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Kids' Extracurricular Activities Are Burying Parents Under A Mountain Of Debt

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert 511 replies3005 threads CC Admissions Expert
"... Gone are the days when kids could just sit around, watch a little TV and then go outside to play with their friends. Veronica Hanson enrolled her daughters, ages 5 and 7, into activities when they were just a few months old. Their resume since then has included swimming, music classes, Japanese lessons, Girl Scouts, acting, soccer, rock climbing, art, hiking, yoga, cooking, ballet and gymnastics.

Hanson said: “I have two daughters who are part of our world’s future. My husband and I invest everything we can into making sure our kids are global citizens who can contribute to progress. I think it’s important to let them explore a bunch of different things when they’re young.”" ...

151 replies
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Replies to: Kids' Extracurricular Activities Are Burying Parents Under A Mountain Of Debt

  • CreeklandCreekland 6562 replies92 threads Senior Member
    Hmm, by age 7 I don't think we had paid for anything significant yet my three lads still made it to college with merit aid and are now successful adults.

    Who knew we did it all wrong?

    We did pay for some things when they were older - French lessons, club soccer that practiced once per week with a game on Saturdays, and things for our travel like scuba certification. Other experiences were free, like being on the school Chess team.

    Mine are more global citizens than local or national due to our philosophy and travel.

    There's not much I would change in hindsight.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35356 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Typical parent fulfilling her own wants.
    Music is part of our family histories. Of course, we exposed them to ballet and other things. But they became global citizens by developing compassion and awareness, through service for others. Eliminated their fear of engaging with different sorts, too.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3247 replies74 threads Senior Member
    I paid for a few activities in elementary school, but once DD hit middle school and high school, there are more activities in which she can participate for free than she will ever have time for. We have to shell out here and there, but any parent bankrupting themselves over ECs is either living in a very low SES school district or they're doing it by choice.
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  • bgbg4usbgbg4us 1580 replies46 threads Senior Member
    It is true that kids activities are expensive. We've absolutely spent a ton on our 4 kids' activities; never to the point of debt, but it's been taken from the family savings >ultimately cash for college.

    NEVER have we thought that we'd have any rate of return on this. We spend money on our kids activities for a few reasons:
    1)have them have a chance to "Make the Team" in High school. It's nice for them to have some groups and sports they can do. Being involved in a large public high school is one of the best indicators of graduation and matriculating to college.
    2) we get joy out of watching our kids talents grow and and watching them perform. It's a joy for us.

    As our kids are getting older, it's fun to see those skills they've learned show themselves in different ways. Club swimming >coaching a team during summer rec swim team. Club soccer>reffing. Music > playing in a large church worship band; in college pep bands; Art> community murals .

    sometimes the money spent is crazy; A friend told me 8 years ago she had spent $63K on dance for her daughter from preschool thru 8th grade; and she didn't make the HS dance team as a freshman. That's frustrating! but she did the next year; and the girl and family LOVED those 3 yrs of HS dance. That was probably worth it that family.

    A friend now is spending around $35K per year on hockey. That's another beast! glad I'm not in that situation.
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  • MaterSMaterS 1844 replies51 threads Senior Member
    Is Zero Hedge still banned on Facebook?
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  • soozievtsoozievt ! 31622 replies375 threads Senior Member
    My two children were heavily involved in a myriad of activities throughout their youth, and yes, many of these cost money. None were done with college admissions in mind. My kids would have done these activities even if they never were going to go to college because they truly loved these endeavors and we supported their interests. As it turned out for one of my kids, her extracurricular interest became her college major and career, but that was not the intent when she went into doing the activity for fun. For parents who cannot afford certain ECs, there are a number of activities through school that are free or very low cost too.
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  • UndercrackersUndercrackers 878 replies2 threads Member
    Up until middle school, D was involved in 1 activity at a time. Dance at our local dance studio with her little buddies was more of a chance for them (and us parents) to socialize. Her strength and energy were then channeled into gymnastics, where she excelled and competed (even as a "lower" end gym - time/money - we still spent a lot). When middle school came around, she found that it took up too much time, so we all struggled to help her find her next "thing" - tennis, volleyball. With an athletic kid who didn't have a background in true teams sports (soccer, softball, for example), it was a struggle. She finally found track in middle school, which took her through high school (with some HS tennis thrown in). We always emphasized physical activity because it's important for physical and mental health (as long as it's approached in a healthy way). D is now a junior in college and has taken a PE class every semester, exploring martial arts, conditioning, yoga.

    Do we regret the $$ we spent on her participation in the activities she did? No, not even gymnastics, truth be told. It gave her confidence, ability to follow direction, strength/speed/agility, positive work ethic, and the competitive spirit that she brings to the rest of her life.
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  • natty1988natty1988 822 replies12 threads Member
    edited April 2019
    We spent money on activities for our kids because they were things that our kids could enjoy. We also only paid for what we could afford. We also didn't want our kids doing too much...we wanted them to have time to relax, focus on school, and not be exhausted.

    If there was an activity our kids wanted to do that we couldn't afford, we said "NO." or we tried to find a less expensive way to do it. Sometimes if our kid wanted to do an additional activity and we couldn't afford both, we'd tell them they could only do one.
    edited April 2019
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13237 replies247 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    @pishicaca @maters
    Each post on Zero Hedge is written under the pseudonym Tyler Durden, Brad Pitt’s character from “Fight Club,” a workingman’s nihilist. Lokey revealed to Bloomberg last week that Durden was actually three men: two wealthy financial analysts, Daniel Ivandjiiski and Tim Backshall, and Lokey, a recent M.B.A. from East Tennessee State University—their hired hand.


    Actual article cited by the other articles is at https://www.comparecards.com/blog/8-in-10-parents-think-kids-extracurricular-activities-may-lead-to-income/ - which is itself a LendingTree "product" for credit card offers.
    edited April 2019
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  • natty1988natty1988 822 replies12 threads Member
    My D's best friend and her sister danced with a company called Ballet Pacifica. This cost a fortune, but they had the money. The one downside I could see was that these girls were so busy. They frequently danced until 10 each night and they always seemed exhausted every time we would see them. They frequently weren't available during summer because they would go to programs at ABT in New York...they quit ballet after a few years and joined their high school dance team and they seemed so much healthier and happier. Different strokes for different folks. I'm glad my kids weren't that busy in high school...seems exhausting. One of my co workers went through that with her daughter for synchronized swimming...so much homework in the car, nights spent eating take out....
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  • FallGirlFallGirl 8394 replies28 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    I don’t see going into debt for this. Unfortunately the reality of living in a wealthy suburban school district means that getting into any type of team or activity in high school is very competitive. D attended the local HS which had a pitiful number of activities for a school of its size and almost all required tryouts or being selected. It was brutal.
    edited April 2019
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  • soozievtsoozievt ! 31622 replies375 threads Senior Member
    Adding more to my post #9....

    I forgot to mention that my kids grew up in a rural area. There were no neighborhood kids to play with as there was no neighborhood. Going to all their ECs was also their social time.

    As I wrote, my kids loved their activities and did them for their own sake and not to get into college. These were long term dedicated commitments that started well before high school or ever thinking about college. Further, they were very active in similar ECs in college, when nothing was at stake. They crave being busy and are passionate about their activities.

    I think colleges actually are seeking students who are involved in activities in a genuine manner and not to "look good for college."
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24542 replies19 threads Senior Member
    This is nothing new. Try being a a hockey parent. At almost any level, it's expensive.
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  • SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 183 replies9 threads Junior Member
    I doubt many people are going into significant debt for extracurriculars, but some people are probably paying more than they should wisely spend. There's kids at my run-of-the-mill public school who play multiple travel sports and I wouldn't be shocked if they were putting it all on a credit card. What I dislike is when kids complain/brag about how stressed they are because of sports or similar extracurriculars, as if it were an obligation and not a luxury.

    If someone has the money and wants to spend it, I suppose it's their choice...but seriously? Rock climbing, acting, Japanese, and multiple sports since literal infancy? How do babies who are only a few months old participate in anything besides just sitting there? I feel stressed just thinking about it, but I guess some people really do live their lives that way.

    That being said, my parents have rarely paid for any extracurricular activities since I've been in school, and I'm a little jealous. I always hate when people ask what my "hobbies" are -- you mean, what expensive, organized activities have my parents paid for me to participate in? Yes, I know there's exceptions, but things like playing intruments or sports don't come without money, and you can't just start them when you're 15 and expect to excel. That's part of why I hate extracurricular activities being weighted so much in college admissions: the majority of the time, money wins.

    @twoinanddone, I read an article once that claimed most Canadian parents would use their retirement money to pay for their sons' hockey, although I'm not sure how many actually had to do so.
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  • jonrijonri 7366 replies135 threads Senior Member
    My offspring and my grandchildren were in classes before the age of one. It's mostly about socialization--not only for babies but for young moms and caretakers. But there are definitely classes that help. I don't play an instrument and neither did my ex. I think it was beneficial for my offspring to attend a music class with other toddlers where the teacher played live music--usually a guitar--worked on rhythm, etc.

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