While I donít like the idea that Martial Arts is some luxury that can simply be given up, everyone must face the fact that in times when money is tight and training is often one of the many things on the chopping block.
Unfortunately, in addition to wealth, our personal health and well-being is equally important in life. Itís been proven time and time again, it cost more to be sick and preventive actions (such as proper diet and exercise) may be a bit more expensive now but in the long-run will cost us less in terms of medical bills and livelihood. And as anyone who has studied Martial Arts for some period of time, you just feel better doing Martial Arts. Itís not only good physical exercise, itís also good for stress relief (something we need a lot of during difficult times) and clarity of thought.
If youíre among the many trying to figure out how to fit your training into your ever tightening budget, here are some tips you might be able to look into:
- Reduce the number of times youíre actually at the school. You donít have to practically live in the school to train. If youíre going more than one day a week, consider consolidating it to one day. If you train in multiple disciplines, take a look at the schoolís schedule and narrow it down to one day or maybe just one discipline in which is most important to you. A single trip to the school will not only keep you active but also help cut down on the driving and time cost associated with training.
- Share the cost. Chances are youíre not the only one struggling with paying for things. Talk with some of your fellow classmates. Is there a book youíre all interested in purchasing? Perhaps you can all chip in for one copy and then share it.
- Alternate training times. Some schools are starting to look at different ways to train in part because of the raising difficulties in being able to support a school. Talk with your teacher. There may be other options which are available to you that you can keep up your training at a lower cost.
- Create a Martial Arts fund. If thereís something special like an upcoming ceremony and event youíd like to attend, start creating a fund for it. Save money into it daily. It doesnít have to be a lot. For instance, you can forego that cup of coffee or that extra dinner out this week. Set aside the money you donít spend, apart from any money you normally touch or have to go into. Even open up a special bank account for it if you must.
- Save that uniform. Do you really need to buy that new uniform, etc? With children especially who grow quickly out of their uniforms, perhaps itís worthwhile to talk to the other mothers in the school and find a way where there can be a way to buy second-hand uniforms from their growing children.
- Relax on that belt. In almost every discipline and school, there is a large emphasis on attaining level and rank. With that comes an additional expense for testing. While I donít encourage people to stay at the same rank indefinitely, it might be worthwhile for a short period of time to delay that testing until finances are stronger (or use the fund method above). Realize this may mean you wonít progress or learn as quickly as your fellow students. This isnít a race; you are staying in training to help keep you healthy and for your well-being. Not to be the first at something.
Times are tough for everyone. Remember, just as youíre struggling, so is your teacher. There are many expenses associated with having a legitimate training program and facility. Undoubtedly they are feeling the pinch just as you are. Thus, they may be limited in what they can do to provide any help in cutting down the cost.
If none of the options work out, you may need to take a leave of absence. One of the best ways to make sure you donít lose touch with your training all together is setup a goal with your teacher to agree to check in with one another after a set period of time. If you must, write a note/contract and hold each other to that contact. The best way to make sure you return to training is to have a definite plan to getting back involved. Meanwhile, while youíre away from the school, try to set a personal schedule in which you are still training at some regular intervals. It will make returning that much easier.
Stay strong. Train hard.