Summer is right around the corner, and while the kids may jump for joy as it arrives, it can be a difficult time for parents when money is tight. There seems to be an endless marketing cycle of expensive camps and theme parks on your social media feed. Or you may feel pressured to “keep up” with other families that spend a fortune on the season. Yet there are endless opportunities during the summer to have fun, keep the kids busy, and save money. We can’t truly connect and have a great time if we are filled with anxiety over our budgets. Put the credit cards down and dig into these ideas for a more satisfying, economical summer.
Have a Garage Sale
Begin with the ultimate way to go in the opposite direction of running up more debt. Instead of spending money, MAKE money with a garage sale! Who said going big on cleaning up was just for Spring? Embark on a Summer de-clutter project and include the whole family. Throw in some real motivation and tell the kids what you intend on putting the garage sale money towards. Maybe a trip to the local water park! Let them help setup, take money and make change, and if they love to craft, let them try to sell their creations! You’ll earn instead of spending AND the kids will learn loads about organizing, budgeting, and pricing!
Hit the Library
Make it a point to get involved with your local public library. Almost all public libraries have summer reading programs for kids. Get them participating early in the summer and the library trip can become an entire FREE outing that you can count on each week!
Pick Your Own Fruit
Check out your lock U-Pick farm! Get the kids in touch with the earth by letting them enjoy picking their own healthy summer fruit. Localharvest.org is a great resource to find a farm close to you. Berries are a big hit during the summer. Why not grab your haul and….
Get in the Kitchen
Take the bounty of strawberries, raspberries, & blueberries and get to baking! Ingredients for pie crusts are very inexpensive and yield a ton of summer sweetness. Grab a recipe and let the kids help with each step. The process of picking and cooking your own food is an inexpensive yet priceless experience for young ones, and it takes care of dessert for a few days!
Giving back to your community is a rewarding experience. Introduce your children to spending some of their free time this summer volunteering. From visiting a nursing home to picking up trash at your local park or beach, there are several appropriate ways for children to volunteer their time. Aiming to do this regularly over the summer can help segue the giving mindset into a lifelong practice. These rich experiences offer a lot to talk about too, so don’t forget to take the time to ask your child how they felt about it and get feedback. Letting them help choose how where to give their time is a great way to keep them motivated to keep it up. A great resource for finding volunteering opportunities is https://www.justserve.org/.
Budgeting 101 – Kid Style
Summer brings a host of chores that there may not be time for during the school year. Monetize chores that go beyond your child’s baseline household responsibilities Washing the car, mowing the lawn, the list goes on and on. This is a great opportunity to start a formal saving and budgeting program with your child, as well as saving money yourself on these usually expensive services. Set an affordable but fair amount for each chore and get a jump on teaching your child the relationship between work and money. Help them store their earnings in separate, clear jars or piggy banks. Consider three: one for saving, one for spending, and one for sharing (charity). Let them choose an appropriate summer spend goal (things like movie tickets or ice cream shop trips are a good idea). When the spending jar reaches that amount, celebrate by taking them to their goal destination!
Involve the Neighbors
Have neighbors with similarly aged kids? Consider setting up a “kid swap”. Switch off once or twice a week. Parents all have different skills. Maybe your neighbor is awesome at arts and crafts, but you are better with fun science projects. Offer the kids mini “camp” experiences and pay in trade! It’s inexpensive and creates a sense of community. After all, it takes a village!
There are endless additional ways to have fun this summer without breaking the bank. Many towns have free summer movies in the park and museums offer free or reduced rate entrance during the week. From bike rides to slip-n-slides, remember to keep fun at the forefront of your family summer this year!