Buying Your Kids' Sports Equipment on a Budget

Sports equipment can be expensive, but these tips can help you spend less on what your athletic child needs without sacrificing quality. Local cleat banks, a sports equipment exchange, reaching out on social media, or finding a used sports equipment store are all ways to save money. Plus, if you're a PSECU member and have our Founder's Rewards Card, you can earn cash back every time you swipe.

Posted by PSECU at 04/09/2024

Kids sports equip

Your child is beginning their first tee ball, soccer, or hockey season. You can’t wait to cheer for them from the stands or help coach their team, but before you become a team parent, there’s something else you must take care of: your child needs some sports equipment.

Buying kids’ sports equipment can put a major dent in your budget, depending on what sport your child plays. But we’ve compiled some ways you can purchase their equipment on a budget without sacrificing quality. Dig into our tips below and see how much you save.

Check out Local Cleat Banks and Other Free Options

If your child’s sport requires them, the first stop on your sports equipment buying tour should be the local cleat bank. A cleat bank is where people donate the cleats their kids have outgrown so that others may enjoy them for free. You’ll get gently used shoes, but most are in great shape. Children’s feet grow so quickly that most kids get only one or two seasons of use from a pair of cleats.

While not every sports league will have a cleat bank, many do. Ask someone in charge of the league if they sponsor one. If they don’t, inquire about other leagues in the area. Sometimes small leagues will share resources with a nearby town. You could also suggest to your own league that they should start a cleat bank. Some leagues also collect other used sports equipment you can sift through for cleats.

Organize a Sporting Equipment Exchange

Many parents are in the same boat as you when it comes to paying for equipment. They don’t want to spend more money than they have to for masks, gloves, or skates. Get all these parents together to have a sporting goods exchange. Here’s how to make it happen:

  • Send an invitation to all your friends with kids who play the same sports. Keep in mind that you’ll have little use for your friend’s soccer equipment if your daughter only plays basketball.
  • Outline your expectations for the exchange. People should bring their gently used sporting equipment to your house at a designated date and time. Specify that all equipment should be in good shape — you don’t want to become a repository for people’s busted skis or unraveling baseballs.
  • Specify guidelines on who can take what. For instance, it wouldn’t be fair for someone who doesn’t bring any equipment of their own to walk off with five pairs of shin guards. You may want to give people tickets in exchange for what they bring which they can exchange for other items.

Put an Appeal on Social Media

Write a post telling people what type of equipment you’re looking for. You may get suggestions from another parent with kids in your league for a discount store where they found things at a great price. Another parent may offer you their used equipment for a low rate, or perhaps a neighbor across the street has exactly what you need and can let you borrow it for free.

Find a Used Sports Equipment Store

There are a few national chains of used sporting goods stores that have retail locations in Pennsylvania. You can also find standalone shops that specialize in this type of gear.

Visit your local thrift store to check out additional possibilities. If your child is playing a sport for the first time and you’re not sure they’ll stick with it for the long haul, using older equipment is the way to go so you don’t invest big money in a short-lived hobby.

However, make sure everything you purchase meets your league’s standards. Baseball, for instance, has rules governing the size and weight of bats, and if you buy one that violates those rules, even if you didn’t know about them, your child will not be allowed to use it. It’s also important to make sure equipment is still in good working order and meets safety standards. A lower price now isn’t worth a costly injury down the road.

Ask Your Dentist or Orthodontist About Free Mouthguards

If your child plays a sport with a stick, such as hockey, field hockey, or lacrosse, they may be required to wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth. Some dental and orthodontic offices provide free mouthguards to kids as a goodwill gesture. If yours doesn’t, ask other parents in your league if they know of one that does.

Collect Coupons for Sporting Goods Stores

Many sporting goods stores use direct mail or email marketing to send out coupons, some of which can save you a significant amount of money. Go to their websites to sign up for these offers.

Buy Your Sporting Equipment With Our Cash Back Credit Card

You can increase your savings simply by using our Founder’s Card, which earns you cash back every time you swipe*. Contact us to learn more about our Founder’s Card or how to join PSECU.

Check out additional money-saving tips and resources in our Resource Center.