’s & Dad’s, Pinterest is filled with meal planning printables, strategies, checklists, and about 100 different meal planning methodologies, but they all seem to take more time than you (or I) have.
Did you know that there are quicker ways to plan?
A quick search Pinterest or Google will reveal free meal plans complete with recipes, ingredients, and even shopping lists completely free. These meal plans take only the time that it takes to print them out and shop – no creativity or collecting recipes required.
And guess what? We’ve collected a bunch of healthy, already prepared and free meal plans on our board, Game Night Dinners.
Alternatively, you could subscribe to a meal plan like $5 Meal Plan or eMeals that gives you more options, a weekly meal plan and shopping list delivered straight to your inbox and is based off of your favorite grocery stores’ sales.
Tip #3: Have a leftovers night
Did you know Americans waste $165 BILLION in food each year? That is 40% of all food. Just think about shaving 40% off of your monthly food spending, or how many hungry children all of that food could feed!
Not too many of us are thrilled about leftovers, at least not in our household, so I feel your pain when it comes to coercing your family into eating them. Short of sneaking leftovers into freshly-cooked meals, which takes more time and creativity than I have, there is a better way to get your family to eat them.
Set a weekly “Leftovers Night” so that your family knows that the fridge is getting cleaned out, and that dinner will be leftovers, like it or not! It’s really not as bad as it sounds though. Set all the leftovers on the counter or table and let your family pick what they want to eat. Tell them that it will make the meal for tomorrow taste even better.
Sometimes, just giving your family a choice between Thursday’s chicken casserole and Wednesday’s pork carnitas is all it takes to get them to happily gobble down the leftovers, save you a night of cooking, and waste less food.
Tip #4: Carpool to save gas money
I’m not going to lie, setting up a carpool with other families in your community isn’t an easy thing to set up.
There will be lots of schedules to coordinate, and definitely some changes in plans, but once you’ve set up a system that works, not only will you all save tons of gas, you’ll save stress and give yourself back some time during your week.
Start by striking up conversations with other parents at practice, or with families you know have to deliver their children to the same practices. Explain that carpooling can not only save money, it can save time.
Find the system for you
Once you’ve found a few families interested in carpooling, get them all together at practice, your house, or at a local restaurant and work out a schedule that works for all of you.
Some families prefer to set up a Facebook group that sends out reminders each day to the person responsible for carpool, lists everyone’s addresses, and allows all of the families to communicate with regard to schedule changes.
Find a system that works for you. For some parents only have 1 child, compared to families of 5+. Either way carpooling is going to save you time and money!
Tip #5: Combine trips
Is practice out of the way you normally drive? Is it too far to drive back home so you wait at practice for your child? Do you live far from town, but find yourself driving your child to practice in town?
If any of these apply to you, then combining your trips can save time and money!
While your child is in practice, use the time to run your weekly errands, do your grocery shopping, or to catch up with friends you don’t normally get to see.
Tip #6: Save money on shoes
Don’t get me wrong, your kids’ feet are growing, and good quality shoes are must – but that doesn’t mean they need to break the bank!
A good way to get great shoes at a great price is to be a frequent clearance rack shopper. The best way to find fantastic deals at the clearance rack is actually at higher-end sporting goods stores. These more expensive stores tend to mark shoes down lower.
The key is to not only shop for this year’s shoes, but to think ahead one or two shoe sizes and be ready to jump when they hit the clearance rack.
Tip #7: Buy what you can at yard sales
Duffel bags, Shin guards, and other gear that doesn’t lend itself to hygienic concerns can all be safely picked up at summer yard sales for less than $5.
A quick sanitizing wash in the dishwasher or clothes washer makes it perfectly ok to use for practice without concerns about safety, hygiene, or cost!
Tip #8: Skip the unnecessary accessories
Similar to fashion, sports trends change constantly. Just because the star of the moment has a certain headband, water bottle, towel, or gloves, that doesn’t meant that your 8-year old needs everything on their must-have list.
Just buy the basics and leave it at that. They will still be safe and be able to play at their best, without the added expensive of in-the-moment items.
Want to buy them an item or two on their wish list? Save it for Christmas or birthdays, and shop the clearance rack months in advance for those items that they don’t necessarily NEED.
Tip #9: Sell old equipment at yard sales
Younger children tend to outgrow equipment rather than wear it out, and you can capitalize on that rather than getting frustrated.
The easiest place to sell your used equipment – and the place where you will be able to sell if for the most – is at your own yard sale.
Yes, putting together a yard sale can be quite a bit of work, but if you live in a high-traffic area, it can be very lucrative.
To reduce the stress of a yard sale and make the most of your time, first find out which weekend your neighborhood is having their yard sales. This ensures good foot traffic to get the most eyes on the gear you want to sell.
Then, reach out to other families who may have gear they want to sell and offer to let everyone sell their used soccer gear during your yard sale. Not only does that ensure a great selection for the shoppers coming to buy, it make your yard sale more of a party atmosphere. Friends and family will have a good time, rather than one family bearing the entire burden of a yard sale.
Finally, put a foolproof organization system in place for your multi-family yard sale. You can either assign each family a certain sticker color, or have everyone initial the price stickers on their items.
Have a notebook available during checkout with one page clearly assigned to each family. Remove price stickers from each item and place the stickers on their corresponding families’ notebook page.
Collect money in a single money box, and then settle up at the end of the day by adding up all of the stickers for reach family.
Tip #10: Consign used equipment
If hosting a yard sale completely overwhelms you, seek out a consignment store like Play It Again Sports. Taking your equipment in to a store like this can result in either a 20%-30% discount on equipment purchased at the store, or the ability to sell it on consignment.
Whichever option you choose, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your equipment presents well at the store.
Launder any items you can on a deep clean cycle with the “good” (not homemade, sorry!) laundry detergent so that the whites are really white and colors are vibrant. Throw in some scent crystals for good measure too.
Items that cannot be laundered should either be throw in the dishwasher or hand washed so that they are as clean as you can get them.
Consignment stores don’t have to take everything you bring them, but by cleaning up your used equipment, you increase your chances of the store taking all of it.
Soccer is worth the investment
Keeping your children in soccer isn’t all about the money. After all, soccer teaches kids how to be a part of something larger than themselves, how to respect authority, how to work together with a team, and of course, sportsmanship.
Kids who play soccer also reap benefits in the classroom, like increased test scores, better study habits, and focus and concentration that thrills their teachers. They learn life skills like how to eat to nourish their body, how remaining active makes them feel good. Kids who are active tend to get sick less often.
But those amazing benefits shouldn’t have to cost you, the parents, a fortune, which is why you should carefully consider every soccer expenditure against the value your child is receiving from it. If an expense it truly worth it, make room for it in your budget and find ways to save on other things, like the ways I listed above.
Author Bio: Gretchen Lindow is an Army wife, mother and frugal living blogger at Retired by 40! In early 2015 she left her job as an accountant to take her online business as The Pinterest Assistant full time and is now living it up as a work from home mom. When she manages to tear herself away from her work, she enjoys camping, a great read, and copious amounts of chocolate.
Soccer development choices
I want to thank Gretchen for those awesome tips above. Teaching how to save money during soccer season. Try to find a good skills trainer to run technical training. Have them work on first touch, passing and shooting. You can get your ball control / dribbling skills at home using my online homework courses.
The courses are so players can control what they can on their own. Tell the private trainer that you have your kid working on dribbling/ball control/footskills at home. See if they can work with them on first touch, precision passing and finishing. Have the trainer work on the things that require a partner.
There are many at age 6-8 who skip the expensive club route and either play rec, futsal or skills schools like you have here at GFT. These are usually short 8 week commitments that give you more skills development for less money and time commitment. This saves you tons of time with your family to go hiking and be able to take vacation trips on Holiday.
Going the skills route over academy is not for everyone, but will technically have a player ready for the select tryouts.
So many people turn their nose to rec, but honestly if it’s so easy then have your kid only use their weaker foot to dribble, pass and shoot. See how good they are then. I bet they are challenged in a way they thought they couldn’t.
Just don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing.
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