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Spring & Summer Break on a Shoestring Budget? It is Possible!

Spring and summer breaks are filled with long, lazy days. And there’s only so much screen time you can let the kids have before you feel guilty or can repeat each episode of Teen Titans Go verbatim. But taking the kids out to do fun activities can wreak havoc on your wallet. It’s essential to balance letting the kids be bored and giving them a break full of incredible memories. Here are a few ideas for giving the kids a memorable spring and summer break on a budget.

Here's what you need to know.

Preparing for Kids to be Out of School

One of the best ways to have a budget and stick to it is to plan. This doesn’t just mean figuring out how much to save or how many big-ticket activities you can afford. It also means thinking about the cheap—or even free—things you can do. 

Playdates can be a free (or inexpensive) way to spend some of those break days. You or the other parent can host, or you can take the playdate on the road and head to a local park for a picnic lunch and some playground time. Of course, some families take vacations out of town during the break, so reach out now to start scheduling some of those playdates. This will not only ensure that your kids don’t miss out but also gives them something to look forward to. 

Start going through the toys, books, and craft supplies now, too. Weed out broken toys or toys that are missing pieces and parts. Toss or donate books that are torn up or that your youngest child has outgrown. Trash dried-out markers and restock your collection of crayons, colored pencils, paper, pipe cleaners, and other craft and art supplies. Bonus tip: save broken crayons to do crayon crafts on a rainy day. 

Next time you’re online and feeling bored, start looking for free and inexpensive activities and events during the upcoming break. Free and affordable activities often fill up fast, so if you need to register, buy tickets, or save your spot, you’ll have a better chance the earlier you learn about the event. Even if you don’t need to register or buy tickets, once you find an event you’re interested in, mark it on your calendar so you won’t forget. 

Fun Activities That Won't Break The Bank

The great thing about spring and summer breaks is that they typically come with some fun activities that can only be done during those times—and often, won’t break the bank. Many local businesses (and even some of the bigger ones) know that parents are seeking entertainment for their kids. They also know that if parents are happy with an activity put on by that business, they just might come back as a customer. 

Look for local businesses that might be sponsoring something fun for the kids. Your downtown area may offer a small fair sponsored by several small businesses. Restaurants may offer inexpensive, child-friendly cooking classes. Art or craft supply stores may offer classes in different art forms. 

Check your local or chain movie theaters for summer movie programs. Many theaters offer discounted tickets at specific showtimes or for older, family-friendly movies. The local bowling alley or mini golf course may provide discounts that make these kid-approved activities an even better financial deal. 

Budgeting Activities With the Kids

Naturally, kids like to have a say in the activities that they’ll be doing. If you let the kids have their way, you may spend far more than you’d like. So find a compromise with them. Based on previous planning, you should have a rough idea of how much you can spend on activities. Whether this budget is per day, per week, or to last the entire break, share it with the kids. 

Then, budget time and money for activities with the kids. Allow them to decide between a weekend spent camping or heading to a waterpark for a day. 

You might also consider giving each child an activity budget and allowing them to choose one or two activities for the whole family based on that budget. They may surprise you by visiting a local farm or fire station instead of asking for a trip to Disney or Six Flags. 

They may surprise you even more by using their budget to buy supplies to make a kite or a water balloon pinata (or other water activities in your backyard). 

“Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.”
 – John Mayer
Here's what you need to know.

Saving Early for Trips

If your family plans a spring or summer vacation trip, the best way to keep it budget-friendly is to start saving early and plan. A few tips for planning for a trip include:

The sooner you book these, the better the deals you’ll get. You’ll also have more options to choose from. But make sure that your booking is refundable, just in case the worst happens and you need to cancel. Note: While last-minute bookings often save money as well, you cannot count on that being the case during high-travel seasons. If you wait, you may find yourself paying a lot more. 
These are the months that many tour operators offer price-drop guarantees. If you book your tour and the price goes down, they’ll honor the lower price for you—potentially saving you a lot of money.
Many people go on trips and wing it when it comes to what and where they’ll eat, which activities they’ll do on the trip and other things that cost money. If you take time to plan, you may get more bang for your buck. For example, if there’s a particularly expensive restaurant you want to have a meal at, plan for that meal by looking for other, less expensive local diners and restaurants for your other meals. You might also opt to find local grocery stores and prepare most of your meals if your accommodations allow for that. Note: If you plan to cook your meals, you can save more money and some time by bringing your crockpot or instant cooker from home. 

Need Help? Contact DebtBlue!

Spring and summer breaks don’t have to be spent vegging out in front of the TV. With a bit of planning, some input from the kids, and a little flexibility from everyone, even a small budget can make this break the best break ever!

If you’d like to talk with one of our team members to see if you can reduce your debt before the break and potentially increase your break budget, reach out today. We are here and ready to help your family become debt-free so you can enjoy life worry-free!