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Opinion: Are you financially prepared to raise an athlete?

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Organized sports are a great way for kids to stay active, make friends and develop character. But there’s no denying the high cost of childhood athletics

While you may not be raising an Olympic-caliber athlete, if your child is one of the 45 million kids between ages 5 and 18 who play an organized sport in the U.S., according to the Open Access Journalism of Sports Medicine, you know about the financial commitment all too well. Expenses can add up quickly, and it can be easy to lose track of the cost for your child to be on the team.

What can you do to feel in control of athletic costs? First and foremost, create a budget for each sport and season your child plays with these five expenses in mind:

1. Athletic training. Typically, the largest sports-related expense is skills training and team building activities. You can anticipate these costs by adding up the price of each sport camp, specialty class and clinic your rising star may attend next season. If your child has an opportunity for private coaching or to attend a workshop with friends, consider whether it makes sense financially for him or herthem to participate.

2. Equipment. Trends in the sporting goods industry are constantly changing. So how often do you need to replace your child’s equipment, practice clothes and warm-ups? While you don’t have to follow every trend, keep in mind that the right equipment – meaning it fits properly and meets safety standards – can prevent injury. If you’re unsure about whether you should replace the softball bat or football pads, get a recommendation from your child’s coach or an expert at your local sporting goods store.

3. Travel. Whether it’s a weekend game in a nearby town or an out-of-state tournament, travel is becoming more frequent in youth sports. Make sure to find out what travel is expected so you can plan transportation, hotel rooms, meals and time off work into your budget.

4. Participation fees. In addition to team or school fees, there’s often pressure to purchase items commemorating the season. Custom T-shirts, embroidered equipment bags, team pictures and post-game celebrations can add up. Keep an open dialogue with your child so they know what items you’re comfortable purchasing.

5. Health care. While you never want your child to come home injured, it can happen at any time. And it becomes more common as athletes move into more competitive levels. Prepare for these events by making sure you understand how your health care coverage applies to walk-in treatment, emergency care and preventive costs. Broken bones, sprained ankles and repetitive stress injuries happen, and you’ll want to be ready for any out-of-pocket expenses.

It’s challenging to put a price on supporting your child’s athletic talent and interests, but it’s important to put the cost of athletics into perspective. If you know the true financial commitment of your child’s athletic season, you can feel confident that your level of investment makes sense for your child, as well as your budget.

Paula Dougherty is a certified financial planner and private wealth adviser with Achieve Private Wealth, Ameriprise Financial Services LLC in Springfield. She can be reached at paula.j.dougherty@ampf.com.

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