On the Money

How to avoid going broke on your kids' athletics

Big dreams, big price tag

The Rio Games are in full swing, and everyone has a little Olympic fever — especially the 44 million kids playing organized sports who may have their own gold medal hopes.

Those big dreams, however, come with an equally big price tag. While footing the bill for trainers, club teams and equipment, many parents admit they are sidelining their own financial goals.

Most parents spend $100 to $500 a month for each of their children's sports activities, according to a new survey by TD Ameritrade. Yet 1 in 5 parents spent a whole lot more: over $1,000 a month per child.

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These parents admit they are often pushing their own savings to the sidelines: 60 percent of parents of these young athletes have no emergency fund, the survey found. A third are not contributing to a retirement savings account and 11 percent have cut back on college savings, according to the survey.

All respondents have kids who play or have played "competitive youth sports" on highly competitive or elite club teams run by a nonschool organization, and most said they felt the investment in their kids was time and money well spent.

Two-thirds of parents surveyed expect their kids will get an athletic scholarship for college, but the reality is only 24 percent actually earned one.

How to save money

All that said, you don't have to go broke to help you child further their dreams of going for gold. Financial experts offer these tips to help save money on kids' sports.

  • Buy used gear. Equipment can be a huge chunk of sports spending. Search for a local sports consignment shop where you can buy and sell gear. Also, go online and search local Facebook swap groups, or eBay to find used equipment.

  • Volunteer to coach. If your league charges a fee, volunteer as a coach or in some other capacity. By doing so, you may be able to get your fees reduced or waived.

  • Buy nonsports supplies in bulk. The cost of healthy snacks, bottled water, and Gatorade can add up. Pool funds with other team parents to buy those items in bulk at a wholesale discount warehouse, like Costco or BJs, and get a few big cold beverage containers to fill up with plain old tap water while you're at it.

Saving some bucks on the field — and off — can help to ensure you still have some dollars to stash away for your own financial future.

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