Welcome back and thank you for joining us for episode 3 of the Money Moment podcast with your host, Dr. Jennifer Hunter. During the last episode, we talked about the many ways that summer fun activities can become budget busters and mostly focused on saving money on vacation. Today we are focusing on how to save money by planning a “stay-cation”, as well as how to plan for summer childcare.
Stay-cations are a great way to become a tourist in your own community. They save money and allow you the opportunity to get out and explore many local treasures. It can also be great activity to involve older children or teenagers in the planning process. Use the internet or resources available at the library to search for interesting things to do in your community, nearby towns. There are endless possibilities including state parks and caves, historic homes and birth places, museums, battle fields, and zoos.
A staycation is also a great way to encourage your teen to work in a college visit. State universities and private colleges often offer free scheduled daily tours to interested future students. Not only will it save your family money but it can help your teen understand that exciting educational opportunities are sometimes just outside your back door.
Be a tourist in your own city
If you are staying in your local for the summer, look for discounted days or free admission hours to local attractions, as well as additional tourist activities that may be running during the summer such as free festivals or outdoor concerts. Newspapers, bulletin boards, local libraries and internet search engines can all help you in your search for tourist activities close to home. Remember to also check if a military discount is available.
Be mindful of food costs
As discussed in episode 2, food can be quite expensive when eating out. Check with the places you are planning to visit to see if you can take a picnic lunch. Otherwise, aim to schedule the event so that you can eat at home either before or after the event.
Staycations are a great way to spend time with the kiddos while they are out of school during the summer. However, there are also many days you might need summer childcare. There are many options including local summer camps, sleep-away camps, in-home sitters, and daycares. It is estimated that over 50% of a family’s yearly childcare budget is spent in the summer months, so summer childcare can put a significant strain on a family’s budget.
Budget tips for summer camps
Summer camp fairs are a great way to explore the many different day and overnight camping opportunities in your local area. Doing your research in advance can help you choose the best option for your family. I recently attended one of these fairs and gathered lots of information about age groups, field trips, daily activities, registration fees, daily and weekly rates and payment structures. Remember that specialty day-camps such as sports, arts and music camps tend to be more expensive than traditional community day camp opportunities because they require camp counselors with a specific skill set.
There are other ways to save on summer camps by going to camp fairs. For example, at the fair I attended, I entered a draw to win a free week of camp, and actually won! Many camps at the fair also provided discount coupons.
As a military family you will want to check with your local military installations, because some military bases will offer summer programs and summer camping opportunities. You may also find free or discounted specialty military overnight summer camp opportunities.
Day and overnight summer camps are just one option to explore for summer child care.
Consider babysitters and nannies
You may be considering a summer babysitter or nanny. Depending on the number of hours you need care per week, this can be a more expensive option than camp opportunities if you only need care for one child. However, with two or more children, an in-home sitter or nanny may be more cost effective than enrolling multiple children in summer camps.
Determining a fair price to pay the sitter
If you are considering a sitter, you may be struggling to determine how much to pay that sitter. Questions to think about to help determine a fair price–how many hours per week are you going to need the sitter? Will you pay on an hourly, weekly or monthly basis?
If you are looking for a full time sitter, it is reasonable to assume that this will be someone’s summer job. Consider how you will handle the weeks that you do not need care or are on vacation, as this will influence the amount you will need or want to pay an in-home sitter. Other considerations in calculating a fair rate include the sitter’s experience, the number of children he or she will be caring for, any specific certification requests or requirements you have such as CPR, and what expectations are for the sitter in terms of planning and taking the kids to activities outside of the home.
Sitter sharing is a great way to reduce costs of an in home sitter. If you have a friend or neighbor with a child needing some care, you may be able to sitter share by having one sitter watch both sets of kiddos. Prior to establishing this relationship you must have a clear set of expectations for the sitter from both families.
Making plans for summer childcare and scheduling a vacation or planning a staycation does take some forethought. However, once you have everything lined up it’s great to experience the summer with your kiddos!
Be sure to join us next episode as we discuss the importance of family communication about money.
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy, U.S. Department of Defense under Award Number 2019-48770-30366.