B.K. asks from Austin, TX on October 08, 2010
What Would You Do? Better Finances or Cheerleading?
My 13-year-old is a competitive cheerleader. The expense is enormous, in my mind. 300.00 for cheer uniform, 150 for shoes, 20 for a bow, make-up. We pay the coaches fees for their travel to competitions. Hotels are at least 100.00. This month I received a bill for 1000.00 for a portion of all of the above mentioned. My daughter has been a cheerleader for around 6+ years, so it is not a surprise. We just can't afford it anymore. We are doing the Dave Ramsey Money Makeover and know that this is an unnecessary expense. But, my daughter LOVES it and is very talented. I discussed my concerns with her coach and he is angry. He says we had "plenty of time" to figure out whether we could afford it or not. He says that her quitting would put "the team" in a grave position, etc. Is he manipulating me? He says it is not about the money and that he would "work with us" on it. I want her to quit because I am tired of paying the money when we could pay off debt; I'm tired of driving her all over the place with 2 tiny babies in their carseats in the back crying; and, I don't think my daughter appreciates it at all.
Tell me what you think? Is the coach a money grabber? Does he care about my daughter? Am I wrong to pull her out because my husband and I got in debt?
***I want to add that my daughter is currently on her school cheerleading squad, which cost a total of 250.00 for EVERYTHING! She is in Wind Ensemble--band--too! So, she is very busy!****
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So What Happened?™
I was very willing to keep her in cheer by getting rid of my highish priced vehicle that comfortably holds all carseats and groceries to afford my daughter's cheer. Her coach, Russell, at The Elite Cheer Company in Austin, TX started treating me differently since I asked for financial "aid", if you will. I would email him and it would take days to get a response. He basically began treating me like a lower class citizen. That was the straw that broke the camel's back and I pulled her out of cheer. She is devastated right now, but I think the sting will subside. She understands my point of view, but is still a selfish teenager that is pissed. I am relieved and worried at the same time. What is she going to do with the free time now? I have to keep my eye on her.
M.P. answers from Pittsburgh on October 08, 2010
I think that competitve cheer is a racket-sorry but I do. I think that all of these places that do this have found an easy way to make money and to capitalize on every little girls and mom's dream of being a cheerleader. What happened to the old fashioned high-school cheerleader that cheers at games?
If she can make the money herself through babysitting then let her do it. Or if she is so good that she may qualify for a scholarship, then do it. If neither-then make her quit or join the free high school squad.
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J.R. answers from New York on October 08, 2010
My daughter did cheerleading for a couple of years and it was through the town which I think is a less expensive way to do competition cheer. It's still a huge commitment but all the costs are up front so what you pay in the beginning, shoes, uniform, participation fee is known up front and then that's it. There shouldn't be any added costs as you go along unless that was spelled out in the beginning. If she is on a competition team through a gym, that's probably another story - more expensive. See if there is one through your town. I know the school team is not the same unless they have a competition option.
That said, I was also a coach for a couple of years and yes, once the routine is set up, it is vital to the entire squad to have all girls at practice. For instance, if she is a base, and they are part of a stunt group of 4 girls, if one girl isn't there, all 4 can't practice. If she is part of a stunt that involves 12 girls for a pyramid, without her, all 12 can't practice that part. I do believe that if you make the commitment up front, you should stick to it but things happen and if there are continual added costs for the year, you need to tell the coach you're sorry but you just can't afford it. If he can help you out with the expense this year, then be grateful he is willing to do that. Be honest with him about the expense. If the real reason is that you don't want to drive her around to these things anymore, then don't sign her up for it the next year but don't penalize the team because you changed your mind. I don't that's teaching your daughter that she should stick with commitments.
And lastly, if it's really about the finances, you can't put your family in hock over cheerleading but I question why there are new expenses being added as the year goes on. Good luck and let us know how you do.
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J.T. answers from Dallas on October 08, 2010
i think you know the answer to your question.... don't allow yourself to be manipulated by your daughter or any other adult. financial decisions need to be made between your husband and yourself, and honestly, you don't owe the coach or anyone else an explanation. the fact that your daughter doesn't appreciate it makes it that much easier. tell her to come up with some fundraising ideas if she wants to participate next year. good for you for being responsible with your finances!
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E.R. answers from Chicago on October 08, 2010
Personally- this is just my opinion- I think spending that amount of money on cheerleading is sort of obscene. I mean, I know your daughter likes it and is good at it- but is this going to be her life? Is she planning on being a lifetime competitive cheerleader? Are you betting on her getting a college scholarship from it? What exactly will be the payoff, emotionally, financially and practically for your daughter and your family for this?
If she is already cheering through her school, have her do that! It sounds to me like the coach is pulling your leg- a cheer squad that is taking in that amount of money will have try-outs for top positions on the squad and any number of backups in case someone gets hurt. What if your daughter sustained a serious injury (god forbid!)?? Your poor daughter would be hurt, you would be on the hook for who knows what medical bills- and the coach would just appoint another kid to take her place. So who could really be in a 'grave position' here??
I'm not trying to be harsh, but you just sound like in YOUR heart, you've made a decision. You don't want to disappoint your daughter, I understand that. But- she is 13, she can cheer at school. When she turns 16 if she wants to join a cheer team like this again, she can get a job and earn her own extra money to pay for it.
I think the coach and your daughter are pushing you into doing something you cannot afford and don't really want to do. People suggesting that you have garage sales or ask relatives for money are sort of missing the big picture IMO. I mean, I can see that those things might keep the cheering going- but is that REALLY the best thing for the family as a whole? It just does not sound like it to me.
Be the parent- use common sense and just say no.Your daughter will have to understand that you just can't afford it right now and she can always do it again later. This is a lesson kids need to learn sooner or later. The family as a whole needs to come before one person's personal enjoyment sometimes. Good luck!
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S.T. answers from New York on October 08, 2010
Wow. Who knew?
My kids are both involved in sports at age 11 and 14. This cheerleading sounds like travel soccer or any other travel sport that involves termendous resources & sacrifice, both in time and money.
We also have to make decision about the time & money that various sports involve. While I am sure that cheerleading is a great sport for your daughter is does seem to be sucking the life out of your family in terms of time & treasure. And a you say, you're dragging your younger ones to all of the competitions. It's not any different than the other travel sports.
I think that since it's mid-season and she is part of a team you've already committed yourself for this season. How much longer is the season? I've always taught my mids that being a part of a team is a committment for the season - that's been since kindergarten. However, I would certainly express this to the coach. Be open and vulnerable. Tell him the economy has really hit you hard. (he doesn't need to know or agree with your Dave Ramsey class - most people think you're nuts trying to get yourself out of debt - it's the American way. My husband and I have made a real effort to do the same after reading one of Dave Ramsey's books.) Explain that you feel an obligation to the team to finish it out but the money and time has become a huge issue and is there any way we can work outu a payment plan, etc. I've heard anecdotal stories that coaches get a percentage of the uniforms and their hotel & travel is frequently comped due to the groups booking, etc. See if he's willing to come part of the way to help you finish out the season. Perhaps if you offer to make travel arrangments, or phone calls, put together schedules, or other administravie functions he'll be more willing to be flexible.
Next seaon is a whole different story. Assuming your child is in middle school there should be a cheerleading squad at school. While it may not be as competitive and robust, it will still be cheerleading and she may be able to develop more in that environment as a leader, choreographer, etc. It will be different and will be adjustment for her, her first week may seem like a disaster! But these are learning experiences that turn out to be vital life lessons. Who doesn't need to learn to adjust expectations or deal with changes in life situations? I expect that your daughter will not be thrilled and may really push back on this. But you are a family of 5 and the needs of the entire family have to be balanced. I suspect that when all is said and done she'll find that the school team is fun and she can funnel her competitive spirit in to something else.
Our job as parents is not to provide for every activity that our child wants - but to provide those acitivities that we can afford and that work well for the whole family.
One final thing to think about - two weeks ago while we were at my 11 yr old son's football game (which costs about $250 a year) I observed a mom with her 4 yr old son. She was scolding him for behaving like a 4 yr old who didn't want to sit on the bleachers, etc. (She didn't have snacks or coloring books or small games to occupy this boy.) Then I heard her tell another mom that they had jsut come directly from another game of another child. So by 2:30 this 4 yr old had already spent 4 hours either in the car, waiting at the field or sitting in the bleachers at one of his older siblings's games. ???? This was only at half time. Is this how a 4 yr old should spend a gorgeous fall day? Shouldn't he be running around the yard with other kids from the nieghborhood? Let's not sacrifice normal activities of our younger kids for the percieved needs of the older kids. It sneaks up on us and we don't even realize what we're doing!
Best of luck with this tricky situation. As if finances and raising teenagers isn't tough enough - but when they cross paths - yikes!
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M.L. answers from Colorado Springs on October 08, 2010
I'm floored at the expenses you've listed... and I'm sure they're not all.
Off the top of my head, since your daughter loves this activity, is there a possible way you can continue just through this season (whatever the season is)? The end of a season would be a better time to quit. If you decide to think about this, then ask the coach for a conference and pick his brains about what "working with you" means; frankly, it may mean borrowing somehow and going into more debt, which would not be acceptable.
He may be manipulating you, or he may just be frustrated because he's losing a team member he had counted on. The latter reason is legitimate for people who deal with teams. No doubt he does care about his team. But I don't know. You do - you know what sort of person he is.
If there's no way you can afford continuing to do this, you have to quit, of course. How does your daughter feel about this? Does she understand the absolute need for cutting back on expenses as a family? I'm sure this is not the only cut in your program! If you do figure out a way that she can continue longer, is there a way she can help with the expense of it, even if it's just a few dollars a month? That's not going to help you all any financially, but it would be good for her to learn how to contribute to her own activities.
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D.K. answers from State College on October 08, 2010
I was a competitive gymnast for years and yes it was expensive too. I loved it and did appreciate all the driving to practices, 5 days a week, meals in the car most of the time, weekend travel during season. Our team had to pay rent to the gym since otherwise classes could have been in there and they made a lot more money for the gym. As a club we also paid for coaches to travel, each girl had to buy her own competitive leo and warm up leo,etc. Each girl had to fund raise or pay x amount each quarter.
Does the team do any kind of fundraiser? I'm sure many of the parents would love to have part of the money burden lifted. We did car washes, sold banners to local businesses that hung in the gym, wrapping paper sales (which actually made a lot of money), etc. Maybe the girls could do some kind of demo, donate profits to a cause and also use some to support the team. Sometimes local sports teams will let you run the concession stands as a fundraiser too.
If you really can't afford it is one thing, but I would talk to your daughter more about it. It sounds like she really enjoys it and it gives her something that she can do and with two tiny babies she may feel special that she has her own thing. At 13 she may not show her appreciation, but it is probably there. You may at least want to let her finish out the season since cheering really is a team sport. If she does need to stop, is there a local or school team she could cheer for? I think I would spend some time really talking to your daughter and see if there is an alternative that she can do, but at the same time if it is the middle of season and you can afford the rest of the season I would let her finish it out. Can she do any baby or pet sitting locally to help towards expenses? She may also have other areas she is willing to cut back on to help, new clothes, etc. Also talk to the coach more and see what can be done about the money.
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J.P. answers from Boise on October 08, 2010
I think that you need to talk to your daughter and explain what is going on. How expensive it is, and what you are trying to do as a family. 13 is plenty old enough to understand about finances. Maybe she can take some inexpensive dance classes (if she is appreciative of all you have spent already). If the coach is willing to give a scholarship (and she is appreciative), you can let her continue if you want. I am also doing the money makeover, and would not be able to justify this expense when you can pay off debt.
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T.J. answers from Seattle on October 08, 2010
I was a cheerleader, and would have been heartbroken if my parents made me quit! Before cutting her off altogether, let her know you're having a tough time and see if she genuinely wants to continue. Maybe she can help with some fundraising ideas. I've also been a coach and understand that side, you knew the expenses and waited until you had a bill to say something. And it really does affect a team, all their routines are designed for a certain amount of people and when you lose one you have to rework everything! It's not like losing a basketball or football player, when there's other people available for their position! Our kids are never unnecessary investments, and cheerleading teaches some very valuable life skills about teamwork, perseverance, determination, and doing your best.
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