Brown Girls Do Ballet

Funding Our Kids Dreams

This post was sponsored, and paid for by SunTrust.  All opinions are my own.

You know you are totally and completely adulting when the conversation at brunch turns to how much money everyone is shelling out in extracurricular fees. From lessons, fees, leotards, instrument rentals, and travel expenses the tab for those of us with more than one child can be jaw dropping.

On a very rough estimate, I calculate  between ballet, competition dance, track, music lessons, intensives and instrument rental fees we shell out close to $5,500 dollars a year on extracurricular activities. As with anything, it’s hard to swallow or think about the big number when like clockwork, you click the pay link or scribble down the auto draft date in your planner. It’s easy to downplay it as just  $230 a month but over time those expenses start adding up. It’s not just extracurricular activities, it’s finding things to also do when you have the free time. If my kids want to go to a fine art gallery how can I say no to them?

It’s the spring that really hits us hard, especially after Christmas heading into competition and recital dance season. Outside of monthly tuition this season comes with competition dance and recital fees on top of travel expenses to dance competitions and track meets. New track shoes and shoes to go with dance costumes, tights and bun nets and the additional expenses just keep adding up. Staring an unexpected but not really unexpected $1000 in the eye has me really rethinking how we will budget in the future for these expenses…..or how we will engage the grandparents. We use a piece of software called Expensify to aid with this, as it allows us to keep track of all our household expenses, as well as any tax that may be due. You can read a review of Expensify on Trust Radius.

Youth activities are big business and come with healthy price tags especially for parents like us who believe in supporting the arts and exposing our children to activities that very well may pay for their college tuition in the future. According to a recent Suntrust survey, about 20% of parents in the U.S. spend more than $2,500 year with almost 40% spending more than $1,000 annually on sports, dance, arts and other extracurricular activities. We fall in the other 40% that spends over $2,500 a year.

FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS a year y’all, and that’s being conservative.

While we do a great job at budgeting for our monthly bills to include monthly lesson fees, we really haven’t taken a close look at how to budget for spring, including the miscellaneous expenses related to their extracurricular activities.

After completing this Suntrust budget worksheet I have come to the realization that we need to be setting aside nearly $420 a month to even out our yearly extracurricular expenses. Of that amount $230 would cover each month’s expenses and we would need to tuck away the difference to avoid coming up with such a large lump sum at the beginning of the year. I’ll admit it sounds painful but the realization is it will get paid, and I would rather put aside an extra $200 a month than have to produce $1000 after Christmas.

Six in one hand, a half a dozen in the other.

I’m glad I took the time to plan out how much we are spending and how much those extras add up. With anything, breaking it down into manageable pieces makes it easier to budget and plan. Looking at the extra $200 we would need to put away a month has me thinking of ways we can encourage entrepreneurship in our children challenging each to take ownership of their activities by  attempting to raise $100 a month each, which mounts to just $25 a week, a little over $3 a day per child. A reasonably affordable option could be tennis lessons Boston. They are a fun way to engage your children in some healthy exercise. With lessons for child and adults there will be no shortage of fun for the whole family.

If you are going through the motions every month, paying for lessons and other expenses related to extracurricular activities I recommend you take out some time to look at some of the tips Suntrust offers on how to take the stress out of funding extracurricular activities. Carefully calculate those extra expenses to include gas money and take out dinner on those nights when you are just too tired to cook and you will be surprised at how much you are spending. Knowing is half the battle and by taking the time to understand how your money is being spent may help you devise a plan to off set some costs and properly save to support your child’s dreams.

 

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This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.


About the author
Mom, wife and friend. I moonlight as a cooker, baker, laundry folder and organizer. I like to think I do it in style. Unlikely Martha is my contribution to the internet in helping women "Keep House and Stay Fly!"

2 Comments

  1. Great post. My baby girl is only two months but I’m learning that I need to budget for daycare expenses as well as her college fund. Do you work with a financial planner at SunTrust? I’m thinking of hiring a financial adviser especially since I want to start investing.

    1. Daycare expenses are so expensive. What we did with our kids is when they got to the age that we didn’t have to pay for childcare anymore we rolled that amount into savings funds for their college. I do recommend getting a financial planner to get your goals going. It will be easier now since she is a baby and you have a longer amount of time to save so your monthly contribution will be smaller.

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