The cost of dance...is it worth it?
Read this excellent article written by a bonafide dance dad about the cost/benefit analysis of dance (reprinted below). The Cost of Dance. Cost/benefit Analysis White Paper (thin on numbers) by a Dance Dad Money Manager, Jeff L
Cost/benefit Analysis White Paper (thin on numbers) by a Dance Dad Money Manager
By Jeff L.
When Dance Dad Gourmet asked me to contribute to his blog in the expert’s corner, I realized that there is really only one subject in which I could realistically consider myself an expert…money management. You see, I am a Financial Advisor at a large firm. I help my clients to make good decisions about their money. I specialize in investment management, retirement planning, and provider-level retirement plan consulting.
In short, clients come to me with a problem and I help them solve it. Typically, the problem (in some way) centers on turning a smaller amount of money into a larger amount of money over some period of time while accepting some level of risk.
Therefore, I would like to address the issue of the cost of dance and it’s ROI (return on investment). Don’t tune me out; I’m not going to bore you with analytics.
The truth of the matter is that the cost of dance, especially competitive dance, is quite high. Class fees, private lessons, costumes, competition entry fees, travel costs to competition, time off of work, THE DAMN STONES (!!!) etc. All of these costs add up. The further one advances as a dancer, the higher these costs become. Since it is very unlikely that any of these costs will ever be recouped financially, this becomes a cost/benefit analysis of the explicit and opportunity costs of dance.
I’ll take you through the process that I used…
When a new client comes to see me, we try to quantify the goal. It is never as simple as it would seem. Clients never seem to have a clearly defined goal. The same is true of the decision about whether to get (and keep) our daughter involved in dance, or not.
What do we want for our children? What is the goal? If we can’t quantify it, can we at least clearly identify it? I will try, and please realize that I speak only for myself and my wife (a wonderful and devoted dance mom).
We want our children to be involved with something they love to their core. We want them to live it and breathe it if that is what they wish to do. We want them to be their very best selves while they are doing it, and we want them to do this activity surrounded by people who will support them and push them to be more than they ever imagined they could be.
We want them to build discipline, skills, memories, and friends that they will take with them for their whole lives. We want them to learn to be leaders, and we want them to learn to be led.
We want them to learn how to win. And lose… gracefully.
We want them to learn to lift up their teammates, and to lean on them when they, themselves, are not strong.
We want them to do all this in a place that is safe, nurturing, loving, caring, and fun.
Above all, they need to have fun. Even when it is hard.
Wow… not asking for too much, right?
High expectations, I know. Therefore, this activity that we want our children to be involved in is going to require pretty special teachers. These people are going to need to have infinite patience, but they can’t be pushovers. They need to be the best at their craft, but they need to know how to communicate their knowledge to young children in a way that builds the child up… not in a way that makes them scared to fail.
It will require the teacher to love our children.
That is quite a job description.
We were fortunate to have found a place that can provide all of these things for our daughter at her dance studio. She has been dancing since she was three and is now seven. This is her second season of competitive dance and her first as a member of the minis on the top competition team.
I have seen her blossom in the last 12 months from a shy, wonderfully sweet five-year-old who would barely speak above a whisper to those whom she was not familiar with, into a silly, sweet, wonderfully funny seven-year-old who constantly sings opera (she’s doing it right now), and solo dances freestyle in the middle of Noodles & Company to music that only she can hear. Seriously… that just happened at dinner the other night.
She loves her dance family, and we love them, too. We trust completely those entrusted to care for, teach, and lead our daughter. We have met a group of parents that are as devoted to encouraging their children’s dreams as we are, and they are wonderful to be around. They lift us up.
Longwinded, I know. It had to be, because the goal could not be easily quantified into a dollars and cents value. Rather, we need to think of the true cost of dance in terms of opportunity cost. If you are not familiar with the concept, opportunity cost is defined as what you would be giving up by making or not making a given decision.
In this cost benefit analysis, I need to weigh the explicit cost in dollars and cents versus all of the growth and potential (as a person, not as a dancer) that I see in my daughter (the opportunity cost). This is not a calculation that can be done on a spreadsheet or a financial calculator, and therefore takes me somewhat out of my comfort zone. This is also not a decision made to grow a smaller amount of money into a larger amount of money over a period of time. For my family, though, this investment is reaping tremendous dividends. The dividends cannot be spent (and if they could be spent, we would likely have to use them to buy MORE DAMN STONES (!!!)).
Instead, this “investment” in dance is building a child who is confident, strong, physically fit, and has a work ethic that would seem impossible for a seven year old to have. Dance is helping to mold her into a child who sticks up for her friends, speaks confidently to grown-ups, and is strong enough to not always follow the crowd if she knows something is wrong.
These are things that are invaluable. These are things that will help her to become the type of person I pray she will be. These are things whose benefits are far more important than their costs.