Q: [Family] Summer is an expensive time for my family, what are some ways I can plan accordingly so it’s more play and less stress?
A: Whether it’s sleep-away camp for your kids or a family trip to an exotic isle, summer activities can be costly. If you plan ahead and set a summer financial goal now, you can break it up into smaller chunks that can help ease your finances when sending the kids off for a week.
The key is to start early and plan carefully so you can enjoy some summer fun without stressing about money:
- Set your budget before you start spending. The most dangerous way to spend for summer is to swipe your credit card and wait until the end of August to check the damage. In addition to your regular expenses, create a budget for each of your summer activities before you spend to stay on track throughout the season. When you travel, establishing a daily cash allowance to cover food, activities and souvenir shopping can help you stay within budget. When you have a plan and a full picture of where your money goes each month, you can find more places to save. From hotels to airlines, travelers can find extra savings through customer loyalty programs or renting a home instead of a hotel to stretch that budget a little further.
- Squeeze in regular meetings on those warm summer nights. Regular discussions with your partner about finances can lead to greater financial confidence. If you can make time for fun in the sun, you can also make time to discuss finances a few times per month. Getting into the routine can be the hardest part, especially when you’re on vacation. However, scheduling a monthly meeting through the summer is an easy step that can help you stay on track beyond the summer months.
- Browse before you book. Take the time to research thoroughly and compare programs and packages. There are many different websites that offer price comparisons for the summer activity of your family’s choice—flights, hotels and even summer camps. Especially for your children’s activities, consider asking local schools and other recreational facilities. Communities throughout Orange County often offer activities fairs where you can speak with representatives firsthand. When it comes to those family outings, browse all of the rewards programs you may currently be enrolled in. You may have a stockpile points on credit cards or unrealized savings with travel reward program offers.
- Go as a group. The more the merrier! Getting together with a large group of family or friends can help you qualify for group discounts. Whether traveling together or just purchasing together, some places provide discounts when packages are purchased in bulk. For a lower room rate per night per person, consider renting a home and splitting the costs among your travel group.
It’s always wise to set targets that allow you to measure your progress. Even after you meet your goals for the summer, keep these tasks on your financial to-do list and check-in throughout the year.