The first year of competitive cheerleading I felt like I was getting pinged for expenses left and right. There was the monthly gym fee, of course, but what isn’t obvious is all the other “stuff.” Competition fees, practice wear, bows, shoes and of course, uniform! While my daughter looked cute, my budget was taking a beating.
Nine years later and she’s absolutely gorgeous all made up in uniform and I’ve learned a few tricks to help cover all the costs. So here’s my list of ways to do “competitive cheer on the cheap.”
- Participate in any fundraising your gym might have. I had no clue that fundraising could be so important and there were plenty of opportunities like: Red Wheel, meat products from local vendor, Spirit Cups, Spirit Sleeves, working at concession stands for events . . . the list goes on and on.
But, if you are self employed, work from home and / or a single parent you may not be able to get all your expenses covered with just fundraising – as I quickly discovered. Not to mention that relatives and coworkers have a limit to how much they are willing to help.
- Purchase practice clothes and uniforms from teammates / former teammates who have outgrown the items. This definitely helped when we changed teams and had to start all over.
- Use cheer shoe covers to help shoes last all season. The shoe soles wear out so quickly, the more tumbling the quicker they go. The shoe covers kept me from having to buy another pair mid season.
- Find another mom to be a roommate for stay over competitions. They can share on gas for trips up as well. Be careful though, to get someone you like and preferably on the same team / schedule as your athlete or there could be issues with curfews or transporting to venue.
- Take your own food. This goes for hotels and in the venues.
- For hotel stays you can often request a fridge and / or microwave for the room. If you aren’t that lucky a cooler will work. Take fresh fruit or fruit cups and instant oatmeal for breakfast (hey that coffee pot will make hot water too!). Instead of soda, take 100% juice boxes and plenty of water. Having at least one meal “free” will help you save. Hotel provide breakfast? Bring sandwich fixin’s to substitute another meal. PS – for Worlds & Summit, you can have a grocery service deliver items to your hotel so you don’t have to spend the big bucks elsewhere!
- At the venue, take baggies of trail mix or the single serve carrot stick / dip snacks. Water is usually easy to take in via your athlete’s bag. Try to find nearby restaurants that have take out so you can walk to lunch – good for you and cheaper than arena food. Our last gym had a “no car” policy until after competition so occasionally we would use an Uber or Lyft to go get lunch and bring it back to eat outside the venue.
- If possible, use a cashback credit card for your cheer expenses. I used one for all expenses I could and the “cash back” helped offset the cost of the trips out of town.
- Resist the temptation to buy something for your athlete at every event – take plenty of photos instead and make a scrapbook. Most competitions give out something like a t-shirt or medal anyway. I would only buy something special if it was a really big competition like NCA.
There you have it – the seven ways I kept expenses low. I am sure there are other suggestions or ideas so please feel free to share! It’s not easy being a cheer parent but when WE work as a team, our athletes get the benefit!