Budgeting for back to school means costly competition for parents: Does spending big mean scoring big?

BBB explores the points and penalties of buying second-hand sports equipment
August 26, 2014

August 26, 2014 - CALGARY, ALBERTA - With the Canadian Youth Sports Report stating 84 per cent of Canadian youth participate in sports, after school activities are competing for parents' time and money. From purchasing uniforms and equipment, parents are spending up to $1,000 per child.* For those looking to save on sports, BBB urges parents to take a time-out before hitting the second-hand stores.

Calgary mom Ashley O'Reilly says she feels the cost of her son's sports is reasonable, for now. "We spend about $250-$300 per year on my oldest son's soccer and swimming activities," she says. "He's only four and so far we've only had to buy soccer shoes and we bought them new. But as he gets older, he will probably participate in more sports so we will be considering consignment or other less expensive options for sports equipment."

O'Reilly says budgeting for extra curricular activities can be difficult for some parents, but for her it's all about having conversations with her kid early. "Before the back-to-school season starts, we ask our son what his interests are and what activities he'd like to participate in," she says. "Then we research the costs and plan accordingly."

Troy Elvey, owner of Play It Again Sports Westhills Calgary, says buying second-hand equipment comes with more perks than just saving money. "People can also make money off their gently-used equipment," he says.  "We will either buy it from you or work out a consignment deal where the seller gets 50 per cent of the sale price once it's sold, or you can trade your items in for store credit for newer second-hand items."

Elvey says even though buying second-hand sports equipment is great for saving money, parents should do their research before committing to a sale. "It's important to ask about the history of the equipment, how old it is and how current the safety features and technology is," he says. For parents using popular online bulletin sites, Elvey urges caution as the seller may not always know the complete product history.

According to the Canadian Youth Sports Report, the most expensive and inexpensive after school activities are:

Most expensive
Least expensive


Cost per child annually

Water skiing










Track and Field



About 650,000 Canadian kids participate in dance, music, drama, book-clubs, language learning and other art-related activities. Parents looking to cut costs can consider consignment shops for second-hand instruments and costumes.  

"Cost, convenience, your family's interests and needs are sometimes hard to balance," says Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. "It's crucial for parents to review these activities early with their children, consider new versus used and do their homework when it comes to store refund and negotiation policies to be sure they're spending wisely. Sometimes the lowest price doesn't always mean the best deal."

For more consumer tips, visit bbb.org.

*Canadian Youth Sports Report


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Media Contact:
Leah Brownridge, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay
(403) 531-8793 or leah@calgary.bbb.org

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