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Save Money on the High Cost of Youth Sports

Save Money on the High Cost of Youth Sports
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated April 12, 2023
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The cost of youth sports can be costly for households. The average family pays $883 annually for one child’s primary sport, according to the Aspen Institute’s latest youth sports parent survey.The Aspen Institute’s State of Play 2022 report highlights the high cost of youth sports and details what you pay for sports when committing to one that typically involves equipment and travel.The most expensive youth sports generally involve lots of travel and costly equipment. This can include indoor ice hockey for youths, which may cost thousands of dollars per year — one of the most expensive youth sports. Below, we highlight some of the ways you may keep kids’ sports from draining your budget.

Importance of Youth Sports

A sport is generally a physical activity in which individuals or teams compete in an arena, stadium, field, park, or playground. Physical activity can be important for people of all ages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Children may experience the following benefits by engaging in physical activity, according to the CDC:
  • Can improve attention and memory, which can bolster academic performance
  • Can promote brain health and reduce the risk of depression
  • Can promote muscular fitness and build endurance
  • Can promote aerobic fitness and improve blood pressure
  • Can help maintain normal blood sugar levels
  • Can reduce the risk of childhood obesity and other chronic diseases
  • Can promote bone strength 
  • Can help regulate body weight and reduce body fat

The Price of Different Youth Sports

Below, we highlight the average annual cost of four sports using the Aspen Institute’s 2022 parent survey data:


When analyzing the high cost of youth sports, soccer can be expensive to embrace as a primary sport. Families spent $1,188 per season on a child’s youth soccer expenses. This includes the cumulative costs of registration, equipment, travel, lessons, and camps.


Kids play basketball as a primary sport more than any other sport, parent survey data show. Youth basketball can also be expensive. Families spent $1,002 per season on a child’s youth basketball expenses.


Expect to spend hundreds of dollars if your child regularly plays baseball. Families spent $714 per season on a child’s youth baseball expenses. These costs may include league registration fees and travel expenses.

Tackle football

Outside of school, children can generally play tackle football without having to travel so much. Families spent $581 per season on a child’s youth tackle football expenses. Tackle football is one of the more affordable sports compared with other popular youth sports.Recommended: Guide to Saving Money for Kids

Other Expenses of Youth Sports

What you pay for sports can include the following to keep a child engaged in a primary sport:
  • Registration fees
  • Equipment costs
  • Travel expenses 
  • Lesson expenses
  • Camp costs

How to Budget for Kids Sports

Here are some of the ways you may budget for youth sports:

Cut Other Expenses

One way to budget for the most expensive youth sports programs is to minimize your costs in other areas. There are at least 25 ways to save money fast that you may consider, such as reducing food costs and canceling subscriptions. Cutting other expenses from your budget can help you keep kids’ sports from draining your budget.

Stick To Your Budget Plan

Another way to budget for youth sports is to create a family budget and stick with it. You can assess your income and expenses when coming up with a spending plan on how to bankroll your child’s participation in a youth sports program. The main thing is sticking to your budget plan, which itself can incorporate a number of budgeting tips, ideas, and advice.

Explore Grants

Grants may be available to families who need financial assistance to register a child in a youth sports program. A number of nonprofits may offer such grants to low-income families. One of the ways nonprofits can make that happen is through their nonprofit funding sources.

Use 0% Intro APR Credit Cards

You can budget for kids’ sports by using a credit card with a 0% introductory annual percentage rate. You can open a 0% intro APR credit card that charges no interest on new purchases for up to 21 months from account opening. You may use the credit card to cover the cost of youth sports and slowly repay the cost over time before the 0% APR promotional period ends. You can pay close attention to your credit card statement to know what your balance is and how many months you have remaining on your interest-free promotional period.If you use credit cards, keeping statements may help you review and keep track of your transaction history.

Save Money in the Bank

One way of dealing with the high cost of youth sports can be opening a bank account and depositing money into an interest-bearing deposit account.If you cannot afford to register your kid into an expensive sports program at the moment, setting money aside over time may allow you to bankroll such expenses in the future. The annual percentage yield (APY) on top savings accounts can earn interest on your deposits. Earning compound interest on your savings can help you realize your financial goals. Setting money aside for personal, family, or household purposes — that is, not using those funds for business purposes — can help you cover the high cost of youth sports when you’re ready.Recommended: Business vs. Personal Bank Accounts

The Takeaway

The most expensive youth sports can drain your budget if you’re not prepared to cover the costs. One way to cover these costs is to set money aside for the purpose of spending it on your child’s physical fitness needs. Cutting some unnecessary expenses here and there may help you keep kids’ sports from draining your budget.If you’re looking to earn interest on your savings, Lantern by SoFi can help. Our online banking marketplace makes it easy to compare APYs and choose a bank account that’s right for you.Compare high-interest savings accounts with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the cost of youth sports so high?
What is the most expensive youth sport in the USA?
What are the benefits of youth sports?
Photo credit: iStock/Halfpoint

About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and served as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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