One of the biggest challenges that many coaches and parents face at the start of every cheer season is overcoming unexpected budget cuts. Usually, cheerleading has little to no funding from schools, which means participation is mostly out-of-pocket at the expense of the parents. When the small amount of money that is afforded to cheer teams gets sliced even further, team sacrifices have to be made. Coaches have to really weigh decisions, like canceling cheer camp (or changing its location), shopping around for the most affordable cheer gear deals, getting a cheer custom look without the custom price tag, and really upping team fundraising efforts. As stressful as all of this sounds, there are many ways to work through budget cuts. Knowing where to cut corners and save a few extra bucks is all about making a solid game plan, starting early, and shopping smart. Setting a realistic budget and knowing how much you can spend for the year or the season is something you should be brainstorming about well before the cheer season even begins. Your budget should always be in the back of your mind while shopping. It will help deter you from making any impulsive purchases. Making a list of the items you need versus what want not only will help you stick to your budget, but will also assist in keeping you well organized. One of the best parts of making a list of your wants and needs, is that once the items that are absolutely needed are purchased and taken care of, you already have your list of extra accessories and wanted items on standby. When shopping around for deals or promotions, keep an eye out for companies who offer packages. From uniforms to warmups to practice wear, some companies offer package deals. By buying more, you can spend less and actually save! Usually a package includes at least one whole “look’ or outfit‚ a full set of warmups, two sets of practice wear, a uniform skirt and top, and bodyliner. Additionally, a package may include a free gift, like socks or briefs, or some other item as incentives for purchasing packages as opposed to individual items. Packages are great options for coaches purchasing for an entire team. Some popular packages are camp wear packages, accessory packages, uniform packages, and, of course, warmup packages. A great way to save and have a completely custom look without going over your budget is opting for sublimation. Sublimated uniforms and warmups are completely customized to fit your needs. Everything from the design, to colors, to logos are completely customizable. Some companies even offer introductory specials and packages for these items as well. A good way to get some insight on these promos and deals is to shop companies that guarantee the lowest prices; companies that offer such a guarantee will list the details on their website, or even their social media accounts. You can also try signing up for email clubs. That way, you are immediately notified when deals and promotions are announced! Lastly, I cannot stress enough the importance of fundraising! Fundraising is an important aspect to any cheer squad. Being creative while also picking the best time to fundraise will gain you the most earnings for your squad. Many squads use fundraisers such as, scratch-off donation cards, and have had a lot of success with them! Fun”d”2Raise makes cards that supporters scratch off to reveal how much they will donate to your squad. The amounts range from $0.75 to $3.00‚ which is convenient because many people will have that amount in their pocket! It might not seem like a huge amount, but each completed card brings in $250.00 for your team, and they only cost $5.00 each. You could do these on their own, or use them at another fundraiser you already have planned‚ like a car wash or bake sale. Bottom line: don’t let budget cuts ruin your next cheer season. You have options! Have you worked through budget cuts? What are your tips for other coaches or parents who are facing budget cuts? Share your story in the comments!