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The real cost of outside activities (a mini rant)


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I wish that there would be a groundswell of demand for "truth in advertizing" as regards the cost of outside activities. I am at the point now, where I would like them to say up front: "We are expecting your child's life to be dedicated to this activity" and to tell me what the yearly cost will be (not the cost to sign up.)

 

Leaders of activities should have to say, " We will be asking for your child's life should you sign your child up for this."

Don't even think about Suzuki if you're not willing to have your teacher pressure you to do music camps, group lessons, recitals, community service, etc, etc, etc. You thought you were signing up for 1/2 hr. per week lesson plus practice at home. Ha! Quitting violin was one of the most freeing things of my life. My guys took up guitar and one will be a music major, but it's been such a relief after Suzuki.

 

And Boy Scouts. That's another outside activity that demands your child's life. I thought we were signing up for a weekly meeting and a monthly camping trip. No-o-o-o. There are sales of popcorn, yard sales, summer camp (that's where you get most of your badges! Really? I thought that's what the weekly meetings were for.)

 

Drama. I've learned to be very suspicious of drama groups. Sign up for a group 1 1/2 hours per week. And then find out that the extra practices in the month before the play take up all your free time.

 

Now expensesl We just signed up for Boy Scouts this year. The great outdoors--perfect for my son who is outside all the time. And the cost to sign up wasn't too high. But then, there is the cost of the monthly trips, which of course, are taken in the winter, too. The packing list reads: 3 layers of thermal water-wicking shirts, waterproof pants, etc. Do you know how much that thermal, water-wicking, fast dry fabric is? ONE, and I mean one is in our budget. They want 3 layers of it for 3 days of camping. That would be 9 total. So my boys can stink and be cold and if they get wet, it's going to be a problem! Not to mention that now our sleeping bags aren't sufficient. They want you to have 3 different sleeping bags with different temperature ratings. What happened to making do with what you have? Layers of clothes or a blanket inside your sleeping bag isn't okay? Their $100 uniforms were their whole Christmas present. The pants are okay though overpriced--you can use them for one of those 3 layers, but the shirt is useless for any of those outdoor activities. Its purpose is to serve as a bulletin board for merit badges that they will earn at camp. Camp is just 3 easy payments...

 

Rant over.

 

What activities have you found that require you to sign over your child's life to that activity? Which require only what you thought you were signing up for? Which activities had hidden costs?

Edited by Laurie4b1
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Tae Kwan Do--

We thought one to two times a week, plus testing.

Noooo. The more you go, the better you get, which I totally understand. It's just that the expectation is that you go 4 or even 5 times a week, plus Saturday morning for the fighting part (can't recall the name of that). It's like, it's your life. Ds did it for a year and a half, but we could only do 3 times a week. It wasn't that expensive, tho--you didn't pay per lesson, just per month (about $110). You had to earn your heavy weight uniform, and pay for belts (included in the testing fee, which really wasn't too bad).

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:rant: Just making more room on the box. :D

 

We don't have the budget for unexpected expenses. It's been difficult to find something my ds.

 

We tried 4H, once a month meeting. No, the meeting was the start, most of the activities and real time to socialize happened on Saturday. The shooting we knew about and planned for, but the other activities he had no interest in and it ate into family time. The shooting tournaments were way out of our budget, we hadn't realized how costly and frequent they would be. Since the regular shooting activity got cancelled several times he ended getting to shoot twice the whole year. He's calls the whole experience a bunch of wasted time and refuses to try 4H again, even though we're in a different city.

 

Upward basketball was the one organization that we found to be great. The expenses were all up front, no extra uniform needed. It was once a week, they all played. Ds had a good time, they involved the kids. He aged out otherwise he would have played again.

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We looked into dance for our daughter but the fees and recitals and outfits (three different costumes, three different shoes, workout wear) put it out of our reach. Why can't they just learn how to dance in shorts and a shirt? I'm just talking about introduction to dance, not classes for someone that is really good at dancing and is entering the discipline. I just wanted to expose my girl to dancing!

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The cost in TIME is just as annoying as the $.

 

I with you on Suzuki violin.....BTDT. First it's lessons, then group, then public group performances which you also need to rehearse for, then the recitals, and the summer camps, and the weekend workshops. Little ones are taking piano from a homeschool dad. :)

 

Basketball is our big drain right now. We signed up last year. Then we were pressured in the summer to do a 6 week summer league. After that was special conditioning. Then in August regular conditioning started. Practices started in mid-October. The original schedule had a few tournaments, but the final schedule has 7, and only two of those are within an hour's drive. We are asked to volunteer for several of these events. I know we need to help, but I didn't agree to this intense schedule! We even had a team travel 8 hours on Dec. 30th to play a game with us. Doesn't anyone want to relax and spend Christmas with their families?

 

Then there are the fundraisers attached to everything.....Coupon books, Wrapping Paper, Candy, Raffle tickets.

 

Please, OH Please! Don't ask me or my children to sell things! Tell me how much $ you hope to get from our sales and I'll make a donation. I hate having my children sell to our friends. I know they are only buying to help out our children, then I'm obligated to buy unneeded things from their children. UGH!

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Ballet. Sounds great until you realize that they have recitals every season, and that the month or so before the recital is pretty much daily rehearsal, like three hours of it plus the weekly lesson. Then of course the performances..........four to six of those, the costumes, the flowers, the coffees for mom who is trapped in the theater.......

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US Swimming.....If you want yourkid to do this say good bye to:

 

sleep....weekend meet warm-ups are at 7am....most meets are an hour away.

Normal bedtime routines for your younger kids (practice ends at 8...not home until 9.

Dinner as a family....every.night.of . the. week.

Family game night

church (meets on Sunday am's)

Wednesday evening Bible study

weekends

 

The cost:

US swim fee plus tuition for the year (at least 1500)

suits 60-200 bucks depending on the meet and suit

caps/ goggles...replaced pretty often...caps are about 10....goggles about 20

warm ups/ flip flops (don't ask!)

meet kitty (3-5 bucks every time your kid goes off the block in competition)

pool fees (cost to get into meets to see your own kid swim...can be up to 10 per session at at least 3 sessions per weekend)

hotel costs for meets further away than 2 hours drive

meals... or food for meet. meet sessions are at least 4 hours long...kids get hungry.

gasoline...30 minutes each way to pool....meets are all 1-2 hour drives away at least x 5-7 times each week.

 

We did this for 8 years....this year we are taking a break from swimming (all but 1 child who is just swimming a couple of nights a week to stay in some kind of shape...but definitely not in competition mode.

 

2 of my olders aged out and are now US Swim coaches and swim instructors in college which is how they earn their $$. BUT, no college NCAA money for them. Next ds wants D- 2 or 3...so he needs good grades ...not the fastest swim times plus.....

 

We, after all these years, are all burnt out!

 

Faithe

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Oh, yes, right there with you. You're scaring me about violin, though. We gave it up at the end of last school year because we could no longer afford everything they were doing. I recently discovered that the teacher is now doing lessons out of her home for $10 a lesson, so we picked it back up again. I used to hate practicing with my youngest and I'm hoping the fact that she's a bit older now will make it easier. Really hoping. My girls alternate weeks, too, for lessons. So, it is cheap really. And this teacher, thank goodness, is pretty understanding that this is exposure for them and that they are not going to be devoting their lives to violin or any instrument. 14 yo also takes piano. I'm right now on the verge of cutting it because as I said, she has no plans to study music in college or anything like that. It's for exposure. She enjoys it but enjoys violin, too. And so, therefore, I have to draw the line. Piano is $25 per lesson. Two and a half times as much. When I wanted to break for summer, the teacher frowned on it and lectured me that she would lose all progress she'd made. Well, frankly, I don't believe that. I thought, give her a few songs to work on and give us a break for summer. The world will not end if she backslides some, for heaven's sake. It's like there's no understanding anymore these extras shouldn't be made to seem like they are the most important thing in the world.

 

Okay, now starts the real rant. In fact, I posted about this not too long ago. Here, the nasty extracurricular is dance. Good grief. It's not only costing a fortune in money but time as well. Initially, it's just tuition, but then there are costumes, pictures, DVDs of recitals, tickets for recitals, competitions, warm-up suits for dance team, being required to buy tickets for professional shows and on and on. Every single Saturday of my child's life taken up the entire year long. Evenings we have to pick her up at 9:30 at night when she's there. And they don't get out then until close to 10. Every break sucked up by extra rehearsals. Six weeks before Thanksgiving there were rehearsals six days a week and then our whole Thanksgiving weekend was destroyed by the Christmas Show--dress rehearsal on Friday from 2-9 p.m. and 2 shows each day on Sat. and Sun. of that weekend. The entire holiday destroyed. All summer sucked up by dance intensive programs. Now, competitions are coming up and other events like fundraisers. Ugh. It starts out innocently enough with a few dance classes until kiddo decides to get more involved and add dance team. Then, it's madness. My friend said her kid had went to this studio some years ago and after a year of it, she felt like shooting herself in the head. :tongue_smilie: I thought, wow, good to know I'm not the only one who feels like that.

 

My youngest does horseback riding. So far, that's been extremely pleasant, but I bet the kids who are on the riding team are very involved and I know it costs a fortune. However, so far so good on this one, although it isn't low cost.

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I hear you. I was so excited when dd joined a competition dance team. It was a good monthly charge and she had 3-5 classes a week. Then there was costumes (5 of them at $200 each), hotel stays, competition fees (hundreds $$), the obligatory restaurant dinner with all the other dance moms :glare:, shoes (Capezio), makeup (MAC), hair stuff, tights, extra weekend rehearsals, last-minute performances, etc.

 

Dd is lucky I didn't know about any of this stuff when she started.

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Wrestling. On one hand, I'm thankful that the coaches were willing to let my son borrow shoes and headgear "until we can afford our own" (aka next year...this season is almost over and it's not in our budget). However, the toll it's taking on my kid...grrr! Practice for 2hrs, every day, after school, matches on Wednesday nights (after practice), and tournaments on Saturdays (all day long!). I got him out of Wednesdays because he already has Greek School and that was paid for via scholarship...he's NOT quitting that! But he exhausted when he comes home and has homework to do. Then he's still trying to catch up on his Latin before midterms because of a week he missed before Christmas due to the flu. The coaches and counselor don't want to let him quit because the season is almost over and they think it's "good for him". Ugh.

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I'm not surprised by the cost of my kids' activity (ballet) because we sign a contract at the beginning of the year. The price is high ($5000 for the two) but considering the amount of hours they go, not outrageous. That said, I can't stomach writing a check each month so I have it paid out of my bill-pay service on a recurring schedule. Because it's a professional school, we don't pay extra for recitals, costumes, etc. The cost of pointe shoes alone could bankrupt someone, though.

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We are in the USA swimming boat pictured above (that's what I did as a kid too). But I have to say DON'T LET THEM PRESSURE YOU INTO EVERYTHING!!

 

There are several kids on our team who come 3-4 times a week (high schoolers) and only do the league meets. No hotels, no admission fees, no $200 suits, etc. And they have fun. (No Olympics either, but most of us aren't going there anyway.)

 

Dd did a homeschool band for three years ($300/year plus a $50 flea market trumpet). This year she is doing band at the local middle school ($0, same trumpet) She plays ALL THE TIME but doesn't want to do private lessons, All State, the State Youth Orchestra, etc.

 

I understand that some activities (ballet?) are totally inflexible, but some can be very accommodating. Pick a level you are happy with. You don't have to do or spend it all. It isn't a choice between everything or nothing, in spite of what some activity organizers would have you think. You can selectively say "no".

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Our experience with Boy Scouts has been different... Yes, there are fund-raisers and no, BS don't do merit badges during the meetings, but those fund raisers in our troop go directly into the boys' "scout accounts" and we can turn around and use the money for camp-outs, summer camp, and even gear that the boys need. There's also a collection of used materials that the boys aren't merely allowed to use, but *encouraged* to use whenever it will do, so they don't spend money unnecessarily on gear they will only use a few times. And, of course, when we do have to buy stuff, we feel better about it when we know that out-grown gear can be used by another scout in the troop.

 

Perhaps there's another troop in your area that would be more attuned to the fact that "a Scout is ... thrifty..."?

 

And summer camp was a highlight of ds' year last year. He's really looking forward to this summer -- and I'm grateful that the hours we spent selling Christmas trees mean it will cost us relatively little as well.

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the equipment - you get to use the schools until you need it outside of class, is outrageous - especially if your kids are still growing, and the blades break frequently and not only do you need to buy replacements (not cheap) but you also have to learn how to put them together - thank goodness for my husband who is handy. Lames (those metal vests) are around $200, they last a few years maybe. My boys just got fencing shoes (they are 16 and their feet haven't grown for a year) at $120 apiece (Christmas present from the grandma) - they had to make due with regular old sneakers up until now. And yes, there are the tournaments that take up your weekends, which is when most of the stuff breaks, and even when you tell the school upfront that you will not be travelling to the other side of the country for tournaments, they still ask you EVERY SINGLE TIME if you will be going...

 

And then there is dd's 4H Dog Club. 4H costs nothing. After the first meeting she decided she needed her own dog. (one small puppy, $800 plus vet bills). And we needed a pop-up tent for the shows in the summer. And the $125 first aid kit for the Big E that she gets upset if I actually need to use something from it (as in - I'm bleeding profusely, break out the bandages). And the hotel cost for me to stay at the Big E for two nights... But it is sooo much cheaper than the fencing....

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I just had a go-round with one of our sports commissioners about this. I coach my daughter's team, and it has been a constant money grab. Registration, required sneaks, uniform deposit (which can be refunded if uniforms are returned on time, without damage), miscellaneous uniform required extras, practice wear, mandatory fundraiser, pictures, banquet...and it goes on and on.

The final straw for me was when the commissioners planned a banquet, without input from coaches or parents, which will be $27 per coach, $23 per child. On top of that, I received an email asking me to collect $5 per child to buy items for a gift basket which will be raffled off at the banquet. So the girls will also need to bring $$$ to buy tickets??!! The other coaches & I offered to make a small basket ourselves, giving each girl a ticket (for FREE) upon their arrival so each would have equal opportunity to win, explaining that we were uncomfortable asking the parents to put out more money.

In response, we were told $5 per child was not too much to ask anyone, and if we were not doing it as a fundraiser, there would be no baskets. Okey dokey.

I have several girls whose parents are struggling financially for various reasons. I have two whose dads haven't paid child support in many, many months as a result of layoffs/economic issues, and one for whom the purchase of one required $10 item caused tears as the little girl knew her family was making great sacrifices to allow her to have it.

 

It is too much.

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I totally agree with an earlier poster about Upward sports. Up front cost -I think it was $60 per kid for the season - and granted it's an 8 week season - but it includes a music cd, t-shirt, uniform shirt, extra stuff and 1 practice and 1 game a week. Everyone plays. You can - but don't have to spring an extra $12 on the reversible shorts (a good price for nice shorts - but it's not mandatory and not a point of pressure, ever).

 

I do agree with Scouts - I was pretty surprised with the upfront uniform costs. When my son transitions to Webelos next year I'll be watching ebay for uniforms - or hitting thrift stores in bigger towns. For camping gear - I'd talk with the leaders as what's on the list may be "recommended" brands.

 

We did ballet for 2 years (once with a 4 year old and then an 8 year old). Lots of extra costs there - show fee (which seriously - I could stomach but then I have to PAY for tickets to attend the performance I helped fund the building and fees for? REALLY?), costume fee (and aren't most of them rentals or reused from earlier shows?), 3 days full of extra performances (where the kids just sit around 90% of the time), pictures (uh, no) and then the performance - which was the straw and camel for me... The kids WERE NOT ALLOWED TO WATCH. They were to perform, then go sit backstage. No TV link. No dvd available. That's going to inspire them to want to continue! Not. I will *never* do that again, nor will I encourage anyone else to put their kid through it (at least here locally).

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Oh I am right there with you.

 

On scouting, dance, horses, 4-h, you name it.

 

And you know what really ticks me off? When you ask up front what the plans for the year, or even just the semester are, so you can budget accordingly making it absolutely clear in the conversation that you cannot handle additional costs later and they :

 

In my opinion flat out lie and then when you ask why you were not informed of the cost in previous conversation they say, "well you don't have to do everything" Gee. Thanks for low balling me so you could screw my kid out of fully participating in over half the activities for the year that all the other kids will get to attend.

 

Or they say, well these are the start up fees. Worry about the rest as it comes up. I'm sure if God wants it to happen, it will.:glare: That will be a real comfort to know God is the one my kid should blame when all his new buddies go to camp or have that new whatever by the next meeting and he doesn't.

 

And my last complaint, is people that can't figure out how to use a frigging calendar and then get pissy when you have plans outside of theirs. They constantly change dates and times and locations, give last minute information and never have anything together on time. And you are the bad guy because you don't live on the fly 24/7. And no, I don't mean occasionally. Everyone has times like that. I mean people who just LIVE like this and presume everyone else can accommodate them.

Edited by Martha
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US Swimming.....If you want yourkid to do this say good bye to:

 

sleep....weekend meet warm-ups are at 7am....most meets are an hour away.

Normal bedtime routines for your younger kids (practice ends at 8...not home until 9.

Dinner as a family....every.night.of . the. week.

Family game night

church (meets on Sunday am's)

Wednesday evening Bible study

weekends

 

The cost:

US swim fee plus tuition for the year (at least 1500)

suits 60-200 bucks depending on the meet and suit

caps/ goggles...replaced pretty often...caps are about 10....goggles about 20

warm ups/ flip flops (don't ask!)

meet kitty (3-5 bucks every time your kid goes off the block in competition)

pool fees (cost to get into meets to see your own kid swim...can be up to 10 per session at at least 3 sessions per weekend)

hotel costs for meets further away than 2 hours drive

meals... or food for meet. meet sessions are at least 4 hours long...kids get hungry.

gasoline...30 minutes each way to pool....meets are all 1-2 hour drives away at least x 5-7 times each week.

 

We did this for 8 years....this year we are taking a break from swimming (all but 1 child who is just swimming a couple of nights a week to stay in some kind of shape...but definitely not in competition mode.

 

2 of my olders aged out and are now US Swim coaches and swim instructors in college which is how they earn their $$. BUT, no college NCAA money for them. Next ds wants D- 2 or 3...so he needs good grades ...not the fastest swim times plus.....

 

We, after all these years, are all burnt out!

 

Faithe

 

yep...

 

 

DH decided to track ALL swimming expenses this year on a separate credit card so we could see the real cost beyond the training fees paid to the team (like what Faithe detailed above). As it turns out, the actual expenses were double the training fees. Yikes!

Edited by annabanana1992
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I got you all beat, even football parents!

 

Homeschool speech and debate! There's is only 1 small local tournament a year. We have to travel for the rest and spend a minimum of 3 nights in a hotel. A tournament 6 hours away costs about $400 just for travel. There are 2-3 tournaments a month and the farther we get from home, the more expensive travel is. We don't even participate in the Texas and California tournaments. Think $1000 travel per for those ones!

 

There are national dues of $30-$40 depending on which organization you participate in. Each tournament has registration fees: $30 per partner for debate and $30 per speech. So if my son wants to compete in debate and 3 speeches his tournament registration is $120.

 

I had no idea how expensive this would be when we signed on. Of course, now he has a debate partner counting on him and we are going into hock trying to pay for it all!

 

On the other hand, his speaking and argumentation skills have improved dramatically!

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We looked into dance for our daughter but the fees and recitals and outfits (three different costumes, three different shoes, workout wear) put it out of our reach. Why can't they just learn how to dance in shorts and a shirt? I'm just talking about introduction to dance, not classes for someone that is really good at dancing and is entering the discipline. I just wanted to expose my girl to dancing!

 

Try the park district, not a dance studio. We started there because DD was 3 and I didn't know if she would stick with it. She attended several park district classes and realized she loves dance. Then, I took her to a dance studio.

 

She took ballet/tumbling the first year, and ballet/tap the second. One costume, one recital. This year she is the youngest person in the Petite Dance Company. Two costumes, one competition number, and one more for the recital. Not too bad, but you also have to plan on overnight stays for the competition. We do the bare minimum. Our priority is the advanced dance instruction. My kids play the violin so they get performance time all year long.

 

Just keep your priorities in mind or you can get sucked in.

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We run into this with Tae Kwon Do. Not just the monthly fee, but the extra equipment, the tournaments, the constant extra fees for a sport that is year round..not just seasonal. I totally wasn't expecting how expensive it was going to be for a sport we thought was relatively inexpensive.

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Oh I am right there with you.

 

On scouting, dance, horses, 4-h, you name it.

 

And you know what really ticks me off? When you ask up front what the plans for the year, or even just the semester are, so you can budget accordingly making it absolutely clear in the conversation that you cannot handle additional costs later and they :

 

In my opinion flat out lie and then when you ask why you were not informed of the cost in previous conversation they say, "well you don't have to do everything" Gee. Thanks for low balling me so you could screw my kid out of fully participating in over half the activities for the year that all the other kids will get to attend.

 

Or they say, well these are the start up fees. Worry about the rest as it comes up. I'm sure if God wants it to happen, it will.:glare: That will be a real comfort to know God is the one my kid should blame when all his new buddies go to camp or have that new whatever by the next meeting and he doesn't.

 

And my last complaint, is people that can't figure out how to use a frigging calendar and then get pissy when you have plans outside of theirs. They constantly change dates and times and locations, give last minute information and never have anything together on time. And you are the bad guy because you don't live on the fly 24/7. And no, I don't mean occasionally. Everyone has times like that. I mean people who just LIVE like this and presume everyone else can accommodate them.

:iagree: Oh, yes. I hate that people assume you'll pull the extra money out of... wherever because it's for the good of your child. Well you know my child likes to eat too, food, real food, multiple times a day. Please don't ask me to decide between the two. :tongue_smilie:

 

We pay cash for most everything, we don't use credit and we have a small budget. I feel like I've shortchanged my son in the activities area, but I refuse to commit when there are open-ended requirements on time and money.

 

I had no idea how miffed I am about this until this thread.

 

We're taking up hiking as a family this spring. I've budgeted some money to buy the 4H books on the outdoors and get a good compass. We have most everything else we need. No monthly budget costs. Maybe we'll met some families camping.

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We're taking up hiking as a family this spring. I've budgeted some money to buy the 4H books on the outdoors and get a good compass. We have most everything else we need. No monthly budget costs. Maybe we'll met some families camping.

 

I just have to tell you that because of ballet, we never get to go camping or have almost any kind of real family vacation anymore. You may feel you're shortchanging your son, but I feel my kids are missing out on some great experiences as well. :grouphug:

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lol Sure, but try telling your dancer she can't be Russian Dancer or Sugar Plum Fairy. (My dd is aiming for Clara in the next couple of years. I'm a little nervous, really, about fallout, since they never choose a Clara who isn't at least 14).

 

Sheesh, no kidding. What was the name of that holiday that occurs around that time again? :glare:
Edited by LibraryLover
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Even Parks & Rec dance was expensive for my kids, because it was combination ballet & tap, and their feet were growing fast. I was having to buy new tap and ballet shoes for each of them every session. I eventually figured out that Payless Shoes carries them, or we'd have quit much sooner. (The dance teacher directed me to an expensive dance supply store when we first started.) Then there were the costumes for the recital. Yes, even Parks & Rec dance classes have recitals around here. :rolleyes:

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lol Sure, but try telling your dancer she can't be Russian Dancer or Sugar Plumb Fairy. (My dd is aiming for Clara in the next couple of years. I'm a little nervous, really, about fallout, since they never choose a Clara who isn't at least 14).

 

I hear you. Mine danced Sugarplum at 15. Yeah, that went over well...

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I hear you. Mine danced Sugarplum at 15. Yeah, that went over well...

 

 

How many healthy lunches & snacks with no color did you have to pack that month? lol (No color so the costumes cannot be damaged to those of you without kids in ballet.)

 

I see my dancer is needing tools...Sugar Plumb. lol Funny. I fixed that.

Edited by LibraryLover
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:rant: Just making more room on the box. :D

 

We don't have the budget for unexpected expenses. It's been difficult to find something my ds.

 

We tried 4H, once a month meeting. No, the meeting was the start, most of the activities and real time to socialize happened on Saturday. The shooting we knew about and planned for, but the other activities he had no interest in and it ate into family time. The shooting tournaments were way out of our budget, we hadn't realized how costly and frequent they would be. Since the regular shooting activity got cancelled several times he ended getting to shoot twice the whole year. He's calls the whole experience a bunch of wasted time and refuses to try 4H again, even though we're in a different city.

 

Upward basketball was the one organization that we found to be great. The expenses were all up front, no extra uniform needed. It was once a week, they all played. Ds had a good time, they involved the kids. He aged out otherwise he would have played again.

 

If he changes his mind about 4h, let me know! I know all the leaders in your county!!! ;)

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If my dd is going to continue with martial arts come late August (we are paid up until then) they will have to offer her a JOB to pay for it. She got her black belt in November, and has been expected, as a new black belt, to help teach one of the lower belt classes once a week (which she enjoys doing - plus it helps her continue to practice the lower forms, etc. which is in part why the newbie bb's are asked to help out). She wants to continue towards higher levels of black belt BUT now that we have had to start paying for college for the oldest kid there will be no money for martial arts from us. Since she will be 15 in May she will be old enough to be hired...so we shall see what happens.

 

Meanwhile, I am having to say "No" at each request to have her take a Saturday weapon's seminar at $50 a pop.... they do work on weapons 15 minutes out of every hour class during the week (she attends 4 nights a week - the lower belt class she co-teaches, two upper level classes, and the once-a-week class for black belts only.)

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This is not how we experienced scouts. BUT you have to be proactive. Several things:

 

1. The boy will only wear one outfit, no matter how long the camping trip. Any other outfits you send will come home untouched. So don't stress about having the perfect outfit three times over.

 

2. Always assume that anything you send camping may not come home at all, and if it does come home may, er, be somewhat different. That is, you may send A hat, and you may get back A hat, but it may not be the SAME hat. Do not spend a fortune on any particular item, if you can possibly avoid it. Don't be afraid to send cargo pants that arestained, frayed at the bottom and have a hole in them - if they weren't that way at the start, they will surely be when they come home. (And that means your son had a great time!)

 

3. Due to 1&2, the thrift shop is your friend. Make regular visits, scooping up tech clothing in any size above your boy's current size. I've even gotten uniform shorts and uniform shirts at thrift shops.

 

4. Talk to the scout leaders. They won't know your feelings if you don't tell them.

 

5. Scouts is mainly run by men. Now, no offense to men implied, but for many of them, they live a life where, when they need something (a shirt, t.p., whatever), it's right there, because someone else is taking care of that for them (wife, mom). They have no idea that when they write "bring three outfits" how much work/money that simple statement causes. Chances are, if you talk to them, they didn't really mean that the 3 outfits were essential.

 

6. Start a clothing and equipment exchange program in your troop. Families are only too happy to donate old scout stuff. We put ours out at each quarterly court of honor, and people can take what they need. Boots, cargo pants, uniform parts, etc. It saved us a ton of money over the years.

 

7. eBay. I have gotten shorts for summer camp for significantly less than the "new" price.

 

8. Ask, every time, if you actually need each item on the list. My son didn't need uniform pants for several years. We got belts and hats as hand-me-downs.

 

9. Befriend a mom who has had a son in the troop for a while. They'll give you the inside scoop every time.

 

Scouts is well worth it for the right kid, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Speak up, and let your concerns be known.

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This thread makes me feel very lucky. Our kids have done dance, dance competition, school dance team, and figure skating, all of which have been quite expensive and incredibly time consuming. But in every case, we've known up front what to expect in terms of time and money. My only gripe is with the school dance team, because practice times are frequently changed and added, and can run hours longer than they are supposed to. We were actually informed of this before tryouts, but I didn't really appreciate how much it was going to annoy me until it actually happened. While I am bothered by the extreme time commitment, I do realize that this is a fantastic opportunity for my girls. Our dance team places well at the national competition most years, and while the girls are talented, their success has a lot more to do with hard work and excellent coaching than raw talent. I have recently started thinking of the coach as the "Chinese mom coach";). While it has it's drawbacks, it has overall been a great experience.

 

The one activity we've done that hasn't been too much of a commitment has been YMCA swim team. They have practice for one hour every night, but it isn't mandatory and lots of kids only come once or twice a week. There are out of town meets most weekends, but they're optional. Registration was $69 for the season, (about 5 months) and the only other expense has been goggles, a suit, and occasional travel expenses.

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Dance has been like this for us. Our dd started out dancing when she was 8. The cost wasn't to bad and only 2 classes a week. Now she is at the level where she is dancing 5 days a week and a total 11 hours a week. We had to buy three costumes this year, master classes every couple of months, summer intensive auditions $15-$30 for each audition, summer intensives that cost anywhere from $2000-6000!!(she isn't going but I am letting her try out) plus her studio's company is going to Austria this summer! Again dd isn't going. We are scrapping by to let her attend her classes and master classes but all the other extras are out. We will not go into debt for dance and dd understands that. Of course, almost all the other girls at her level at her studio are going away to summer intensives and to Austria and come dressed for class in the latest dance fashions. Luckily, my dd doesn't care what her leotard looks like. She is happy with her plan black leotard and pink tights. She says "I am just going to sweat in it!" :)

 

Dd did get a little bummed when we told her there was no way she was going to Austria but she got over it real quick when she found out what the total cost was going to be. Plus, the thought of sending my 14 year old to a foreign country by herself freaked me out and wasn't going to happen even if we could afford it!

 

ETA: Oh and fund raisers!! We pay a ton in tuition and other fee and we still have to do a fund raiser for the studio, fundraiser for the dance company AND separate fund raisers for the company to go to Austria.

Edited by Lori C, Texas
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Upward basketball was the one organization that we found to be great. The expenses were all up front, no extra uniform needed. It was once a week, they all played. Ds had a good time, they involved the kids. He aged out otherwise he would have played again.

Agreeing that Upward is a great organization. As a matter of fact, it might be our only option. I know this thread is about outside activities, but I can't even think about that for Spring because I am getting dd in for a speech eval for her stutter - $150 out of pocket for the eval and then $80/ WEEK for therapy. And this is through the local college because we don't have coverage on our insurance and real private therapy would be thousands more. I feel like my kids are being short changed because they can't do anything extracurricular. :glare:

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This is not how we experienced scouts. BUT you have to be proactive. Several things:

 

1. The boy will only wear one outfit, no matter how long the camping trip. Any other outfits you send will come home untouched. So don't stress about having the perfect outfit three times over.

 

2. Always assume that anything you send camping may not come home at all, and if it does come home may, er, be somewhat different. That is, you may send A hat, and you may get back A hat, but it may not be the SAME hat. Do not spend a fortune on any particular item, if you can possibly avoid it. Don't be afraid to send cargo pants that arestained, frayed at the bottom and have a hole in them - if they weren't that way at the start, they will surely be when they come home. (And that means your son had a great time!)

 

3. Due to 1&2, the thrift shop is your friend. Make regular visits, scooping up tech clothing in any size above your boy's current size. I've even gotten uniform shorts and uniform shirts at thrift shops.

 

4. Talk to the scout leaders. They won't know your feelings if you don't tell them.

 

5. Scouts is mainly run by men. Now, no offense to men implied, but for many of them, they live a life where, when they need something (a shirt, t.p., whatever), it's right there, because someone else is taking care of that for them (wife, mom). They have no idea that when they write "bring three outfits" how much work/money that simple statement causes. Chances are, if you talk to them, they didn't really mean that the 3 outfits were essential.

 

6. Start a clothing and equipment exchange program in your troop. Families are only too happy to donate old scout stuff. We put ours out at each quarterly court of honor, and people can take what they need. Boots, cargo pants, uniform parts, etc. It saved us a ton of money over the years.

 

7. eBay. I have gotten shorts for summer camp for significantly less than the "new" price.

 

8. Ask, every time, if you actually need each item on the list. My son didn't need uniform pants for several years. We got belts and hats as hand-me-downs.

 

9. Befriend a mom who has had a son in the troop for a while. They'll give you the inside scoop every time.

 

Scouts is well worth it for the right kid, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Speak up, and let your concerns be known.

 

I pretty much just sent ours off with one outfit, with one (not three) layers of the techmaterial stuff, and am just hoping for the best! I know our Scout troop leader has unrealistic expectations of most families but I wish that there was some more realism in terms of the packing lists. Not being a camping family, we don't always really know what is "optimal" versus necessary. Our asst. Scout masters are more realistic, but then I feel like I'm bugging them all the time about stuff info has already been emailed.

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We're taking a break from karate here. I hadn't even realized how tired the kids were until we all just...relaxed.

 

We have a neat program here where people in the community teach classes--sometimes they're business people, or professors at the university, or musicians, or just someone with a particular passion--anyway, there's a huge schedule of various things. It's inexpensive, the classes last anywhere from a week to 3 months, and my kids have really enjoyed the ones they've done. It's been a great way to give them low-pressure exposure to interesting people and ideas. And they've learned things!

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Okay, maybe there are good things about living in the boonies. I will agree that dance lessons/recital are expensive. Especially once the child goes from one type of dance to three, but it is pretty much the same every year. Shoes in Augues, 9 months of monthly fees, costumes paid for at Christmas and tickets in April. Now we don't do competitive dance here.

 

We left a TKD place that wanted to nickle-and-dime us to death. That was expensive. Now though we pay the monthly fee for karate and the belt/testing fee once a year and are through.

 

Tai Chi is done as a family and just by the very nature of the art the only fee goes to cover overhead.

 

We did ditch Girl Scouts. I host two girls over here on Fridays to play and do a craft at minimal costs to me and the parents. So much less stress. Even if I do have to find some kind of crafty thing to do.

 

We also ditched basketball and soccer. Gymnastics opened up a month or so ago and I decided not do deal with it since dd has some kind of planned activity on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

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We pay cash for most everything, we don't use credit and we have a small budget. I feel like I've shortchanged my son in the activities area, but I refuse to commit when there are open-ended requirements on time and money.

 

Us too. If they can say we do these additional activities for approximately this amount later in the year - that is fine. I can plan ahead. Or better yet, I usually just go ahead and pay for it when I sign up. Recitals, costume fees, whatever.. Just let me know when I sign up!

 

But no, if they can't commit to dates and cost - then I sure can't either.

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I'm not surprised by the cost of my kids' activity (ballet) because we sign a contract at the beginning of the year. The price is high ($5000 for the two) but considering the amount of hours they go, not outrageous. That said, I can't stomach writing a check each month so I have it paid out of my bill-pay service on a recurring schedule. Because it's a professional school, we don't pay extra for recitals, costumes, etc. The cost of pointe shoes alone could bankrupt someone, though.

 

This is us. Oh, and Nutcracker takes over our lives from October through December. Rehearsals, teas, more rehearsals, staging rehearsals, dress rehearsals, performances. And it's become my volunteer work so I kill myself working backstage with props, quick changes (ever help a sweaty guy get out of his sweaty costume and into another costume?), etc. I can make a ballet bun in my sleep and can do stage make-up in 15 minutes or less.

 

I need to get off the computer now and start getting ready for the ballet company's board meeting this afternoon.

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Yes. Yes. Yes.

 

And this is why we do very few traditional activites. Whether sports or Scouts or music, they all demand extra time, time, time and money, money, money. Frequently the time and money invested far exceeds the benefits. We do stuff for "fun". Our local YMCA offers all types of sports and fine arts classes that don't require that level of commitment.

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This is why dh and I volunteer to lead our Cub Scouts. We are in control of the time commitment. :D Our Pack does just the popcorn sale and no other fundraisers. We give the parents the full cost up front, including money for all activities, and they pay it at once, and then Den leaders use it throughout the year. The local Boy Scout troop is equally sane.

 

I haven't yet signed up for something that ended up being more than I thought, but we stay away from drama, dance, horses, and most sports, so that helps. I know those are crazy, so we avoid them. My ds plays rec ball, which is low on commitment, and dh usually coaches, so that we can pick the nights for practices.

 

We focus on music and art, but I wouldn't touch any studio that was over-the-top in control. Each child takes from two music instructors, and oldest plays in an orchestra that meets weeky and for concerts. They charge one price for the year, with no fundraisers. They each take art lessons, which don't have any extra stuff, save for the optional art contest here and there.

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I'm with the others that have read this and say they don't feel so bad now that their kids aren't more involved in outside activities/extra-curriculars.

 

We only do 2 things right now: mid-week services at church and special needs baseball league in the spring. The boys' outpost commander at church does his best to keep costs at a minimum: uniforms and badges are free, weekly activities are free or if there is a cost he does his best to give you lots of time or finds a way to cover the costs himself or through a sponser in the church. The only things we've had to pay for is Pinewood Derby (the kit is $5 and that's it, no event fees or anything else) and camp which this past year was 2 times, once in the summer (birthday present from Grandma and Grandpa) and once in the fall (just a weekend outing for $10 to help cover food costs) and even with camp if you can't afford it the commander will find a way to work it out through either payments or seeing if there is scholarship money through the church available or a sponsor. The outpost does a few fundraisers through the years, but nobody is required to participate and there is no outside selling on the part of the kids. The commander and his wife (who are dear friends) put a lot of their own money into the program to keep it affordable for the families. The commander never wants to turn a boy away from participating due to financial issues, the outpost/church will find a way to cover the costs. The girls program is the same.

 

For baseball, the league director has worked super hard to ensure that there is very little if any cost to the families. She is a mom of special needs kids herself and knows how important it is for there to be programs our kids can easily participate in and how little money we tend to have for extras. The most we've ever paid was $20 for registration the first year for both boys and that included uniforms, the director didn't want to charge but it all got thrown together at the last minute and there wasn't time to get community sponsorship to cover costs. The last 2 years, everything was free due to some very generous contributions from the community. It's a short program, just 2 practices per week and one game per week for 8 weeks. You aren't required to participate in practices and games, if you can only do one or the other that's fine. The point is for the kids to have fun w/o the parents getting stressed out over costs and major time commitments. The boys have made friends and all the kids and families have a blast. We haven't had to do any fundraisers, but that may have to start as the league is seriously working on getting our own playing fields (right now we have to deal with the school district and parks/rec for practice fields and game fields and we always are given the crappiest ones). We've been blessed by a local private college that allows us to use their full stadium for the last 2 or 3 games of the season.

 

DS #2 wants to take art lessons and we've found a good one that is a little pricey but it includes all the supplies so on the surface there are no additional out of pocket expenses, but this thread has opened my eyes to make sure I ask and be prepared. He'd also like to play hockey and football, but the registration fees alone are too much plus the additional equipment we are required to provide is also a deal breaker.

 

DD is only 2 so nothing for her as yet. We had talked about ballet when she gets older but after reading about the costs involved, I doubt we'll be able to do it.

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I've gotten better at saying no.

 

And, with Cub Scouts, we decided to fork over the money rather then bug people to buy popcorn.

 

But we declined a "popcorn/movie" meeting -- when the movie was rated beyond what we let our boys watch.

 

We keep a close eye because, while we like our pack, the powers that be do seem to have values that we don't have (often letting the kids run wild, showing inappropriate movies etc.)

 

But because we've been willing to keep a watchful eye, it's been working out.

 

Alley

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I'm going to pipe up in favor of Scouts and how it CAN be run! And if your boy can't afford the basic stuff (I'm not talking about taking trips to CA for SCUBA diving!) then the money will be found within the troop. We are VERY upfront with our new families--telling them exactly what the average Scout in our troop spends each year and what the average boy earns. It is VERY possible for a boy in our troop to take those trips to CA for SCUBA diving, plus buy a new shotgun in one year--along with good camping gear. The boys should be paying their own way and in our troop, it's doable. Now, that does mean a time commitment of: 4 meetings a month, 1 camping trip and 1 fundraiser (averaging here, we don't do fundraisers every month). Usually our community service is part of the camping trip, but not always, so some months add that in. Now, I'm not counting Order of the Arrow because less than 1/3 of our troop is in OA. Merit badges are NOT done at meetings--they're not supposed to be... Our new boys have half their camping fee (instate) paid for by the Chartering Organization, plus our Cub Scout group sent each boy with $100 for uniforms, etc. Our troop keeps boy accounts, so the boys know that they are working for THEIR camp expenses. They sure hustle harder that way... :D My boy currently has over $1000 in his account, but he's sold a lot of burritos and pop, shoveled a lot of manure and hauled a lot of wreaths to do it. He's been to Philmont and SCUBA diving, plus bought a shotgun and a new rifle this year. All from his work. Not a problem for him to remember to take care of his camping stuff: three season tent, several sleeping bags, snorkeling gear, raingear, etc. because HE earned the $$. If you can't find a troop that can give you the actual costs, then find another troop! Or better yet, get on the committee and help those boys!

 

Thanks . That is helpful info. This is the only troop in the area that doesn't meet on the night we have church activities and I don't want to give those up. I like this troop in many ways---it's just part of a general frustration with activities becoming more all-consuming than is clear at the beginning. But it's good to know about the accounts. My kids have mentioned them but i didn't know it was for their personal use buying their gear, etc.

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