Believe it or not, I often get inquires from my readers about all the activities the family and I are doing. Everything from how tired I must be to how do we afford all the fun? All legitimate questions. And yes, some days we’re pretty tired 🙂
Its the affordability question that I’ve been thinking about before giving my answer. This is not because I don’t want to tell you, its because its very important to realize that every family is different. Every family has their own road to financial independence. Difference in income, where you live, how you live. What some families think is a necessity, other might feel is a luxury. You get the picture! Financial independence to me, means having security and something to fall back on during hard times. This is only something you and your family can measure for yourself.
While thinking about how my family stays on track financially, I started to put together some tips and tricks we’ve learned in order to make it a Made with HAPPY Summer full of family fun adventures, while not breaking the bank (regardless of your state of affairs)
First and foremost, you have to plan a bit ahead. My sister is probably reading this right now and giggling to herself. She’s always trying to get me to plan vacations and such way way ahead and I’m just not always the best for that 🙂 In any case, in terms of summer fun, even a week ahead gives you some time to figure out what you’d like to do, how much its going to cost and whether its going to fit into your budget. Which takes us right into my next tip.
Set a Budget
Whether its a weekly budget or monthly, set realistic expectations and stick to them. If you’re set aside $30 for the week as family fun, then you know if that’s spent all on Monday, then you know for the rest of the week, the activities are going to have to be free.
Make a List
There are so many resources through your community and online of activities ($$$ to Free) to do in your town. Make a list of all the things you and the kids would like to do for the summer. Once you have a list, start putting some cost around each one. If Disneyland is on your list, then make sure you put your ticket prices next to it, to make sure you have some point of reference. Don’t forget the free activities including hikes, parks, bikes, beaches, lakes, picnics, and some splash parks.
Think Outside the Box
When making your list, try and think outside the box. Maybe add a ride on your local bus, or take the trolley downtown and walk around. Many public transportation let kids ride for free and are only a few dollars for a full day of fun.
Do your Research
If there is a trampoline park that your family has been eyeying, make sure to keep an eye out for deals. Check the deal sites (Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Local, etc.) Check their website for deals, sometimes their running certain specials that you may have never otherwise known about. Also, while on these deal sites, keep an eye out for other activities around town. We find things on there all the time that we may have not even know about and are happy to see they are within our budget and are really fun.
Look at Each Activity Long Term
If you’re planning a trip to an amusement park in your area and live relatively close to it, maybe check out how much their annual pass cost. I know for San Diegans, the annual pass to the Zoo and Safari Park are pretty reasonable for the family. This typically not only saves money if you go more than 2 or 3 times it also allows for you to go at shorter periods each time and not have to try and cram seeing everything into one visit. Meaning more visits and not as cranky little ones. SCORE! Also, this is not only for amusement parks, so farms and local activity centers (indoor jungle gyms, play zones, miniture golf, lazer tags, etc.) tend to offer up some deals for multiple visits.
Bring your own food
This my friends is the biggest one. I’m telling you, my family brings our food everywhere. Whether we’re headed downtown to a baseball game or off visiting the local splash park. The biggest money saver we’ve found is to bring your lunch, dinner, snacks. This way, there is no additional cost to weekly food budget and you don’t feel guilty about being stuck somewhere where a simple grill cheese sandwich is costing you 8 bucks per kid and then your weekly budget just went out the window. Of course you can always leave a little room to stop for ice cream or something fun, but if you pack your lunch and head off to the beach, you just essentially had a fun filled day at the beach that didn’t cost you a thing extra.
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