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A recent weekend had at least two members of our family at a basketball tournament. The weekend before, it was volleyball.
If you have kids who play sports, then you know that your weekends and free time are often spent shuttling kids to games, practices and tournaments. In the process you could be shelling out tons of money.
Here are my five tips for saving money, not only for my family but for the team:
1. Bring your own Gatorade.
At every tournament we’ve been to, Gatorade costs $1.50 to $2 per bottle. Play four games in a weekend and for that money, you could have bought a couple of 12 packs of Gatorade or your favorite sports drink. (We favor the G2 drink, since it is lower in calories.) That’s why whenever sports drinks are on sale at the supermarket, I stock up and then grab a few and go on sports mornings.
2. See about discount admission fees.
One thing I hate about the basketball tournaments we attend is that they charge the parents to come into the gym. Our high school does this with varsity sports, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. However, our school district started a discount program: If you buy 10 tickets to any upcoming varsity game, they gave you two tickets free (numbers sometimes vary). In addition, some of the two-day tournaments will give you a discounted admission if you pay for both Saturday and Sunday upfront. (They usually give you those wristbands you get at amusement parks.)
3. Ask if you can get a team discount.
Ask about this when you register. For example, the last tournament our team attended, we got a $20-per-team discount for registering three or more teams. When I registered those same four teams for the next tournament, there was no mention of a discount for registering multiple teams. So I asked. And we got $150 knocked off the total registration fee, which we could put back into the teams’ funds.
4. Plan to picnic with your team.
Again, as with the Gatorade, buying lunch at a sporting event or going out to eat with the team can get pricey. Last year, with my daughter’s basketball team, we made a picnic schedule, and two families took each day of the tournament. They brought bread, fixings for sandwiches, drinks and fruit. The weekend that it was my turn, I spent $20 or $25 on supplies. That may seem like a lot of money for a single day but if that’s all I had to spend on lunches for the whole season, that’s a good deal to me.
5. Look into hand-me-down uniforms.
My daughter started playing on her basketball team three years ago, and this season was the first to have girls “graduate” from the program. Some of the incoming families were smart to ask if any of the graduates would hand down their uniforms for a nominal fee.
What are some of the ways that you save money on your kids’ sporting events – or on teams you play on yourself?
Leah Ingram is the author of “Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier & Healthier for Less” and shares money-saving tips at Suddenly Frugal.