Article written by Jackie Porter
With the cost of living increasing over the pandemic and interest rates on the rise, it has quickly become more expensive to raise children — especially as single parent. Keeping that in mind, you may already be calculating the cost of providing your kids with the upcoming summer activities they deserve. So, how can you enjoy fun in the sun without breaking the bank? In this article we discuss budget friendly tips for single parents and their summer spending.
Often when things are left to the last minute it may be tempting to throw money at the problem. That is why it is important to plan ahead. First consider the logistics of your time off work and what caring for your children will cost if they are too young to be home on their own. Do you have friends or family that can pitch in to help care for young children over the summer to ease the financial burden of childcare? How many days can they commit to? You may also look into community programs such as day camps, parks and recreation programs, and other local programs that may complement your work schedule.
Now it is time to think about the summer activities you will want to do with your kids. Create an activity calendar that maps out the months of June, July and August including weekends and long weekends. Note how many days you will be available to do activities with them and how many days you will need help to care for them.
Build A Budget That Factors in Your Summer Activity Costs:
When creating a budget for your summer activities, consider that expenses normally fall into three categories: fixed, fun, and future. Fixed costs include things such as housing, cable, and phone bills where the expenses don’t often change month to month. Fun costs is the category where your summer activities will fall. With fun costs your budget will be critical. It will help you exercise more control based on what your budget shows you can afford. Finally, future costs refer to setting aside cash for future needs such as an emergency fund (even more important as a single person) and setting aside funds for retirement when you are no longer working.
Build a budget by writing down all your costs in the fixed, fun and future category. This helps you to make informed choices when it comes to your summer spending. If you need help with building a budget, checkout the article the Top 5 Budget apps for your post-divorce financial goals.
Now that you have mapped out the summer and your availability, you may realize that the coming weeks will go by quickly. There may not be time to do every activity on your wish list. To solve this problem, start by asking your kids what they REALLY want to do during their summer break. If there are big ticket items on the list, help them zero in on what those might be. Collaborate with your children to prioritize the activities from most important to least important. Prioritizing is an important lesson for kids to learn at any age so that they can determine what really matters to them. After determining the top activities, use this list to determine what activities may or may not be realistic for your budget.
Remember Fun doesn’t always have to cost money…
What activities can you do that are free or near free? Not sure? Ask your kids to help you by listing activities they love to do that don’t cost money. Go for a nature walk, create an obstacle course in the backyard, or visit the library. You can book a pool day and turn it into an event, or plan to make smores in the microwave and watch a summer movie together! The list is truly endless! Check out this website for more great ideas: 100 Fun Summer Activities for Kids – Fun Cheap or Free. Remember, fun doesn’t always have to cost money. Your kids often just want to enjoy their summer break, making memories that they can look back on when the weather gets cooler and school is back in. Spending time with your loves ones is the greatest investment money can’t buy.