When our girls were young, their Granddaddy told them he was going to take them to twenty-one parks in the D-FW area on one very hot and humid summer day. They were so excited and could hardly wait but, as parents, we were a tad bit skeptical. How in the world could it be done? At the end of the day, they all dragged in…tired, dirty, and sweaty after having been to 22 parks in one day! (He added an extra park for good measure.)
The girls always loved visiting their grandparents in the summer because they had such fun and creative things to do that required very little money. No doubt they could have afforded to do things that required money, but it was more fun to see what they could come up with using creativity and imagination.
As a working Mom, before learning to live on a spending plan (aka “budget”), summer months were challenging to find things for my kids to do, as well as find the money to pay for those activities. In all honesty, I appreciated the time my kids were visiting their grandparents because I didn’t have to find the money for activities for a week while they were away! But more importantly, it meant they were creating memories to cherish and remember forever. Even today, as my grown daughters look back at the summers they had growing up, “twenty-one parks” was an unforgettable and favorite time.
Planning your family’s summer budget can most assuredly create challenges. Many communities have camps and activities created to fill long summer days for kids, but these fun activities may come with a price tag attached. Often, the cost can be more than saving for a down payment on a home! Well, that might be a slight exaggeration.
Summertime brings with it lots of lazy days, with schedules put on the back burner for a while. Many families take vacations to theme parks, the beach, the mountains, or to visit far-away family and friends. These grand vacations should never “follow you back home” by putting them on a credit card, thus paying for the vacation for years to come. Plan for these vacations by budgeting, saving, and paying in cash making the time away that much sweeter.
If a vacation is not something that you have saved for in advance, Dave Ramsey’s recent article, “Summer Staycation Ideas That Won’t Bust Your Budget,” has 18 awesome budget-friendly summer "stay-cation" ideas. Here are some that are definitely worth sharing:
- Get outdoors - Maybe twenty-one parks in a day is a bit over the top, but find a park or go for a hike in your community.
- Splash around for free – Water and summer heat go hand in hand. Try a sprinkler in the yard, a splash pad in your community, or head to a nearby lake and cool off. Take snacks with you to cut down on the cost of refreshments.
- Enjoy a “flick” the old-school way – If a drive-in is a thing-of-the-past in your community, borrow a projector from a friend, hang a white sheet in your backyard, and watch a movie under the stars. But don’t forget the mosquito repellent!
- Schedule a board game tournament – Dust off the board games and playing cards in your game closet and gather your friends and family for a tournament. Have fun with all age levels by battling it out.
- Plan a day for making zero plans – No lists, no plans – just do whatever your heart desires… AND fits your budget!
No matter what your summer days may look like, planning ahead for a budget-friendly summer will bring memory-filled blessings that will last a lifetime.