Refer a friend. Many children’s centers —especially newer ones looking to grow— rely on referrals and reward parents who make them. If they don’t offer you a thank you discount, politely request one, and tell them there are more referrals to come.
Pay yearly. If you know your child is committed to an activity, paying the entire fee annually can net you a nice discount. If they don’t offer, ask.
Package deals. Some organizations offer package deals outright; Others will negotiate. Ask for a discount on classes if you are enrolling multiple kids, or booking a birthday party or enrolling in camp.
Non-Profit organizations. The YMCA offers financial aid and says it never turns away a family in need. There are at least 4,000 Boys and Girls Clubs across America and some charge as little as $5 a year.
Internship programs. An older child may be able to get an unpaid internship. The unpaid ones are required, by law, to be educational. Sure your son or daughter won’t get paid, but you won’t have to pay either.
Groups that fundraise. Groups that actively engage children in raising funds for the group are sometimes more affordable. For example, Girl Scouts sell cookies and Camp Fire Girls sell candy and the money they raise helps subsidize the group.
Free trials. Not sure a particular hobby is going to stick with your child? Ask about free trials often available in hopes of getting you hooked. You save money two ways: by starting out for free and by having the chance to bail, if your child loses interest.
Coach the team. If you’d like to volunteer to coach your child’s team, ask if their fee can be waived as informal compensation for your time.
City/County programs. Local governments sometimes offer surprisingly rich programming, often through their departments of parks and recreation. For example, in addition to sports, Washington DC’s Department of Parks and Recreation has offered foreign languages, engineering and ballet to kids.