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The Ballet Budget - By Fearless Female Traders

3 Apr 2016 4:53 PMLauren Nairne
The Ballet Budget - By Fearless Female Traders

Bryanna and I grew up as friends who competed at rival studios, we attended the same school and our mums often swaped stories at the school sports carnivals.  When Fearless Female Traders launched I was so excited and have been glued to every story, every blog post and every little money tip they have shared.  When we chatted about collaborating I was thrilled that our audience was going to get some tailored advice. Dealing with the costs of dance can be tough, but FFT are here to make things a-ok!  




5, 6, 7, 8! Heard it, live it, dance it!


From the age of 4 I started ballet lessons. By the age of 12, I was dancing up to 5 times a week, competing in eisteddfods near and far and racking up my parental IOU bill that would see them paying more in dancing fees, than my private school education. Yep, it was only recently that my mum disclosed this to me and to be honest, I was shocked...and also extremely apologetic!


It got me thinking about the performing arts industry and the financial burden it often has on families. I don’t doubt that my mum thinks about the ‘investment’ she made into my pseudo dancing career and cash she haemorrhaged to let me live out my dreams.  Similar to the wedding industry, the bill at the end of the performance is as much large as it is mythical and for those #dancemoms who love to see their child blossom on stage, this bill could be a financial nightmare! But as a colleague at work pointed out to me, “it’s not just dancing! It's extracurricular activities in general. My son’s swimming fees are more than my gym fees!” Is this extortion or an investment?




I often think about what I would put my ‘future’ kids into (that’s if I have any) and my frugal brain starts thinking joining fees, uniforms (or costumes), equipment, private lessons, instruments, trips, competition fees, attendance fees and the new 4-wheel drive I’ll need to really fill the soccer-mum role! Am I being selfish? Is there actually a sport or activity that is cheaper, easier and requires the least amount of time on your Saturday morning?


Short answer – No?


Semi-long answer – as parents, and I’m speaking as a non-parent, I get the impression that there is this inbuilt need to make your offspring happy. Not just smiles happy, but fulfilled happy – the kind that gives them discipline and direction. As a non-parent, I totally appreciate that and as a child swimmer slash dancer slash dramatic arts lover, I was never happier then when I was on the stage or in the pool. What am I doing now you ask? Well, Biomed Undergrad, MBA post-grad, Global Project Manager by trade and as far from the stage as possible. The sad truth is, when my parents separated, my mum couldn’t afford to pick up the dancing bills every month and for me, that’s where it ended. But to ensure this sob story doesn’t end on a grey note, the friends I made, discipline I learned and respect I have for teams and their leaders will stay with me forever.


Most importantly, it’s about finding the balance and“making it work”. You don’t want to let them down, but how can you give them what they want without re-mortgaging your house? Here it is, the ballet budget –

  • First Position: PRIORITISE

Putting little Sally in everything from dancing to basketball, netball to swimming is commendable but probably a little over the top both financially and physically. Really think about what it is they will enjoy and don’t be afraid of holding back.

  • Second Position: MAKE A LIST

Once you have figured out the direction, lay it all on the table. Everything! I’m talking every single item that you could possibly need for your twinkle toes, make-up, hair, tuition fees, shoes, costumes, competition fees etc. Don’t lie to yourself or lie to your budget. Once you have every possible outgoing, only then can you truly have awareness of how much this will cost you each month.


Now look at your family budget – what surplus do you have and how much of this can you contribute to the extracurricular activities? If your darling dancing fairy needs $500/month but your surplus is only $200, is dancing the right ‘activity’?

  • Third Position: PLAN

Planning ahead is really important. Generally speaking, the class timetables, eisteddfod dates and tuition fees are available in advance. This should give you the opportunity to pick which competitions you are going to participate in and the associated cost for each. Perhaps your budget will allow 1 competition a quarter with 3 new costumes. Everyone will be different so the worst thing you could do is compare your budget to someone else’s.


Ask your studio if they give discounts for early payments/ registrations. Do they have a direct debit option or perhaps a payment plan that could fit in with your family’s pay cycle.

  • Fourth Position: EVALUATE

Consider the amount of time you’re spending at the studio. Like everything in life, balance is key so attending every class, every day is only going to add to any financial stress you’re feeling at home. Not to mention make you and your little one, really bloody tired! I remember Saturday’s being my BIG dance day with up to 6 classes. Did I really need to do them all? Probably not. Did I turn out OK, well I think so!

  • Fifth Position: BE SMART

Visit Dancer’s Markets! An incredible opportunity to find what you’re looking for at massively discounted prices. If only they were around when I was dancing 15 years ago. I can’t even imagine how much money my family would have saved! New isn’t always best and given how quickly the trends change and kids grow, second-hand is definitely more economical!


If you want to hear more from Fearless Female Traders, head over to www.fearlessfemaletraders.com.au. You might just find that the tips, free advice and general female banter puts you in a position where you CAN afford the dance mum life after all!



(FFT note: The above blog is the opinion of the author only. Fearless Female Traders recommends conducting your own research and consulting a financial advisor before altering your financial situation based on the information presented)