Don't let your child's after-school activities put a large dent in your household budget.
Let's face it: Many children change their interests several times throughout their childhood, so what's the point in buying a new trumpet when your child is starting music lessons for the first time? If used instruments are all you can afford, this gives them a chance to explore whether they actually enjoy music.
Buy second-hand sports gear and musical equipment to keep their activities affordable.
To find affordable musical instruments, research whether your child's school leases instruments through a music store. Prices vary by brand, so shop around to compare the costs of leasing vs. buying.
It might be cheaper to buy an instrument if your child plans to play it for an extended period.
You can look in the Yellow Pages under "Musical Instruments -- Dealers" and "Musical Instruments -- Renting and Leasing" to find music stores in the area. Several stores listed participate in school-band rental plans or have used instruments available. Some also buy, sell and trade musical instruments and equipment.
You can also search for instruments at Music Go Round (musicgoround.com), a franchise that sells used instruments across the country There isn't a store in our area, but consumers can research the inventory of individual stores online.
In addition, ask friends and family. They might have an old instrument stored in their attic or garage.
Children grow like weeds, so they're going to outgrow their sports gear quickly. It's probably not wise to make a major investment when they're going to need a bigger size next year.
Parents can find used sports equipment at eBay.com or the Salvation Army. They can also find used items at Play It Again Sports, which sells merchandise for up to 70 percent off the regular retail price, according to The Associated Press. The chain's closest stores to our area are in Conyers and metro Atlanta, but it's worth a try if you want to explore your options.
HERE ARE SOME additional tips for managing your child's after-school activities:
- Get cash or store credit. Sell your child's old sports equipment online or at a consignment shop rather than letting it sit around the house.
- Though your budget is tight, try not to eliminate all after-school activities. These experiences allow your child to develop their talents.
Organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America offer low-cost membership fees. Also, the YMCA and the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts offer relatively low-cost membership fees, though there might be additional costs for lessons or uniforms.
Also, Little League groups sometimes offer free membership if they have business sponsorship, the AP reports.
- Meet parents in your neighborhood to determine whether your children are involved in the same activities. If so, you could carpool to save time and money.
If you missed The Pinch last week, here are some highlights.
STUDENT DISCOUNTS: College students are usually on a budget, so they're always seeking a deal. Student discounts can help them to save money.
If students present their ID card, they can receive discounts at the movie theater, museums, plays and other places. Ask whether establishments offer student discounts.
SAVING FOR COLLEGE: Do you need to start putting money away for your child's college education? Take advantage of the uPromise.com program, which allows consumers to save money for college with store rewards cards.
To earn the savings, customers must buy certain products. For instance, if they buy a particular brand of toilet paper, $1 will be deposited in their account. For more information, visit uPromise.com.
LET'S SWAP: If you're considering throwing away perfectly good items at home, try to swap them instead.
The Arizona-based nonprofit organization Freecycle allows people to trade items they no longer need for ones they might prefer.
Membership is free, and those interested can join their local networking group. The Augusta group has more than 1,200 members.
For more information, visit www.freecycle.org.
Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
READ LATINA EMERSON'S blog on saving money and shopping smarter in Augusta at blogs.augusta.com.