For a child summer represents swimming, playing, vacationing, and most importantly no school.  For a parent, summer represents more pressure with the need for a babysitter, lunches, kids asking for vacations, neighbor kids, car pooling, and more stress.  Regardless of your situations, summer represents more fun, more expenses, and more time with your kids.  This brings up the question “how can we let everyone have a good summer, without breaking the bank?”

  • Babysitting is always a challenge, try looking for a high school kid with good references.  They are usually a little less expensive (and more fun) than a daycare, and if they are off on the night and weekends it is a benefit for them.  Just make sure you check references.
  • In my home, the snow cone is a summer must have, but running to the snow cone stand can cost more that you realize.  If you get 3 snow cones at $2 each that’s $6, now add in the $4 for the gallon of gas it took to get there.  Even if it is only 1 mile away, you have to consider the time it took the start the car and let it cool down, load up the kids, sit idle as you wait for the snow cones, then drive back home.  For three snow cones you just spent $10.  An alternative is to buy your own snow cone maker for around $15 at your local department store.  You can even buy different syrups so each kid is happy.  Kids love to get in the kitchen and feel like they made something.  Yes, it can make a little mess, but no more than the snow cone spilling in the car makes.  One downfall is you might have additional neighbor kids over.  (:I guess you could charge the neighbor kids $2 a snow cone.;)
  • Let the kids help you set a schedule for lunches and snacks.  This cuts down on whining and hearing I’m hungry all the time.  To save money, buy in bulk.  Never buy individually wrapped snacks.  You can buy a big box and place it in snack bags yourself.  You can even let the kids help with this too, just tell them not to eat it all as they go. 
  • Vacations are a tough one this summer.  Road trips are expensive with the price of gas, and if you have a large family flying is definitely not an option.  I feel the best plan is to look a little closer to home.  People tend to think they have to travel a long way to call it a vacation, but if you look there is probably somewhere very nice within a 2 hour drive.  A two hour drive should cost on average $70.  Don’t forget to pack the cooler with drinks and sandwiches, convenient store and fast food snacks, lunches, and drinks are overpriced.
  • Another vacation tip is to consider your family friends.  If there is another family that you enjoy spending time with, consider sharing a suite.  You can usually save a few hundred dollars by getting a three bedroom suite instead of two different suites.  In a suite you will have a full kitchen so cooking is not an issue, and with two families you can save a lot on food.

Most importantly have fun this summer, and try not to break the bank!


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