Increase family savings

Use these creative cost-cutting techniques to save more on everything from kids' clothes to family meals.

Spend Less on Sports and Lessons

10 Tips to Spend Less on Sports

Kids sports

1. Be an early bird: Many leagues offer a discount for committing in advance.

2. Join the team: Agree to be a ref or assistant coach and you not only skip the fee, you may get paid.

3. Trade talents: Do you have a tennis player or guitarist in your area? Ask her to give your child lessons in exchange for baby-sitting or some meals—you’ll both save.

4. Hit resale shops like Play It Again Sports for sporting goods, and consignment shops for leotards and tights.

5. Post a request for gear from other students on dance and karate studio bulletin boards.

6. Rent equipment: Just starting out? Don’t buy yet.

7. Carpool: Make friends with parents to split up driving duties.

8. Pare down: Ask your kids to pick their favorite activity and cut one or more of the rest. Unstructured time to play and be with you is important, too.

9. Do a cost analysis: Don’t commit to an activity before you research what it requires in terms of time and money. Sometimes the “best” swimming class that’s a half hour away is not what’s best for your family. Or you might have to weigh a $200 karate class against a $75 soccer league. Group classes at the Y, community centers, schools and churches tend to be cheaper than independent leagues and gyms.

10. Do it yourself: Forgo the pricey sports league and organize your own with fellow parents and children. Get everyone to chip in bases and balls, and agree to meet at a local park for weekend games.

TIP: For safety and sanitary reasons, don’t buy used bike helmets, sneakers and swimsuits.