Summer has pretty much already landed here in Georgia. We keep getting surprised with a few blissful days of Spring but mostly we’re in the mid to high 80’s and that good ol’Georgia humidity is back in full swing. And with the ending of the school season starts the beginning of all things summer.
I love summer – mostly because for me it means camping and I’m a huge fan of camping! Yes, I realize that’s not the case for most folks but it was my family’s vacation of choice growing up. And has been something that my family of five loves doing together.
But summer for us is also a very busy time. And if I’m being really honest, it’s a hard time for me because I struggle to get any actual work done. I’m a schedule girl – I will do things in the exact same way every.single.time. It’s how I’m able to do so many things on autopilot because I simply just do the same things over and over again. (For more on how I schedule things, see this video here.)
But for me, summer is the break in the circuit.
I can’t do things in the same exact way that I can while my boys are at school. And since Charlotte’s birthday is in October, that means that she can’t start the 2 year old program at my boys school until next year. And that that means that I’ll be working on a preschool homeschool curriculum for her next year (to see the one I came up with for my boys, head here).
But honestly, I need this circuit breaker – the break from the routine and the monotony that can develop when you do the same things over and over again.
Summer also happens to be the season where we tend to spend the most money.
We tend to spend it on:
- Swimming lessons
- Camping trips (even though it’s usually not a lot of money out of pocket)
- Family vacation
- Outings (like to the Zoo or the Aquarium)
- Eating out (like going to Chic-fil-a after a playdate kind of thing)
- $1 movie days at the movie theater
And the list goes on.
Very quickly our budget can get wrecked during the summer months when we’re busy running from one thing to another. So I thought I’d share a few quick ways that we work hard during this busy season to keep on top of our money so it doesn’t topple us over.
Yes, I know you knew that was coming because it’s where I always start. If you have a budget then you’re one step closer to keeping up with your money. If you stick to the budget then you’re a rockstar. 🎸
We have a separate savings account for vacations. We contribute to that fund every week automatically. This helps us know exactly how much money we have to spend for a vacation BEFORE we actually go on the vacation. And since we have no credit cards we get to use the cash we’ve saved and thus we don’t fret as much about our spending when on vacation.
I work very hard at the beginning of summer to plan fun and free (or mostly free) activities for me and the kids to do because y’all know boredom ain’t no fun when your kids start wrecking the house. By planning out a lot of those activities beforehand – like free library events – I’m able to plan our budget around those activities and sprinkle in some paid for stuff.
Know what you want
Okay so there’s the thing. You cannot do everything and attempt to pack it all in one summer – you’ll just burn yourself and your family out. So make a list of things that you want to do and if your children are old enough, have them make a list of things that they want to do as well.
Then look over your calendar and plan the things from that list that are the most important – but make sure to leave room for margin. Meaning, make sure you give yourselves plenty of time and days that aren’t planned. After all, that’s the beauty of the dog days of summer – running wild with nowhere to be.
If you’re struggling with trying to figure out what to do for summer, I encourage you to check out Susan’s amazing Summer Calendar that has 4 months’ worth of activities already planned for you! I used her calendar last year and it was incredible (and already have the 2017 printed off and ready to go!). The advantage here is that you not only have them already planned out for you but you also can plan your budget a whole lot easier around the activities. Check it out here.
By knowing your budget you’ll know what you can and cannot afford to do all in one summer. For example, we couldn’t afford to go to both the Zoo and the Aquarium in one summer so we’re only going to the Zoo this summer and last summer we went to the Aquarium.
Also, we know that swimming lessons are more important to us than paying for a summer camp – or at least it’s more important to us right now since our kids are still young and learning how to swim.
Know what is important to you and what isn’t – it will make the decision making so much easier!
Take advantage of savings
There are a dozen free things to do over the summer as well as while on vacation. Take advantage of the free fun the library offers or the fun that your church offers. When you’re on vacation, look for the easy ways to save. Like can you walk to the beach instead of driving and paying for parking? Can you prepare a meal at the place you’re staying one night instead of eating out? Things like that can stretch your budget even further.
One of my favorite ways to stretch our budget (especially while on vacation) is to purchase our eating out budget on gift cards. This keeps our money in check with very little thought. I even cash out some of my SB’s in exchange for gift cards for food.
Another amazing thing that happens in the summer – places allow kids to play for free! Both bowling alleys in our area let kids bowl free in the summer. It’s a great fun thing to do on extremely hot or rainy days and it’s even better when you call up a fellow mom and she brings her kids. 🙂 Bowling alleys aren’t the only places that offer free fun – skating rinks, ice rinks, and even places like The Home Depot have free kids craft projects.
The possibilities are endless but remember that you allow for margin room and that you must plan out your activities before the start of the month to keep from completely wrecking your budget.
What is your favorite way to survive summer and avoid breaking the budget?
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