Monday, March 1, 2010

The Talk: How Much Does Figure Skating Cost? You’re Kidding, Right?

Note from Ice Mom: The comments for this post are amazing! Thanks, readers!

Last week Ice Dad and I had the talk. You know the one: it involves budgets and numbers and bills and holy cow! We spend how much on figure skating?

Yeah, that’s the one - the one with the raised voices and red faces.

I’ll be honest with you: figure skating isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s expensive. I try hard to keep Ice Girl’s total figure skating expenditures to $800/month. If you’re new to figure skating your reaction will be: no way – that’s insane. If you’ve been smelling the Zamboni fumes and shivering in the stands for more than a year your reaction will be: wow – that’s not much.

I know good people, sane people, who spend easily twice what I spend. Three times, even.

Ice Dad’s struggling with the amount of money we spend on it, and I’m in denial.

As you know from a previous post, Ice Dad and I love what the sport has taught Ice Girl. She has drive, ambition, and goals. She is fit, active, and strong. She has a champion attitude and knows how to win and lose with grace. These aren’t just skating skills, these are life skills.

But it’s hard to ignore the fact that we pay $10k/year for those skills.

To that end, you’re going to see a few changes around here. I’ve changed my posting frequency from just once a week to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’m working on moving my blog to icemom.net and I’ll be selling some ads, too. (If you’d like to advertise here, let me know!) My goal is to move the site in early April.

I hope you stick with me through the changes. I hope I don’t have to buy ramen noodles by the case.

So, ice parents, here’s the awkward question: have you and your significant other sat down for the talk? Well? How’d it go? I know plenty of gals at the rink who keep their husbands in the dark about their figure skating spending. Are you one of them? How do you justify your ice spending?

Update: From reader Ateam On The Edge, who is an ice mom of an Olympian, and a blogger, too: On the Edge of Skating. You really don't want to know the expense at the elite level. Suffice it to say that we're mortgaged three times, something I do NOT recommend unless you are relatively sure your skater is committed. Be aware that finances is one of the biggest reasons for marriage problems, so tread carefully here.

There is no great amount of support until your skater gets to the medal levels at JNs or Nats in Intermediate or Novice. More financial assistance is opening up now, but it is scarce. Check the USFS site for information.

If your skater has started to have a track record of medaling at the non qualifying level, start to explore the New England Amateur Figure Skating Foundation. They don't have a website, but many skaters (including ours) have been benefiting from this source for years. It requires a lot of proactive work on your part.

Write them for a brochure to see how it works:
NEASF P.O. Box 6881; Providence, RI 02940. NOTE: You do NOT need to live in the Northeast.

Update: From reader Helicopter Mom, whose husband did a double-take. Helicopter Mom has a blog, too: The Life and Times of a Helicopter Mom. Once, at a family function, my cousin told us how much they spend on "club soccer" and I countered with something like "That's nothing, we spend over $100 a week on skating" and my husband spins around and says "What?!" to which I responded "Approximately..." or something equally inane. To be honest, I think we spend about half of what you do, but with the economy the way it is now, even that is a struggle. And money we probably shouldn't be spending. But how do you stop spending it when you see the results?

Update: From reader Anonymous who homeschools her figure skater and has found the only bargain ice time I have ever heard of: [...] our figure skater would not be able to skate if she went to school because the cost would skyrocket. We are able to take her to public skating from 11-1 every weekday at a cost of $2 a day...we get 10hrs. of ice time for $10!!

Update: From reader Sk8nLane who avoids talking about expenses with other people: My biggest challenge is when I am asked by people outside the family about the expenses. I want to give an honest response, but also do not want to share details. We have 3 very dedicated skaters in our club and each family travels to get what they need when it is not available here. We have all chose to do this for our children, but many do not understand why we would make this choice if we are not raising an Olympian. So rather than discuss why I usually try to avoid the conversations.

Update: From reader Xan, who is a figure skating parent, coach, and adult skater. Xan's blog is Xanboni!: I'm not sure to this day (3 years after the competitive career ended) that DH is aware what figure skating cost. I still feel kind of guilty about it. The year she went to Jr Nats, we did in fact end up taking out a home equity loan. But I cringe when I hear about parents who do that BEFORE the competitive success comes.

Update: From reader Jozet at Halushki: The hard part for us is that with three children - all extremely talented and amazing, of course ;-) - we don't always spread the money around evenly, just as we can't always spread our time among them evenly. Sometimes one gets a little more for a while, and then another gets put on hold while the other sibling gets resources of time, money, and attention. It's a balancing act, and we're hoping more than counting on the fact that we're getting it right

Update: From reader Barbara, a new skating mom: My husband is "Ice Dad." He takes the girls to practice and classes, so he is very aware of the cost. We discuss, frequently right now, how far to go with this. They are both preparing for their FS1 test, so I expect they will be FS2 by the end of the month. We hope that they will want to continue to move forward (one is a bit more inclined than the other), and more than that, I hope we can continue to afford the cost of skating. [...] We are at about a $100 a week. Each. Not counting skates. Or dresses. Uh, oh.

Update: From reader PrettyBowtie: A coach I know competed at nationals/worlds/winter olympics with her brother when she was a teenager. They had no idea how much the sport cost their parents- including their marriage. She had the "aha" moment in her 20's and is still trying to work off the guilt that the sport she loves cost her mum so much (she's in her 40's now and is still going).

Update: From reader Mike McGuire who seems to be channeling my husband. I'm telling you, I thought it was Ice Dad at first: Wow - I am somewhat in shock at the people that haven't had a true discussion about expenses with their spouse. My first question would be "How would you feel if you found out he had a $10k per year habit?"

Update: From reader Renee: The best advice I ever heard from a skating mom who has seen it all and done it all in this sport: "Skating is a wonderful sport, but no gold medal is worth it if you as a parent end up in either bankruptcy court or divorce court." That thought put skating in perspective for me and my parents and it's advice I dole out to skating parents often!  

Update: From Advisory Board member and parent of a Junior Nationals gold medal winner, PairsMom: Here are some ways that our figure skating "family" at the rink saves money because we all know that this sport is outrageously expensive, although I've talked to some hockey moms and in most cases, they have us beat as far as cost, so we press on. Here is my list and if this is not going on at your rink among your child's coaches or other kids your child's age then YOU could probably get it started.

1. Travel together to share costs; hotel, rent cars, you CAN make it work. For longer competitions (3 nights or more) - get the kitchen and split between 2 families it's worth it!
2. We pass down skating practice wear and competition dresses, trade dresses if you have one that your skater is not wearing.
3. Become an ice monitor if your rink allows you to get a credit for your ice time.
4. Resell the skates and if that is not possible, resell the blades.
5. Volunteer on the club board, some clubs offer a discount on club membership for volunteer hours.
6. Have your skater save their money from birthdays, holidays, or small jobs to help pay for competition "goodies" like the tshirt/sweatshirt or maybe they could pay for a portion of their practice clothes or new skates.


Update: From reader jumpingbeanmom: My hubby hates what it costs- I keep a fund for sports from my paycheck into a separate account to pay, so he is not completely (but somewhat) aware of the cost. I also travel for my job, so am fortunate enough to get many free hotel rooms for competitions from my points. We don't eat out, drive old cars, and I pack lunch and dinner almost ALL the time. All our extra money goes to this sport. I am sure we pay close to $1000 a month for the youngest competitive skater.

Update: From reader Alice in Wonderland who wants to leave the amount she spends on skating down the rabbit hole: Never saw so many comments so quickly! I'm getting a good chuckle out of it all. I'm a numbers person, and just finished producing all my quicken reports for annual tax time, and guess what annual cost I avoided...yes, skating.

Update: From StupidDad, who sounds so much like Ice Dad that I wet myself: I am proud of what my daughter has accomplished in Figure Skating. She is talented and works very hard. However, I am not proud of this Sports at all. I feel ASHAMED and STUPID when I mentioned to people that I spent $800/month for a Sport/Hobby!

Update: From Kates, a former skater and current coach: My dad always knew how much we were paying, but I always knew that I'd get less guilt if I asked my mom to write the checks.[...] Ultimately, the final word from my mom was that it was worth it for my mental health. She remembers how miserable I'd be on Sundays before going back to school, and how going to ice dance in the afternoon would bring me back cheerful and happy. 

Update: From reader Anonymous who paid her way through skating: From my experiences currently and as a teenager I would highly recommend making your skater financially responsible for their skating. Having to pay for it myself made me realize how precious my lessons and ice time were and are, and make me use them wisely. I also realize what I am/was sacrificing in order to skate.

Update: From reader Jumpingbeanmom: I know college is important, but can you really put a price on something that gives you confidence, perseverence and all the other experiences of skating? There is nothing wrong with going to a less expensive local college since the money was spent on skating

Let us know in the comments how the talk went. Really, it’s O.K. We’re all friends here and it’s perfectly fine to comment as Anonymous. You might even feel good about admitting just how much you spend and how much you hide under the rug. I promise that your husband won’t hear about your spending from me.

Have a question for Ice Mom or the Advisory Board? Are you an expert and would love to share what you know? Is there a post you want to suggest? Great! E-mail me at icemom.diane@gmail.com.

Ice Mom's Summer Camp Survey

54 comments:

Helicopter Mom said...

I don't think my husband has the slightest idea how much we pay for skating. Once, at a family function, my cousin told us how much they spend on "club soccer" and I countered with something like "That's nothing, we spend over $100 a week on skating" and my husband spins around and says "What?!" to which I responded "Approximately..." or something equally inane. To be honest, I think we spend about half of what you do, but with the economy the way it is now, even that is a struggle. And money we probably shouldn't be spending. But how do you stop spending it when you see the results? The discipline and determination she has learned by struggling through the hard times and the confidence she has gained by achieving things so few of her other friends have... like they say in the Visa ad, "priceless"! I will admit, sometimes when I hear about my friends' wonderful vacations or weekly massages, I daydream about the day my daughter tells me she's had enough and she's done with skating. But let's face it - anyone can take a vacation but not everyone gets to see a deliriously happy girl run off the ice screaming "I landed my double loop!!!" so as long as she wants to keep skating, I will find the money to make it happen. But, I won't keep up with the "Joneses" in terms of lessons, custom skates, extra coaches and ice time just to feel like I'm doing what everyone else is doing. I'm lucky. My daughter thrives with 2-3 short lessons in a week and lots of practice time, so I don't need to pay a coach every day she is on the ice. Someday that will change... and hopefully I will have won the lottery by then. But as long as I keep the checkbook to myself, I should still be happily married!!

Helicopter Mom said...

I will add that the approx. $100 a week is just the basics - we would need to add another couple thousand to cover costumes, skates, music, test and entry fees for the year. And we've yet to travel for a competition - the travel costs will no doubt put me far closer to your numbers than I'd like to be.

Ateam On The Edge said...

You really don't want to know the expense at the elite level. Suffice it to say that we re mortgaged three times, something I do NOT recommend unless you are relatively sure your skater is committed. Be aware that finances is one of the biggest reasons for marriage problems, so tread carefully here.

There is no great amount of support until your skater gets to the medal levels at JNs or Nats in Intermediate or Novice. More financial assistance is opening up now, but it is scarce. Check the USFS site for information.

If your skater has started to have a track record of medaling at the non qualifying level, start to explore the New England Amateur Figure Skating Foundation. They don't have a website, but many skaters (including ours) have been benefiting from this source for years. It requires a lot of proactive work on your part.
Write them for a brochure to see how it works:
NEASF P.O. Box 6881; Providence, RI 02940. NOTE: You do NOT need to live in the Northeast.

Kate said...

Thank you for this post. It's good to think about this ven before we're there. I'm looking forward to you posting more. You, Xan and Life on the Edge are my only sources of info right now. It's hard for a new skating family, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

We are a homeschool family, not because of figure skating but because we have always homeschooled. That being said, our figure skater would not be able to skate if she went to school because the cost would skyrocket. We are able to take her to public skating from 11-1 every weekday at a cost of $2 a day...we get 10hrs. of ice time for $10!! The only people at the rink during this time are older skaters who have told me how much they enjoy watching our daughter skate and they offer her so much encouragement! Her coach, who is the best one in our area, comes and gives her lessons during public skate...one of the only ones to do this so we are blessed! If we were to pay the club ice fees for the 10 hrs a week she is used to skating that would be a whopping $130 a week just for ice time(not to mention the club fee and the fundraising that is mandatory) Homeschooling has saved us! All this to say that when I talk to my husband about the money needed for skating I know he knows how much we save so he doesn't say anything. We have been told by countless people that our daughter is talented and we have decided we will do what needs to be done to allow her to go as far as she wants and is able to in this sport.
Now if she could just land that 'stupid axel'!

Sk8nLane said...

Oh yes - The Talk. Well I chose to strategically bring the topic up while out in the boat at our cabin in Canada, which we would not have if it had not but for a wonderful Grandfather who had the foresight to purchase it in the early 70's.

My husband had no clue and after talking he said well let me know if I need to find some weekend work. I was shocked. I reminded him that spring breaks were out, his flying (he is a private pilot for fun) was out, a new boat was not going to happen...... He said well I can do that later - I love seeing her progress and what she is learning.

My biggest challenge is when I am asked by people outside the family about the expenses. I want to give an honest response, but also do not want to share details. We have 3 very dedicated skaters in our club and each family travels to get what they need when it is not available here. We have all chose to do this for our children, but many do not understand why we would make this choice if we are not raising an Olympian. So rather than discuss why I usually try to avoid the conversations.

We have a long road ahead of us as our daughter just turned 9 and I worry as the cost will only keep going up. Living in Northern Wisconsin our constant worry is consistent, quality coaching.

Xan said...

I'm not sure to this day (3 years after the competitive career ended) that DH is aware what figure skating cost. I still feel kind of guilty about it. The year she went to Jr Nats, we did in fact end up taking out a home equity loan. But I cringe when I hear about parents who do that BEFORE the competitive success comes.

On the other hand, we also had a child who was a musical prodigy, and that adds up too-- twice a week lessons at 50 bucks a pop. Music camp, ensemble fee, piano technician every three months, competition fees, etc.

It's not that SKATING costs a lot. It's that some things that kids do--varsity sports, dance, music-- they excel at at a young age. And nurturing it costs money.

The scandal is not the cost to the middle class and well-off families who make sacrifices and find the resources. The scandal is all the talented young people who never get a chance because they can't even afford the park district lessons, let alone have an inkling that they might have the talent for a career.

Jozet at Halushki said...

Well, I think we're firmly in the $100 a week range, give or take due to more or fewer lessons or a competition coming up, etc. Once we purchase a new pair of skates, we're immediately saving for the next.

The hard part for us is that with three children - all extremely talented and amazing, of course ;-) - we don't always spread the money around evenly, just as we can't always spread our time among them evenly. Sometimes one gets a little more for a while, and then another gets put on hold while the other sibling gets resources of time, money, and attention. It's a balancing act, and we're hoping more than counting on the fact that we're getting it right.

I have found that at our level, for now, we can be pretty creative with saving costs: using cheaper public ice to practice moves, buying used costumes or becoming creative with one of those hot crystal gluing things, even sending a message out on Facebook and Twitter that we needed a spare sofa bed to sleep on when we traveled for a competition instead of springing for a hotel (we made sure to screen for ax murderers.)

It's an expensive sport, for sure. But I'll also agree with Xan in that once a child gets beyond the beginner or recreational stage of most any sport or activity, the dollar signs start adding up. Music lessons, art lessons and supplies, elite soccer - all can get hefty.

I will admit...at book club, I make sure to sit next to the mom whose daughter is a national level equestrian. I listed to her complaints and it's a little easier to convince myself that figure skating is a bargain. :-)

Jozet at Halushki said...

listen, not listed

Barbara said...

I am so grateful to have found you and Xan! I have just found you both, and the information you post is so helpful!

My now 9 and 10 year old girls are both FS1, and just competed in their first competition last month. They each did well. So now the question comes, how far do we go?

They both started skating two summers ago. They begged for skating and gymnastics as summer camp choices. I told them they would have to give each a 2 week try, and then they could finish the summer doing one sport or the other. I am not a sportsperson, nor is my husband. They sobbed after the first week of gymnastics, it was dreadful.

We took "Learn to skate" very literally. They had never set foot on the ice before. At the end of the first week, they were (shakily) skating around. My heart swelled with pride. More importantly, they were getting exercise, learning new skills and how to present themselves in public. I couldn't believe, all that in a week! After the weekly summer sessions ended, they continued on with learn to skate on weekends, and not much in the way of additional practice, maybe an hour every other week. They did another summer camp session, and really stepped up their skating. After the fall session, they both placed out of learn to skate. If only I had realized what an expensive moment that was! I never felt that skating was expensive until that point. Yes, summer skate camp was more than some of the other choices, but for two girls with bad allergies in Florida, the extra expense of an inside camp was more than worth it!

Sorry for the length of my response, but this world of skating is so new to us, with coaches and ice time, ice bullies and shows or competitions. I was surprised that some girls entered up to 15 events at the competition! Our girls each competed in the three categories recommended by their coach, and I was grateful for her advice. I purchased a new dress for each of them, but some girls did multiple changes throughout the competition, and I just had no idea! So I buckled down and found some sites like yours, which has helped tremendously.

My husband is "Ice Dad." He takes the girls to practice and classes, so he is very aware of the cost. We discuss, frequently right now, how far to go with this. They are both preparing for their FS1 test, so I expect they will be FS2 by the end of the month. We hope that they will want to continue to move forward (one is a bit more inclined than the other), and more than that, I hope we can continue to afford the cost of skating.

With all that said, (and my apologies for being a bit all over the place with this) I think that dedication to other sports can be very costly as well (not the kid that warms a sports bench, but those that push themselves most likely incur other training expenses). We are at about a $100 a week. Each. Not counting skates. Or dresses. Uh, oh.

Ice Mom said...

Hi, Helicopter!

Tell you what: if our daughters ever quit skating, I'll pick you up in my new car, we'll go have our nails done, and take a skiing vacation together.

Deal?

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hello, ATeam!

Nice to have you back from Vancouver!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the tip about funding: NEASF.

We have a very talented skater in our club who could really use this. I'm going to pass it on...tonight!

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hi, Kate!

Consider us your friends at the rink!

Good luck!

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hi, Anonymous.

I am completely jealous of what you pay for ice. $2 an hour seems like the promised land. Does the rink have a halo around it, too? Does it sparkle in the sun? I bet it does.

Best of luck to your ice girl and her stupid Axel.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hey, Sk8nLane!

I bet we ran into each other at Badger State.

Yeah, Ice Dad and I had that talk about making more money, too. He's looking for a higher-paying job for me, but let's face it: it's a bad time to be a writer. I'm a writer with a job, so I'm actually lucky. Poor, but lucky!

Best wishes for success! I'm sure it's hard to drive all over from northern Wis.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Xan-

I think you're right: imagine all of the talented kids who can't skate (or do whatever) because their parents can't afford it.

Makes my problems seem small. Or maybe that's just my checking account balance...

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

OMG Jozet!

I tell you, we dodged a bullet with the horse thing. Before figure skating, back when we had money, I used to send Ice Girl to this beautiful horse back riding day camp. She loved it.

She didn't love it as much as figure skating, though, thank god! I'd rather buy blades than feed a pony.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hi, Barbara!

Welcome to figure skating - the better your skater does, the more money it costs.

But it's a good problem to have, right?

Ice Mom

Anonymous said...

Ice Mom,
I know we are in a unique position with paying only $2 for 2hrs. of skating...we are so grateful to our rink for offering this rate to homeschoolers and continuing it for us as a regular thing. I hear what Xan is talking about loud and clear when it comes to talented skaters who can't afford to take even the basic lesson. I believe my daughter's coach sees potential in her and that is why she comes to the rink for public skating to give her lessons. Coach has also spoken with the skate shop owner about high quality skates for my daughter and he was able to give us an incredible break on some wonderful skates. She has also received gifts of skate dresses from people at the rink. We never take any of this for granted, the people who have helped us along the way are our true angels on ice! We make sure our daughter knows how special these people are and how blessed she is to have the in her life.

ann said...

My daughter does both figure skating and horse back riding. It's very expensive. She also is on a synchro team. It does add up, but the whole experience is so worth it!! Hopefully, the things she is learning from these sports will be with her for the rest of her life!!

Vlad said...

Eh,unfortunately figure skating is a very costly.But it's still most wonderful sport!

PrettyBowtie said...

I've been incredibly lucky in that my mum is paying for my skating, in place of my dancing. Otherwise I'd have no hope. She pays for each weekly lesson, and every second public ice session I go to. I pay for all others, and my skates and equipment. Again, I was incredibly lucky to be given a fantastic pair of secondhand boots when I was starting out.

A coach I know competed at nationals/worlds/winter olympics with her brother when she was a teenager. They had no idea how much the sport cost their parents- including their marriage. She had the "aha" moment in her 20's and is still trying to work off the guilt that the sport she loves cost her mum so much (she's in her 40's now and is still going). Her two children have been in skates since they were 2, and she says that buying figure skates for a child under 7 is an expense many parents should avoid, unless you get free skates or are very wealthy.

I'm also not the wealthiest teen at the rink. I come from a single parent family, and am really just getting started in the workforce myself. Figure skating isn't just about your moves on the ice. It's about who has skins, who has a zuca, what company/designer you got your dress from, what brand your boots and blades are, and if your taking a trip to watch nationals. Being 19, I can talk to adult skaters and avoid this high school-esque pressure, but it must be hard for 12-16 year old skaters in the same financial position as me. Enjoy the sport, not the accessories.

Mike McGuire said...

Wow - I am somewhat in shock at the people that haven't had a true discussion about expenses with their spouse. My first question would be "How would you feel if you found out he had a $10k per year habit?"

That being said, my wife and I went into this with our eyes open wide as she was in Ice Capades many years ago, so the idea of spending outrageous sums of money didn't blindside me. But, I have found it really interesting the wide range of spending among my daughter's peers. She is almost 7 years old, just starting in FS2 and is part of a syncho team, so we have a group of parents that have kids all in a similar skill level.

Even with my wife's professional skating background (maybe because of it), we have not splurged on brand new skates and blades each time she grows out of hers. It has been our position that until she is doing major jumps, no reason that used skates can't work. As for the dresses and stuff, no reason we can't look at used sales and online. She looks every bit as beautiful as those that spend hundreds on their dresses at this level. And she skates every bit as well as she would with brand, spanking new skates. At this level, she can't even tell the difference when her skates are sharpened, so why would she need new everything multiple times each year? She is competing to learn how to compete now - not to medal at nationals.

We also have decided to limit her ice time now in order to make sure we have some place to grow. If she is 6, 7 or 8 years old and on the ice 6 days per week - how do you grow? What do you do when you have that one thing you really need to work on? Add another lesson? Seriously?

I do often think about the fact that we will spend more for my daughter's skating this year than my parents did on 10+ years of 2 sports combined - but as long as she has a smile on her face on the ice - it is worth it.

In conclusion, I can't imagine hiding something as significant as the cost of skating from my spouse. Because, if you are at all looking to your future, you have to account for that money somehow, don't you? I guess if you make enough money that $10k doesn't matter, than you shouldn't have any issues talking about it. If that amount of money does matter, then even more reason to talk about it and agree how to manage it.

Ice Mom said...

Oh my God, Mike! I nearly soiled my pants. I thought you were my husband. Do you know him? Did you go to separate schools together?

Anyway, you have an excellent point, as I told Ice Dad the other day.

I think the problem is this: Ice Moms love to see their children succeed. It's so rewarding.

But, yeah, we should all have the talk. (I say this because I just had mine and I am on the other side of it.)

Thanks, Mike, for being a voice of reason. Bah, humbug.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hi, Ann.

You are brave: figure skating and horseback riding? I'm so relieved that Ice Girl didn't take to horses, you can't imagine.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hey, PrettyBowtie.

I like that line: enjoy the rink and not the accessories.

Think that will work with Ice Girl? Yeah, me neither.

Ice Mom

Renee said...

The best advice I ever heard from a skating mom who has seen it all and done it all in this sport: "Skating is a wonderful sport, but no gold medal is worth it if you as a parent end up in either bankruptcy court or divorce court." That thought put skating in perspective for me and my parents and it's advice I dole out to skating parents often!

PairsMom said...

Here are some ways that our figure skating "family" at the rink saves money because we all know that this sport is outrageously expensive, although I've talked to some hockey moms and in most cases, they have us beat as far as cost, so we press on. Here is my list and if this is not going on at your rink among your child's coaches or other kids your child's age then YOU could probably get it started.

1. Travel together to share costs; hotel, rent cars, you CAN make it work. For longer competitions (3 nights or more) - get the kitchen and split between 2 families it's worth it!
2. We pass down skating practice wear and competition dresses, trade dresses if you have one that your skater is not wearing.
3. Become an ice monitor if your rink allows you to get a credit for your ice time.
4. Resell the skates and if that is not possible, resell the blades.
5. Volunteer on the club board, some clubs offer a discount on club membership for volunteer hours.
6. Have your skater save their money from birthdays, holidays, or small jobs to help pay for competition "goodies" like the tshirt/sweatshirt or maybe they could pay for a portion of their practice clothes or new skates.

jumpingbeanmom said...

It is not pretty at all! I have two skaters, one competitive and one more recreational although they both do synchro too. At this point, we may have to take a synchro hiatus for a year to see how dd3 (the younger more competitive one) does this year and where she wants to go with her skating.

My hubby hates what it costs- I keep a fund for sports from my paycheck into a separate account to pay, so he is not completely (but somewhat) aware of the cost. I also travel for my job, so am fortunate enough to get many free hotel rooms for competitions from my points.

We don't eat out, drive old cars, and I pack lunch and dinner almost ALL the time. All our extra money goes to this sport. I am sure we pay close to $1000 a month for the youngest competitive skater.

Ice Mom said...

Hey, PairsMom!

Sharing a room with a kitchenette is smart. At our last competition, we did this and bought trays of frozen lasagna and frozen mac and cheese. The lasagna was O.K., but I don't recommend the mac and cheese!

Great ideas for saving money! Once Ice Dad finishes his MBA in April, he's going to learn to drive the Zamboni, which will give us ice credits! I'm so glad...

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hey, jumpingbeanmom!

We drive old cars, too. I'm always packing Ice Girl's cooler. I don't remember the last time we ate out.

Tell you what: let's get together this spring for a picnic! I'll bring the PB & J and you bring the KoolAid! - HA! -

Ice Mom

jumpingbeanmom said...

Hey Icemom-

My 15 year old is a competitive horse back rider too. And it IS worse if you can imagine. I'll have a PBJ with you anyday!

Alice in Wonderland said...

Never saw so many comments so quickly! I'm getting a good chuckle out of it all. I'm a numbers person, and just finished producing all my quicken reports for annual tax time, and guess what annual cost I avoided...yes, skating. At some point today I'll run the numbers, and then have to compare against the money saved for college, and then ask myself the tough question, before I open up discussion with hubby. I might even go into the bathroom, look in the mirror, and ask "What are you doing? Have you gone mad?" Retirement, what about that? And should you be saving money in case someone should lose a job? It's tough to balance it all out, but it is refreshing to know that I'm not alone in the struggle! At first SWAG, I think I'm in the $700 a month range, but I'm a fabric hog so that might really impact the data!

StupidDad said...

I am proud of what my daughter has accomplished in Figure Skating. She is talented and works very hard.

However, I am not proud of this Sports at all. I feel ASHAMED and STUPID when I mentioned to people that I spent $800/month for a Sport/Hobby!

Well, I guess the only way to get rid of this feeling is someone told me I have won a lottery :>

Ice Mom said...

Jumpingbeanmom, what were you thinking? Figure skating and horseback riding? Honey, you're not eating PB & J, you're eating ramen noodles.

I tell you, Jumping, I dodged that bullet. I had put Ice Girl at a horseback riding daycamp back before skating, back before I had no money, back before I was -hello!- sane. She liked the horses, but didn't love it. *whew* I don't have a pony to feed in additon to a skater.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Dear Alice,

I give you virtual strength to look those numbers in the eye.

I tell you, the talk required a great amount of courage. That was not a talk I wanted to have.

*sigh* But it was necessary. I get it. I don't like it, but I get it.

BTW, Ice Dad was very calm about the whole thing. It was me. I was a wreck.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Geez, StupidDad! I read your comment and thought you might be Ice Dad. You're not, are you?

I just about soiled myself again.

Ice Dad and I have said that we only have Ice Girl for a short amount of time. We're going to do it right - too bad about what everyone else says.

Um, Ice Dad? If that's you, um. love ya!

Ice Mom (who is going to call Ice Dad right now to see if he's StupidDad in disguise)

Ice Mom said...

Wait. Ice Dad can't be StupidDad. Ice Dad never talks about money with anyone.

*whew*

Alice in Wonderland said...

And the data is in..I went down the rabbit hole of private lessons 1 year ago. Annually, I average $730 a month. But the quarterly trend shows me at $880 a month (But I have been on a fabric buying frenzy, which I'll end after I order the much needed rhinestone closures and some extra crystals for the WIM competition end of March)Then I'll go to the bathroom mirror to begin the process of talking some sense into myself.

Kates said...

A former skater and current coach here--I called my mom last night to see how she and my dad handled it. She said they never added it up, mostly because they didn't want to know how much it was costing. My mom's best guess is that skating was the cost of another house payment. After some quick tallying, I came up with $7,200/year, but that doesn't include test fees, cost of skates, ice show fees, practice outfits, and several other things that haven't occurred to me yet.

Granted, I did do ice dance (which got pricey with partnering) and synchro, but I also skated at a park district rink where ice time was $6/hour. Synchro was about as inexpensive as it can get (again, thanks to the park district rink), and I stopped competing anything else when I started high school, so we didn't have too many competition costs.

My dad always knew how much we were paying, but I always knew that I'd get less guilt if I asked my mom to write the checks. My mom mentioned to me that if I had decided to go to a private high school (which I'd considered), we probably would've had to cut down on the costs considerably (no ice dance, for starters). Hearing that made me even more happy I decided to go to the public school!

Ultimately, the final word from my mom was that it was worth it for my mental health. She remembers how miserable I'd be on Sundays before going back to school, and how going to ice dance in the afternoon would bring me back cheerful and happy.

Ice Mom said...

Hey, Alice.

I totally know what you mean about a fabric buying frenzy. I bought crystals for Ice Girl's Disco Ball dress in January. Hoo-boy!

Ice Mom (who loves the bling)

Ice Mom said...

Hi, Kates.

Your parents sound like wonderful people - very concerned about your mental health and happiness.

Ice Mom

Anonymous said...

Wow, I guess I know that figure skating is expensive, but have never spent anywhere near that much on skating. When I was in high school I skated at the Open-Juvenile level. At the most I was skating 4 times per week with 3 lessons per week. I paid for all ice time and lessons and the gas to drive myself to the rink once I turned 16. I did all of this with my part time job after school. My parents would pitch in and pay for competitions and tests. There were also many Christmases and Birthdays where I only got a new dress or skates.
Currently I skate as an adult. In order to save on ice time I work at the rink as a part time coach, so I get to skate for free. I also drive to another rink for lessons though and pay for ice there. In total with 2 lessons a week I spend ~$50/week. That includes coaches fees, ice time at the other rink, and an approximation of gas to get too and from the other rink.
From my experiences currently and as a teenager I would highly recommend making your skater financially responsible for their skating. Having to pay for it myself made me realize how precious my lessons and ice time were and are, and make me use them wisely. I also realize what I am/was sacrificing in order to skate.

Anonymous said...

I don't think my parents ever paid quite that much for skating, but I know they spent quite a bit.

One way they kept me financially responsible and aware of the costs was to have ME pay for most of the extras. They bought the necessities - ice time and coaching and, up until I was a teenager, skates. Everything else was up to me. Now, they gave me the resources to earn this money and it still came out of their pockets and they probably paid me a bit too much to mow the grass, but it did teach me responsibility and I also became more aware of exactly how much everything costs.

Also, paying for things myself made the whole process of buying things pretty special for me. I felt super proud to be able to pay for that perfect skating dress on my own. As an added bonus, I took really good care of all of my skating stuff :P

Brittany said...

Wow, reading all these comments forced me to add up how much I spend a week on skating. I am an adult skater in FS2. I go to the rink about 4 times a week, with one private lesson. It comes to about 80 dollars a week. That may not seem like a lot compared to some of these posts...but I was surprised! It really does add up, I can't even think about what it will be like a year from now!

Speaking of money, I just took my skates to be sharpened and the total came to 17 dollars! It used to be 10, but I got new skates and blades (well, new to me. They were used and valued at about 500 dollars, I got them for 150). Are expensive blades more expensive to sharpen? I never understand what they are saying when they ask what grind I want. I just say standard and I am on my way. 17 dollars seems like a bit much, so I figured it must of had something to do with the expensive blades.

Anyway, just another 7 dollars to add to the monthly skating bill!

Best of luck to everyone.

Ice Mom said...

Hey, Brittany!

$80/week isn't bad. Tell you what: let's exchange bills. I mean, you'll want to feel prepared when those new, higher costs hit, right? :)

Your old blade was probably a recreational figure skating blade, so they're cheaper.

The grind business is a great question! Thanks for the post idea, Brittany! I think I know the answer, but I'm going to have to ask my expert first.

Ice Mom

jumpingbeanmom said...

I know college is important, but can you really put a price on something that gives you confidence, perseverence and all the other experiences of skating? There is nothing wrong with going to a less expensive local college since the money was spent on skating- and who knows if said kids will even go, will want to go, etc- I am not into not doing what is good for us today for the 'in case' of tomorrow.

StupidDad said...

Hi jumpingbeanmom,

There is nothing wrong with going to a less expensive local college. But have you consider going to a less expensive Sports/Hobby? Which will still give your daughter/son confidence, perseverance and all the other experiences without end up in either bankruptcy court or divorce court.

What I am struggling here is that my daughter is talented in various kind of Sports e.g. Gymnastics, Dance, Ski, Skating etc... Why we have to pick/commit one that is the most expensive?

StupidDad

Falyn S. said...

This is my daughters first year and I've just figured out how much we spend per month (or what we will have spent by May) - $170 a month. That's including ice time, coaching, gas and skate sharpening. Plus this year there was(will be) $400 extra that we spend for skates, tests, competitions, etc. I think we've got it lucky from what I've read some of you have/will spend.

Ice Mom said...

Hey, StupidDad. You know, I don't think you're very stupid at all. In fact, I think you're asking smart questions.

You're lucky your skater has talent for more than one sport. My kid, Ice Girl, uh, doesn't.

I can't speak for your family, but for mine, it's a joy to see my kid finally find something easy. It's intoxicating to see her succeed, watch her build confidence, worry about her new-found drive and competitive nature.

She never had it before.

Could I replace it with jogging? Probably. But I think that spark would go out. For me, that spark is magic. It's a blessing. I'd sacrifice almost anything for it.

I wish you and your family success, S.Dad.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Falyn? Can we pretend your budget is mine? Just send me the Excel spreadsheet and I'll swap mine out. Quick! Before...

I mean - HA! HA! Just joking! - Really, Ice Dad. That's a joke. Ha....Ha...Ha?

Falyn S. said...

I should have also posted that that is for only 8 months. She only skates for 32 weeks. I'm sure once she gets up there a bit further it will continue to grow and grow. My husband knows down to every last cent that we spend as well.

Ice Mom said...

Your information is so helpful, Falyn. And, yes, I'm pretty sure that number will go up. And up. And up.

Anonymous said...

My husband is very aware of how much we spend on skating. We both feel it's worth it to sacrifice elsewhere so that our middle son can skate. We drive old cars, we live in a small house (2 of my boys share a bedroom) we camp for vacations and we cut back where we can. I've given up my horseback riding, an equally expensive sport, to cover some of the cost. Yes we could be saving this money for college, but you never know what the future holds. One of my nieces died when she was 16, so I look at things a little differently. Is it really worth not having him skate in the present to pay for a future that may or may not happen?