One of the biggest misperceptions surrounding the game hockey is how much it costs to play. The reality is all youth sports and activities require a certain amount of financial investment. Hockey in Minnesota is actually very comparable to other activities thanks to our community based model that limits travel and ice time costs.
With some additional planning and wise purchase decisions, all families should have the ability to not only have their kids play hockey but excel at the game. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
1. Take Advantage of Used Equipment
Leasing or buying used equipment can be a great way to save money heading into the next hockey season. Many local associations have equipment available for younger players to use at low or no cost. Some hockey or sporting goods stores carry used equipment that will fit older players. Just remember to consider safety, proper fit and comfort before going with used equipment, especially when dealing with helmets and skates.
2. The Equipment Doesn't Make the Player
Not a fan of used equipment? That's fine. Even with new equipment, there are several levels of quality and cost. Players can get brand new gear for a reasonable price if they are willing to get a less popular or older model. For most players, especially at the younger age levels, there will be minimal impact on performance for buying equipment that can help the budget significantly. A great example of this is using a wood stick.
Time is money. You have likely not only heard that saying but feel it in your every day life. Keep that in mind when it comes to registration fees. Our community based hockey associations depend on parents and coaches volunteering their time and effort to make hockey significantly more affordable here than anywhere else in the US. Let's keep it that way!
4. The Power of No
It can be hard to say no to kids, but the reality is some times that is the best all around decision. Don't be afraid to say no to that extra out of town tournament, summer travel league, a second taco-in-the-bag or the top of the line skates that all of your kids' friends have. Many times learning to do without some of these things will actually benefit kids more in the long run.
5. Cut Down on Impulse Buying
With countless hours at the rink for practices, games and tournaments, hockey has a way of increasing the amount families spend on impulse buys. Food and drinks, in particular, tend to be a common expenditure. Planning ahead and staying disciplined with healthy snacks or well-timed dinners at home can cut down on numerous trips to the concessions or nearby fast food places, saving big time dollars.
6. A Season of Giving
If your player really wants that top of the line stick or new pair of skates but you're having a hard time justifying it, one of the best ways to make it fit the budget is to turn that item into a birthday or Christmas gift. Many families have funds allocated for those gifts anyway so it becomes a win-win. The player gets a gift he/she loves, and this year's shopping list gets a little easier.
7. Comparison Shop
Thank you internet! With today's technology, it is easy to compare the various brands and types of equipment at several different stores to ensure you're finding the right price. Plus, many companies, such as USA Hockey's official equipment retailer Total Hockey, provide information online on sales and promotions currently taking place.
8. Be a Smart Shopper
Like any industry, there are certain times of year when hockey retailers offer their best deals. In hockey, this is typically at the end of the season (March or April) when they look to clear out the past season's inventory to make room for the coming year. Keep in mind the potential for your kid to grow over the summer though. For instance, you may be able to pick up a new stick at a great discount, but you may want to hold off on cutting it to the right height until the player is ready to start using it the next fall.