If you have a middle- or high-schooler, chances are that he or she wants to participate in school sports. My teenager is on the golf team now, and plans to join the soccer team during the winter sports season. Her equipment is not cheap: from golf shoes to a golf glove (who knew?) to soccer cleats… and these aren’t the most expensive sports hosted at our local high school!
The good news is that there are ways to save money on sports equipment. While the school or team may recommend certain products or brands, there’s no law that says you can’t try to get a good deal on the necessary items. Here are some ways to save:
- Try used sporting goods stores. Whether it’s a local sports shop or a chain like Play It Again Sports, you may be able to find an inexpensive source for high quality items that have been gently used. If your child mentions an interest in a sport before the season starts, this is probably the best time to start looking. You might even be able to leave your contact information with the owner of the store, who can call you if the items you need come in.
- Try a discount Internet-based store for new equipment. A quick Google search will get you dozens of listings; go through and see if you can score a good deal. The best way to do this is to find the products at a brick-and-mortar store first, so your child can test out the item to be sure that it’s the right style, size and fit. Then simply order from the discount store and save 10 percent or more. Balance the savings against the shipping costs; some equipment is heavy and will cost more to ship than you’ll be saving.
- Scout out locals selling the equipment you need. Garage sales, thrift shops and Craigslist may be good sources for sporting goods. Also, have your child ask the coach about whether there might be players from the last season who are not playing this season; they might be willing to sell their equipment at a reduced rate for some extra cash.
- Trade up. If you have sports items that your child no longer needs, try trading them in for what she does need at a used sporting goods store, or selling them and using the proceeds to buy the new equipment. You could also see if your student wants to make a trade with friends; if they were on a team last year, they might happily trade sports, as well as sports equipment!
If all else fails, talk to the coach if you are having trouble affording the sports equipment. The team might have a scholarship program in place for players in these situations: many schools want all kids to be able to enjoy the benefits of team sports and won’t turn you away based on not being able to pay for expensive equipment.