We have two boys who are growing fast. One is 8 years old and the other is 5.
When it comes to activities, we do a lot together as a family. And in doing this, we naturally impose on them the requirement to roll with the punches. If we are doing something they don’t necessarily like, for example, they have to deal with it. Or learn to like it. We try to keep it interesting so ultimately they end up having a good time doing whatever it is we’re doing, but that’s not to say we don’t encounter resistance on occasion.
We make it a point to try new things. We’ve held memberships to the science museum, the aquarium — we’ve subscribed to the children’s theater series at our local theater. We’ve had a zoo membership, season tickets to a local amusement park. We’ve gone to Disney a few times. And while I write this, it does sound pretty lavish. But in actuality we allocate for these expenses and we put a cap on how much we spend on activities. And relative to the rest of our expenses, it’s really not too bad. Keep in mind, we hardly ever eat out.
And fortunately for us this model has worked quite well for the past several years. But as our kids grow, we are finding that we’re loosing our need and ability to steer their interests in a path that is in tune with this model. For example, there’s baseball. There’s football. Summer camps, cub scouts. Winter indoor soccer. These aren’t family activities, they are individual activities. Well that’s great and all, but there goes our budget!
Let’s take a look at what our budget looks like now:
We have worked with this allocation so far. But this is not sustainable. For example, both boys want to play football this year. And the registration fee is $180/person. Both boys already played baseball. The registration fee was $80/person. Baseball gloves, football spikes. A mouthguard. A cup — a requirement for football at this age. Those costs alone might come close to breaking the EXTRAC budget. Plus we already subscribed to another year at the theater for $142.
Overall, I want to get behind the boys’ interests and finance whatever it is they want to try, within reason. I will take another stab at this part of the budget:
I increased camps by $20/month. And I added sports at $60/month. This seems reasonable for now. But then again, I would have said the same thing a couple years back before the days of mouthguards and cups.