Breaking News…Hockey Is Expensive
Youth hockey is expensive in both time and money. It takes a whole family commitment to have kids play youth hockey from 3-4 years old up to and through high school. If you don’t have kids that play, let me tell you about it. There are a lot of early mornings, long rides, and eating on the road. If you have multiple kids, you basically only see your spouse in passing as you are forced to divide and conquer. There are very few off days. Not even blizzards and a pandemic have been able to stop youth hockey!
The cost of hockey is a whole other story. Of course, there is the tuition which typically runs a few thousand dollars each year (ice is expensive). But the tuition is just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to tuition, there is gear, clinics, tournaments, hotels, travel, spring and summer teams, skate sharpenings, tape, dining out, team dinners/parties, and so much more. If you have a friend that has kids that play hockey, check out their Venmo account. You will inevitably see a lot of hockey sticks, puck, and net emojis.
Our Family’s Bill
Ours are 15 and 13 now. Our oldest started when he was 4, and our youngest 3. So we have been in the youth hockey business for 11 years, the last 10 with both boys playing. It is those ten that I will use for this post.
Our boys have been lucky to be part of great programs and teams. They have had a lot of success, and with that success comes a cost. The better you are, the more opportunities you have, and the more money you spend. Hockey has taken our family all over the east coast, to all parts of Canada, and the USA’s Midwest. Our kids have played in 11 states and at least 5 Canadian cities that I can think of right now. They both play in some capacity year-round. Oh, did I mention that my children are huge, grow like weeds, and need new equipment just about yearly? Well, they do! To give you an example, my younger son broke his stick in the middle of a recent game. As the game was going on, I went to the pro-shop, and $280 later, my son had a new stick. WTF!
Before I go any further, let me say that we are blessed to allow our kids to play this and other sports. My wife and I have good jobs with steady paychecks in a stable field. I know that this is not the case for everyone, especially during this past year, so I wanted to make sure that we realize our “problem” is a lucky one to have.
That being said, I estimate that we spend about $10,000 per year on hockey for my two boys. Some years are more and some less. I would venture to say that this is probably a little low, but it makes math easier. If we take the $10,000/year estimate over the past 10 years, we are looking at a $100,000 hockey-related bill.
You are probably thinking I just messed up. I just said we spend $100,000 over the past 10 years, but my post title says that we spent $190,000. You are right, but I am getting to that now.
The $90,000 diffrece lies in opportunity cost. Over that same ten-year period, the S&P 500 has returned 13.6% annually. I chose the S&P because that is what I typically invest in, so had we not spent the money on hockey, it most likely would have gone into a low-cost index fund that tracks the S&P 500. You can see in the graph if we contributed $833/month over the past 10 years, that money would have grown to $190,000. I love the power of compounding, but in this case, it makes me a little sad.
We Wouldn’t Change A Thing
We must be nuts, but we wouldn’t change a thing. Money is personal, and how we choose to spend it is our choice to make. How I value my time and money will be different from yours, and it is our choice alone as to how we spend it.
Despite the lost opportunity cost of the dollars alone, hockey has brought us so much joy. My kids love to play the game, and we love to watch it. They have learned things by playing hockey that they would never have learned from school or us. Hockey has given us time, experiences, and memories with our kids that money could never buy. My wife and I are acutely aware that this will end one day, sooner than we think. We cherish each time we get to see them skate. We are two of the only parents that still go into the rink and watch practice. Over the past few weeks, we have spent hours on the pond near our house, watching them skate alone and with friends. Every second we get to see them play is a gift that $90,000 could never buy. I mean, look at those faces!