Start Saving Now.

I love saving money. Over the years there were times when money seemed scarce, allusive, or desirable. I take great pride, in my ability to spot a good deal. Sure, companies help me with this by announcing how much I’d be saving if I buy now instead of later, but as a business owner I’d fallen into the trap of enrollment season looking like a marketplace in Southern Nigeria. Everyone wants to barter, but unlike a true marketplace, no one though to bring their best goods to the market. Below I’m giving my 5 best tips for saving money on online kid’s activities without having to trade your prize goat.

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Tip #1 Use Your FSA

Does your employer offer a Flex Spending Account? If so, talk to your accountant about whether your child’s online educational activities are tax-deductible. Every year around tax season I get love letters from parents trying to sort their receipts and hoping that I’ll have record of how much they spent on classes. Because Choreography by Rae offers a variety of movement classes most parents can submit their receipts to the FSA for reimbursement. If your FSA is employer-funded, then you could be looking at a sizeable reimbursement.

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Tip #2 Look for State Funding

Are you a family fully committed to Homeschooling? Many states offer educational funding for homeschoolers. If your child is enrolled in a Home School Charter School talk to your school about applying homeschool funding to their online classes. Even if your child isn’t enrolled in a Home School Charter School, it’s still worthwhile to look into your state’s requirements and incentives for homeschooling. According to The Mom Trotter, the state of California provided families with more than $1,000 towards home school educational expenses. For some families, this funding means more opportunities for their children to explore different interests or even get academic support.

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Tip #3 Look for Hidden Deals

Sure 50% off sales are appealing, but fire sales can be unpredictable. Instead, look for hidden deals or perks. At Choreography by Rae students get more than the classes they paid for. Families have access to free exclusive events including dance parties, chess tournaments, and the occasional complimentary class. Parents don’t have to worry about paying more money for activities when schools are closed. This can be a big help for parents who don’t get to finish work early due to a teacher planning day. These parents know that our special event is available for their kiddo and there’s no extra fee. Does your kid’s new hobby require dance shoes, special computer software, what about a uniform? Look at what’s included. Chances are if your online program is offering a tasting menu, it will be far cheaper than purchasing à la carte.

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Tip # 4 Pay More. Save More!

Stop looking for Cash discounts! While some businesses offer a discount for cash payments, Choreography by Rae simply doesn’t. Sure, we like cash, but we don’t believe that a cash discount is in the best interest of our families. There’s the back and forth negotiating price, and back when we offered only in-person lessons, there was that nervous walk from the bank to the studio as parents hoped they were bringing the correct amount.

If you have the cash to make the payment, then make that money work for you. Some studios offer a discount for payment in full upfront. Do you have a credit card with 0% APR or a low APR? Putting the tuition payment on a credit card that offers cashback and a low-interest rate can be a game-changer. Tuition is paid and if you pay off the credit card balance by the end of the month you aren’t paying interest on your child’s activities. Remember you used a card that offers cashback rewards. Now, you have the cashback from your purchase which can be anywhere from 1% to 5%, and you just did something nice for your credit report. Another bonus is you didn’t miss out on getting your kid signed up for classes because you were waiting on a holiday sale.

If your credit card has a high-interest rate and you know you won’t pay off the balance right away, then you’ll want to speak with a financial advisor before putting anything on those credit cards.

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Tip #5 Plan Ahead

Does your family take a vacation at the same time every year? Do you know school closure dates months in advance? Look at programming that will allow your child to develop their skills while still being flexible enough for your changing schedule. Online classes can travel with you on that vacation. Commit to in-person activities that compliment your child’s online learning schedule. If the soccer season is only 3 months, it makes more sense to find a soccer program that doesn’t conflict with your 6 month or 1-year online program. Some online programs also make class recordings available when your kid misses class. It’s rare to get a class recording for in-person activities and if you are allowed to do a makeup day, sometimes trying to fit that into your child’s schedule ends up being a big headache

The best way to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to online learning is to plan ahead. It might take a little time in the beginning, but in the long run it will save you both time and money. By using resources already available to you like an FSA, checking into resources you are eligible for (state Funding), calculating what’s included in your child’s tuition (hidden deals), using cashback rewards, and signing up for activities that require fewer reenrollment periods are great ways to save money– no bartering skills required.

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