Planning for Summer Vacation on a Budget

Summer vacations are one of America’s favorite pastimes, and they can quickly rack up astronomical prices. From plane tickets to events, vendors know more families are likely to take luxurious vacations during the summer—with sky-high price tags to match. Luckily, there are several ways to plan for the ultimate summer getaway without paying thousands of dollars. Read on to learn the best ways to plan and save now so you can have your best summer vacation.

Automate Your Bank Accounts

It’s safe to assume that you probably have a bank account, and now is the perfect time to start putting aside your vacation fund with automated transfers to your savings account. This allows you to build up your vacation fund week-by-week rather than relying on making a large deposit or needing to scrounge during your vacation. A great savings account will also offer you an interest rate that will allow your money to grow over the coming months. While it might not seem like a lot initially, by the time you’re ready to go on vacation, the interest on the account will likely be enough to at least buy dinner for a night.

Look at Credit Cards

Credit cards have gotten a bad rep over the years for offering paltry rewards; however, credit card companies have upped their game over the last few years, especially regarding travel. From air miles to cashback rewards, credit cards can save you a lot of money on your vacation. Also, remember to check if your credit card offers specific deals on sites. For example, some companies partner with do-it-yourself travel sites like Expedia or Travelocity to offer a cashback reward on already low prices.

Know When to Book

When looking to plan, you were probably considering the mid-summer, right? Most people do, and businesses know to capitalize on this. This leads to surge pricing, meaning that companies will charge much more money for their services/accommodations simply because they know demand is high. To get the most out of your money, it’s important to go on off-times, like early June or in mid-August. This is when prices for summer getaways will be at their lowest, with many hotels and restaurants offering deep discounts to get their leftover rooms booked ASAP.

Book for the Experience, Not a Destination

Hawaii, Disney parks, and NYC are popular summer destinations for everyone—not just you—and prices are aimed to reflect this. Tourist areas will increase their prices during the summer months, leading to already pricy vacations costing much more than they normally would. The key to great summer vacations on a budget is being flexible. For example, a theme park may be on your “must-do” list, so consider looking at more budget-friendly options like Six Flags. Want a tropical vacation? Look at locations in Mexico or Central America. When you plan for the type of experience you want versus only considering a singular destination, you’ll find creative ways to save more money in the long run.

Prioritize Your Wants

What do you really want to get out of your vacation? Are you looking to spend a lot of quality time with your friends and/or family? Do you want to experience local culture? Spend quality time on a hobby like scuba diving or surfing? When you take the time to prioritize your vacation’s goals, you’ll be able to create a budget that reflects that. By taking the time to create a budget that reflects what you want to do, you can have one of the best vacations of your life while also doing everything you want to do. A sample budget for a foodie might look like:

  • 20% Transportation
  • 30% Lodgings
  • 35% Food
  • 15% Activities

Create a budget for your needs and make sure you…

Stick to Your Budget

Creating a budget won’t mean anything id you don’t stick to it, and it’s integral that you try to stick as closely as possible to your budget. Some things to do include:

  • Create a Daily Spending Limit – Think about what you want to do each day and ballpark about how much that will cost. For example, your first night there will probably be relatively affordable, but you may want to splurge more on your second or third day. If you don’t meet your budget on a specific day, you can plan to use that money on a different day.
  • Don’t Use Your Credit Card – If you’ve planned to use your credit card, that’s great, but credit cards are frequently utilized to overspend. If you find a product or service you really want, look to cut down on your spending in other areas instead of relying on credit cards for splurges.

Look for Discounts

Whether you decide to go someplace far away or someplace close to home, you can likely find a lot of freebies and discounts wherever you decide to vacation. From group rates for theme parks or free admission on certain days to special deals and promotions at restaurants, there are likely ways to get discounts on whatever you’re looking to do on your vacation. Take the time to research where you want to go and what specials they’ll be offering.

Flexibility is Key

Planning a luxurious vacation on a budget is not impossible; however, it does require flexibility on your part. By being flexible on your dates and making changes to your itinerary, you can save thousands of dollars while still having a wonderful vacation experience. If dates aren’t flexible, look to be flexible in other areas, such as changing your destination to a cheaper alternative or selecting different venues that are more budget-conscious.

Planning a summer vacation on a budget may seem like a monumental task; however, once you know how to plan smartly, you’ll be able to get the best vacation of your life without needlessly spending thousands of dollars. From looking to budget and automating your bank accounts to remaining flexible and prioritizing what you want to get out of your vacation, you’ll save money while creating the trip of a lifetime.

Cheap Ways to Teach/Keep Your Kids Entertained

Spring and summer breaks will soon be upon us, and it’s imperative that our kiddos stay entertained during this time. Far too often, kids become bored during these long breaks in addition to losing a lot of what they learned in school before the break. Luckily, there are cheap things you can do to teach your kids that also keep them entertained. Read on to learn how to keep your kids happy and learning no matter how long their breaks are.

Spring Cleaning

Cleaning probably results in you arguing with your kids; however, it provides valuable life lessons for your kids. Instead of making it a chore, why not turn it into a game? Rewards can be as simple as a candy bar or new toy—or even picking the next movie for movie night. If you have multiple kids, you’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll clean if they think there’s something at stake if you set up a competition (e.g. who can clean their room the fastest, who can clean the most windows). Make cleaning fun and see your kids learn to love cleaning.

Crafting

Are you an avid scrapbooker? Model builder? Robotics explorer? Crafting comes in a variety of forms, and it teaches children the value of entertaining themselves while exploring their creativity. Smaller children will enjoy painting and coloring while older kids will likely love to build something themselves. Take the time to come up with some crafts for your kids and see what they make.

Volunteer

A lot of kids don’t quite realize how fortunate they and their families are, and volunteering is an excellent opportunity for kids to give back. Animal shelters frequently look for people willing to walk dogs while nursing homes frequently have established programs for kids to come talk to seniors. By teaching your children to give their time to needy causes, you are teaching them the valuable skills of empathy and charitableness.

Cooking

Cooking is one of those skills we tend to overlook, but if you want to prevent your child from relying on Hamburger Helper for the rest of their lives, it may be the most important thing you ever teach your child. Start by pulling out recipe books and letting your kids pick out a few recipes they think sound good. Next, take them to the supermarket to purchase the required groceries (or teach them how to grow their own veggies). Finally, work with your kids to follow the recipe, stepping in only when they cannot complete a certain step, like cutting vegetables or meat. Kids will feel pride for making the family’s meal while you can take solace in them learning an invaluable skill.

Movie Night

Who doesn’t love to sit down with a bag of popcorn and watch a good movie? Movie nights are fun for everyone, and they can also be educational. Choose a few kid-friendly documentaries and let your kids decide on which one they want to watch. Not only will they spend quality time with you, they’ll also learn about something that interests them.

Summer Business

From car washes to lemonade stands to lawn mowing, there are plenty of viable skills your children can profit off of. By letting them open a summer business, you’re teaching them valuable money management skills in addition to the old adage of hard work paying off. Just remember that when selling food, permitting may be required.

Nature Adventures

From neighborhood to national parks, there’s a whole world for your children to explore, and you are the perfect guide for them. Take your kids out to explore the world around them by letting them enjoy nature. To make this even more fun, consider creating a nature guide showcasing your area’s natural plants and wildlife. If you live in an urban location, let your kids explore the world through your phone/tablet/computer on various websites with live streams or informative videos.

Free/Discounted Museums/Galleries/Zoos

Most cities will have some sort of museum, and many will offer free or discounted days for children. Your children can learn about nearly anything for pennies on the dollar. Furthermore, most children qill happily spend a couple of hours at a museum, art gallery or zoo—especially if there are kid-centric activities they can participate in.

Single-Day Camps

While week or month-long summer camps may not be feasible, plenty of groups offer day camps during Spring and Summer Breaks that keep kids entertained for a few hours. These camps will focus on a wide-variety of skills, ranging from sports to computers to business, to give kids an introduction to these industries. Most day camps are also extremely affordable and include everything your kid needs for a single day.

Visit the Library

Libraries are sadly one of the most ignored public systems, but they have a wide variety of activities for kids. From reading groups to book clubs to crafting, most libraries are dedicated to teaching kids through various programs or camps. If your child is more of a solitary learner, consider letting them check out several books a week to enjoy from the comfort of their own home (and consider purchasing books they regularly check out).

Learn a Skill

From drawing to coding, there are numerous skills that are more child-friendly than you might think. The long breaks are the perfect time for kids to learn or hone a skill. Make sure to provide your child with the proper supplies and see where their imagination takes them. They just might learn a skill they use for life.

Spring and Summer Breaks may feel overwhelming, but when you plan activities for your kids, you’ll discover that these can be fun and exciting times with plenty of room for learning. From Spring Cleaning to library visits to letting your kids start their own business, there are plenty of activities that will facilitate your child’s development and growth while allowing them to have plenty of fun during long breaks from school. Watch your child’s mind grow and see them start their next school year on the right foot when you use these breaks as learning tools.

Ways To Work out In The Spring On A Budget

The warm weather in spring calls for you to go outside and get active. You may want to shed off some winter weight or start your fitness journey. But how can you do this without breaking the bank? Here are some suggestions:

Outdoors Yoga

Yoga is a great way to start your day, and what could be more refreshing than practicing in the great outdoors? There are plenty of yoga poses that you can do outdoors without any special equipment. Find a park or nature trail near you and get your om on!

If you are new to yoga, it might be good to attend a class or workshop first. There are plenty of free courses offered in most cities. You can also use YouTube videos as a guide.

You can connect with nature and get your workout in simultaneously with outdoor yoga. It is cheap, easy, and fun!

Work out with Friends

You can get social and get fit by working out with friends. There are so many activities that you can do as a group. Soccer, basketball, baseball, hiking, and camping are all great activities to do with friends. Not only will you get a good workout, but you will also have fun!

If you are uncertain about where to start, ask your friends for suggestions. They probably will be more than happy to share their favorite activities with you.

Working out with friends will keep you motivated and have fun. It’s also a great way to save money because you can split the cost of gas or admission fees.

Join a Cheap Gym

Gyms can be expensive, but a few gyms offer low monthly rates. If you don’t mind working out in a group setting, then a cheap gym might be good.

Most gyms offer free trials, so you can test out the facility before signing up. Make sure to ask about the monthly rates and any other fees that might apply.

If you are looking for a more personalized workout experience, you might want to invest in a personal trainer. Personal trainers can be expensive, but there are also a few that offer affordable rates.

Now that you are on a budget, you can start with a cheap gym within your budget. Just be sure to check out the rates and fees before signing up. You don’t want any surprises down the road.

Work out at Home

If you want to save some money, consider working out at home. You can use your body weight as resistance or purchase some inexpensive equipment. Additionally, working out at home is an excellent option if you are short on time.

There are plenty of workouts that you can do in your own home. YouTube is an excellent resource for finding free exercises. Just type in the type of workout you are looking for, and find tons of videos.

Working out at home is a great way to get in a workout while they play if you have kids. You can also use this time to catch up on your favorite show or podcast.

Working out at home is cheap, convenient, and accessible. You can tailor the workout to fit your own needs and schedule.

Walk or Run in your Neighborhood

There are many ways to get fit in spring, but walking or running in your neighborhood is the cheapest and most accessible. It is free, and it is also a great way to see your area. If you are looking for a more challenging workout, try running hills.

If you are new to running, start by walking first. Then, slowly work your way up to running. You might also want to try out the Couch to 5k program.

The best part about walking or running in your neighborhood is that you can do it whenever you have time. There is no need to make reservations or drive somewhere. Just put on your shoes and go!

Get a Bike

Outdoor cycling will give you a great workout while enjoying the spring weather. You can find bikes relatively cheaply or even borrow one from a friend.

Cycles can offer a great cardio workout, and if you stick to hills and terrain that are a little more challenging, you can add strength training to your routine.

Research shows that cyclists also have lower rates of heart disease and cancer, so getting on your bike is a great way to improve your health! If you’re not used to cycling, start slowly and build up the distance and intensity of your rides. You don’t want to injure yourself before you’ve even had a chance to enjoy the benefits of cycling.

Outdoor Sports

Spring is the best time to join the group sports or start a game that you have wanted to do. Many cities have free leagues for softball, soccer, or basketball. You can also find groups that play tag or frisbee golf.

Joining a group is a great way to make friends and have fun. Most of these sports are also very social, so you can chat with your friends while working up a sweat.

These sports are a great way to stay active, but they are also affordable. You don’t need any fancy equipment or gear, just a good pair of sneakers.

One of the sports that are growing in popularity is pick-up soccer. It is a great way to exercise and have fun with friends.

Swim at the Local Pool

Swimming is a great workout, and you can swim in any weather. Swimming is a low-impact exercise, so it is excellent for people just starting to get active.

Swimming is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health, and it is also a great way to tone your body. Not to mention, swimming is a lot of fun.

Most communities have public pools open during the spring and summer months.

Join a YMCA or Community Center Health Club

If you are looking for a more structured workout, joining a YMCA or community center might be the right option. These facilities offer a variety of classes and activities that can help you meet your fitness goals.

The best part about joining a YMCA or community center is that the cost is often meagre. In some cases, you can join for free. You also have the option of purchasing a membership that fits your budget.

The spring is a great time to get active and stay healthy. There are many ways to work out without spending a lot of money. You can walk, run, cycle, play sports, or swim at the local pool. You can also join a YMCA or community center health club. Whatever option you choose, make sure to fit it into your schedule and needs. It should also be safe and effective. Remember to have fun and stay healthy!