Skates, practice clothes, bags, gloves, book covers, blade guards.
Year end pizza party.
A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money. How do you
At some rinks, they'll trade volunteer hours for practice ice coupons. It's not exactly "free" because it costs you time, but it's a great way to cover practice ice cost. (Let's hope the IRS doesn't catch on.) Do me a favor and be righteous: don't sell your free coupons to non-volunteers at a discount. (Here's how you can tell someone is doing this-- they monitor FAR more than the number of sessions their skater is actually using.) Don't take your free coupons but not actually show up for your monitor time. Don't show up and "monitor" when there's already a monitor there. Don't sign in as a monitor and then sit in the stands. (Don't ask where I observed all these behaviors.)
Concession stand, junior coaching, really coaching, working at the local skate shop, rink guard, even babysitting. Many skaters, teen and adult, take the edge off the cost by taking on extra jobs specifically to cover skating expenses. Parents will sometimes do this as well. It's a lot to do for your kid, but it's better than putting everything on the credit card, or cashing in a 401k.
Sometimes pros will have their older or higher test students teach or supervise their younger students, and will knock a little off the bill for this. This also helps the parents of the younger students, who may (should) be charged a lower fee for that time.
Ask your pro if your skater can share lesson time with other kids at her/his level for some lessons.
In other words, a special "fund" just for skating. This might be an extra $5 or $10 or $15 a week. It might be that every time you pay a skating bill, you stick $10 in a box. Or make it a dollar each time you go to the rink, or a hundred dollars every time your skater is in a test or competition. You'll be amazed at how quickly this will add up. This is a great way to make sure you have the funds when you need new skates, or for an out of town competition, or that pesky synchro bill.
Putting the kid to work
Not really helping financially, but a lot of skating families make younger kids "earn" their skating time. They put specific monetary values on extra household chores and pay the kid in private scrip, redeemable for lessons, skates, practice ice, etc.
How do you help cover skating costs?