Looking for ways to have some family fun this summer without spending too much? Enjoying the season can be more relaxing for everyone when you stick to a budget and don’t run up credit-card balances with entertainment and travel expenses. The average U.S. household had $15,191 in credit card balances in April; so many Americans should try to avoid piling up more debt this summer. With a little creativity, you can ensure that you and your family have a memorable and happy summer without digging a financial hole that can bog you down for months or years.
Here are some tips for frugal fun:
Make your own water slide
You don’t have to spend a lot at a water park to escape the heat if you have a lawn. With a few yards of tarp, baby oil and a hose, you can build a water slide that can provide hours of fun. After you’re done for the day, let the tarp dry, then roll it up to avoid killing the grass underneath.
Check out local recreation centers
Many communities offer low-cost summer programs for families, such as day camps, swimming lessons or other classes. They can get you and the family out of the house and doing something new. If your community doesn’t offer such activities, look for programs at nearby organizations such as a local YMCA or Boys & Girls club.
Open a vacation savings account
Trying to save for a big family trip? Savings programs such as IAA Credit Union’s Vacation Club account may help, and you can earn better interest than you would on a regular savings account. It may help you stay within your budget and have a more enjoyable time away from home.
Skip the expensive hotel and book a camping spot. If you’re near a national park, that could be even better. You may save some money and get better sleep as well. Researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder found that when people spent a week camping and away from artificial light, their body’s natural rhythms were reset, and the quality of their sleep improved.
Join a library reading program
Looking for a way to keep your kids reading, even when they’re out of school? Many public libraries have free summer programs in which kids can earn points or rewards for reading books.
Set up shop
An online video called “Caine’s Arcade”focuses on a young boy spending a summer building an arcade inside his father’s used auto-parts store, showing how much fun entrepreneurship can be for kids and adults. If you have younger children, playing shop with them is a great low-cost way to have fun while helping them learn about money, buying and selling.
Open savings accounts with your youngsters
Providing your children with their own savings accounts can be a good way to help them learn about money and saving. Some financial institutions offer special programs designed for that purpose as well, such as IAA’s Kirby Kangaroo Club. Members can sign up their kids who are 12 or younger for these accounts to help them learn about money. Every time a child makes a deposit, he or she earns “Kirby Bucks,” which can be used to buy coloring books, Nerf guns and Kirby wallets. Having your kids engage in saving can be a great way to help them learn.
Watch a matinee
Take your family to a movie for some fun — and air-conditioned — entertainment. Some movie theaters may offer summer discounts and charge less for matinee showings, so you may save a lot on the cost of seeing the movie and have an enjoyable afternoon out as well.
Summer doesn’t have to be expensive
For more inexpensive entertainment, check out free concerts, discounts at bowling alleys and other recreational venues, museum events and nearby hiking trails. By making good spending decisions this summer, you may reduce your financial stress for the rest of the year.
Claire Davidson, NerdWallet
Category: Money Tips