by Janice Nikkel
February 25, 2014 (ISN) – Let’s face it. Hockey can get expensive. First there are fees just to sign up for minor hockey. Then if your son or daughter wants to try out for rep hockey, there are usually try out fees.
If you actually make the team, then there are required monthly rep fees that are determined depending on how many extra ice times, dry land training, team track suits or more. And each season, teams like to participate in a few tournaments – some will be local, and usually one or two will be far enough away to require long car trips, hotels, and eating out.
And if you’re like my 16-year-old son Lincoln, your team gets to fly to Vegas (without me) and wins the championship at the President’s Tournament (see photo above!) like they did this past weekend. I could go on and on. The expenses keep piling up and your wallets are typically draining faster than you can keep up.
Here are four simple ways that could help you and your teammates cut costs each season, and also build some special memories as a team.
Carpool – This takes someone organization – perhaps a team list of interested parents who might live close to each other. I know as parents, we are often too proud to ask if we can drive together. There’s an unspoken expectation that we should all just show up on our own and meet at the rink. I know for our family, we have games across toll bridges. Just this weekend, we had to cross the Port Mann Bridge. Each car has to pay $3 each way for the toll – that is $6/car per game. With 17 players on a team driving on our own, that is $102 that the toll company just got because we didn’t car pool. Carpooling also bonds parents and kids. You can get to know other parents and build friendships on the team.
Buy second hand or at hockey swap meets – Many associations hold an annual swap meet just before the fall season starts. When your kids are young, second hand equipment is just fine. There are also some associations that have a place for families to donate their used equipment. Many families are happy to pass on their kids gently used equipment so other kids can use it. It’s worth checking out these swap meets and definitely worth being generous with the equipment your kids have outgrown.
Share tournament costs between families – I still remember when my daughter was in seventh grade and had a tournament in San Jose, CA. We were excited about the experience but we were counting up all the possible extras we would have to pay for. We found some creative ways to help cut costs that trip.
Three families shared a rental vehicle, and I shared a hotel room with another mom and her daughter. I’ll admit it would have been more comfortable to have our own room, but at that season of life, this was one of the only ways we could make it work financially. We had a great time as our room became a drop in for the girls, and we had a good time getting to know each other better too. On his recent trip to Vegas for our son’s tournament, my husband was more comfortable with this idea of sharing a room only because it was his own dad who came along and offered to split the hotel and even paid for the car rental. Bonus for us.
Buy things on sale – Last year’s gear is just as good and a fraction of the price if you can buy it on sale. The best hockey sales are in the last week of July and first two weeks of August. It takes some planning to buy your equipment when you’d rather be at the beach, but the sooner you catch the sales, the better your sale selection.
These are just four ways I have found to cut costs on our hockey journey as a mom of three rep players. I’d love to hear how hockey parents out there are finding their own creative ways to cut costs. The reality is that hockey is expensive. Most parents have to make sacrifices in other areas in order to allow their kids to play hockey each year. You are not alone. However, according to my 14-year-old soccer-playing daughter, the best way to cut costs is not to play hockey at all. Won’t be happening anytime soon, honey!