How Much Is Too Much For Kids' Sports?

Saronda asks how much is too much to spend on kids' extracurricular activities. Dave has an answer for this at length.

QUESTION: Saronda in Florida asks how much is too much to spend on kids’ extracurricular activities. Dave has an answer for this at length.

ANSWER: At $210 a month, that’s $2,500 a year plus $1,500. That sounds suspiciously like $4,000 a year. That’s how much that expenditure slows down your getting out of debt and building wealth for your family. My answer as to whether you stop this would be what percentage of your income is this? In other words, if you guys make $40,000 a year, this is unreasonable. If you make $140,000 a year, you can probably get away with this and still get yourself out of debt. I guess that’s what you’ve got to look at.

I will tell you in general—and you can decide based on the ratio of your income in your particular situation—that spending a ton of money on children’s sports activities is not financially logical. There’s very little correlation between someone becoming successful in life who played local baseball or travel baseball. There’s no study that’s ever shown that travel baseball kids end up being more successful in life than baseball kids at the local Civitan Park. You learn to play on a team. You learn to compete. You learn about winning, and you learn about losing and the valuable lessons that playing sports gives you. But there is no correlation between playing travel hockey versus local hockey and being successful in life. So unless your child is going to be a professional athlete, which means they’re in the top 1% of everything they do and they’re going to make a living doing that sport, then the expenditure is a luxury by far. The whole thing’s probably a luxury, but the travel team and the competition league and all that stuff is a deal.

I think sometimes we get sucked into this stuff, and we’re doing it just because we’re doing it. I sure do know a lot of kids who played competition-level-four-travel whatever and now hate the sport that they were driven to do at 12 years old. They won’t even pick up a bat or a hockey stick anymore because they just got completely burnt up and burned out on it. By the way, it’s supposed to be fun.

Unless you’ve got a kid who’s going pro, you can’t really financially justify this. Truthfully, some of you treat them like pageant babies and drive them with a whip, and it’s more about your parents’ broken psychology than it is the kid. Think it through—the value you’re getting for what you’re paying and are we really heading toward a goal that we want, or are we going to get up this ladder and find out it’s leaning against the wrong building? It’s something to think about…climbing the ladder of success.