Surviving Kids Sports: Money-Saving Tips

This was what my weekends looked like when my kids’ sports schedules ruled my life. On any given weekend, at least two members of our family might be at a basketball tournament, field hockey game or volleyball tournament.

If you have kids like I do who play sports, then you know that your weekends and free time are often spent shuttling kids to games, practices and tournaments. And in the process you could be shelling out tons of money.

How to save money on kids sports and activities

That’s why I’ve come up with ways to save my family money. Also, when I was team manager for my daughter’s basketball team and then the field hockey team, I came up with money saving tips, too.

Here are five tips to consider to save money on kids sports and activities.

Save money bringing your own Gatorade or sports drink

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 or Vitamin Water since they’re lower in calories. However, they still provide the electrolytes that kids need when playing sports.

So, whenever sports drinks are on sale at the supermarket, I stock up. Then, on the morning of a tournament or an away game for a school team, I would grab those already purchased bottles of sports drinks. It added up to huge savings for our family budget.

Ask about discount admission fees to sporting events

The one thing I hate about the basketball tournaments that we attend is that they charge the parents to come into the gym. Then again my high school does this with varsity sports, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.

However, our school district started a discount program. Here’s how it works for school games. If you bought 10 tickets to any upcoming varsity game, they gave you two tickets for free (or something like that).

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In addition, some of the two-day tournaments we attend will give you a discounted admission fee if you pay for both Saturday and Sunday upfront. They usually give you those wristbands you get at amusement parks.

See if your kid’s teams can get discounts

This is a discount you should ask about when you register for the tournament itself. For example, the last tournament our team (and the three others from our school) attended, you got a $20-per-team discount for registering three or more teams.

When I registered those same four teams for this past weekend’s tournament, there was no mention of a discount for registering multiple teams. So I asked.

Just by asking, we got $150 knocked off the total registration fee for this specific sports tournament. That money went back to the kids and their families that had put into the team’s funds.

Plan picnics with kids on sports days

Again, like the Gatorade, buying your lunch at a sporting event or going out to eat with the team can get pricey and fast. Last year, with my daughter’s basketball team, we made a picnic schedule.

Then, on those sports days, two families packed lunches for the kids each day of the tournament. (Parents were on their own.) They brought bread, fixings for sandwiches, drinks and fruit.

The weekend that it was my turn to contribute to the picnic lunch, I think I spent $20 or $25 on supplies. That may seem like a lot of money for a single day. However, if that’s all I had to spend on lunches for the whole season, that’s a good deal to me.

Find used kids uniforms or hand me downs

When my younger daughter started playing AAU basketball, we learned that other teams have hand-me-down programs. That is, players who have graduated from those teams are asked to donate their uniforms to other kids coming up in the sport. This helps to save money.

Similarly, the soccer teams in our town would have a cleat and sports shoe swap each year before the start of the fall season. You know how kids’ feet grow–they may fit their shoes for one sports season, and grow out of them by the next.

So, having the opportunity to hand down perfectly good shoes to other families–and get some in return–was a win-win for everyone in our town.

Buy used sports equipment

There are lots of places where you can find used sports equipment on the cheap. You may even find brand-new equipment and clothing, new with tags.

When our daughters were little and still growing, we relied on Play It Again Sports stores for their equipment. In fact, we grownups shopped there, too. On one trip we got a great price on used cross-country skis. But that’s off topic.

You can also look at Goodwill, Facebook Marketplace or even yard or garage sales for used sports equipment. It’s how we found my daughter’s first field hockey stick.

field hockey game kids sports

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  1. I was just kvetching with a friend about these sports drinks. She’s a personal trainer and health expert and I know these drinks were designed for adult football players in Florida summer heat. My uncle-in-law was one of the “Gators” who were the test market for the product in the 60’s!

    Few people need the drinks and they’ve got a lot of unnecessary and bad stuff in them. Straight water is free and a lot healthier.

  2. Homemade Gatorade:
    1/2 cup orange juice
    9 tbs. Sugar
    3/8 tsp Salt
    2 liters (approx) water
    The salt gives sodium, the orange juice gives potassium and magnesium, the primary ingredients of a sports drink.

  3. I buy powdered gatorade and make our own in reusable bottles. It costs a little less than $9 and less waste for the environment. This large size typically gets me through one season of travelling soccer for my two sons…

    1. I had NO idea that you could buy the powdered version of Gatorade. Does it come in a container like Crystal Light? Will have to look out for that at the grocery store!