Downsizing Your Budget: How You Can Save Money And Entertain Your Kids This Summer
Only 41 percent of American households set and stick to their budgets. In fact, 20 percent of Americans aren’t saving any funds at all. With the summer in full swing, parents are in the midst of juggling full-time childcare, planning the summer vacations for their families and of course, experiencing a bump in expenses with their kids home for the summer. By the time school resumes, many parents find themselves with new debts, credit card-fuelled vacations to repay and depleted checking accounts. While having children does come with its own set of costs, some simple hacks can help you stay on track with your savings goal and it all begins with downsizing your household budget.
Pick A Expense And Zone In: Food And Utilities Are Great Starting Points
We tend to dive right in hastily and believe that making cuts all across the board is the best way to save money and save it fast. However, there is much merit to the age-old saying of slow and steady wins the race. Choosing just a few expenses where you believe you can make cuts in spending means your focus is not split and there is less chance of it all becoming too overwhelming.
For Americans, the top spending areas tend to be their food and utility bills. It’s no secret that there is a food waste issue amongst American households; they lose around $1,500 each year on food and another £3,008 is spent on dining out. Start with taking a list when shopping, keeping track of your refrigerator and pantry before heading to the supermarket and going the homemade route for takeout night. This can become a cheap but great bonding experience for parents and kids; helping them eat healthier and very entertaining for kids.
Alternatively, you can opt to focus on reducing your utility bills by practicing mindful energy usage habits at home, teaching them to your children and of course doing some research on better deals out there. We neglect to regularly check for better rates once locked into an initial contract and blindly carry on renewing. The use of energy rate comparison tools and free quote websites can help you reduce your energy spend. In addition, teaching your children about good financial habits such as comparing to save and even good environmental habits like being energy conscious are all ways to help them become well-rounded individuals.
Keep Summer Entertainment Simple And Wholesome- But Save Room For Treats
Having no school sets up the perfect conditions for an all too common complaint: “Mom I’m bored! “. With 6+ weeks to fill, parents are often looking for ways to entertain their children and one mistake often made is heading to the stores to spend cash in a bid to solve that issue. Simple, wholesome and kid-friendly entertainment does not have to cost a fortune and definitely do not need to mean they spend hours in front of a screen. Besides arranging playdates, you can arrange day trips to some of the country’s finest tourist attractions, most of which cost little or nothing for admission.
For rainy days, simple and frugal craft or cooking can help them feed their imagination and learn new skills at the same time. Best of all, the supplies cost just a few dollars and provide hours of entertainment. Other options include staging a weekly in-home movie night instead of heading to the cinemas or taking advantage of discounted or matinee showings. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of getting your kids outdoors in the backyard for some water play, bike riding or even camping under the stars. Leave room for a few special trips as well. To be frugal here, utilize accumulated loyalty benefits and credit points to help you pay for your days out.
Hack The Costs Of Summer Childcare
With summer and the long school break comes the all too common question for many parents: what will I do about childcare? Most parents end up trading off with their spouses to maximize their entitled holiday allowance but for a lot of them, single parents included, summer means having to reach in their wallets for paid childcare while they work. These costs are not minimal either; parents spend $9,000-$9,600 annually on childcare for one child and a large chunk of that comes in the summer vacations.
Consider asking a family member to do the work hours childcare instead and offering them a lower rate or alternatively, you can arrange for playdate swaps with your child’s friends and parents. A lot of employers also offer incentives for parents such as childcare discounts or even in office childcare spaces. Check your office policy or ask your supervisor if such benefits exist at work.
There is no reason why you can’t keep on track with your saving goals and enjoy the summer with your family at the same time. It takes some planning but summer fun does not necessarily have to equate to spending money. What’s more is that you can include your entire family in many of these suggestions; showing you just how well financial goals lend itself to your family dynamic.