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The summer money pit

May 23rd, 2017 at 01:05 am

The kids start summer vacation on Friday. Gah! I'm so stressed out. We seem to eat through money while the kids are on break. All the extra activities, and meals, and I don't even know what!

Maybe all my careful planning and budgeting goes out the window from stress.

What do you do to keep from hemorrhaging money while the kids are out of school???

10 Responses to “The summer money pit”

  1. snafu Says:

    If you're a 'list' maker, this is the best time to research the free or nearly free, age appropriate activities available in your community. For example, what programs are offered by your libraries, parks and recreation, festivals, ethnic events etc? Next list go room by room, looking for items no longer used or needed...possibly candidates to sell on local FB or CraigsList to pay for swim lessons or community, age appropriate, sport participation. What chores would DKs enjoy doing?' When our guys were young it was typical to have a 'job chart,' kids could choose their daily chore. Our guys thought it was so interesting to make bread from scratch and it sure is cheap to make.

  2. Laura S. Says:

    Snafu has great suggestions. My kids are grown, but my grandkids are moving by me this summer. I found the local parks have different activities (craft day, olympics etc). I also found the zoo is free on Mondays. I know in the past some nationwide bowling centers and movie theaters had free weekly bowling/movies (AMF and AMC I believe). I always had my kids (and plan to continue with the grandkids) do an hour of reading/math/writing four days per week as well.

  3. LuckyRobin Says:

    The first thing I would do is take the kids to the library and have them check out some books. Our library has a summer reading contest for kids. If you read so many books in the summer you get a prize at the end. Perhaps yours has something similar. Either way, tell your kids they have a goal of reading at least one book a week. Even if they aren't good readers, it helps them to get closer to being one. While at the library check out if they have any events. Mine has a Friday Brown Bag Lunch on the Library Lawn all summer. They have a children's entertainer of some sort every Friday for an hour or two and people bring sack lunches and blankets and it is a lot of fun.

    My town also does movies in the park one night a week all summer. They are free and family friendly. Look to see if your town does anything like that.

    Stop by your town's visitor center. While you think you might know everything there is to do, they may surprise you with new things or off the wall things you've never heard of. In our town this is how we found out about the Toy Railroad Museum and the Radio Museum which has all the machines that recorded and played sound over the years, including some impressive Victrolas and early ham operator radios and primitive walkie talkies. We have a touch tank down by the bay where kids can go and touch sea plants and it is free. We have a fish hatchery where you can go and look at the fish, no charge. Our museum doesn't charge for entry, though I know many do.

    In my state kids can fish without a license until they are 16. If your state is the same you could take them fishing. As long as you aren't fishing yourself, you don't need a license either. We even have an area of one creek where only kids are allowed to fish.

    We have rivers, lakes, streams, and the bay, all areas that are fun to explore with kids. Looking at tide pools was something my kids always enjoyed as their is such a huge amount of life in them. Lakes are great for free swimming. Rivers are fun for rock collecting and teaching your kids how to skip rocks across the water. Streams are great for wading.

    We have bike trails all over our city and our son loves riding on them. Perhaps there is a trail system you guys could go on in your city, too.

    Our local food co-op has free lectures and classes. Our farming community does a farm tour day each summer where you can go and visit several farms over the course of 8 hours. It doesn't cost anything.

    Check out bulletin boards wherever you go. Our Trader Joe's has one with lots of fun community events on it. So does our feed store.

    Plant a garden and get the kids interested in it. Kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables that they helped plant, care for, and harvest.

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    I agree with LR's suggestion of the library.
    I think there is a national bowling program where kids can bowl free at select bowling alleys. Worth a quick Google search!

    What part of summer are you usually spending money on...Outings? Camps? Food?

  5. MonkeyMama Says:

    Wow, thanks ccfree! That bowling tip is awesome!

    I don't have much to add. We don't spend more during summers or holidays. Having two kids close in age, mine mostly just entertain each other. Beyond that, our list is probably more like LR's. We spend a lot of time at the local pools and have had various memberships over the years. The only thing I Can think of that we do with any great regularity is that we walk down to our pool (free) several times per week.

  6. ThriftoRama Says:

    Thanks guys.

    We DO sign up for Kids Bowl Free every year. It's at the bowling alley by my Mom's house, so an hour away, and we usually manage to go 2-3 times a summer. But we do buy lunch there...

    We always do summer reading. Thing is, my boys read constantly, and they finish within a couple of weeks. Last year we even did TWO summer programs at different library systems and they were done right away!

    We do free movie nights at the park, too. Sadly, my youngest is very sensitive and gets scared easily, when he knows something bad will happen or the music gets scary, he makes us go home. We haven't managed too finish a single one!

    We take day trips around the state to interesting hiking and historical places. We've got petroglyphs, snake mounds, Native American villages, space museums. I definitely spend more on gas, since during the school year, we walk to school/park.library, etc. But, my car gets 35-40 mpg, so gas isn't a bankrupter.

    So far, the summer expenses have been $835 for camps and $260 for a pool pass. Ugh.

    I think the extra money ends up going to meals out, because we're on the go, and sometimes on day trips far from home, so we tend to eat out more than when they are in school. Plus, admission costs to places. There are just so many hours to fill every day.

    I'm thinking of setting an 'entertainment' budget each week--say $50 to $75-- that includes eating out, and having the kids sit with me and decide where we want to go, where we want to eat, and how to spend it.

  7. snafu Says:

    Eating out is a real $$$ drain and often full of hidden sugar & fat . Picnic type take away from home finger foods can be fun to prepare and eat. Stuff any fillings your DKs will eat in pita shells, or cook normal foods in a muffin wrap in a muffin tin liike fritatta, mac 'n' cheese, meatloaf, pizza bites, french toast etc. PB & raisin on celery sticks, carrot, jicama & dip, breakfast cookies or home made bars travel well. We freeze water to keep stuff cold and provide beverage as it thaws. The new rules ask us to reduce juice.

  8. My English Castle Says:

    We buy more "summer" food and try to limit meals out to once a week at lunch and once at dinner--if necessary. I like the idea of the entertainment budget. I'm looking for ways to stretch our Friday lunch budget. Our local Noodles and Co has a buy a $20 gift card, get $5 additional. It seems like small potatoes (or noodles!), but it all helps. I've also asked friends for unused BOGO lunch coupons from coupon books. Our library also has Friday movie afternoon with kid-friendly movies. We're doing local state parks this summer--with packed picnics.And I try not to sweat it too much. It should be a fun time for everyone.

  9. LuckyRobin Says:

    If most money is spent on eating out, then I'd put a cooler in the car and pack it with lunch and dinner meals, anything that can be enjoyed cold.

    I don't think you need to fill all these hours. The kids can just play, can't they? I think you've fallen into the trap that you always have to be doing something, but you really don't. Kids ought to be able to entertain themselves for hours once they are school age. I'd honestly just schedule one or two things a week. Provide board games and books and let them play out in the yard.

    When I was a kid I played on our play structure, played badminton and croquet with my sister, kicked around a soccer ball with the neighbor girl, danced in my room, shot baskets, played tether ball, climbed trees, strung beads, read, blew bubbles, collected stamps and coins, played with toy cars and dolls, and never, ever told my mother I was bored because she'd put me to work cleaning. Most of the time everything occurred in my yard or house. When I was old enough, I rode my bike all over town, too. I usually had camp one week, but that was it. I also worked in the berry fields, but they don't allow kids to do that anymore.

  10. ThriftoRama Says:

    Yes, they do play together a lot. But I've been through this before. They start to get crabby with too much unstructured time round about week 3. Then they start fighting and whining and being really really bad!!

    Also, there is no casual play with neighbors anymore. With camps and parents working, every playdate has to be planned, apart from going to the pool and hoping someone is there!!

    SO, I guess I'm trying to avoid the week three and every week thereafter meltdown, and at least have a loose 'routine' for our days and weeks. I struggle with routines, so it's extra hard for me to maintain some sort of structure in summer. Both my boys have ADD, so they need structure. Ugh!

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