Summertime requires its own budget.
Between camps and vacations, and the endless snacking in between (seriously, what is it about summer that makes kids think they are starving to death?!), pennies need to be pinched a little tighter to make things work.
This summer, our family knocked out all our fun in the first three weeks. We did family vacation, camps, and grandparent visits one after the other, coming out the other side exhausted and full of memories.
Now, the rest of the summer looms before us, a wide open expanse of time just waiting to be filled. Only, we’ve already crushed the budget, so now what?
Now we get creative.
When my children were smaller, I found that filling their summer days was easier. They were content with toys and trips to the park and could spend hours running through a sprinkler.
Now that they’re older, we’re having to be a little more proactive in how we guide their empty days. Enter, the Summertime Agenda of Awesome.
“Check the board!” I say with a smile. And they trudge to it, usually mumbling under their breath because teens and tweens are super fun that way…
Our number one task for this summer is to practice boredom.
You don’t have anything to do? Figure it out. I am not the party planner, nor am I the chauffeur. We have shelves full of books to read, mounds of paper on which to write or draw, and a whole house that is in constant need of cleaning. Enjoy, kids! I’ll be in the corner reading my book if you need me.
Our kids are at the age where they can pretty self-sufficiently care for themselves. My job is simply to place things in front of them and see what they do.
Keeping plenty of supplies on hand for cooking and baking occupies the older two. This also gives them ample time to learn how to clean a kitchen properly.
Two birds, one stone.
We’ve also implemented an allowance strategy that puts money in their pockets, maintains a cleaner house, and teaches them how to save and when to spend.
At the end of every week, if they have made their beds every day, kept their rooms clean, deep cleaned their bathrooms at least once and managed their electronic time without me having to nag them, they each get a certain amount of money. There is a catch with this little allowance, though.
If they want to go out to lunch rather than eat the food already stocked in our house, that’s fine. But they have to use their own money to pay for their lunch. If they want ice cream on a hot summer evening, no problem – they can treat themselves.
If they want to go to the mall – great! They just have to remember that any new clothes or shoes or trinkets must be purchased with their own cash.
The point, we’ve told them, is that we are done spending money on them. But if they play their cards right, and do the things they need to do, they should have a little play money of their own to spend or save as they see fit.
Since we’ve implemented this little cash system, an interesting phenomenon has occurred: Suddenly, going out to eat isn’t as appealing as it once was. When forced to choose between saving their money for something special, or getting another sandwich from Chickfila, they are wisely choosing to save their cash.
It is like a summertime miracle!
So here we are, well into summer, and our kids are beginning to wonder if they just might die of boredom. Maybe they will. It’s hard to say for sure. But, if they play their cards right, they won’t die with empty pockets.
I’d consider that a summertime win.
How are you surviving summer on a budget?