Choosing an after-school program is a big decision in our house. We keep our kids busy with one activity at a time, because we don’t want to have too much going on -- but also because of the expense. Before you choose anything for your child, find out what’s involved. Some activities require monthly fees, uniforms, shoes, etc. Fortunately, no matter what you sign up for, there are usually a few steps you can take to save on your child’s after-school programs.


See if you can rent the necessary equipment for less than it would cost to purchase it -- especially if you’re not yet sure of your child’s long-term commitment to the sport. If you can’t rent, try to find used equipment at the usual online suspects (Craigslist, eBay, Amazon) along with, a global nonprofit goods-exchange where you can find people in your area offering their used stuff for free. If you have a Play it Again Sports store nearby, you can buy lightly used equipment along with new goods. Of course, keep an eye out for sales at other sports stores. Remember, the sooner you help your child figure out what sport she wants to play, the better chance you have of hitting a sale. Another option is your local Y, which may offer affordable sports and swimming classes.

Music lessons.

First, check with your child’s school to see if it offers one-on-one after-school lessons. If not, ask the music teacher if he knows anyone offering affordable private lessons. If your child has a friend who wants to learn the same instrument, a teacher might agree to take both children at the same time so you can split the cost with the friend’s family. Another great option: the music department at a local college, where qualified students often give private lessons at a reduced rate.


Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are great organizations. They’re relatively low-cost, and the life-skill group activities they offer will keep your child busy all year long.

Other clubs and activities.

If you can’t find the right program at your child’s school, check the other schools in your town to see what after-school clubs and programs they run. Some may offer activities (drama, cheerleading, choir, art, sports) that you can’t find at your child’s school. Also, check out the Y. It offers so many different activities, and some require just a class fee, not a membership fee.

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