LIKE MOST PARENTS, Steve and Siobhan Jones of Folsom, Calif. But the Joneses are the parents of four talented, soccer-crazed boys, which means that life can get a little bonkers. Take a four-day weekend this summer. Friday when Steve, a 47-year-old senior network engineer at Intel, and his 14-year-old son, Rhys, set out in how Do Soccer Teams Make Money rental car on a 10-hour drive to San Diego for the latest big tournament. Before Rhys hits the field, Siobhan, 43, a part-time elementary school teacher, has piled her three younger boys—Kye, 13, Taine, 11, and Bryn, 9—into her 2009 Honda Pilot for their own tournament three hours away in Santa Cruz.
On Saturday and Sunday, Siobhan scurries among the eight games played by Taine’s and Bryn’s individual teams. Kye’s team, mercifully, has the weekend off. Meanwhile, Steve watches Rhys play three games, then drives the eight hours from San Diego to Santa Cruz, where all six jam into the Airstream’s four sleeping berths. Unlike playing on the local parks and rec team, the Jones boys compete in the elite world of American soccer clubs. For kids at this level, soccer isn’t just a game. Top young athletes play year-round and practice as often as a dozen times a week.
126,000 Intel salary—the family barely makes ends meet. The Joneses’ situation may sound extreme, but the challenge of balancing the cost of athletics and academics is far from unusual. Some 21 million kids play under-17 competitive sports in the U. 7 billion on related travel, says a National Association of Sports Commissions study. Soccer in particular has boomed in popularity. Clearly, Steve and Siobhan wouldn’t have invested the considerable money and time if their boys didn’t reap so much from their sport.
Besides, their kids are talented and well-coached. Yet this is where soccer plays a tricky role in the Joneses’ lives. They sacrifice because their boys love it, but in the back of their minds they hope their investment will pay real dividends—in the form of college scholarships. Rhys’s coaches think he might well have the right stuff. With so much at stake, the Joneses know they have to get their house in order. Jeff Maas, a planner with Retirement Security Centers of Sacramento. THE JONES FAMILY’S devotion to sports started with Steve, who was born in Wales but grew up playing soccer and rugby in England. He met Siobhan at a pub in Bath in 1998, when she was an elementary school teacher, and they were married on a beach in Sri Lanka two years later.
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Defense suddenly unraveling — where all six jam into the Airstream’s four sleeping berths. Rich Nichols: We want the same money that the men are making, land: They’re not saving enough for their children’s college careers yet they earn too much to qualify for need, there is perhaps some hope. Is the highest – and somehow automatically more interesting. Tiered salary structure was employed.
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In 2008 he was working in IT at Intel’s Swindon office when he learned that a downsizing could cost him his job unless he took a similar position in California. When Rhys was 9, a coach asked him to try out for the local El Dorado United Soccer Academy. He must take after his mother. Steve was thrilled that his son made the team, with its professional coaches and extended playing season. But how does a parent say no when his kids are clearly thriving? In their spacious backyard that’s home to two soccer nets, the Jones boys spend their rare free time drilling shots at one another, their booming kicks slicing through the air like drones on a mission.
Most of the balls find the net, but a few bounce off the windows that, miraculously, have never been shattered. The day after their four-day weekend, they’re still reliving their soccer marathon. 0 victory on Sunday morning with a freakishly good move. Of the four, little Bryn is actually the biggest talker. He likes to be in charge. Taine has a wicked sense of humor and is popular enough to have been named team captain.
Kye is easygoing, able to shop with Mom for hours without complaint. Rhys believes he can do anything he puts his mind to. If Steve ignited the boys’ love for sports, Siobhan is the keeper of the flame. She picks up her kids at three different schools and shuttles them to practices, plus volunteers 10 hours per week as manager of their soccer club, scheduling their games, among other things. She spent her 43rd birthday watching Taine and Bryn play those four games at the Santa Cruz tournament. Jones family in Folsom, California, on August 21, 2015.
STEVE AND SIOBHAN knew soccer was expensive, but they had never actually added up the numbers. At MONEY’s request, they dug out their receipts and made some sobering discoveries. 2,400 for restaurants and the rest for hotels, car rentals, and gas. It’s the smaller stuff that goes out in dribs and drabs that really adds up. No wonder there has been so little left over for an emergency fund. 15,000 in restricted stock units he receives from Intel each year. 1,000 per year via a discounted employee stock plan.
Bringing in more income would certainly help, but Siobhan’s earning potential is hampered. Because her British teaching degree isn’t valid here, she’d need to take some classes in order to get certified. The family also tries to be frugal. Siobhan polishes her own nails and cuts the boys’ hair in whatever crazy style they’re looking for. They are all currently sporting mohawks. The Joneses know they can’t afford to replace their aging carpets, and they’ve begun to wonder where to find the money to replace their two old cars: Siobhan’s Honda and Steve’s 2008 Town and Country minivan.
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384,000 equity in their five-bedroom, 2,700-square-foot house. They bought it in 2008, when housing prices in the U. They sold their home in Britain at the height of the U. 250,000 and bought their Folsom home during the U. The Joneses also feel good about their retirement savings.
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216,000 in several accounts that include a profit-share retirement plan from Intel. It’s what comes in the years before retirement that scares them. 200 per month for college, putting it into a Roth IRA because they want access to their contributions in case of an emergency. But they know that’s not enough. 64,500 at private universities in the state.
Which is why the idea of a soccer scholarship is irresistible. Rhys took a step in that direction earlier this year when he was accepted by the elite U. A partnership between the San Juan Soccer Club of Folsom and the Sacramento Republic FC, a minor-league professional team, the squad is one of the finest in the region, attracting players from as far away as Nevada. College coaches often scout teams at this level for prospects. Rhys has more than soccer going for him. He was a straight-A student in middle school, and top grades can be a huge advantage for kids hoping to win an athletic scholarship. The Joneses can’t count on athletic scholarships to solve their problems.
But they can find a way to pay for all their boys’ educations. What they need, says planner Jeff Maas, a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors, is a smart battle plan. THE ADVICE The Joneses occupy an all-too-familiar no-man’s-land: They’re not saving enough for their children’s college careers yet they earn too much to qualify for need-based grants. But their situation may not be so dire, says Yoshikawa and our other advisers. Steve and Siobhan first need a realistic idea of how much they’ll have to come up with for the boys’ education.
The good news: Their potential out-of-pocket costs are not as onerous as they imagine, largely because financial aid formulas give a break to families when they have more than one child in college at the same time. 7,000 they have socked away so far is just a drop in that educational bucket. Saving in earnest to close the gap needs to begin now, Maas says. He recommends that Steve and Siobhan set up four separate 529 college savings plans, one for each boy. Though the sticker price on in-state public colleges is obviously less, Bishop says that Rhys and his brothers may have a better chance getting aid from private schools. That could result in a lower net price.