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Offline FigureSpins

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Expect the Expenses
« on: May 11, 2017, 11:10:36 AM »
Figure Skating is an expensive sport.  Somehow, the expenses are more palatable when know about them in advance.

To that end, let's list what expenses to expect (and budget for) each season!
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Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2017, 11:24:42 AM »
Skates should be the first thing.  Skaters fit into three categories: fast, moderate and minimal growth.

I'd estimate that skaters under 11 years of age grow the fastest.  They often have growth spurts during the winter holidays and over the summer.  (I think it's because they get more rest. My mother used to say we outgrew our shoes in our sleep. ;-) )  These skaters often outgrow their skates before they outskate them or wear them down.  Plan on two pairs of skates each season.

Pre-teens to mid-teens have slower growth, so they can get a year out of their skates unless they're slamming jumps or putting in a lot of ice time skating instead of chatting.  (Over 10 hours/week - is that a good cutoff?)  In that case, the skates are getting a lot more use, so expect to replace them every 6-8 months or so when they start to "break down."  (Replacing laces and using duct tape can help extend the boot's life.)  The good news is that blades can often be moved to new boots, so that's a savings for the higher-level skate purchases.

Skaters who have minimal-to-no-growth (late teens, adults) can have a pair of boots last a long, long time, especially if they're not putting in a lot of ice time.  That's not always a good thing; sometimes, they need a stiffer boot or a better blade to advance in their skating, but they put it off because skates are so expensive.  Skaters who aren't growing but put in the hours or are hard on their skates (jumps, weight and usage) should expect to replace the skates when they break down.  Break down varies by usage and abusage® - when I skated 12 hrs a week, my skates broke down in about 6-8 months.  They still fit and were the right level, but the support was shot.

Just a word to the wise.
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Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2017, 11:30:38 AM »
Next item: Memberships

If you compete or test, you have to budget for membership with the ISI, LTS USA or US Figure Skating (USFSA), depending on what your plans are for the season.

Most people join the USFSA via a local skating club membership.  Most club memberships include the ISI, LTS USA or USFSA membership as part of the club membership fee.  There's usually a small fee to offset the costs of websites/online registrations, social events, exhibitions/shows, tests, competitions and other members activities.  Members typically get first dibs at registering for events and out-of-club guest fees for test sessions are waived.

For activities that incur additional costs, such as club ice, clinics/workshops/classes, you'll have to pay registration fees in addition to the membership.
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Offline mamabear

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2017, 11:34:25 AM »
Ice time-which is so highly variable but for my family it looks like this

Annually-I buy a public skate pass for myself and one for my son
Monthly-I buy a free skate pass for my daughter
Every other month-I buy a free skate punch card for myself and for my son


Offline lutefisk

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2017, 12:54:50 PM »
Don't forget lessons and/or coaching.  I don't do group lessons but I do take a 30 minute coached lesson each week.  Now, there's 52 weeks in a year; allowing for annual vacations for you and your coach (probably your vacation and the coach's won't happen during the same weeks), so -4, and allowing for the occasional scheduling hicups: an asteroid making a direct hit on the rink's compressor, the flu, etc. let's say another -3; so potentially 45 lessons per year.  45 x $30.00 = $1350.00 per year whether you and your broke-down adult skates get a "pass" or "retry"!

And of course there are test fees, competition entry fees, traveling expenses, "voluntary" donations to the team's fund raising raffle basket(s), replacement shoe strings, replacement bunga-pads, hip pads, knee pads, elbow pads, ice halos, and despite all that, visits to the chiropractor.  Don't forget sharpening fees, replacement hard and soft guards and I haven't even touched on the expensive topics of "blade envy" (gotta have those blades suitable only for Olympians) or "bling envy"-- ( new costumes and more crystals).  Yep, taint cheap McGee.  Some days I think it's almost as expensive as yacht racing.

Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2017, 12:58:34 PM »
This is the BEST figure skater's discussion board, not my personal blog.  (Plus, I'm in a conference call and I need to pay attention so I can't keep making things up.)

Thank you for adding to the discussion - your contributions are appreciated!  Keep those expense items coming, members!
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Offline amy1984

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2017, 01:24:17 PM »
Apparel.  Both practice and competition.  Both of these can be pricey.  I actually would rather not know what I've spent on fleece lined tights over the past few years.

Offline ChristyRN

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2017, 08:14:59 PM »
Medical bills. Because no matter how careful you are, you're going to fall and injure something. Or you're going to over use and wear down joints.

Medication. I live on naprosyn. Otherwise, I don't function.
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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2017, 08:20:01 PM »
Insoles.

Just sayin' I probably spent $80 going through various insoles until I settled on Superfeet yellow.

And a boot punch $80. I take my boot fit VERY seriously.

Pads.  I like skting safe.

Helmet-Ice Halo

Wrist Guards.
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Offline tstop4me

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2017, 08:50:56 PM »
Don't forget about the cost of gas and wear-and-tear on the car going to and from the rink.

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2017, 10:21:14 PM »
I actually find it a bit easier to handle when I don't add up all the expenses and look at the numbers. ;D I've learned that there are a lot of ways to do this sport and a really wide range of price points. How much you spend depends on what path you choose. It may not be the most comforting thing to realize that in this sport, your progress is somewhat tied to your spending. Obviously there are exceptions to that, but it's mostly true. The more you train, the better your equipment and the better maintained it is, the more you can progress (all things being equal). All of that requires an investment of both time and money.

The time investment is probably the most unexpected. When you are taking a child to one class per week at a very reasonable time, you don't imagine that eventually it'll be 5 days a week, many hours at a time, and some of that will require you waking up at 4am. It really becomes a lifestyle and requires a very flexible schedule or lots of help.


Offline fsk8r

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2017, 11:35:11 PM »
Competition expenses - entry fees, travel, food, accommodation and most important coaching fee.
They're not cheap and it all adds up.

There's also the fee for getting music cut. My coach will sometimes do it for free if she's got time, but quite often I have to pay someone to do it as I'm not competent with the editing software.



Offline Query

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2017, 01:30:42 AM »
I think you need to specify what level you are talking about.

I was told a long time ago that the top end competitors, who take multiple lessons every day, and travel to a new comp more or less every week, often out of country, spend $50 - $60K / year. Especially if you count the people (I met one) who paid for a Russian dance partner to come and stay here. Prices haven't probably gone up, too, so it's even worse.

But that is extreme. Like world champions and wannabees for same.

Even at a lower level, a lot of people leave out driving expenses - driving to ice, to lessons, to the pro shop, and for ladies, to the dress shops and dress makers - at about $0.50/mile total driving expenses, it builds up very fast.

Now I work at a local rink, and skate free, and am not taking lessons. I sharpen my own blades, and manage my own equipment. I bought one pair of skates about 13 years ago, and the other, I got more or less free, because I volunteered with a LTS program. I bought a bunch of runners at $110/pair for my interchangeable blade mounts, many years ago, and haven't run out. The rink doesn't pay me much, but it probably more or less covers my current skating expenses, which are basically just driving. I really should get a good pair of custom-fit skates, because the old ones are broken down, and the ones I got more or less free are too big, stiff and heavy, but I haven't. And I could use a few lessons.

I'm also doing various exercises and strength training at a local gym, which costs $315/year to belong (it includes a swimming pool and hot tub) - but it is next to the ice rink. There is another gym close to where I live, and as a "senior", in my county, I can go for free.

So basically - I'm close to breaking even. But only because I'm economizing.

I know a little girl whose parents pay for about 3 private lessons / day, with good coaches, and drives fairly long distances to get there. She also goes to the gym, and does dance and gymnastics. Let's say $120 - $150 /day. She gets nice clothing too, and is at a stage where she grows out of things. She is also dealing with a lot of medical problems, maybe because she does so much physical activity. She sees doctors rather often. So let us say $150 - $200 / day, almost 365 days/year... about $50K - $73K / year. Because of all those medical problems, she probably won't reach the highest levels, but her parents are fairly wealthy, and are willing to go for it.

In short - it all depends. Expenses can go very cheap if you want them too - and the sky is the limit if you don't.

Offline Leif

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2017, 05:21:56 AM »
Admittedly I wear hockey skates, but there's a lot in common.

Skating at least three times a week.
Admission £8.70, £10 and £6.
Locker hire 2 x £1.
Travel: 2 x15 miles per trip, costing £3 fuel, so maybe £15 per week total cost including wear on car.

So the above alone makes about £40 per week, or nearly 50 USD. Add on skates (£240), ice hockey clothing (£400), protective clothing during public skating sessions (£100), and it is not cheap.

Good point about exercise. I'm thinking about doing yoga to get my aged aching body into a more supple form.

But it's worth the cost.  :)

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2017, 05:27:56 AM »
Oh, yeah, the cost of sharpening.  In my area, decent sharpeners charge from $20-35.   I'm paying $25 currently.  I stretch out the intervals between sharpenings by hand-honing once a week.  It's not so much the expense that bugs me, it's the hassle.

Offline LunarSkater

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2017, 05:49:50 AM »
Show fees.

At my rink, we have to pay to sign up for the holiday show. How much you pay depends on if you're LTS or in the 'regular' numbers. Then there's the costume fee. And the additional ice time for practice, possibly more lessons to learn a solo number (if you aren't able to manage it during your regular one), coaching fees. All the normal expenses multiplied.

Oh, and though it's not monetary, you can't forget the emotional cost of dealing with the inevitable drama.

Offline Leif

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2017, 07:17:10 AM »
Oh, yeah, the cost of sharpening.  In my area, decent sharpeners charge from $20-35.   I'm paying $25 currently.  I stretch out the intervals between sharpenings by hand-honing once a week.  It's not so much the expense that bugs me, it's the hassle.

That is expensive, I pay £6, which is roughly 7 USD. If you have the readies, you could always get a home sharpener:

https://www.sparxhockey.com/pages/products

You could get some money back by sharpening for others, albeit it might be too much hassle depending on where they live. Sadly the unit is not (yet) available in the UK.

Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2017, 09:01:00 AM »
Don't forget sharpening fees, replacement hard and soft guards <snip>

Oh, yeah, the cost of sharpening. 

Guards and soakers offset the number of sharpenings, so it's a balancing act, right?  The better care you give your blades, the longer they last, thereby saving money.
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Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2017, 09:05:14 AM »
One non-skating group I volunteered with appreciated our "Time, talent and treasure."  Rather than just contributing money, they asked us to help with events, lead a committee or group, volunteer to help clean the facility.  (No paid cleaning staff at the non-profit.) 

We have a wonderful adult skater who always offers to help at our club events.  She goes well beyond the requested number of volunteer hours, so in addition to a discount off her membership the following year, she also earns a rebate on test and competition fees.  I honestly don't think she does it for the monetary benefits, but she definitely earns them!  (She loves being at events and interacting with the skaters.)  One family used to prepare the hand-out programs for our competitions and take care of the printing.  It was a standalone task that saved the committee a lot of work and could be done in the volunteers' spare time rather than in a set time/place.  There are a lot of ways to volunteer.

I wish ice rentals weren't as expensive, but I understand that the cost of running the rink is pricey so it has to be done.  Back in the 1980's, you could rent an hour of ice time for $100 in the middle of the night.  Now, the cost is at least double, if not triple.

In NJ, many of the rinks were run by Parks Departments, so they were tax-supported.  I guess that's why ISI competition entry fees were only $20-25/event.  There was a competition every month through the spring and summer and most skaters entered multiple events for a small additional fee. 

Now, with $55-95 entry fees for LTS USA/Non-Qual events, I advise the families to plan on 2-3 competitions instead of every one.  I also suggest they skate a second event (like Compulsories or Jumps/Spins) at one or two competitions for an additional $25-45, especially if it's a distant competition. 
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Offline tstop4me

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2017, 11:38:20 AM »
Guards and soakers offset the number of sharpenings, so it's a balancing act, right?  The better care you give your blades, the longer they last, thereby saving money.


For sure.  I slip off my hard guards right before I step on the ice, park them by a hockey box, and then slip them on once I step off the ice.  I also use two pairs of soakers:  at the end of a session, I wipe the boots and blades, and slip on soakers 1; at home, I remove the soakers 1, wipe the boots and blades again, and slip on soakers 2.  So I'm babying those blades as much as practical.  With long-wearing 440C stainless blades and weekly hand-honing, I've extended the interval between sharpenings to ~60 hrs of ice time.  I'm also careful with the hard guards and soakers.  My current ones are plain vanilla, didn't cost much, are ~4 yrs old, and still OK, so they're a relatively minor expense for me.  I know other skaters who buy more expensive ones (mainly for bling) and wear them out much faster.

Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2017, 12:28:27 PM »
To help skaters feel prepared right before an important event, it's smart to temporarily increase the number of practice sessions and lessons in the last 2-3 weeks prior to the test, show or competition.  Their skating improves and their confidence grows as well.  They're more calm and focused prior to taking the ice because they know they've prepared well.  (IME - YMMV)

Is the recommendation still 2-3 hours of practice for every half-hour lesson? 
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Offline Hwmsr

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2017, 01:03:12 PM »
I took a LTS group lesson at the local ice rink. With the lesson, I get 2 free passes for public sessions and $5 per session afterwards during the lesson time frame (6 weeks). I love it! Otherwise, the general public session is $10 and coffee club ( no kids session) is $15.
I was thinking about taking a ballet/dance class to complement with my ice dancing lessons.

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2017, 04:11:12 PM »
I took a LTS group lesson at the local ice rink. With the lesson, I get 2 free passes for public sessions and $5 per session afterwards during the lesson time frame (6 weeks). I love it! Otherwise, the general public session is $10 and coffee club ( no kids session) is $15.
I was thinking about taking a ballet/dance class to complement with my ice dancing lessons.

Wow, that's a good deal.  At my rink, it's one free public session pass/LTS group lesson. 

Offline skategeek

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2017, 04:21:04 PM »
Wow, that's a good deal.  At my rink, it's one free public session pass/LTS group lesson.

At mine, I think it works out to $18 per LTS class, plus access to all public sessions while you're enrolled.  (Possibly excluding the Friday night DJ Skate.)

Offline icedancer

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Re: Expect the Expenses
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2017, 05:30:51 PM »
At mine, I think it works out to $18 per LTS class, plus access to all public sessions while you're enrolled.  (Possibly excluding the Friday night DJ Skate.)

We have the same deal except it is about $12 for each class and then all of the publics - not sure about the DJ night skate but that probably would be included!

We do have an expensive sport and looking back there were some times when I spent a LOT of money/month to skate compete and test and do synchro - becoming a judge has cost we some especially in the beginning before I had my first appointment -

At this point I am not taking lessons or participating in shows or competitions or tests - and I spend about $50/month on skating (I take a class - it is a figures class but we are going to expand what I do at the class to include dance turns and edges because I need to keep challenging that and the coach is into the individualized approach to the class!) - I keep going because it is so good for my physical and mental health!