Dear Dave: My husband lost his job a few months ago. He's found another one since then, but we're still trying to rebuild our finances. At the same time, our daughter plays softball on a travel team. It's a great character-building experience, but the costs involved can be pretty high. Do you think we should cut down on the travel team activities for a while?
You're right. Playing sports can be a great part of the character-building process. But she can learn character lessons playing in a softball league at your local park. She doesn't have to travel all over the place to learn those kinds of things.
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If you have kids, there's a pretty good chance you're going to spend some money to help encourage their hobbies and interests. That comes with the territory, and it should be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. You just have to take a look at your financial situation-and the kid's desires and abilities-and make sure it's a reasonable amount of money.
In your situation, playing on a travel team right now is a luxury. You don't need to be footing the bill for hotel rooms and gas and stuff while you're trying to get back on solid ground financially. Chances are, this child is not going to make a living playing softball. Even if she is that good, she can still sharpen her skills in a home town league until you guys are back on your feet.
I'm not opposed to kids playing on these kinds of teams per se. But you can't allow the cost and time involved to undermine the needs of your family or blow your budget!