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  1. #1
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    Daughter new to skating and expense

    Hello all -- new skating dad here, I suppose. My daughter, who is 12, has been taking group skating lessons along with a practice session once a week and then going to open skating for a couple of years. She is on the cusp of moving on to what I guess they call 'contract ice' and a coach. The expenses before were not cheap but pretty reasonable. These new expenses are astronomical. The coach, for a 30 minute lesson per week, plus contract ice is close to $300 per month plus there are costumes, skates, etc etc. In addition, she wants to skate in the synchronized skating team which is another $120 per month plus $805 for 'competition costs'. There is no way I can or will pay close to $7000 per year for her to do these things. We would have to sacrifice everything else from family vacations to saving for college and our retirement. We have a son who is 9 and he plays soccer which costs maybe $300 for the entire year. It's hardly fair to him to be spending 20 times what we spend on his activities on our daughter's activities. How does one set a reasonable budget and prioritize these sorts of things?

    Thanks for any support. I am in a state of financial shock.

    (I re-posted this here from another location at the suggestion of another member of the forum) - sorry for the repeat posting.

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    I answered in your last thread.. pm me if you have any questions..
    Thanks to PI .. I discovered I'm actually a Nontheist

    "Love is better than Anger, Hope is better than fear" Jack Layton 1950-2011

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    Thanks 4rkidz - quoting your entire post and bringing it over here:
    Quote Originally Posted by 4rkidz View Post
    The reality is the better your daughter gets the more money it will cost.. and then it will be even harder to say no.. you have to make your own decisions but seriously ask yourself are you willing to sacrifice everything from the rest of your family for a gamble that will likely not pay off?? I hate to be negative but the truth is $7000 is a drop in the bucket to what it will actually cost if she gets really good.. why not a compromise.. are there recreational synchro groups for less costs?

    Can she also start working on her own coaching volunteer so as she gets older she can help pay towards her own costs? Upon my own reflection - my daughter stopped skating at 12/13 - to move into another sport.. at the time she stopped we were paying about $10,000 a year.. and she was 'middle of the pack' competitively with just an expensive future and no real shot at making it nationally in that sport... basically we were just funding coaches and the club - which was fair enough but we had our eyes open - my brother meanwhile - learned from us and made sure his daughter just skated recreationally - but did get her a few lessons - and she excelled in the recreational stream, had tons of fun.. did volunteer coaching and still had time for a social life and part time job..

    A passion doesn't have to cost a fortune.. especially if you are realistic about her options and future.. you can pay what ever you want to pay in this sport..
    Some blogs/sites to peruse, for starters:

    http://icemom.blogspot.com/2010/03/t...ting-cost.html

    http://skatersdad.com/how-much-does-...ting-cost.html

    http://www.silent-edge.org/parentwish.html

    http://figureskating.about.com/
    Last edited by Sylvia; 01-20-2013 at 05:52 PM.
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

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    You have my sympathies. My daughter is grown now, but I was spending more that that per year at the height of things. There is no way around the fact that skating is an expensive sport. There are ways to economize, but some things can't be skimped.

    Ice time is what it is. You can't put the weight of the financial burden on your daughter's shoulders, but she's old enough to understand that ice is expensive and she can't waste time goofing off when she's supposed to be practicing. Talk to the coach about how many sessions per week are necessary, and stick to that limit. Kids who have more ice time than they really need tend to waste a lot of it. Coaching costs can be managed in that you can put a cap on how many lessons a week she takes, and for how long. If the coach is agreeable, sometimes semi-private lessons can be arranged, with the skaters sharing the fee. Don't skimp on skates. Have her fitted by a reputable fitter, and have them make a recommendation based on her size and skating level. You can buy used, but they need to fit properly. You can economize on clothing and other equipment. A skater doesn't "need" to have the most expensive name-brand gear. If she does synchro, those costs will be fixed, but the team may also provide fund-raising opportunities. She doesn't necessarily have to do a lot of competing as a singles skater if she's doing synchro. She'll need to keep testing and progressing her skills, but limiting the singles competitions are another way to limit costs. If she's old enough to babysit or hold some other age-appropriate job, she can make some contribution of her own, which will help her "own" her own sport. Is there something else in her life that can be economized? She would have to understand that by choosing skating, she's giving up this other thing.

    I never worried much about the discrepancy in cost between my daughter's skating and my sons' activities. As long as they all got the support they needed, it was irrelevant that one thing cost more than another.

    If, in the end, you simply can't afford it, walk away and don't look back. It won't ruin her life. My parents no way could afford skating for me when I was a child. I came to it as an adult, when I could pay for it myself. I'll never be an Olympian, but neither will your daughter. If she wants to skate badly enough, she'll find her own way to do it some day.

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    4rkidz -- My daughter also plays in an orchestra which also has endless expenses ($225 three times a year plus the instrument, weekly lessons for both piano and violin, plus various fund raisers and we are required to buy tickets for orchestra productions). She baby sits in the summer to a certain degree so, yes, we will ask her to pay for part of that. I think she can work a summer job at a movie theater or store once she is 15. She also likes to go to summer camp and this year she will have to forego if she is skating. Yes, another issue is that she is an outstanding violinist and a 4.0 student but a very mediocre (if not poor) athlete in general. I don't want to tell her she is not a good athlete but she currently seems to think she will be a professional skater (at age 12 I had probably equally far-fetched dreams). This is all very foreign to me. I worked on a farm when I was a kid and that seems to have been a different time anyway. We didn't have the time or inclination to ask for much and anything we did want we generally paid for ourselves.

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    Hello Clarice,

    One good thing is that I can get an unlimited pass for open skating for $85 per year. Of course, my daughter complains that there are too many people during open skating but there are times (Sunday evenings, for example) when open skating is quite sparsely attended.

    At the local ballet/skate shop they told me her new skates will last about 9 months. They were not cheap and is it really necessary to replace them even if she has not outgrown them?

    The woman who has offered to coach my daughter says she charges by 15 minute increments. Is a 15 minute lesson at this point reasonable or do they have to be 30 minutes and up?

    Since I know pretty much nothing about this whole sport can someone also tell me whether synchronized skating and figure skating is an either or thing? Does one usually do one or the other? If she is in synchro would she also need figure skating lessons?

    Unfortunately, my daughter is one of those people who could walk into a room with 50 pieces of roughly the same thing and naturally gravitate to and want the most expensive one. Currently she is on a brand-name binge and cannot understand why we refuse so the expense of skating is just kind of the icing on the cake at the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grinnell View Post
    4rkidz -- My daughter also plays in an orchestra which also has endless expenses ($225 three times a year plus the instrument, weekly lessons for both piano and violin, plus various fund raisers and we are required to buy tickets for orchestra productions). She baby sits in the summer to a certain degree so, yes, we will ask her to pay for part of that. I think she can work a summer job at a movie theater or store once she is 15. She also likes to go to summer camp and this year she will have to forego if she is skating. Yes, another issue is that she is an outstanding violinist and a 4.0 student but a very mediocre (if not poor) athlete in general. I don't want to tell her she is not a good athlete but she currently seems to think she will be a professional skater (at age 12 I had probably equally far-fetched dreams). This is all very foreign to me. I worked on a farm when I was a kid and that seems to have been a different time anyway. We didn't have the time or inclination to ask for much and anything we did want we generally paid for ourselves.
    She sounds like a lovely girl who is also very talented in many areas so you are lucky.. but if she is serious about becoming a competitive athlete she will need to make many sacrifices and also train off the ice if she does have such a dream.. dreams can become reality but only through a lot of hard work and sacrifice.. has she done a competition yet? My daughter did her first competition at age 7 - and by age 8 had her axel and by age 12 had all her double jumps and had competed for years.. and she was still a middle of the pack competitive skater - but excellent athlete.. sounds like your daughter needs a reality check - dreams are fine but at age 12 she also needs to realize what it takes if she is serious and a good start is by getting outside and running and doing a training program - it costs nothing.. just time and sweat - is she willing to get up each morning before school and put the work in - because that is what it takes.. you can google good training programs for skaters.. doesn't cost a thing and will measure for you as parents how serious she is.. we supported our daughter because we could find the money if she got herself up every morning and got herself ready.. maintained a 4.0 average.. and trained off ice seriously.. and was willing to sacrifice her social life and live at an arena.. I agree with Clarice - the other kids in the family should get the same level of support even though it may not be financially equal - that's just the reality of the sport... only thing more expensive than figure skating is horseback riding..
    Thanks to PI .. I discovered I'm actually a Nontheist

    "Love is better than Anger, Hope is better than fear" Jack Layton 1950-2011

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    Hi Sylvia -- I was looking at one of the links -- they said 10-20 hours. I can only assume that is per week?? The link to skaters dad is talking $15-$20,000 per year? All I can say is "Wow!" At least one (if not both) parent of perhaps 70% of my daughter's friends are physicians so the expense, while not minor, is not astronomical to them. Seeing as the average family income in the US is around $50,000 before taxes spending even $10,000 on skating would be problematic to say the least.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grinnell View Post
    Hi Sylvia -- I was looking at one of the links -- they said 10-20 hours. I can only assume that is per week?? The link to skaters dad is talking $15-$20,000 per year? All I can say is "Wow!" At least one (if not both) parent of perhaps 70% of my daughter's friends are physicians so the expense, while not minor, is not astronomical to them. Seeing as the average family income in the US is around $50,000 before taxes spending even $10,000 on skating would be problematic to say the least.
    the unfortunate thing in North America is most elite athletes are from families who can afford it.. not necessarily those that are the most talented At least in figure skating.. and yes 10 - 20 hours on ice.. plus the same again off ice.. that is why many end up doing home schooling..
    Thanks to PI .. I discovered I'm actually a Nontheist

    "Love is better than Anger, Hope is better than fear" Jack Layton 1950-2011

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    I actually brought the aspect of off-ice training up with my daughter. Since she is not terribly athletic and she has grown quite a bit the last couple of years her strength and coordination have not kept up with her growth. I told her she needs to do off-ice strength and coordination exercises and she has not pursued them at all. I guess I will need to find something and talk with her about it. Not sure whether it is good or bad but school and music have always come to her easily. She is getting to the age now, however, where how hard one works and how much one practices or studies is making a difference and it is starting to show. She naturally is not a hard worker but perhaps she could learn more through skating. I think one of the things that is really attracting my daughter to figure skating is the glamor (or at least what she perceives as glamor). The beautiful costumes and everyone has their eyes riveted on you as the skater. I will look for some training programs and go from there - thanks again!

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    Hi, Grinnell -

    Hear you on the orchestra expenses. I'm a professional musician - the reason my parents couldn't afford skating or ballet was because I was taking music lessons, and they made me choose. My boys were musicians (one made a career of it); my daughter chose skating instead. She is now a professional coach.

    There's nothing wrong with practicing during open skate, but at some point you can't do it any more. It's really hard to do Moves in the Field patterns on a public session unless it's really empty, and there may be limits on jumping or spinning. Absolutely use as much public ice as you can get away with, though.

    Skates can break down before they are outgrown, but that depends on the skater's weight and what kind of jumps they are doing. If the skates are not broken down, you can keep them until they are outgrown. Sometimes when the skater needs a bigger pair of boots the old blades can be moved over to the new pair. If that is possible, do it.

    Honestly, I don't know anybody who takes a 15 minute private lessons. The shortest interval where I am is 20 minutes. Even so, a targeted 15 minute lesson could be very productive. Lessons don't necessarily need to be longer than 30 minutes. At some point, that turns into paying somebody to watch your kid practice. My own lessons now (I'm an adult ice dancer) are an hour, but that's because I have to drive two hours to get partnering and lessons and it just doesn't make sense to take a shorter lesson at that point. My own little skating students take 30 minute lessons.

    Even if she does synchro, your daughter has to take lessons to learn the skating skills she will need on the synchro team. Team practice alone isn't enough. As she progresses to higher level teams, there will be test requirements, and her coach will prepare her for those tests.

    Yeah, most kids that age go through the name-brand thing. One compromise might be to offer to pay for a basic skate bag, pair of leggings, or whatever, and have her make up the difference if she wants to upgrade to the name brand.

    Keep asking questions - there are lots of folks on these forums who will be willing to share their experiences!
    Last edited by Clarice; 01-20-2013 at 06:45 PM.

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    Hi Clarice --

    What does "contract ice" mean? I hear that a lot and have no idea what it means.

    Thanks --

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    Both my daughters took group lessons for several years and then took private lessons for a few more years. They worked on Skate Canada tests but did not compete and that helped keep costs down. My older daughter quit when she entered high school and other sports attracted her attention. My younger daughter is much like yours. She plays violin and piano and is in an orchestra. She quit skating when she realized that she could not keep up skating three times a week, doing dance, violin and piano lessons, and performing in concerts/recitals. She kept up dance for a few more years, and that was a nice alternative to skating, but she has had to drop that too. You might talk to your daughter about how many activities she'll be able to handle simultaneously. If she's an outstanding violinist, she probably won't want to give that up.

    When my kids left figure-skating, I really missed going to the rink. They both had excellent coaches and there was a great sense of community at our skating club. However, I don't really have any regrets. Skating, even at their non-competitive level, was extremely expensive. We also find that the costs for music lessons, orchestra, instruments, music competitions, RCM testing, etc., are incredibly high. However, the big difference is that my daughter can practice as many hours as she wants at home for free.

    I certainly don't want to dissuade anyone from skating. The years my kids skated were enriching to all of us. However, it is certainly a huge expense. Is it possible for you to try private instruction with contract ice for a year, so that you can gauge her commitment and ability (and whether she can fit these in with her current activities), and then add syncho, competitions, etc., only if she really shows a love and aptitude for it?

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    There is some really good advice earlier in this thread. I just want to throw in one more thought - your daughter is doing a *lot* of activities. If I read your posts correctly, she is studying two different instruments, she is playing in an orchestra, I assume she also has her schoolwork, and now she wants to skate singles and synchro. I don't want to be rude, but even if she's enjoying all of these things, it sounds like she's doing too much. Especially with adding skating into the mix, she likely will not have the time to put the work into any one activity and have the opportunity to get really good at that one.

    I'm mentioning this because I see a lot of kids at my rink who are doing a lot of other things in addition to skating - swimming, soccer, track, music, dance, language lessons - and I understand why, because their parents want to give them the chance to try different activities. But what I also see happen sometimes is that the kids are so frazzled, running from one to the other, that they aren't really enjoying any of them. And because they are doing so many different things, they don't have the time they need to practice in between sessions, and they don't really get satisfaction from the activities because they aren't improving at them.

    Cost issues aside, have you considered asking your daughter to choose the activity that she really wants to do the most, and investing your resources in just that one?
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    Quote Originally Posted by grinnell View Post
    Hi Clarice --

    What does "contract ice" mean? I hear that a lot and have no idea what it means.

    Thanks --
    I replied to this a while ago from my phone, but I see it hasn't posted. If it comes through later, I apologize in advance for the double post!

    It means you've pre-paid for the sessions you intend to use during the contract period. Different clubs/rinks have different rules about how that gets administrated. Generally the contracted price is cheaper than the walk-on price. Sometimes you're not allowed on the session unless you've contracted for it. You'll need to check out the local policies.

    In any case, whether you've contracted or walked on, we're talking about a freestyle session as opposed to a public session. (It may be that your area uses the terms "contract ice" and "open session" for what I call "freestyle" and "public ice".) Freestyle sessions are used for figure skating practice, including jumps and spins, for private lessons, and for practicing programs with music. Skaters usually have to meet some kind of criteria to use them - you won't have recreational skaters just going around in circles or hockey skaters on them.

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    I have a skater (10)and yes...it means I rent a too small apartment, my car is 10 years old and vacation is driving to visit grandma on the other side of the state. My clothing tends to be hand me downs from my aunt and my daughter who like certain brands gets her tee shirts off the clearance rack or hand me downs from friends. But at the end of the day, skating is a huge part of her and worth more than any other thing to her. I thought after she was forced to take a long break from an injury, she would quit, but skating is for her soul....nothing else feels so much like flying to her. Sure synchro would be fun, but I can't swing both. It's okay to tell her no or choose or make sacrifices. My daughter would LOVE lessons daily. Instead she gets lessons 2-3 times a week and the rest is cheaper public ice without a coach. She takes group lessons. We make it work as best as possible.

    To raise a little money on her own, she does online surveys and sometimes in person product tests for a video game company. It covers about 100-300 a year. A drop in the bucket, but every cent helps. When she is in middle school she can help with LTS and get some ice time in return.

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    Last edited by Willowway; 01-21-2013 at 02:03 AM.

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    skating is expensive. there is no way around it. I was 12 when i started, and i made a deal with my parents that i didn't get pocket money, and i had to work in their cafe to help off set the cost of skating, after a couple of years when it got really $$$$.

    There is no need to spend lots of money on the extra things, perhaps if you can make costumes yourself, this will be a BIG money saver. Practice clothes you can get from target/kmart etc, you dont need flashy gear for training.

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    Just pay for what you think is reasonable. Then when she is old enough to be making money, if she really wants to do more, she can pay the rest herself. I'm not being sarcastic or anything, believe me. My parents paid for group lessons, and when it came time for the new indoor rink and private lessons, they would have nothing to do with it because they had 5 children. So at 15yo I paid for 2 private lessons a week, ice time, skates, attire, transportation (2.75 hrs on the bus each way!), everything, with money I earned myself (I did not get any allowance) from babysitting, selling my own designed/sewn skating skirts, and a PT fabric store job (when old enough to have one). I REALLY wanted to skate, and any kid who is truly serious will go as far as I did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    Cost issues aside, have you considered asking your daughter to choose the activity that she really wants to do the most, and investing your resources in just that one?
    Agree with this. And be honest with your daughter about what things cost, and resources are limited. This is good time to start teaching your daughter financial sense. You say she likes name brands and always wants the most expensive thing....point out to her the cost differences and that if you want X, you may have to sacrifice Y. Same with activities. She can't have everything, moneywise and timewise. And when she starts high school, her time will be even more limited.

    I agree with the other comments upthread about your daughter being realistic. I don't know what you/she mean by the glamour of skating, but if your daughter has dreams of the Olys or skating professionally, then she does need a reality check. Starting serious skating at age 12, realistically the most she can hope for is maybe an axel and some doubles by the time she is 18. If she wants to compete, she'll need to compete at No-Test until she gets an axel. Eventually, she could move up to Open Juvenile (age 14-18) which is not a qualifying level (i.e. not offered at Nationals) but would allow her to compete with kids her own age, but she would need an axel and at least a couple of doubles for that. And day-to-day skating is far from glamorous. She needs to be willing to work hard, on the same skills and exercises over and over. It sounds like she may not be willing to do that.

    Synchro is a good option to meet friends and compete as a team rather than individually. It is expensive (although the prices you mentioned seem a bit high, but I guess it depends on where you live) and most girls in my area who skate synchro do not compete individually. Most have 1 or 2 private lessons a week on moves in the field (most synchro teams have MIF test requirements) and possibly dance (not to compete, just to learn skills and test). If your daughter is committed to synchro, it's possible she could eventually be able to join a team at a high enough level to compete at synchro Sectionals or even Nationals. And many colleges have synchro teams, as well as figure skating clubs that compete in collegiate comps, which offer individual events at all levels. That could be something your daughter could look forward to someday, but it would still require a lot of practice and dedication.

    Perhaps you could sit down with your daughter and her new coach and discuss your daughter's goals. Be clear about the time and money you are willing to put in. The coach can help your daughter set realistic expectations and be honest with her about how much progress she can expect to make and what effort will be required. My recommendation is that of your daughter truly wants to compete as a singles skater, within what the coach considers realistic, then focus on that and not synchro. If your daughter really wants to skate synchro, then focus on that and have 1 or 2 private lessons to work on skating skills individually (the synchro team may even require this).

    There is nothing wrong with asking her to make choices. Given that she's not going to the Olys and isn't going to be making money from skating, there's no need to go for broke and sacrifice necessities. As others have already pointed out, she can continue to skate throughout her life - adult skating offers a place for skaters at any level.

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