Part of the credit counseling process is creating a budget that works. It’s important to take into account everything that one spends and keep it in mind when budgeting. That means keeping your budget flexible for different times of year. Summer is the time when families look to get away, spend time outdoors, and keep the kids’ minds engaged until they go back to school. Here are some quick tips for budgeting for summer fun:
- Cookouts: Get some sun while cooking for the whole family. This is a good chance to teach the kids how to help with cooking and food preparation.
Budget Advice: Dining out is 5 times more expensive than cooking for yourself. Prepare everything from scratch and you’ll automatically save.
- Crafting: Turn your kids into “makers” and let them learn to build and create things. A craft project engages the child’s brain and is healthier for them than sitting around watching television.
Budget Advice: Every inexpensive crafting project is another toy you won’t need to buy. See if there is a makerspace in your area that offers inexpensive activities and maker kits for kids. Get your kids started on an inexpensive hobby that will grow their potential.
- The Library: The mall or local multiplex will gladly host your kids, but nothing there will be free or educational. And who knows whom they’ll be hanging out with. Stick with the local library to keep your kids reading even during their off months.
Budget Advice: The library is cheaper than buying books, toys, and video games. Your kids will go back to school in the fall with a head start because they exercised their minds during the off season. Also look at local museums to see if they have low-cost special events or discounts for kids during the summer.
- Gardening: Getting into gardening doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can plant edibles that will bear fresh vegetables for your family during the fall months. Good things to plant in late summer include beets, broccoli, carrots, and various kinds of greens.
Budget Advice: Growing your own food will help your budget, and it’s a good activity for the kids. Use it to teach them how to be self sufficient and responsible for taking care of something. Plus it gets everyone outside, doing something healthy. And depending on how you place your garden, you might even enhance your property values.
- Vacations: Getting away for a week or a few days is the centerpiece of the summer for many families.
Budget Advice: There are as many ways to save on vacationing as there are vacation ideas. Here are a few:
- Go App shopping—there are free smartphone apps that can help you find coupons and discounts for meals and activities while on your trip. Also, before your trip look at daily deal sites like Groupon, but set your location to the city you’ll be visiting.
- Get a whole house—if enough of you are traveling, and you are staying long enough, consider renting an entire vacation house rather than a suite of hotel rooms. Airbnb is another option that might suit your needs while costing you less.
- Plan—you already plan your budget, right? When on vacation, you should plan everything else as well. Meals, activities… anywhere you go without a plan, you’ll spend more.
If you already have a debt hangover from your last vacation, credit counseling can help you pay down those balances and make your next family trip stress-free. Call for a free session with a certified counselor and get budgeting and debt advice from a pro!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melinda Opperman is an exceptional educator who lives and breathes the creation and implementation of innovate ways to motivate and educate community members and students about financial literacy. Melinda is part of the team at credit.org and has over 19 years experience in the industry.