September 2, 2021 6 min read
This story originally appeared on MarketBeat
What if you received a dollar for your retirement account every time you saw a kid running around, screeching on a soccer field this fall? You’d sure have a plump retirement savings account.
Unfortunately, nobody pays you to put your kid in soccer. In fact, the money seems to melt away as soon as you approach Dick’s Sporting Goods. Those soccer cleats, pricey soccer uniforms and club fees — ugh.
Believe it or not, your hobbies and those of your kids can translate to missing the boat on retirement savings, or at least contributing less than you should toward retirement.
Popular financial advice often suggests that you should aim to replace between 65% and 85% of your preretirement income in retirement. How can you do that if you spend $1,500 a month on horse riding lessons?
True, the pandemic caused the U.S. personal saving rate to jump. In fact, the personal savings rate hit 32.2% in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Consumer spending also fell 12.6%.
But has that money funneled back toward your retirement savings?
The Cost of Hobbies and Youth Sports
The price of being a member of a league team can range from $50 to $1,000 or more, according to the Kids Play USA Foundation. On average, participation fees range between $100 and $400 per child, per sport, per season. The foundation lists the following examples of some costs of youth sports:
- A girls’ soccer team cost $175 per month for eight months in northern Virginia, or $1,400 per child.
- Summer lacrosse league cost $1,300 for 10 weeks of lacrosse.
- Equipment and apparel, which can go up to $2,500 worth of equipment (which has to be replaced every couple of seasons)
- Out-of-town travel can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per kid per season.
- Pay-to-play fees include equipment, uniforms and additional team fees. The average cost for a child’s sports participation in one sport cost $381, according to the Kids Play USA Foundation.
What about your own hobbies? The most expensive hobbies in the U.S. include yachting, polo, race car driving, big-game hunting, competitive ballroom dancing, horse racing, mountain climbing, hot air ballooning, golfing, skydiving, SCUBA diving, collecting art, collecting vintage cars — the list goes on. Even if you “only” hunt deer in your own backyard during deer season in Nebraska, you could rack up $1,400 on a rifle or bow, a blind or tree stand, the right clothing, a license and a public land permit.
Retirement Savings Snapshot
You’ve heard the doom and gloom about the state of retirement savings in America.
The median retirement savings by age in the U.S. amounts to the following, according to this survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Americans have on average saved the following in their:
- 20s: $16,000
- 30s: $45,000
- 40s: $63,000
- 50s: $117,000
- 60s: $172,000
Many experts also suggest having the following invested and saved:
- By age 30: The equivalent of your annual salary
- By age 40: Three times your annual salary
- By age 50: Six times your annual salary
- By age 60: Eight times your annual salary
- By age 67: 10 times your annual salary
If you pinpoint that your child’s youth sports or piano lessons (or your own knack for picking up expensive antiques) has challenged your ability to save for retirement, consider changing your focus.
Use MarketBeat’s retirement calculator to help you plan.
How to Recalibrate Your Spending in Favor or Saving for Your Future
Take a look at these tips for considering how to pay for your child’s fees — or why you may want to switch gears altogether.
Step 1: Take a look at your incoming vs. outgoing costs.
Taking a close look at your budget will show you exactly how much you can spend on hobbies, sports and other extracurricular activities. It might mean cutting your cable bill out of the picture altogether, getting rid of your never-used gym membership (when do you have time to use it anyway, what with running your kids to practice five days a week?) in order to put money away for emergency savings and retirement.
You may want to consider opting for a side hustle if your kids prefer to continue their activities with their same cohort.
Tip 2: Take a look at lower-cost activities.
Nearly eight million students currently participate in high school athletics in the United States. However, just 480,000 compete as NCAA athletes and a select few within each sport move on to compete at the professional or Olympic level. In other words, only 1% of all high school boys who play basketball, for example, will play Division I athletics, according to the NCAA.
If you put it into perspective like that, your ability to save more may warrant looking into lower-cost activities, even free recreational leagues. Expensive uniforms and club fees might not be worth it if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Tip 3: Ask about discounts or ways you can save.
Can you volunteer to coach? Offer up your own talents, like free marketing for your daughter’s dance studio in exchange for a tuition waiver? Repair the floor of the dance studio with your carpentry skills? Ask around to learn how you can get yourself a great deal.
In addition, you could also look for savings with the equipment needed for each sport. For example, does your daughter’s dance studio offer a consignment option among other dancers, such as reduced costs on ballet and tap shoes?
You can’t afford to not save for retirement, but your child sure can make do with an old catcher’s mitt or cheaper softball bat. Furthermore, you might want to skip golfing with your buddies during a given summer to push money toward your retirement fund.
Consider Your Hobbies Against Your Retirement Savings
You must save money for retirement — it’s non-negotiable. If you find that your kids’ hobbies and/or your own steer you away from funding your own accounts, you’ve got to rethink your priorities.
After all, there’s a slim chance that your child will make it big (in sports, at least). Out of 8,002 draft eligible NCAA baseball players, 791 were drafted by Major League Baseball. Out of 16,380 draft eligible NCAA football players, 254 were drafted into the NFL, according to the NCAA.
Focus on financial security for yourself (and your kids — they’ll be your heirs!) instead.