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How to Afford Youth Sports on a Budget

boys soccer team huddled around the coach

If you’ve been trying to fit your child’s sports programs into a tight budget, you’re probably frustrated with the current costs of equipment, program fees, travel, and everything else your young athlete needs. 

These days, youth sports cost U.S. families $30 to $40 billion each year, and that total may be on the rise. Fall 2022 travel costs for youth sports were up 19% compared to pre-pandemic spending, and parents report inflation as the top driver of higher overall costs. 

In good news, many communities are investing more in athletic programs, and innovative fundraising and savings approaches can help more families participate. To that end, take a look at our round-up below highlighting how to afford youth sports on a budget.

Promote Effective Fundraising

While bake sales and door-to-door sales are popular fundraising options, neither approach really puts a dent in youth sports costs. 

Rather, effective fundraising means evaluating the time, talents, and opportunities available and determining what course will yield the best results. To do this:

  • Utilize the unique skills and resources available in your team’s pool of families
  • Draw on local businesses for sponsorships and donations of cash, products, and services
  • Research and apply for local, state, and federal government support
  • Partner with community organizations.
Fundraise Year-Round with Gift Cards

Instead of a one-time fundraiser that requires a lot of prep and promotion, consider organizing a gift card fundraising program with RaiseRight to help families earn funds throughout the year without spending extra money. The concept works like this: 

  1. Brands you know and love give back anywhere from 1–20% of the purchase price of their gift cards — directly to your sports team
  2. Families purchase gift cards and use them to pay for everyday purchases
  3. The team can use the raised money directly or distribute it among families to pay for travel, fees, equipment, etc.

With RaiseRight, families can choose gift cards from hundreds of brands (including Amazon, Walmart, and Target) and use them to pay for everything from gas to groceries or streaming services. They can even use the RaiseRight app as a digital wallet and refill gift card accounts for on-the-go convenience.

Many families are able to raise $1,000 or more per year toward uniforms, program fees, and travel to games through gift card fundraising.

see how raiseright can help you earn money for youth sports

Take Advantage of Travel Perks

A major factor in the high cost of youth sports is travel to away games, training, and tournaments. Look for savings and perks through: 

  • Credit cards with travel points and discounts
  • Loyalty programs for hotel chains, airlines, and car rental agencies
  • Point programs at travel booking websites
  • Travel discounts through employers, associations, or other affiliations

Pro-tip: If you’re able to fully pay off credit card charges every month to avoid interest, stream your RaiseRight gift card purchases through a credit card that earns travel points to double down on rewards and benefits. 

Reduce Equipment Costs

Uniforms, practice gear, and sports equipment costs can add up. Check on safety needs around used or repaired equipment, and look for ways to save when it’s safe to do so: 

  • Plan shopping around seasonal and new inventory replacement sales 
  • Buy used equipment 
  • Look on freebie sites and apps for giveaways
  • Borrow or rent equipment
  • Compare repair to replacement costs before ditching damaged items.

Pro-tip: According to Adobe’s analysis of e-commerce trends, the first week of December is when you’ll find the best pricing on sporting goods for holiday gifting.

Invest More Time and Less Money

As they say: time is money. Investing more time can help you avoid higher costs when you: 

  • Volunteer time instead of donating money
  • Shop around for the best deals
  • Prepare and bring food and snacks with you to games and events.
Share the Burden

You’re not alone in struggling to pay for the high cost of youth sports. Check with other team families and look into saving by: 

  • Carpooling locally
  • Sharing a van or SUV to drive long distances
  • Reserving a short-term rental (i.e., Airbnb) for multiple families during sports travels
  • Splitting the cost of hotel rooms or suites for multi-family child groups.
Start Saving Now with RaiseRight

The best way to save on the high cost of youth sports? Blend all of the approaches that work for your family and your team. Saving money in smaller amounts can add up big for your annual budget and allow you to participate more in the programs that benefit your kids. 

If your team already has a RaiseRight program, all you need is the enrollment code to join your organization and get started with gift card fundraising. 

If not, help get the ball rolling for your sports team: 

It’s free and simple to get started, and your efforts can help reduce program costs or even distribute funds directly back to your family for travel, equipment, and other youth sports costs.