Summer Fun With Money to Spare

Published on May 5th, 2014

During the school year, most of your kids’ days are spent at school and at home. School is out in a few weeks, meaning each day is free for all kinds of entertainment, like movies, water and amusement parks, museums and more to get the kids out of the house. Unfortunately these activities can really add up. Most summer hot spots have cheaper alternatives that offer the same level of fun at a much lower cost to you.

1.       Water Parks
Trips to the waterpark involve entry fees along with the cost of tube rentals, lockers, food and souvenirs. It is fine as an occasional treat, but the cost of going more than once a week can seriously add up.
Solution: Don’t head to the water park unless you’re willing to make it one of your bigger summer activities. There are a ton of free or cheap water play ideas that your kids will still enjoy. Slip n’ slides are always a big hit, along with running through the sprinkler in your yard. If the kids are dying to swim, head to the community pool; many even have water slides or a lazy river.
2.       Movies
A summer movie is always an entertaining option for cooling off in the summer. Ticket prices are constantly on the rise, and most kids require a popcorn and a soda. The biggest Blockbuster kids’ films are often released in the summer.
Solution: See if your local theater offers a summer kids program – many offer free or cheap tickets for second-run movies that were released earlier in the year. Be smart about snacks: buy a large popcorn to share.
3.       Bowling
Bowling is one of the easiest ways to knock out an entire afternoon with bored kids. The problem is, you pay for lane rental, shoe rental, and again the snacks. If you have several kids, it can be a pricey afternoon.
Solution: Bowling alleys across the U.S. offer free bowling for kids. Check and enter your zip code to see if any alleys near your home offer the program.
4.       Summer Camp
Summer camp creates great memories or kids, allowing them to be social while staying active and learning new things. Many summer camps today are expensive and require the additional purchase of gear. Day camps are cheaper, but still require payment and the kids don’t get the same experience.
Solution: Check into lower cost camps through your community center. If you don’t mind a religious slant, many churches and religious organizations offer camps which are either free or much more affordable than other commercial camps. If you can’t find anything that suits what you are looking for, host a summer camp at home, picking a different theme for each week and including crafts, activities and snacks that go along with the chosen theme.
Even if you’ve learned to avoid the biggest spending traps of the summer, there are other costs that add up. Fortunately there are a number of things you can do to lower your summer activity costs and still allow your kids to make the most of summer vacation.
1.       Plan Your Week
It’s hard to plan ahead during the summer – weather conditions and energy levels are hard to predict in advance. However, planning basic ideas for each day of the coming week allows you to plan for spending. This way, your kids also know what to expect.
2.       Season Passes
Many water parks, gyms and other recreational centers offer season passes – many of which can be found at a good deal from a daily deal site. Calculate the amount you would save versus how many times you expect to go to see if the pass is worth the money.
3.       Calculate Expenses in Advance
At the beginning of the summer, add up the total costs of going to your family’s favorite summer spots, including admittance fees, food and rentals. That way, when the kids want to go to the pool, you can quickly add up how much the trip will cost and how much you can afford.
4.       Bring Your Own Food
If the place you are going allows it, bring your own meals and snacks whenever possible. This way you won’t have to splurge on low-quality items from pricey concession stands. If the destination does not allow you to bring food, eat beforehand and save money for better snacks.
5.       Get Social
Most attractions and popular establishments have social media pages where they post notices about free events and special offers. Become a fan and follow them so you can be one of the first to hear about any deals they may be having at a particular time.
You don’t have to sacrifice your kids’ fun to save money during the summer. As long as you plan correctly, you will have an enjoyable summer with some money to spare.

Courtesy of Money Crashers

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