Lots of extra activities - how do you afford it all?(32 Posts)
Perhaps I'm just very naive but those with two or more kids whose children do tons of activities - how do you pay?
Seriously, I don't mean to offend but am genuinely curious. I have two kids. They each do Brownies/Cubs, one does guitar, one does tennis and we all go swimming once a week - this amounts to almost £100 a month averaged out over a year. There are families around with kids who do loads more than mine and/or have more kids doing more than mine. I've just lost all my child benefit and will now have to seriously budget each month so they can continue with these basics.
Are you all just minted?
My DD is almost 4 and does a pre gymnastics class, ballet, tap and swimming. I've just started teaching her to play the piano (very informally) at home, she's also more or less bilingual as I speak French with her some of the time. So I'm not paying for music or languages. Assuming DD gets her first choice school for September they do swimming from year 1, so only one more year of having to pay for lessons. It's not as bad as it looks.
That said, DD wants to take up more dance classes next year!
We are also not minted at all, only just lost our CB by a small amount and have 4 children, 3 of whom do loads of activities. We average £500 per month. I think we can only afford this as we have paid off our mortgage, if we had our mortgage to pay they wouldn't be able to do as much at all.
By far the most expensive activity is music lessons. Also we are quite frugal, hardly go out, no expensive toys, clothes and do not have any gadgets such as DSs, iPads, Xboxs, Wiis, we still have a battered old TV from the early 90s and only run one car and I only go to the hairdressers once every two years!
My daughter is 10, she dances but I work in the dance school office to offset the fees. All my children dance there and I pay £10 a week towards there classes. Having said that my oldest does 6 ballet classes a week, a tap, a modern, jazz, street jazz, Greek, two body conditioning classes and the occasional extra! Her younger brother does two ballets, street jazz, modern, tap and body conditioning. Ds2 does street jazz and dd2 does three ballet classes a week so all that for a tenner and a few hours in the office is a bargain in my opinion!
On top of that Dd1 has 11+ tuition 1 on 1 at £25 a week, a singing lesson at £12 a week and at least one private dance class at £12 each week.
These are our priority. We stopped the children having school dinners as that was £40 a week and packed lunches are cheaper. We don't drink, or smoke and rarely go out. In 6 years we've had 1 holiday. Our choice. The kids understand.
Ds 13 belongs to a golf club...about £200 a year, then football Sunday league about £200 a season, and cricket in the summer.
So he's quite cheap.
Unlike dd 16 whose musical theatre/singing/piano a week costs about £65.
But again, we are state schools,don't have family holidays really (but still go out a couple of times a month for dinner)
I hadn't thought of it like this but we are on what I consider to be a good household income (about to lose some cb) and rarely go out,don't have alcohol routinely, only new clothes for birthday/Christmas or dire need (holes!). Most children's clothes are hand me downs and we don't have fancy hols. Both cars (a luxury anyway) are 8-10 years old. So I guess we spend a lot on children's activities. Dd1 does piano, gym and rainbows. Ds (4) does gym and rugby tots. Dd2 has just stopped sing and sign. The older two do swimming on Sunday with dh, not lessons but a tenner or so with parking. So it's a lot. And I feel it's important that a three get to do the same amount. Music is a priority. We are very fortunate to be able to do it and I don't take it for granted.
We're lucky in one sense: I'm a professional musician and music teacher, and teach them myself.
But languages, sports, dance etc still add up to about £250 a month for two DC. Little one is into everything. Older one is quite reserved so when we did manage to find things he took to, we didn't then want to skimp on them.
We have a slightly above average incomes though it has taken a whack with the recession. We're both united in the assumption that kids' activities and support would be the last thing to go though, just as they're about the repossess the house. TBH it would just never occur to me not to do it. What could be more important than your kids' education, enjoyment and personal growth? I'm just so happy to have kids who are intelligent, interested, curious, engaged and self disciplined, I'm happy to pay the money and spend the time to see them grow into such amazing people.
Both in state schools too, so £250 a month for two seems like a bargain compared to what some people pay for private.
OP i added up all my dc's activities recently and yes it was £100 a mont averaged out over the year.
but i dont smoke or drink (except a couple of drinks maybe once every 3/4 months), i dont buy music or magazines or books, i have very low travel costs, i meal plan and budget tightly. i'd rather the DC saw the benefit of this £100 than it all get wasted on stuff i dont need.
ds1 is 7 and has scouts, karate, hurling, football and afterschool club twice a week.
ds2 is 3 and has football and tae kwon do. the biggest costs are the martial arts.
Guiding and Scouting are usually excellent value for money because the leaders are volunteers. They are also often able to offer reduce subs for a family in genuine need. My Brownie pack has someone on 1/2 subs as we'd rather cover that than have a girl miss out on the opportunity.
My DD has done Rainbows/Brownies/Guides and DS Beavers/Cubs so far. Both are £30 for a full term. DD is on WinterCamp at the mo which is £55 including meals for a full weekend of amazing activities. I think it's a bargain!
They used to do swimming lessons, but we stopped once they were both competant.
DD also has a weekly riding lesson, whcih is our extravagance. It's £27 for an hour. She adores it. We can stretch to it, but she understands that she has to skip one if she has an extra Pony Club day during the school hols.
DS is showing an interest in guitar lessons now, so we are investigating...
We spend about £150 a week for two DCs.
We pay for this by cutting expenses elsewhere. For eg we drive a 10 year old car and the last time we had a foreign holiday was the summer of 2010.
@theas I have a couple of musician friends who are now earning a fortune. But obviously I don't expect any of my kids to do the same.
We are are quite 'poor' compared to what we earn after you take out all the activities. And we won't be getting anything free after GCSE year either
Currently we stump up for:
DD1 - 4 different lots of weekly music lessons, one slightly more expensive monthly lesson on her first study instrument(s). Weekly stage/theatre group. Annual subs/fees for national ensemble residential course. Music exams, festival entries, extra masterclasses etc as crop up during the year
DS - 2 different lots of weekly music lessons. Weekly stage/theatre thing. (he manages to do some stuff for free through his school as a result of paying for the main instrument lessons). Music exam fees occasionally.
DD2 - 3 different lots of weekly music lessons. 2 different types of weekly dance class. weekly stage/theatre thing. Music and dance exam fees,dance and singing and music festival entries as crop up during the year (this is actually a fair bit, more than DD1 who has cut back on that sort of thing).
It costs a fortune, we don't go out much. We can definitely afford it all - I'm a high earner - but it does take a big chunk of money each term.
We are just bl**dy poor compared to what we earn IYSWIM!!
Startail, we've been in our house 17+ years and the kitchen was " old" when we moved in LOL . We really need to do it this year as bits keep falling apart...
It's just where you place your spending priorities I guess.
I do breathe a sigh of relief though when each of them got to GCSE stage because after that the school funds 1 instrument worth of lessons! Also all county music service ensembles are free (or if you like, included in the price of the lessons!) which is really good.
When they go on tour etc it is hard but it's such an amazing experience in so many ways for them.
Eventually they may be star performers and keep me in my old age (snork! not likely! musicians never earn more than a pittance really even if they choose that route).
My daughter goes to many activities. She does fencing (1 hour), language (3 hours every 2nd week), ballet (3/4 hours), swimming (1/2 hours). The fencing is free (I am a volunteer coach), swimming used to be free (used to be a volunteer treasurer). I practice playing the recorder with her and I am sure I will be approached to volunteer as a TA (I was trained by Kodaly method). I also was asked to teach Makaton signing (twice!!!) but I was not interested. Did volunteer supply work for the language school too. So one way to save money for activities is to volunteer for clubs.
We are also living in a tiny house with it's 80's furniture. I also accept give away's from other foreigners (ballet bag, fencing kit...). We call up each other before buying anything for activities.
I try to attend most of the lessons and if I have to pay for something I rather choose the more expensive but more effective tuition (ask the local teachers/chat sites about the course).
I have a reasonably paid DH and a house that doesn't get a new kitchen, carpets, sofa or much new paint.
DH and I get newer cars only when the old ones fall apart.
Activities, hobbies, one reasonable holiday a year and me being able to be a SAHM are our priorities.
And if visitors don't think our mush mash of cheap ikea, handle downs and inherited furniture is good enough tough.
This summer we can just afford to go to the States or do the kitchen.
The kitchen was old 14 years ago, when we moved in here.
It can wait another year
Dd dances to the tune of two hundred a term but her brother is pro dancer and neither were academic so it's worthy investment in their future I think.
I use the child benefit to pay for it.
Well I have 4 dc. Ds1 does football (£130 a year) and trombone - dh teaches him so that's free.
Ds2 belongs to 2 football teams so £260ish a year and violin - £27 week...not adding that up! Plus, orchestra which is £120 a year.
Dd1 does gymnastics (£80 term),brownies (£23 term), clarinet (£67 term) and steel pans (£35 term).
Dd2 does tennis (£66 term), rainbows (£15 term), gymnastics (£50 term) and trumpet - dh again so that's free.
Oh god, that's quite a lot. To be honest, we just pay it as we go along and don't think about it. We don't spend much on ourselves and hardly ever go out as dh works 6 out of 7 evenings.
Mine do things with school that are free (like choirs). Dance I do some stuff for the teacher, so we get that half price (which is worth about £150 a term).
Music lessons get priority, and we pay out the most for that (the girls do one instrument and singing). The children are part of a dramatics group which is free. Gym is paid for by DLA for dd2 as she's missing her hand and it helps her balance.
Other things they do Brownies/youth group type of things are generally about £1-£2 per session, so not too much.
Some people have more money than others. Obvious, no?
I have 2 DC who don't do any clubs, helps keep costs down.
I try not to think about it.
I try to give the children equal opportunities but ultimately spend a lot more on dd who is very serious about performing arts (she has performed professionally on a small scale & wants to possibly go to drama school eventually) than I do on ds who does martial arts once a week for fun.
I have to restrain DH from enrolling DS1 on everything going.
He doesnt seem to have a clue how much it adds up. He wants DS1 to do Karate (£30 pm) Spanish (£70 per term) Mad Science (about the same) and I've had to point out this would cripple us.
As far as I'm concerned they can do swimming (which is £16 pw total) and one extra thing each (not yet for DS2 but when he reaches school age I mean) if its appropriate (DS1 did mad science last term - I didn't think he was ready for it and he wasnt - didnt have a clue what was going on - total waste). I wish swimming were free with school but they only get to go for 8 sessions a year and for me thats not sufficient. (even then we have to pay £2.50 per session)
I'd love them to do music but I just don't think we'll be able to afford that.
If there is a cheap club (for instance the afterschool football club for DS1 is £1 per session which we can afford) they can do that as well as I have no issues with a pound a week, its when its upwards of a fiver then it becomes a problem.
We hardly ever go out and rarely drink. I also try to pick the free clubs at school. Plus we do a lot of family activities at the weekend which are free or low cost.
DCs have swimming lessons at school so i don't feel the need for extra lessons outside of those although there are plenty of kids at their school who do.
They both go to cycle/running clubs but we only pay on attendance.
The biggest cost for us is music lessons (x3) for which i pay £450/term. Luckily we can afford this and i'm hoping it might lead to a music scholarship!
We aren't minted at all, despite being about to lose some of our child benefit (money previously used for extra curricular activities).
We only do what we can afford and have priorities. Dd (9) & Ds (5) both have violin lessons (including group, individual, orchestra & kodaly ) that total around £600 a term for both. In order to afford this i have a separate account that money goes in to weekly, so it's all there ready for when i need to pay fees.
In addition to this, Dd does brownies (£15 a term) and dancing (£14 a month). These are amount we can afford.
Ds doesn't do any extra activities yet & dd2 is only 20months so does none. I can't afford for the dcs to do a second instrument sadly & we don't do any of the baby music /swimming classes with the little on as we just can't afford to.
Our priority is violin lessons& we always ensure we can afford that. Anything else is a bonus.
Not minted, but comfortable here, the main reason we can afford it is that we have stayed in a small house when we could have afforded a bigger one by now, at the moment I'd rather be able to spend freely on activities and days out than have a bigger mortgage.
Since we introduced the budget, the children have become quite adept at finding clubs that are inexpensive or free of charge (choir, rugby etc).
My DDs do gymnastics, which is very time consuming and whilst the hourly rate is good, my monthly bill is not that far off £200. Then you add in the dancing and the flute lessons, and my bill is at £2.5k before I start paying the extras for competitions, exams etc...
I'm lucky that my mum helps me out with some of the fees and I think our main sacrifice has been the car / holidays. Previously I used to enjoy foreign holidays and I always had a new car. Now my children have hobbies instead .
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