This is a personal issue for me as my own kiddo does not fit the ideal for a dancer type body. She is tall compared to her teammates (even though at school she is one of the shortest in her freshman class) and has an hourglass shape most teen girls dream of. Traditionally, if she wanted to be serious about dance, her life would be dominated by diets trying to make herself rail thin.
I frequently hear it when out shopping for regular clothes with my daughter. If she mentions that she's a dancer to people, we often hear "I never would have guessed, you don't look like a dancer". (Yeah, rude much?)
The dance world is changing though. More and more, there seems to be a shift to healthy and strong bodies. Dancewear now comes in a wider size range and lengths and the girls that come into our store have a very "body positive" attitude. I rarely overhear talk of extra pounds they need to shed and instead hear things like the perfect set of turns they did in class or how excited they are about an upcoming performance.
Dance Spirit magazine did a wonderful article about this very subject and you can read it here.
Dance offers so many health benefits both physically and mentally, it is so wonderful to see the inclusion of strong bodies. The simple reality is good or bad, we are all judged on our appearance. I am so thankful for dance giving my daughter the confidence to be comfortable in her own skin during those crazy teenage years.
Strong = Beautiful
This is the last part of our series about being a Dance Mom on a Budget. If you missed any of the previous parts, you can catch up through the links below.
Part One Tuition
Part Two Competition Fees
Part Three Travel Expenses
For our last installment, we will be looking at ways to cut the cost of dancewear and shoes. This goes from class basics to the staples needed for your competition bag.
Booster Club - I can't stress this enough. If your studio doesn't have a booster club, look into getting one set up. Anything that is required for class such as shoes, tights, leotards, and hair pins and nets can be purchased with booster funds.
Credit Card Cash Back - I know a few moms that use cash back bonuses from a credit card to lower dancewear costs. The card they use is for dance items only and they pay it off immediately, but with the money they get back it adds up to a small discount.
Dancewear Sales - Most dancewear stores (including Dancetastic Dancewear) run sales from time to time. Try to stock up when items you use are on sale, even if you don't need them yet. Also check with local studios as they often have used dancewear sales where you can pick up some real bargains!
Group Orders - Dancetastic Dancewear works with studios placing large orders and depending on the items and brands needed, can sometimes offer discounts up to 40% off when placed in one large order. Another option is the Eurotard Dress Code Solution which offers 5% back on all purchases when a studio enrolls.
Loyalty Programs - Wherever you purchase your dancewear, check for a loyalty program of some sort. Dancetastic Dancewear has one for every $200 you spend, you get $10 off your next purchase. This is especially helpful when purchasing shoes and dancewear for the new dance year.
We hope you enjoyed our series and we would love to know your ideas for how to be a Dance Mom on a Budget!
Hotels.com - This is my personal favorite because my daughter's dance team does several competitions out of town. The prices are usually comparable (unless the competition has reserved a hotel block at a special price) and with their rewards program, you can earn a free night after 10 stays. Your team doesn't travel that much? Have several moms go in together on one hotels.com account, reserve the rooms together, split the cost, and then when you reach the reward and go to use it on the next competition stay, you can reserve together again and split the cost and everyone benefits from the reward.
HotelTonight.com - This one is not for the faint of heart. This is traveling to a destination without a hotel reservation and trusting that you will be able to find something once your there. From the hotel tonight website: HotelTonight is an online travel app that allows users to find discounted hotel accommodations throughout the Americas, Europe and Australia. Due to the last minute nature of the bookings, the app can offer deep discounts off the listed hotel rate. Since its launch in 2010, HotelTonight has been downloaded by more than 15 million users.
Several of the national hotel chains also offer a rewards program including Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and many others. If you have a favorite chain, go to their website and look for any rewards program that they might offer.
Another huge expense when traveling is meals. You have to eat, but how can you keep it from breaking the bank?
Breakfast - I always suggest staying at a hotel that offers free breakfasts, but if that is not a possibility, You can always fall back on prepackaged donuts, breakfast rolls, or the standby Pop Tarts. If that doesn't sound appealing, a cooler full of frozen breakfast bowls, sandwiches, or sausages could be the answer. As long as you have access to a microwave, there is no need to go without a hot breakfast.
Lunch - If you are at the competition during lunch, there is no need to rely on snack food or the expensive treats served at the concession stands. You can pack a lunch just as you would for school or a picnic. If you are lucky enough to be at the hotel for lunch, hot dogs, hamburgers, soup, bacon (BLT's), or any frozen dinners can be made in the microwave.
Dinner - Much like lunch at the hotel, dinners at the hotel can be most anything that can be microwaved. Spaghetti noodles can be cooked ahead of time, drained and put in a ziplock bag, and then ran under hot water to reheat. Sauce can be heated in the microwave. There are several rice or macaroni cups than can be the perfect side dish to frozen burgers or hot dogs, and vegetables can always be heated in the microwave.
If you go this route, I strongly suggest a trip to the dollar store for cheap glass bowls and plates for heating things. Disposable plates and utensils are available there as well. Your largest expense here will be coolers, but even the cheap foam ones get the job done really well.
I hope you enjoyed the third part in our series. Look for the fourth and final part next week!