It’s that time of the year again! Back to school shopping, back to school supply buying, back to school budget blowing. With all the items you need to purchase for the school year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and overly busy.
Stick to your back to school budget with these tips on how to avoid back to school budget woes and how to save on back to school shopping. If you do plan to spend a bit of extra money on an item, be sure to check if it has a lifetime warranty like these 20 back to school supplies.
Don’t let the seasonal onslaught of fees and to-do lists keep you from getting your kids involved in music. Though music classes may seem like just an additional cost, studies show children (and adults!) who play instruments are more likely to:
- Excel in studies
- Work better in teams
- Have higher critical thinking skills
- Stay in school, and
- Attend college
Whether you’re aiming for private lessons or simply hoping to get your kiddo involved in the school band, there are a few things that can make learning an instrument incredibly affordable.
Before you start your search
Before searching for instruments, keep in mind most kids have a learning curve. During the middle school years, children’s brains are wired for growth, so they’ll often change preferences many times as they find what best fits their budding personalities.
You may have a child who dabbles in music for a few months and loses interest, or one who gets fired up about playing and ends up in the high school marching band. Regardless of the outcome, it’s best to start with a cheap instrument for any budding musicians. That way your wallet won’t take a huge hit if your child quits, or you can upgrade in a few years if they decide to stick with it.
How do you find the best bets for your hard-earned bucks? Here are a few ways to save money on musical instruments that make the pursuit of music affordable and accessible. These tips can help you save hundreds of dollars over the life of your little musician while ensuring they have a quality instrument on which to learn.
Tip #1: Pick an inexpensive instrument
If you’re on a strict budget, it may be smart to pick an instrument that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The humble recorder is a great starter instrument that you can buy for under $10. Clarinets, saxophones, and flutes are a big step up from the recorder, but are considered to be the least expensive instruments for budding musicians.
Also affordable are ukeleles, which cost less than $20 when bought brand new. With dozens of learn-at-home tutorials available for free online, strumming on a little uke is a great way to learn the basic chords which easily transition to acoustic, electric, and bass guitar, should your tot show extreme interest in strings.
Tip #2: Borrow an instrument
Your child’s school may have a program where kids can borrow an instrument for a set price, which is usually very reasonable ($15-$25), or for no cost.
However, some schools run on a first-come, first-served basis or may place instruments according to a student’s financial needs. In some schools, the instruments aren’t well-maintained, or may be too big for the student. This situation may or may not work for your child, but is worth looking into.
Tip #3: Shout-out via social
You may be surprised to discover how many friends have old instruments sitting around in their attics. Post on your social streams and seek a little musical crowdsourcing. Ask if anyone has any instruments they’d be willing to loan your kid and see what comes up. If you’re flexible with what you find, or have another old instrument you can offer as a trade, it’s possible you’ll get a killer deal in exchange.
When borrowing from friends, consider creating a simple contract so you both understand the terms of the trade. You don’t want disharmony to come between you and your friends — especially over something like a musical instrument!
Tip #4: Rent an instrument
Renting is a smart option when your child is just starting out. There’s very little investment if they decide not to continue, and some stores have a rent-to-own policy.
Call several music stores in your area and make sure they carry the instrument you’re interested in, as well as compare rental prices at each store. Make sure to ask if the instrument is maintained for free if there are any needed repairs and if insurance is included in the rental fee. If these fees are separate, they can add up in the end.
Tip #5: Buy an instrument
If your child tries an instrument for three months or so and wants to continue, buying is a great option. Here are four ways you may be able to score a deal on a musical instrument:
1. Purchase used equipment
Buying a used instrument is a smart way to save money on musical equipment. Check online sites such as Amazon and eBay. If you decide to make a purchase, make sure the reseller rating is high, and determine whether you can return the instrument if it’s not what you want.
If you decide to buy locally, try Craigslist. If you find an instrument you want to buy, take a friend along for safety and thoroughly check the instrument for any broken parts.
Check yard sales too. You may be surprised to find a used saxophone that your neighbor’s kid never played! You can also check pawn shops for used instruments, just make sure you know your price point before you shop.
2. Research prices online
Conduct an Internet search for your item, such as “used clarinet price.” You’ll get a good idea of what a used instrument is worth, and this makes a great starting point for reference.
3. Check competing stores
Check independent music shops in your area to see if they offer a better price. Print out any prices you’ve found online and bring them into the shop as they may be willing to price match. Sometimes you can find a hidden gem with an amazing price.
4. Use your network
Mention the instrument you’re looking for on local meetup boards, or share the details of your instrument hunt on Facebook and Twitter. Even if no one in your social stream has what you want, they may know of someone who can connect you with a great deal.
With so many great ways to get a good deal on musical instruments, you’ll be enjoying live tunes played right in your living room in no time at all. As your child practices with their new talent, remember how worthwhile this skill is. It may be hard to listen to awkward squawks as they learn how to play, but a little patience (and a lot of practice!) goes a long way toward a life-enriching experience.
Your turn! Have a money-saving tip for us? We’d love to know a few of your secrets for saving on musical instruments. Leave us a comment below and share what you know!
Looking for more back to school tips, guides, and inspiration? Check these out!