A Big Budget Chunk

Jim has two girls in competitive gymnastics, and it's costing $10,000 to $12,000 a year. Dave thinks they may not be able to continue.

QUESTION: Jim in Detroit doesn't feel like he's being gazelle enough. He has two girls in competitive gymnastics, and it's costing $10,000 to $12,000 a year to do. His wife is working, and her job is focused on paying the gymnastics bill. They make $125,000 a year. Dave thinks they may not be able to continue.

ANSWER: I would be asking myself why the kids are in gymnastics. If the answer is to build discipline and master your body, then that can be done on a local level, and the level you guys have taken it to is not necessary. Unless you guys are trying to send them to the Olympics, and unless that's an achievable goal, then you've got to start questioning this. Even if you could afford it, I'd still question it on a basis of common sense.

My son just went off to college. He's played ice hockey for years and if he'd been on a travel team, that would have cost $15,000 a year. He's not going to play in the National Hockey League. Since he's not going to be making a living this way, why is he playing ice hockey? We asked ourselves this and determined that it was something he and I could do together as a father-son experience, and it was fun.

Later on, he decided he liked playing, and we played in the local leagues and he played in high school and did just fine. It did not change his life that he did or didn't play travel ice hockey. That's the way we looked at it as parents. We asked, "What will it matter when they are 30 years old?" What we have now is some wonderful memories, friends and pictures.

I'm not accusing you of being too bizarre on this. You make good money. If you made $60,000, I'd be yelling at you. I don't think this is slowing you down too much, but I think this is a parental thing. Ask yourself what the goal of this is when they are 30. Ask why you guys are investing so heavily in this.