Who Says Basketball Doesn’t Have Raquets?

Recently on Facebook, I spent an afternoon complaining about the cost of organized sports for my kids.  I got a LOT of responses to that post, and I realized that we’re not the only family dealing with this particular Budget Buster in our culture today.

This particular event was basketball.  After paying $20 towards the team’s registration fee, we also had to pay $6 per person to get into the event.  This may not seem like a lot of money, but when you’re a family of 7, that adds up quickly!  When you’ve budgeted every penny, these costs usually end up coming out of the “food” category – the only flexible category we currently have.  That means we’re eating beans and rice for the last week of the month if we’re not very careful.

(I’m not even going to get started on the “no outside food or drinks” signs that are urging you to buy their snacks – again, with a family of 7, that could be another $30 before we even blink an eye.)

A quick breakdown of the cost of “extra” activities for the kids, for our family:

Sports (usually baseball, sometimes basketball):

  • Registration: $100/person x 3 = $300
  • Equipment/Uniforms: (at least) $75 x 3 = $225
  • Food at games: $20/game x 10 games = $200
  • Pictures: $50 x 3 = $150
  • Entry into games (basketball): $6 x 7 x 3 games (all we’ve gone to this year): $126

Total: $1,001 per season for 3 boys



  • Registration: $45
  • Attire: $45
  • Tuition: $45/month x 9 months = $405
  • Pictures: $50
  • Recital Fees: $50
  • Food (around recital times, eating out a lot): $50

Total: $645 per year for one dancer



  • Instrument: $1,000
  • Books/Equipment: $15

Total: $1,015 – once, $15 per year after that

*We’re only 6th grade, so we don’t yet have the costs of private lessons, trips, contests, etc.


These costs don’t include “extras” like t-shirts, fundraisers, gas money to get us everywhere, and more.


I am researching solutions and frugal tips for managing these expenses. As part of my research, I’d love to hear the ways you have cut costs, or pared down activities to only what your children love to do.  Comment here or on our Facebook Page to let me know! I’d love to be able to include a lot of reader tips in my next post.


Your turn: How do you cut/manage the cost of extra activities your kids are involved in?

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6 Responses to “Who Says Basketball Doesn’t Have Raquets?”

  1. aaron says:

    Charging to attend children's sporting events is ridiculous! And making you buy their food. I've never heard of that before and it's absurd!

  2. Granny says:

    This is the world we live in. I think just having a healthy understanding that these things are just recreation expenses and not necessities will help. Although the kids really want to do them and they are fun, you have to determine if they fit within your means. When my kids were young, there were some things we sacrificed for – band, instruments, mission trips, etc., but there were some things we just couldn't manage to squeeze out of our income. I doubt complaining to anyone will do much good – those who manage the events or own the studios, etc., do have the right to charge what they want and you determine whether you can and/or will pay for them or not participate. The main thing I agree with you on is the school sports events – because it is a public school – if they are on a school-sponsored team (that is open to everyone in the school), the expenses such as uniforms, registration fees(? for what?) and paying to get in if you are part of the student's family should not be charged. Probably the PTO gets the money for concession. Otherwise, you find the money to pay for the extra activities. But your question was how to find money right? Lots of garage sales and rice and beans and grandparents!

  3. Lon says:

    I was proud of my son. He joined band this year and chose to play the bassoon. When I asked him why he chose to play it, he said because he was told that it was a "scholarship" instrument and he wanted the chance to turn it into something that could help him through college. His current school owns a bassoon, so we pay some cheap maintenance fees over the course of the year which is cheaper than renting an instrument (and we can't afford to buy one…). Youth sports is expensive. It always upset me that you had to pay to get into a game at a public school, especially even if you were bringing in students at that school. I am interested in hearing your ideas for saving money in regard to youth sports and other activities.

    • downswithdebt says:

      Thanks, Lon! I'm doing a lot of research right now, and I hope to have some ideas soon that will help us all out.

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