These days, the role of parents includes wearing many hats: chef, maid, launderer and homework guru are just a few of them. With all the extra-curricular activities kids are involved in, some of the most prevalent roles may include chauffer, coach and cheerleader, too. And it may cost a small fortune to outfit your kids for the many sports they're involved in.
On top of your kids pursuits, keeping yourself and your spouse healthy and fit can be expensive, too. You can go the cheap route, which usually means a nice pair of running shoes. Or, you might spend a few thousand dollars on a treadmill, weight bench, various yoga mats, and that oversized bouncy ball. Before you go out and indulge your newest kettlebell fantasy, check out these tips for buying sports gear for the whole family.
How much you pay for your gear can depend a lot on what sport you're involved in. A golfer can drop anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand on new clubs, while high-end running shoes will send you over the hundred dollar mark pretty fast. The good news is there's plenty of gently used sports gear for sale, whether it's at a store or from an individual.
When it's time to invest in some athletic equipment, check Web sites like Craigslist or eBay to see if anyone has what you need for sale. There are also consignment stores that exclusively sell used athletic equipment. In the end, you can save some serious cash by buying used -- just check it out thoroughly to make sure what you're buying is still in good shape.
Know Your Needs
Before you go out and plop down $1,200 on a new treadmill, do some serious soul searching and make a decision based on reason and your own personal history. If you bought a gym membership but never go, you may be fooling yourself by thinking the key is having the gear in your living room. Many a treadmill collect dust in garages and basements across the country. Your goal is to not end up with a basement full of roller blades, tennis rackets and barbells that you don't use.
Borrow First, Buy Later
If you have children, then you know their attention may not last very long for any particular sport. It may take a few tries to find exactly which sports are for them, if there are any at all. They may want to try hockey because all of the cool kids are playing it. Because of the myriad reasons why your kid may not play a sport for very long, you should try borrowing gear for them from friends and neighbors to see if they take to it. Once you know your child has taken a genuine interest in the sport, you can buy them their own gear.
If you watch enough TV, you're bound to run across a commercial for some new piece of exercise equipment that you just can't live without. Most of these odd contraptions make pretty bold claims about how much weight you can lose, typically with as little effort as possible.
Losing weight and exercise is tough work, so any machine that claims to do that hard work for you isn't telling you the whole truth. Be wary of any gear that asserts it will help you burn more calories than you would with regular exercise like running or swimming. Also, you should stay away from products that vow to "spot reduce" a particular area of your body. The only way to really lose those love handles is through a healthy diet and regular, whole-body exercise.
When it comes time to hit the stores and buy some sports gear, make sure to comparison shop at several retailers. Major stores have contracts with particular manufacturers, which can really limit your options for different brands of equipment. You'll be selling yourself short if you go to a store that only has two kinds of baseball gloves or three models of running shoes. If you know a particular brand you like, call around and find out where it's carried. You might be able to save some money.
Dollar stores — where most items cost just a buck — always seem to make money. HowStuffWorks finds out how they do it.
- Federal Trade Commission. "Pump Fiction: Tips for Buying Exercise Equipment." Ftc.gov. Dec. 3, 2011. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/products/pro10.shtm
- Seara Sports. "Seara Tips on buying fitness equipment." Searasports.com. Dec. 3, 2011. http://www.searasports.com/home-fitness-systems/tips/
- Stop Getting Sick. "Tips for Buying Exercise Equipment." Stopgettingsick.com. Dec. 3, 2011. http://www.stopgettingsick.com/template.cfm-1629