As a mom of three, one of my biggest expenses is paying for all the after-school activities my kids want to participate in. From swimming to soccer, from art lessons to ballet to Girl Scouts, I feel like I'm always writing a check to someone to cover the cost of uniforms, dues, fees, and banquets.
According to a new report, I'm not imagining that extracurriculars are draining my bank account. This year's Huntington Bank Backpack Index reveals the cost of classroom supplies and extracurricular activities has increased by a staggering 88 percent for elementary school kids, 81 percent for middle schoolers, and 68 percent for high school students since 2007. The main reason costs are going up is due to spikes in costs for extracurriculars; the fees for classroom supplies have actualy decreased slightly.
According to Time.com, that means the cost for the average kid to participate in activities is, gulp, $739. Did I mention I have three kids?
For classroom supplies and after-school activities for the 2016 to 2017 school year, according to the Backpack Index, expect to pay:
• $659 for elementary school kids, a 1.5 percent increase over 2015.
• $957 for middle school kids, a 1.6 percent increase from last year.
• $1,498 for high schoolers, a 6.8 percent increase compared to 2015.
Why is the cost for high schoolers so jaw-dropping? According to the report, older students who participate in multiple sports get whacked with more than one registration fee, another cost that is on the rise from past years, most likely due to tighter budgets at schools across the country.
Gary Chapman, Communities In Schools' executive vice president, explains the impact rising costs will have on families: "As the nation's largest dropout prevention organization, we understand that a student's success goes far beyond the classroom. Instead of struggling to afford just school supplies, families will now have to worry about funding their children's activities. Many of these students will no longer be able to participate in clubs or sports, which can put them at a disadvantage and hinder their long-term success."
To stop extracurriculars from being a huge drain on my family's finances, this year I'm telling each of my kids they can pick one activity per season. Not only does that plan fit within our budget, it also saves me time in the car, driving madly from one activity to the next. Plus, we can focus on carving out some family time, instead of always spending weeknights and weekends at tournaments and games.
How will you control the cost of activities for your kids?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.