Summer is just around the corner. That means one thing; children are out of school and it’s time for a summer vacation! Summer is a great time for children to have fun and to spend time together as a family.
It also presents the challenge of budgeting for events to fill up the summer. You want everyone in your family to enjoy all that summer brings, but it can be a stress on the budget. If you need to fill the dog days of summer with activities, the below tips should help you score big on fun and low on budgetary stress.
Book Summer Camps Now
Going to summer camp is a rite of passage for many young children. They get to enjoy many activities in a group environment, and it’s helpful for families where both parents work.
There’s one small problem. Summer camps can be quite expensive. The average summer camp can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 per week. This can add up if you need your child in camp for multiple weeks or you have multiple children.
Booking in advance is one great way to mitigate cost. “…if you know in advance your child wants to attend a summer camp, sign up early. Typically, early registration offers a significantly discounted price,” says Chelsea Hudson, Senior Public Relations Officer of deal site TopCashBack.com.
What if you’ve missed out on early enrollee discounts? Hudson suggests asking about additional, unadvertised discounts. “Ask about volunteering your time at the camp to receive a discount, such as running an activity, doing administrative work or anything else you think could be helpful.” Be creative, and you may be surprised at what kind of discount you may find.
Find Free Activities to Do
It’s easy to fill the summer with costly activities for your family. If you live in a relatively large city, you may find there are opportunities to have fun at a significant discount. There are many resources available to help you find such events. “County, city and town websites offer calendars of events featuring family-friendly activities. You can also follow your city on social media to learn about upcoming events and discounts,” says Kendal Perez, Savings Expert at CouponSherpa.com.
Don’t stop with those resources. There are many other cheap, or greatly reduced outlets to save money, such as:
- Your local library
- Local parks
- Bowling alleys with free bowl days for kids
- Theaters offering discount movie days for school children
The first two options commonly offer free programs for local children and who doesn’t love a round of bowling or a good movie in an air-conditioned theater during the heat of the day. If you’re going to be outside, Perez recommends bringing drinks and a packed lunch to save additional money.
Make A Plan for Each Week
We are creatures of habit. Children are no different. Children like structure, whether they know it or not, and it’s easy for them to go stir crazy without the structure that a typical school day provides.
A great way to provide structure is to plan each week. “To cut down on time spent planning activities for kids, make a weekly plan or create a routine, so everyone knows what to expect,” says Perez.
She says this can even go as far as making each day a special day. For example, you could make Monday ‘Park Day’ and Tuesday ‘Movie Day’ – in accordance with some of the free or cheap activities mentioned above. You may find that a little bit of work on the front end will make the days much better for all involved.
Include Children on Summer Vacation Plans
Summer vacation is a rite of passage for many families. They can also put stress on the budget. Take time to plan out your vacation, including the children so they can be a part of the fun and learn how to balance budgeting with doing something fun.
A trip to Disney or the nearest amusement park may be fun, but it may also be cost prohibitive. If that’s the case, look for alternative options like state parks or a road trip to a nearby city you’ve always wanted to visit.
Staying in a hotel is always fun, but it doesn’t feel like home. Instead, look for a house rental through VRBO or Airbnb. It provides more of a “homey” feel to the vacation and lets you prepare meals at the rental, helping you save more money.
Summer is a great time of the year, but it can also be very hectic. With a little work and creativity, you can cut down on the cost, but not the fun.