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save money on your kids
Need to know some creative ways to save money on your kids' activities? You are in the right place. Read on for some frugal budgeting techniques that will enable your kids to have fun without you completely abandoning the saving money strategies that you have learned so far.

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As parents we all want our children to have fun, enjoy life, and even do things that we may not have been able to do when we were younger. We want them to be well rounded and to be exposed to a lot of different activities. We want to be able to give them the world. But sometimes "the world" is not quite within our budget. So what can we do to give our children the lives that we want them to have without breaking the bank?

Today we are going to talk about some creative ways to save money so that you can do just that.

Creative Ways to Save Money in Boy/Girl Scouts

Being a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout is something that many families pursue for their children. Joining these long-standing organizations is believed to have a positive, lasting impact on those involved. It provides children with the opportunity to experience new things. Scouts learn how to put other before themselves through volunteering and providing service to others. It also helps them to build confidence. They also learn life skills and have ethical standards reinforced. These are all things that they carry on into their adult life and all of their relationships. The characteristics that are upheld by Scouts are:
  • Trustworthiness
  • Loyalty
  • Helpfulness
  • Friendliness
  • Courtesy
  • Kindness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Thriftiness
  • Bravery
  • Reverence
It sounds great, right? However, there are costs involved. And, for some families, those costs are enough to prevent them from enrolling their sons and daughters in the Scouts. One major expense is the uniform. Other costs include registration fees, handbooks, camping equipment, and events. Each unit does conduct fundraisers to help with these costs. Some even provide financial assistance or arrange uniform trades. However, there are some things that you can do to save money. For one, only buy what is necessary. Speak to the Scout Leader to find out what is essential and what is optional, then only buy what your child actually need. Use Craigslist, online yard sales, or Scouts groups to fins people who have old uniforms that they are willing to sell or donate to you. You can also shop at secondhand stores such as Goodwill to find the pieces of the uniforms that your child will need.

Creative Ways to Save Money in Martial Arts Classes

Another popular activity for children is martial arts classes. Some of the common classes are karate, taekwondo, kung fu, and judo. And it's no wonder that so many families elect to enroll their children (and themselves) in martial arts classes. The benefits are amazing:
  • Instill a Sense of Self-Discipline - In a world of instant gratification, martial arts teach kids about self-discipline and self-restraint.
  • Improves Socialization Skills - Through martial arts, kids whose social skills are not the greatest are placed in an environment filled with kids that share a common interest with them. And we all know how sharing a common interest can cross otherwise difficult to cross divides. Some forms of martial arts may also force kids to depend on one another, which is also a great mechanism for bonding.
  • Encourages Physical Activity - Martial arts are the furthest thing from being inactive that you can think off. Kids are always moving. And for some kids, this might be just what they need to switch from being couch potatoes to kids that love moving.
  • Goalsetting - Through the use of accomplishment systems, children in martial arts always have something to strive for. In this way, they learn how to set goals, make a plan of action, and follow through.
  • Improves Self-Esteem - As your child learns more skills and moves through the ranks, they will become more confident in themselves. And self-confidence can move mountains.
  • Learning Respect for Others - This should come as no surprise. In martial arts, the instructor is king. Students are taught to respect their instructor to the utmost degree. This respect for authority is likely to carry over to their relationships with others.
  • Teaches Conflict Resolution Skills - Contrary to what some people may believe, martial arts are not about teaching people to be aggressors or to use violence to achieve goals. In fact, much of martial arts is defensive in natures � promoting peaceful, non-violent resolutions.
  • Improves Listening Skills - If your child wants to achieve the goals that are set, they will have to learn how to listen. And I know that is something that we all want, right
  • Learn to Work With a Team - Working with the other kids in their class will teach your children how to work well with others. And this is a skill that they will need to get through life, not just childhood.
With all of these amazing benefits, it's no wonder that there is a price tag attached to it. Monthly fees for martial arts classes can range $50-$150 for adults and, typically about 20-50% less for kids. Those classes taught by someone who is considered an expert are typically higher (this should come as no surprise). Of course, there are typically uniforms that must be purchased. Then there are other possible fees such as testing fees, association fees, registration fees, and annual membership dues. So what are some creative ways to save money so that your kids can reap all of the aforementioned benefits?
  • See if there are any fee waivers available.
  • Shop around. You don't have to enroll at the first class you find. Go online and search for all of the classes offered in your area and see which one best fits your budget.
  • Buy your uniform somewhere aside from the place your child will be enrolled.
  • Buy the uniform secondhand.
  • Don't sign a contract if you can't agree to its terms. This means you need to actually read the contract. Don't get talked into signing a long-term contract only to realize that it is not a good fit for your family.

Creative Ways to Save Money on Summer Camp

Ahhhh...summer camp. That rite of passage for youth. And you were even happier if it was a sleepaway camp. This is something that most children want to experience at some point in their childhood. And why not? Summer camp, for me, was one of the highlights of my childhood. I experienced things that I had never tried before (or since). Every day was an adventure as we tried our hands at horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, white water rafting, mountain climbing, rappelling, zip lining, archery, arts and crafts, talent shows, and more. I made a lot of great friends from around the country. And the food was excellent. However, summer camp is definitely not the most affordable thing in the world. Registration alone can be hundreds of dollars per child. And then you have to possibly pay for transportation, clothes, and a ton of miscellaneous things. If it is not a sleepaway camp, you will likely have to pay for equipment, food, and special events.

For many families, it is just not a viable option. But you are a Money Saving Mama. Saving money strategies are in your blood. So, what are some ways to save money on sending your kids to summer camp?
  • Check out Discounts - If you or your husband is a military personnel, serviceman, or teacher, you may very well be eligible for summer camp discounts. Some summer camps also offer a discount if you have multiple children who will be enrolled at the summer camp.
  • Pay Early - Most summer camps will have a discount for people who pay the full costs early. So if you are sure that your child will be attending, you can save money by not putting of the registration. You could end up saving as much as $100. Maybe even more.
  • Consider Half-day camps - Instead of sending your child to camp for the full day, see if they have a half-day option. Another strategy is to see if you can shorten the number of days your child attends and have the fee reduced based on that.
  • Use it as a tax Break - This may not save you any money up front, but it could get you some money back come tax season. Depending on your child�s age, summer camps can actually be viewed as a childcare tax break. Speak to a tax prepare/accountant to discuss this in detail.
  • Look into Financial Aid - A lot of summer camps have financial aid or scholarships available for low-income families. Contact them to find out if you qualify.
  • Volunteer Time for Reduced Fees - If you are able to, see if you can volunteer to work at the camp in exchange for reduced fees.
  • Drive Yourself - If the summer camp charges for transportation, see if it might be more cost effective for you to drop your children off yourself.
  • Ask About Payment Plans - You might be able to make payments on a regular basis as opposed to making a flat, one-time payment. This can be a great option for some families.
  • Ask About Referrals - As if there is a referral rewards program in which you can receive a discount for referring families who enroll in the summer camp.
  • Ask about Competitor's Prices - Perhaps the summer camp of your choice has a policy where they price-match other camps. It's a long shot, but the worst they can do is say no, right?
  • Have a Neighborhood Camp - Another option is to coordinate with other parents in your area to have a parent-led summer camp. You could coordinate your schedules so that every day you are doing different activities. If you get enough parents involved, this can be one of the best creative ways to save money.

Creative Ways to Save Money on Music Lessons and Sports

As mentioned above, buying things secondhand is among the top saving money strategies out there. Rather than buying instruments and sports equipment new, see if there are any local places where you can buy them secondhand. Some great resources are Craigslist, yard/garage sales, Goodwill, online yard sales, and (of course) other parents.

Sneak Peak at Next Week

Like this section on saving money on your kids? Next week we'll talk about Money Saving Education Tips.

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