It is a new year with a new team, and, of course, that means a new budget! The economy continues to improve year over year, and people are spending money, but not as much as they were before the 2008 market crash. This means you might be working with a little less than the high price tag attached to cheerleading. We all know cheerleading can be an expensive sport, and with parents and authority figures not being as charitable for recessional activities, you might have to start getting creative with fundraising to make your season work. If a school employs you, you may have noticed budget cuts, or maybe you finally have a budget due to cheerleading being classified as a sport! Whichever the case, more or less money, the first thing you need to do as a coach is prioritize where the money needs to go. Making a list of all expenses is a great way to start. List out all team and gym costs: new mats, uniforms, transportation, competition costs, etc. If you have enough money to cover all the things you want/need, awesome; if not, you need to make some hard decisions. Look at your list, and prioritize what is a “want’ and what is a “need’. For example, do you need new mats this year, or can you hold off for another year? Now that you have your priorities in line, do you have enough money to cover all these costs, or do you need to make additional cutbacks? If you do need to make some cutbacks, look at your priority list and see where you can start getting creative. If transportation is big part of your budget, think outside the box. Can you have parents drive instead of chartering a bus? If you are renting gym time, talk to other gyms, work out agreements to possibly cut costs, or talk to a gym about a potential sponsorship. You can also talk to your team about fundraising. Competitions can be very expensive with travel cost, like flights and hotel rooms; call the airlines and hotel and see if the offer group rates to help with costs and check out deal website to see if you can find cheaper rates. Competitions are really where you do not want to cut cost. Your team works hard to compete in these competitions, and you want your team to have as many opportunities to compete. However, sometimes money is tight, and you have to make the hard choice to cut back on the number of competitions this year. Ask your team to rate the competitions from 1-10, and then budget out the top competitions your team chose to compete in. Let your team know the deadlines for registration and cost for the other competitions, and try and fundraise to come up with the cost before the deadline. You can use social media to get the word out about your campaigns, and as those competition deadlines near, see if you raised enough to be able join. Budget cuts are hard on everyone. You want to do what is best for your team, and making cuts to dealing with a tight budget is a necessary evil. Just keep organized, and really look at your list of expenses. You want your budget changes to affect the team as little as possible. As the coach, you do have to make the tough choices, but take a fresh look at your expenses and consider cheaper alternatives, as well as more effective fundraising techniques. How else can cheer coaches adjust to new team budgets? Share your cost-cutting tips in the comments!