Summer is coming, and like so many Americans, our family is cancelling our normal vacation plans. Typically we take a week or two away from home, however, the recent economic downturn claimed my vacation plans as one of its victims. The children took the news like real little troopers! As a typical mom, I felt like crying a little for my foiled vacation relaxing. Deciding to behave like a grown up, I began praying for strength and listing all my favorite ideas for frugal tips for summer family fun. I came up with a few ideas that you might like to try too.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #1. Prepare in advance to free a small amount of money in the budget. While there are no funds for a really big family vacation, with a little wiggling in the budget I think I can find a few dollars and put them to work. For example, over the summer we are cancelling the children’s lessons, and allocating that money for frugal summer family fun.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #2. Call in some reinforcements. Ask around, you might find other fun family members and friends choosing to “staycation” this year. Just don’t get too jealous when you find out that some are still going to Disney! Team up with these other families for a few events over the course of the summer. Maybe an outdoor movie projected on the side of a privacy fence (this is really fun by the way). You might also make plans to take a larger pack of moms and kids to the beach and watch the giggling begin, plant a few sunflower seeds just to see what will happen….the possibilities are endless.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #3. Make a list. Sit down with the kids and just talk about what the kids think would be fun for summer. Their ideas might just surprise you. While I expected lots of really costly ideas, I was wrong. My kids seem to love nature walks, fishing, and picnicking. Ask, you might be surprised too.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #4. Take advantage of your local government. Ok, well, there might be a better way to put that, but essentially, go to your local tourism office and find out why other people come to your area when they are on vacation. We are in a very rural, and not too exciting part of the world, but our lakes are fantastic. I plan to visit the ranger stations and pick up schedules and maps for all of the free summer fun ideas they are planning.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #5. Find tons of ways to save money on the things that don’t matter as much. What does that mean? Well, one example is that I used to spend money on granola bars and lunchables for every trip to the beach, park, etc. In an effort to keep my family budget balanced without missing out on all the fun, I learned to make my own homemade granola, trail mix, and popsicles. I also began to make smarter moves by bringing all our drinks all the time, no more running through Mc Donalds for drinks because everyone is “dying of thirst and must have a soda”!
Frugal tips for summer family fun #6. Be equipped. During the summer I always have my very old quilt, a small cooler, a ball, Frisbee, and a couple of old ice cream buckets in the back of the van. (the cooler can really come in handy when grocery shopping on hot summer days!). With these in the van, it is very simple to turn a not as fun day into a day with a picnic lunch and a few minutes of Frisbee or sandbox fun. The ice cream buckets are for water, sand, or dirt. They have also been used to collect bugs, shells, worms, and once….ants. It goes without saying, to any mother, that those ice cream buckets will make it through the whole summer while the ones purchased at Wal mart will be lost or broken in the first five minutes.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #7. Attitude. Work on your own attitude. If you are disappointed about the cancellation of your vacation, that’s fine. But, you might want to keep it to yourself. Your children will pick up on your mood, good or bad. I always think a van-full in a good mood is a whole lot better than a van-full in a bad mood….and in our house, mommy sets the mood for the whole family.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #8. Pack a bag. This is my favorite tip of all because it has saved me so many times! Find a ratty bag, one that can go in the trash at the end of the summer. In it, place sunscreen, insect repellant, a couple pairs of socks (for the kids who run out without them, or soak them), a few hats or visors, a small but chock full first aid kit, a handful of change, a couple water bottles and a small novel for mom. Every time you head out the door, grab this bag. You can’t leave it in the van because the water bottles will ruin, and your sunscreen will turn to mush, but I would be willing to bet you wind up being glad to have it with you more than once.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #9. Consider gardening. A packet of zucchini seeds in the palm of a little person can be an amazing thing. Grow a small garden and eat what grows, sprinkle some Bachelor Button or daisy seeds and watch them grow. We clip these and take them to grandma.
Frugal tips for summer family fun #10. Talk to your children, kiss your spouse, read, listen to music, love your family, find time to pursue your own needs (for me, I find my Bible and a women’s devotional book over the course of the summer keeps me on track), and enjoy the warm before we begin to prepare for winter family fun!