Extracurriculars Equal Debt for Parents, Study Finds

Some parents are going into debt to pay for their kids' activities, according to a recent study. What's going on – and is it worth it?

Would you go into debt to pay for your kids’ extracurricular activities?

If you would, you’re not alone. A recent study found that many parents are going into significant debt to pay for things like sports leagues and music lessons, KCCI Des Moines reports.

The data was collected by CompareCards.com and studied 700 parents of young children. The results showed that more than half of parents surveyed said they spend more than they can afford on their kids’ after-school programs, the article explains.

Despite that, more than 48 percent of the parents surveyed indicated that they didn’t regret this choice.

Accumulating debt for kids’ activities

“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,” Matt Schulz, the chief industry analyst at CompareCards, says in the article.

According to KCCI, the survey results support findings from a University of Michigan study that reported 55 percent of parents think extracurricular activities will make a positive difference in their kids’ futures.

That could explain why so many parents are willing to go into debt to pay for these activities.

Credit card debt is a fact of life for many parents. According to USA Today, the average American owes $6,354 on bank-issued credit cards. Experts recommend teaching kids about credit cards from an early age.

Ways to cut spending on kids’ activities

Want to find a few ways to curb those fees? Try these five simple solutions.

  1. Look into free activities. Check out Metro Parent’s guide to free kids’ classes and events in the metro Detroit area.
  2. Have your kids volunteer their time. Not only is it free, but your kids will gain key benefits from giving back to their community.
  3. Consider school- and city-based programs. Rather than enrolling your child in the most elite sports camp, explore a program run by your local parks and recreation department.
  4. Seek out financial assistance. Many organizations, including Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, offer financial aid to families who cannot afford to participate in programs.
  5. Set realistic expectations. Many families may decide that going into debt to pay for kids’ extracurricular activities isn’t worth it. If that’s where you stand on the issue, be honest with your kids. Consider these tips for setting realistic expectations about what your family can afford.


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