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Build Your Bowling Budget

It might be a good idea to build a bowling budget. You can track expenses for your bowling year that you might be able to offset against possible future income from leagues and tournaments. Start by allocating money for each month during your league season to be spent on league fees, practice, equipment and pro shop services. Make sure to include any special events you might participate in such as tournaments or charity fund raisers which require an entry fee or donation.

A spreadsheet is a good way to track projected expenses and possible income for the entire tax year. This may help you plan for a new bowling ball purchase or for new bowling shoes. Also you will know exactly how you are doing in relation to budget so you avoid potential overspending. In addition, some of these expenses may be tax deductible against bowling earnings.

In bowling tournaments where prizes in excess of $600.00 are awarded to entrants, a 1099 IRS Income Form is issued to the winner(s) while the tournament promoters report the payouts to the IRS. League bowlers compete for prizes which are typically not reported to the IRS on an individual basis. These prizes are generally considered recreational by the IRS. Normally, your league income alone may not exceed $600.00 per season but it is still wise to track expenses as possible deductions if you also earn revenue from tournaments which do report individual earnings as income via IRS 1099 forms.

If you compete in tournaments and earn prizes, you are wise to keep track of justifiable expenses such as entry fees, practice expenses, travel expenses, food, lodging, equipment purchases, bowling practice linage and pro shop services related to the events you enter during the year. Organization membership fees are also justifiable expenses if income is generated through the given organization.

A benefit of establishing a bowling budget is to make sure you plan for expenses other than weekly league fees or practice money. You may wish to factor in transportation costs such as fuel to and from the bowling centers, cost of maintaining league apparel, as well as pro shop services and equipment purchases. Knowing how much you really spend for a recreational endeavor such as bowling can be helpful when planning how you and your family will spend discretionary income.

There are bowlers who routinely compete in two or three leagues each week. If we use an example case where a bowler competes in three weekly leagues, we can forecast how much money this bowler will spend during the week. If the league fees average $20.00 per league each week, as example, that amounts to $240.00 per month spent on league fees alone or $1920.00 for a 32 week league season.

If this same bowler travels on average round-trip to the bowling centers 15 miles per league, that would be 45 miles per week and 180 miles per month. If this bowler uses a vehicle getting 20 miles per gallon of gas at an average cost of $3.50 per gallon, then the expense for transportation to and from the bowling centers would be an estimated $31.50 per month in fuel costs.

Before considering possible pro shop service expenses for resurfacing bowling balls or for bowling ball maintenance supplies, the cost to bowl in three leagues for our example bowler is about $270.00 plus per month.

Factor in the occasional expense for other accessory items such as bowling tape or a new bowling towel, a new bowling ball or shoes and a bag, the average cost could approach $300 per month or somewhere in the vicinity of $2200.00 - $2400.00 per fall league season.

If this bowler also competes in summer leagues, then the yearly total exceeds this amount. As you can see from this example, the expenses add up. Toss in practice games throughout the year and the occasional tournament you might bowl, the total cost of supporting your recreational bowling likely needs to be recorded on your bowling budget spreadsheet.

Imagine those bowlers traveling every year to bowl in the USBC National tournament and the associated costs of spending from 3 - 5 days time for that venture. Add the cost of this event on top of your league costs, practice costs, goods and services costs and you can really spend some money.

The IRS considers gambling income a type of income which may be subject to Federal/State income tax, as set forth by the IRS.  It is recommended you address this notion of a bowling budget and allowable deductions against earnings from bowling with your tax accountant. There may be some deductions you are entitled to originating from your routine bowling endeavors which could reduce your taxable bowling income.

Take a small amount of time each week and make entries onto your budget spreadsheet so you know precisely where your money is distributed for bowling.

No information in this article is intended as tax advice. You should consult your personal tax accountant regarding any possible expense deductions that you may be able to take against bowling earnings when preparing your state or federal income tax return.