February 16, 2011

How To: Keep That Budget LOW!

As mentioned previously (in this post: How To Budget Your Skating, and make it work), there are many many elements which make up a figure skating budget. However, I'm sure you were already aware of that!

Keeping budgets as low as they can go will give you more freedom, and let's face it, who doesn't enjoy not constantly being border-line over-budget? The worrying, the making ends meet, the innocent expectation in your child's face, not the mention the arguments. If you can have one less thing to worry about, then all the better.
That's what this post is about. We're going to look at each facet of skating, and learn how to number crunch to keep things cheap! O.k, well maybe not cheap, but manageable at least.

1) Coaching.
Be realistic about your child's needs. If they are beginning, they don't need an ex-international-performer of a coach. Keep the hours of lessons reasonable too, and don't underestimate the importance of solo practice. If you can instil the idea of hard work and discipline in your child now, you (and your child) will reap the rewards later, both financially and ethically.

Top-notch coach: approx. $100/hr
Regular coach: approx. $40/hr
In 1 week, with one hour of coaching per day, you save a total of: 60 x 5 = $300!

2) Choreography.
Low-level skaters most likely don't need a separate choreographer. Most coaches know the rulebook well and are more than capable of designing a great little program for your skating star. Choreographers have a huge role to play in serious skating, but until your kid is off to regionals, or more, this is probably an excessive spend.

Approx. hourly rate of a choreographer (level and area dependent): upto $100/hr.
Let's say for good measure you need 4 hours of choreography to complete a program.
You save a total of: $400!

3) Music editing.
This is an important element, and obviously the more complicated the cut, the harder it's going to be to make it work seamlessly. There are entire businesses dedicated to this line of work within our industry, but you might not have to go as far as hiring a professional.
Most rinks have someone who does the majority of this type of work. Ask around, ask your pro, ask other parents, chances are you'll come across someone who does it for a small remuneration, more out of the love of our sport and the will to help people.
The other possibility is to ask a computer-savvy family member or friend. I have used OpenSource (thus free) software Audacity for years, with great success.

Some companies, for one music cut, charge in excess of: $110.
DIY and you save: $110+!
Hire your rink's resident music-cutter and you save: approx. $60!

4) Costumes.
This is the big 'un. For one season you're probably looking at anywhere between 2 to 4 new outfits (short and long, gala performance, plus one for that extra special event). Many options are at your disposal, and you may have already used some if not all of them. Custom made dresses can range from under 100 bucks to several thousands, depending on who is designing and constructing the outfit. Like music cutting, most rinks have a go-to person who designs many of the outfits at your club. They are generally more reasonably priced than buying from the large pre-made costume companies such as Sharene! or Jerrys, but watch out as if you have your outfit custom made you need to factor in the cost of materials and labour.

The obvious choice for rock-bottom priced outfits is to make them yourself. You'd be surprised how easy this can be if you have the slightest interest in sewing, and it is oh-so rewarding! You can buy a basic skating outfit pattern for around $10, and purchase cheap good quality fabrics from online retailers (who don't have the overheads a shop does). For more information about sewing your outfits from scratch, see my many posts on making your own skating dresses and costumes:

If that seems a little too daunting for you, try and embellish the outfit yourself. This will save on many hours of labour costs as this is often the most time consuming part of skating dress construction! There are endless possibilities regarding embellishment (from plastic to crystal, sequins to rhinestones, pearls and lace, to mention just a few). Check out this post on dress adornment for more information on this topic. Buy your notions online and in large quantities to save big bucks, and opt for the lesser rhinestone if you're making a testing outfit rather than a nationals outfit.

Shop bought outfits will set you back between: $150 - $1000
Designer outfits will cost you approx.: $1000+
Custom-made by local dressmaker could see you spent: $80-200
DIY from top to bottom will save you: $40 - $1000's!
DIY your embellishment could save you: $10 - $100's!

5) Training outfits.
Buy online or at outlet stores, to avoid paying department store price-tags for clothing that will be used and abused in cold temperatures and dirty ice rinks. Whether your kid is obsessed with the latest NIKE design or not will tell you to what extent you'll have difficulty dressing them in last-season gear, but the prices will be incomparable, so explain to them plainly what the difference in money will mean. Sign up for eBay Daily Deals atleast once a week I receive some sort of sportswear deal through my inbox.

Designer tracksuit: approx. $100
Outlet designer tracksuit: approx. $30
You save: $70!

6) Hair accessories.
I buy all my crystal pins, donuts, kirbys, and slides on eBay, from Hong Kong or China. I have some stunning Swarovski crystal-headed bobby pins which look stunning on a bun or in a french roll, that I bought for just $6 for a pack of 6! Check out the My-Jewels store, Neoglory Jewelry or Venus Jewelry for inspiration.

Shop-bought crystal barrette: approx. $45
Online retail-bought crystal barrette: $10
You save: $35!!

Hopefully these few ideas will help you keep your budget low this season! Please get in touch via the comments box below, the Facebook page, or on Twitter, and let me know how you keep your budget in check!

Until next time, happy skating & saving!

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