It’s the end of the summer break and you’ve had a great time. But now the kids are back at school and it’s time to get back on track. You check your bank statement and feel a knot in the pit of your stomach because you’ve overspent. Worse still, somehow you ran out of funds halfway through and you turned to your credit card for help. You started the summer off with such good intentions so what happened?! Where did it all go wrong?
Sound familiar? Well we’ve all been there! There are so many things to do, so many places to go. You want to give your kids a great summer holiday, but things always end up costing far more than expected. You want to have fun but don’t want to overspend. So how do you reign things in without compromising the fun? How do you stay ahead of the game and stop yourself from spending more than planned? Well if you want a great summer without dreading the September bank statement, this blog post is for you. With a bit of planning, a debt-free summer really is possible. Here are five steps you can take to enjoy a summer break that doesn’t break the bank.
Step One: Draw up a budget
The key to enjoying a debt-free summer is knowing how much you have to spend before arranging anything. Establish how much you have available and ask yourself what you’re prepared to spend. Just because you have funds doesn’t mean you have to spend them! Equally, if things are tight don’t fret. It’s amazing how much you can claw back by making a few temporary tweaks to your spending. Take a look at your usual expenses and see what you can do:
- Are there any areas you can cut back on to give you a little extra to play with?
- What luxuries could you cut out just for this month?
- Could you use what you’d normally spend on school lunches or after-school clubs?
- Do you spend a lot on takeaways? Could you use this money for days out instead?
- Could you save money on groceries by making cheaper meals or using leftovers to make packed lunches?
Once you know how much you have to spend, think about how you’re going to spend it. Earmark the funds you know you need for anything already arranged. Now see what’s left and share this across the number of weeks you have. Make a commitment to not spend any more than you have allowed for that week. If there is anything left over it can be carried across into the following week or saved for another time.
If you do nothing else, do this step. Taking the time to draw up a budget not only gives you a better idea of what you can afford, you’ll save yourself from serious headache later too!
Step Two: Make a plan
Now you have a budget it’s time to make a plan. Ask yourself what you want to do. Where do you want to go? How much will it cost? Create a rough plan for each week. Try spreading the expensive days out across the summer. Not only will you have something to look forward to each week, you won’t blow your budget in the first few days! Don’t feel like you have to be out all day everyday either. Your kids really don’t mind what they do as long as they have your attention. Too many long days out can lead to burnout and a large dent in your wallet. So try mixing days out with days at home.
In addition to having a plan for each week, do what you can to avoid unnecessary expenses. If somewhere is costly to get in, offset this by making a packed lunch. Save yourself from the stress of the gift shop too. Give your kids a bit of spending money either at the start of the holiday or every Monday morning. What they spend it on is up to them, once it’s gone its gone. Sure they might find the concept a little hard to deal with at first, but they’ll get used to it. Very soon they’ll love deciding whether to spend their money or not. It puts them in charge, and teaches them the value of money. It’ll save you money and stress too!
Step Three: Find free things to do
Places like theme parks and zoos make for a great day out but they can be very expensive. Make your budget go further by planning in as many free or low-cost days as you can. Start with looking at what’s on in your local area. Search online sites such as Groupon to see if they have any offers. Keep an eye out too for 2 for 1 vouchers hiding in magazines and on grocery and confectionery wrappers. Come up with as many ideas as you can and build them into your plan. Things like:
Activities out and about:
- Taking a picnic to your local park
- Going on a scavenger hunt or Geocaching
- Visiting your local free museum
- Seeing what free activities are happening at your nearest library
- Visiting a local Farmer’s Market and looking at the produce together
Activities at home:
- Searching online and on Pinterest for cheap, fun craft ideas
- Having your own bake-off competition
- Making homemade pizzas with items already in the pantry
- Having a duvet day – stay in your PJs and watch movies all day
- Having a Lego building competition
- Searching for tutorials on YouTube and learn a new dance together
Step Four: Track your spending
Making a budget is one thing. Sticking to it is another matter. It takes discipline but it is possible. The best way to stick to your budget? Track your spending. You don’t have to record every penny spent but do keep an eye on where your money is going. Don’t just carry on hoping all is ok, learn to recognise when you’re getting close to your limit. Save yourself from overspending and having to cancel things by staying ahead of the game. Don’t be afraid of saying no to something too if it means you’ll overspend. There’s always a cheaper alternative that your kids will love just as much.
Step Five: Keep things in check
There’s no point keeping an eye on what you spend if you then don’t make adjustments where needed. Keeping things in check is just as important as tracking your progress. Set aside a few minutes once a week to make sure you’re still on budget. Half an hour every Sunday evening once the kids are in bed is all that’s needed. Review what you’ve done that week and how much you’ve spent. See what you have planned for the coming week and adjust accordingly. If you find you’ve spent less than anticipated, great! Decide whether you want to add this to your pot for the coming week or save it for later. If you’ve overspent don’t fret, just change things up and throw in a few free days to balance things out.
Give yourself a debt-free summer…
The best way to ensure a debt-free summer is to stay organised and track what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid of switching things up and choosing the cheaper option if needed. Remember that your kids don’t care what they’re doing as long as they have your time and attention. Follow these steps and come September you won’t dread the bank balance. Do it however works best for you, but for a debt-free summer:
- Draw up a budget
- Make a plan
- Find free things to do
- Track your spending
- Keep things in check
Implementing just one of these strategies will help save you from overspending. Do all five and you’ll be well on your way to having a fun-filled, debt-free summer. So save yourself time, headache and stress by drawing up a budget right now. Good luck!
That’s it for this post. I hope it has given you a few ideas on how to have a debt-free summer. If you like what you’ve read be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post! Join my tribe and kick-start creating a family life you love right now by filling in your details below. I’ll send you my FREE Daily Planner as a thank-you!
I’d love to know what your biggest takeaway is. What do you do to spend a little less over the summer? Let me know in the comments below!
If you liked this post why not give Make the Most of Your Summer Break in Five Easy Steps a read too. In it I share a few ways you can easily carve out quality time with one another and make your summer break one to remember.
Until next time…