School is out and the kids are home. Yeah! Well, maybe.
Whether you work from home or in the office, the phenomena of summer school vacation brings its challenges, chief among them boredom and seemingly endless spending. If you work outside the home, then summer vacation might mean childcare expenses if the kids are not old enough to be home alone. Regardless of where you work, summer vacation means finding something fun for the kids to do every day and braving the daily requests for outings and purchases. All of this means one thing—increased expenditures which can be very stressful when living on a tight budget. Without careful planning your great budget can be demolished and you can find yourself totally stressed out.
Summer school vacation will also tax your credit card discipline. Without the necessary cash on hand, it can be very tempting to charge. In fact, according to financial research companies, there is a significant nationwide jump in credit card spending during the summer months. This is a sure way to ruin your financial peace of mind.
The Summer Budget
Hopefully, you already budgeted for summer vacation expenses and saved up some cash. If your children are old enough, they should have been encouraged to set aside some of their own money from what they were saving all year to cover the costs of special activities. For instance, you take on full responsibility for the basics, of course, but if seeing every summer release is on their priority list, encourage them to use their own savings for it.
Here are 5 ways to survive the summer without going broke.
One way to navigate around the childcare issue is summer camp. It is a great way to get the kids out of the house and engaged in fun activities with their peers. They will love it, and in many cases will make social connections that last a lifetime. In fact, even if your children are old enough to stay home, they may still yearn to go to summer camp, especially sports camps. But, camps can be expensive. How do you swing it on a tight budget?
Before you enroll, research! Find scholarships and discounts, especially when you have multiple enrollees. If the kids have their hearts set on a specialty camp, this would be a good time to ask them to pitch in and make a contribution toward their summer vacation activities. Turn to your parents—the grandparents! This could be a great present for them to give to the kids. Consider cheaper alternatives, such as day camps, especially those run by nonprofits, colleges, religious institutions, and summer enrichment programs at local schools and colleges.
Take advantage of all memberships. Even if your family is small, you will reap significant savings by purchasing memberships or season passes at the most popular venues, such as amusement parks, water parks, zoos, botanical gardens, etc., even movie passes. If your family is large, buying a membership is a must. You will earn your investment back in the first visit. By the way, these venues are also candidates for summer vacation camp possibilities. Many zoos, museums and gardens have week-long day camp activities, and with your membership the enrollment fees will be affordable.
- Summer jobs
Even a young child, around the age of nine or 10 can handle a summer job, which will put cash in his or her pocket, give a taste of financial empowerment and lower the fiscal burden on you. For instance, yard work for the neighbors, such as weeding in the garden, planting, harvesting vegetables from the garden, etc. Of course there is always the lemonade stand. Washing cars. Or you can hire them to clean the house, saving you precious time that you can spend doing fun things together.
- Family vacation
Summer school vacation is also the optimum time for family vacation. If your budget is tight, consider a stay-at-home vacation. Plan daily outings to all the free events you can find. Pack your own food and drinks because even the free events can bust your budget with highly priced snacks and drinks. If you have something budgeted for the family vacation, consider staying in a vacation home or condo rather than hotel. Find a place that has a washer & dryer and full kitchen.
- Manage Your Household Expenses
When the kids are home on summer vacation, you can expect to see your utility bills rise, especially water and electricity. Also, kids around the house need to eat all the time, or so it seems. Try to train your kids on the subject of conservation, to remember to turn off lights, not waste water, and avoid the temptation to turn the house into a mini Siberia. Use timers, automatic shut-offs or smartapp devices and try to go green as much as possible.