Budget Busters: Sports Tournaments

One of my budget busters over the last few years has been sports tournaments and new sports popping up as I develop new interests. Sports can get quite expensive, even for the frugal fitness gal like myself. I’ve tried to keep maintain a balance between cost efficiency and benefit. For example, I prefer fitness activities with the following characteristics:

  1. Around $10-13 for 2 hours of fitness at a maximum
  2. Social in some way (whether it’s before/after, a team sport, or an activity that you do with other people, but without it being on a team)
  3. Equipment cost amortized makes financial sense (I don’t really have a number for this at the moment)

At the moment, I am budgeting about $106/month between my various sports.

When I decide to try a new sport, first I absorb the cost of it out of my entertainment budget (since all of my fitness activities must be social in some way) and if I decide to stick with it and make it a regular activity, then I will add a line item in my budget for it.

But what about tournaments? These are not remotely regular (yet at least) and sometimes incur travel costs. I am currently dealing with them as follows:

  1. If the tournament is local or zero travel costs are incurred, then I absorb the cost of it out of my entertainment budget since it’s a) social and b) taking up a weekend that would have otherwise been spent being social. (General cost per occurrence: $40-90)
  2. If the tournament is not local and there are significant travel costs incurred, then I take the cost of both the tournament entry fee and traveling to the tournament out of my vacations budget. Why did I decide on this? a) the vacations budget is for traveling, which this is and either b) I’m using vacation days from work (which means I am then spending less on “actual” vacations) or c) it’s a weekend trip, which I would take out of my vacations budget.
Note that I don’t count gas in travel costs, but I do count: flights, hotels, eating out, airport cabs, and rental cars.
I think that for the situations in 1, I should start budgeting for these. So far, my data set is as follows:
  • 2010: two tournaments for a cost of $120, plus travel costs of $70
  • 2011: two tournaments for a cost of $120, with zero travel costs
  • 2012: projected three tournaments for a cost of $210, plus a travel tournament with a total cost of $800

Wow, I really just expanded my non-existent tournaments budget in 2012 and we’re only at the end of January! I think that taking the travel tournament out of my vacations budget is fair, but it does look like I should start budgeting for the non-travel tournaments, perhaps at a rate of $240 per year, which would allow for four tournaments at $60 each. That adds about $20/month to my recreation budget, making it a total of $126/month, which isn’t too bad overall since it gives me two regular sports and four tournaments per year.

Readers, how do you deal with the budget buster that is sports tournaments and new fitness activities? How do you set your sports budget?

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3 thoughts on “Budget Busters: Sports Tournaments

  1. Unfortunately, I no longer play any group sports. But I do go to a fair number of yoga and pilates type classes. These classes end up being quite expensive. If I get really into a class that is not party of my gym, I’ll cancel my gym membership. Staying fit is really important to me so I don’t mind paying for gym memberships or classes as long as I am using them regularly.

    • Making sure you’re using them regularly is key! I’ve managed to convince myself that so long as I’m actively using and enjoying it, it’s worth the cost.

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