I’ve written a number of posts about how I strive to pay as little as possible for my twins’ activities and also share how you can have phenomenal experiences with your children without spending a lot of money. One of the pillars in my posts and even my own life is that I build our schedule with an abundance of free activities in the city and then fill in the gaps by attending places where we have a membership and with a few paid activities.
However, recently I made a slight change to this, and I’ve been paying for more activities. One of the beautiful things about being a mom is the ability to shape and shepherd the hearts of my children. When I pray, I ask God to give me insight into my children’s hearts and also their interests. Therefore, as I learned my children’s interests, I began investing in more classes and activities to further their growth, interests and talents.
Most of our activities are still either free or through a membership that I already purchased, but 1 to 2 times per week, my children are involved in paid activities that will help them further develop an interest or a natural talent. Initially, I was reluctant to spend the money because everything that I do costs double, since my children are twins. I wanted to delay paid activities as long as possible to save money. However, I ultimately decided to make the change because I felt it was in the best interest of my children.
Since I am diligent about how I manage my money, I do have rules about how I approach paid activities.
- Don’t overload their schedule. I’m very big on free play and not having an overloaded schedule, so I mostly stick to one paid class per week. There have been a couple of weeks where I increased it to two paid classes per week because another activity was only available for a limited time and it would have been a while before it was offered again.
- Stagger their activities. As much as possible, I focus on one class at a time so when they are doing an activity that further grows their talents, they are only focused on developing that skill. Then when that class is over, I enroll them in a different one and allow them to just focus on that. Not only does this method help with focus, but it also helps with cost.
- Watch the cost. Ideally, I try to keep the cost at around $10 per class, but depending on the activity I will go up to a maximum of $15 to $16 per class. Also, I may ask if there is a payment plan available or if I can pay per class to manage my cash outflow — and it helps to avoid being locked into a plan if it turns out my kids don’t like the activity once they start to learn more.
- Research before I buy. Before I pay for an activity, I first check to see if I can get something similar from a reputable organization for less, through Groupon, or through a membership that I purchased. I’ve found that some organizations have extra bonuses or discounts for members that will reduce or eliminate the cost of related activities.
Rules and guidelines are good because without them we can overspend or overextend our time, but it is critical to understand when flexibility is needed. The key is to determine what works best for you and your children. I learned it’s okay to break one of my financial rules as long as it makes sense, it’s for the good of my children, it doesn’t derail me financially, or impact my ability to achieve my financial goals. I hope this helps you feel a little less guilty if you decide to add a paid activity into your child’s schedule. Leave a comment to let me know how this helps you.