kids sports equipment

One of the big expenses that I dread when it comes to kids is all of their sports equipment. That stuff is EXPENSIVE! Hundreds of dollars can easily get dumped into bikes, uniforms, gloves. Don't even get me started on what you can expect to pay if your kid happens to be into horseback riding or ice hockey. Fortunately, there are a few ways to corral the spending. Here are my top tips for saving on kids sports equipment.

Buy used. Most of this stuff just gets used for one season, anyway. Check out local consignment shops, garage sales and eBay for huge discounts on gently used items. At the same time, however, you should be aware of when not to buy used. Safety equipment or stuff that gets really, really sweaty is best bought new for health reasons. You wouldn't buy a used car seat, would you? You don't know what the previous person has put that gear through, and you need to make sure that all the necessary safety restraints are still intact.

Sell your own used stuff. Really. You don't need to hold on to eight bowling balls, a bow/arrow set and three pairs of tap shoes. If your kid has outgrown it or moved permanently on to a new hobby, sell their old stuff to help fund their new pastime. You can usually sell it directly at consignment sales or on Craigslist.

Buy out of season. The best time to get football gear is right when basketball season starts. Have a swimmer in the family? Stock up on underwater stuff at the end of summer, when retailers are clearing the shelves to make room for fall items.

Look for multi-purpose items. Kids don't need a different pair of gloves for skiing and snowboarding or different cleats for soccer and baseball. Try to buy items that will serve double duty whenever possible.

Do your homework. Check store ads for upcoming sales and don't leave home without looking for a coupon for your local sports store. If you're buying equipment online, you can usually find discounts with a simple Google search.

Do you have any good tips? How do you minimize costs for your kids hobbies?