For our family, summer promises fun, a break, a vacation, and relaxation. We can plant flowers, grow gardens, spend time at our local farmer’s market, and travel.
But summer can be expensive for families who try to “do it all.” Along with some planned activities, unexpected summer fun can pop up out of nowhere – and so can the expenses! Here’s how you can manage the finances of your family’s summer fun without breaking the bank.
1. Prepare for the Unexpected!
Already having cash stashed away for both planned and unexpected summer fun is a great feeling. Even if you can only put away $20 each month, you would still have the pool membership covered, or all of the kids’ summer activity fees covered, perhaps. Of course, if you can put away more, great! If you haven’t already started, begin saving a monthly amount for the summer goals like vacations and family parties. We use the goals feature at Betterment.com to automatically save for different categories each month. It keeps us on track and automates our savings each month.
2. Create a Spending Plan for Vacations
You may have an aversion to budgets, but you probably also dislike credit card payments too. In order to avoid paying for your summer fun long after it is over, plan how much cash to spend and stick to it.
If your summer budget feels tight, don’t give up just yet! Here are a couple ideas to help you save money while having fun this summer:
- Staycations. Due to the recent downturn in the economy, many families choose to take time off from work and stay home for vacation. If you enjoy working on your home but never have the time, a staycation could be a great opportunity to tackle DIY projects without feeling pressured to work around your busy work schedule.
- Plan a trip to a fairly close destination. People who live far away in other states might just visit your area for vacation! So, how about you find those local attractions, and enjoy them yourself? Pretend you are a tourist in your own area, visit the hotels and pick up brochures of where “tourists” go when they visit. Or, plan an overnight trip to a state park nearby and camp out or rent a cabin.
- Look for deals. If you can be flexible with travel dates and times, “name your own price” sites like Priceline.com can save you hundreds of dollars. If you can travel on very short notice, you can score some great deals too. Planning trips around non-peak travel dates can give you the most for your rewards miles as well. We recently combined miles from our American airlines rewards card and Hilton hotel card for a vacation in the Caribbean. The only thing we’ll need to pay for is food!
3. Weigh the Benefits of All-Inclusive Vacations
For some families, all-inclusive vacation deals prove to be an incredible value. Knowing the cost upfront, paying for it, and then being done with the money part of it all, allows everyone (especially the parents) to relax and enjoy their vacation. If you have teenagers who eat more than their share to fill up their growing bodies, or adventurous family members who want to try everything once, or a few in the family who will sign up for every spa treatment available, then all-inclusive vacations could be your best bet.
4. Keep Saving Money Once You Are There
If you do find somewhere to go that is affordable, keep your eyes open for deals at your destination too. Look for restaurants that offer early bird specials, take advantage of kids eat free deals, and search through your entertainment book for deals to use as well.
Of course, you can always save by packing your own food for the day at the beach or a park. The more you can stock up at grocery stores rather than stopping at convenience stores, the more money you will save.
Whatever you do, enjoy the summer and make memories!
What do you plan on doing this summer? How do you plan on making it more affordable for your family?