Affordable summer fun for every family
Ahh, the pleasures of summer … eating at your favorite restaurant’s patio, outdoor concerts, trips to the water park. The trouble is, all that summer fun can add up fast.
Between family activities, camp, and extra childcare costs, summer puts a squeeze on many household budgets. One report found that parents spend an average of $958 per child on summer expenses. With oil prices going up this year, experts predict that gas and airline tickets will go up, too – making summer trips even more expensive.
While summer used to be prime time for vacation, one in four Americans won’t take a vacation this summer because they can’t afford it, according to a new Bankrate survey. If you’re planning to skip the expensive trip this year, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be stuck at home. Whether you’re a few years out of school or your kids are already out of the house, we’ve got summer fun suggestions that won’t break the bank.
If you don’t have kids yet
Many millennials say they’re not taking a vacation in 2018 because there’s too much on their plates, Bankrate found. With companies struggling to fill open positions, some workers feel like they can’t take time off – even if they’ve earned it. Nearly two-thirds of workers say they won’t use all of their paid vacation this year.
Our advice? Even if you can’t swing a weeklong trip, step away from the grind for a few days for a well-deserved staycation. Summer is the ideal time to be a tourist in your own city, whether you see a concert in the park, explore a neighborhood festival, or just head to the beach with a cooler stocked with the summer drink of 2018: rosé. If you’re itching to get out of town, there are plenty of affordable yet Instagram-worthy destinations from coast to coast.
If you have young kids
Not sure how to fill your summer days with a rambunctious little one? Remember this: All it takes to make a 5-year-old happy is a container of bubbles. For families with preschoolers or school-age kids, there’s no need to plan expensive or overly coordinated activities. Take advantage of what’s in your backyard, whether it’s your local splash pad, favorite playground, or your own sprinkler. A trip to the dollar store to pick out one or two items, like chalk and bubbles, can feel like a big treat to your kids and provide hours of summer fun.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try a low-key outing like berry picking – many sites offer free admission. Live near a city with a train line? Riding downtown and back is another cost-effective and exciting way to spend an afternoon with the younger set.
If you have teenagers
They’ll be out of the house in a few years, and you want to make some summer memories while you can. If you’re into sports, consider trading your annual outing to the ballpark for a minor-league game. A 2017 survey found that a family of four can attend a minor-league baseball game for about $66, which includes tickets, food, drinks, and parking. In comparison, it costs nearly $78 for just two people to attend a major-league game – and even more if you bring the kids along.
Looking for an inexpensive getaway? Spend a day hiking one of the national parks (many have free admission), or spend a little longer camping there (just make sure to bring these budget-friendly must-haves).
If you’re an empty nester
Once your kids are out on their own, it’s easier for just you and your spouse to travel without spending a bundle. If you’re planning to fly, consider booking one-way tickets instead of round-trip tickets and being flexible on your dates. With lots of families trading weeklong vacations for weekend getaways, traveling during the week can be much more affordable. Renting a home instead of staying in a hotel can also help you save. Affordable destinations around the U.S. include Denver and Washington, D.C., where admission to all the Smithsonian museums is free and you can find bus fares from New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore for as little as $15 to $20.
Summer goes fast, and there are plenty of ways to savor it without going into debt. Another way to feel more relaxed this summer? Make sure you have enough life insurance to protect your family – you never know when you’ll need it. By putting some of the money you save on affordable summer fun toward a policy, you’ll rest easier knowing your family is covered. And that’s good news in any season.
In the spirit of transparency, this blog post is for informational purposes only. We know how quickly things change, so we can’t guarantee the content and links to unaffiliated parties are up to date.