Parents Are Going Into Debt Over Their Kids’ Extracurricular Activities

child playing soccer

For a lot of parents, getting good grades isn’t the only top priority for their children. More moms and dads are finding themselves in financial debt, struggling to make ends meet, simply because they are spending a lot of money on their children’s extra-curricular activities, which they deem an important priority for their kids.

Parents are investing in their children’s futures by spending thousands of dollars on sports leagues and dance lessons. CompareCards.com collected data from more than 700 parents with young children. Many of the kids had extracurricular activities outside of the classroom that included different sports, hobbies, or music and art lessons.

A lot of the parents surveyed believed that the more money they spend on their children, the more it will pay off for them in the long run. Over 90 percent of the parents who spent $4,000 or more on a sport for their child believed that their kid will earn money from it one day. Another 75 percent of parents who spent less than $1,000 said they feel the same way.

Some of the most popular activities among parents with active children include various sports teams (30 percent), music (16 percent), dance (15 percent), gymnastics (12 percent), cheerleading (9 percent), martial arts (8 percent), beauty pageants (3 percent), and the debate team (3 percent). About half of the parents surveyed said they spend more than $1,000 annually on their children’s activities while about 27 percent admitted that they spend $2,000 or more. This includes registration fees, jerseys and equipment, team and coaching fees, and so on.

There’s a misconception that only sports parents are the big spenders when it comes to their kids’ weekly practice schedules and Saturday morning games, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards, told MarketWatch in a new interview, “And what the survey showed is, it’s not just sports parents who have these big dreams and big hopes for their sons and daughters; it’s music parents, it’s cheerleading parents, it’s debate team parents.”

The survey went on to reveal that 62 percent of the participants in the study have been in debt because of the cost of their kids' activities. One in three of those in debt are still paying it off. "Almost one in 10 of those in debt owe more than $5,000, and 27 [percent]owe more than $3,000," MarketWatch summarizes.

"They do hope that perhaps those efforts in terms of time and money may be rewarded with maybe a scholarship, or maybe a professional career," said Schulz.

In the end, many parents agree that all of the money spent is well worth the investment. A poll by the University of Michigan says that 55 percent of parents believed that their children’s extracurricular activities will help boost their college applications.

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