6 ways to save money on youth sports equipmentPosted: October 2, 2012
Everyone knows that youth sports are expensive. It’s a fact of life, like 6:00 AM ice times, the over enthusiastic grandpa tooting the train whistle in the stands right behind you, and the goal jug. Being a natural cheapskate, it pains me to shell out dollar after dollar just so my kids can learn life lessons and get sweaty, so I’ve got some money saving tips to pass along.
1. Buy in bulk
Sam’s Club and Costco have figured this out. When you buy a whole lot of something, whether it’s toilet paper or whiffle balls, there’s a deal to be had. So whenever possible, buy in bulk and save some dough. We buy hockey tape by the case because it never goes bad, we go through it like crazy and the dog always eats a few rolls. You can order it online, or just go to your local sporting goods store and they’ll sell you a box. Our guy even lets us split between black and white tape. We also buy instant cold ice packs by the case, so that tells you all you need to know about my kids. So, what if you don’t need a gross of baseballs? Split it up with some other families on your team. You’ll all have plenty of balls to lose in the bushes and everyone saves a few bucks.
2. Tag on
Your team or athletic club probably has a deal with a sporting goods store, or manufacturer, or a tax exempt status or something. So next time you need one of those fancy $300 bats or a $150 baseball glove, ask if you can purchase it through the team, or tag on to a team buy. You can take advantage of any discounts and still get the same product.
3. Buy out of season
I just ordered my daughter some softball pants for next year and got a clearance price because softball season is over (Ha! That’s funny. Softball season is never over.) and they are clearing out leftover stock. So look for end of season sales and clearance prices and, as long as your kid doesn’t grow 6 inches in the next 6 months, you’ve saved some money. (hint– size up!)
4. Buy used
I just bought an awesome used hockey bag on Ebay. It’s in great shape, looks practically new and cost me about half the price of a new one. Ebay has some great items, and we’ve also gotten good deals at Play It Again Sports, and even garage sales. Check out Craig’s List, while you’re at it. Kids out grow or lose interest in things quickly so a lot of the used equipment has very little wear and is more than serviceable for the half a season it will fit your player. I won’t buy a used helmet but I’ve gotten hockey skates, tennis racquets, goalie pads and a bunch of other things on the cheap this way.
It seems like I’m at Dick’s Sports about every other day so I joined their Scorecard loyalty program, which is free. You get points for purchases and they send you discount coupons and such. Just today I got a $10 certificate in the mail to use on my next purchase, which will probably be tomorrow.
6. Other tips
Take advantage of insider knowledge and online resources, like Hockey Gear HQ, that rates equipment and gives you a heads up about special deals and offers. Search for coupon codes or sign up for enewsletters to stay informed of the latest deals. Also, buy last year’s model instead of this year’s model, which is exactly the same except for the color, the graphic and the price.
One last thing
Whenever you are buying used or clearance items, make sure you know the policy on returns. Some places will only give a store credit, others will charge a restocking fee. On Ebay, some buyers will accept returns and others won’t. Just ask before you buy.
Well, I’m off to buy a new hockey helmet for my daughter because her old one is squeezing her brains out. So talk amongst yourselves while I’m gone and leave a few tips of your own.