I just had lunch with a good friend who is dreading summer already. How can that be?
She told me why.
She and her husband both work, so they have to line up someone to watch the kids for eight-plus weeks after Memorial Day. Combined, their kids will take part in at least 65 baseball games and 14 swim meets, not to mention practices and the hours of travel. Each
child has at least one camp to attend, too. At the end of it all comes the family vacation.
As she told me this, I started adding up all the costs in my head. Now I understand why a lot of parents can’t wait for school to start again. Summer is crazy expensive!
Fortunately, there are ways to soften the blow to your budget. I can’t take credit for most of these ideas. But I’ve taken many a mental note listening to moms with several summers under their belts.
Name the game. Sure, you want your child to explore whatever their athletic passion may be (assuming they have one). But it’s no reason you should go into debt. Have him/
her choose one sport for the summer.
• Pinch equipment pennies. Kids outgrow bats, helmets, rackets … you name it long before the equipment’s useful life expires. Before the season starts, check out eBay,
Craigslist or Play it Again Sports (www.playitagainsports.com) to find gear at a fractionof the cost of new.
• Load up the bus. You’re all going to the same game; swim meet, practice, whatever. Split up the driving duties with other parents and you’ll slash your gasoline
bill. If you need to be at every game, share the ride with another family. http://
So what about the everyday issue of what to do with the kids while you’re at work?
• Share a sitter. Several friends have had great luck hiring older high school girls or college freshmen to care for the kids during the day. Due to the volume of hours, they often charge less than the going rate for babysitters. I know two friends who share a sitter
every day. They pay less, and the sitter makes more for just a “little” more work. Plus, the kids get a playmate every day. http://www.care.com/kansas-city-babysitters
• Time camps/vacations right. If possible, get your kids into the same camp or camps that occur on the same week. It’s worth the effort, in babysitter expenses alone. Same goes for
family vacations. Plan yours to coincide with your sitter’s. The more days you don’t need someone to watch them, the more you’ll save.
Look into your local YMCA http://www.kansascityymca.org/, community center or parks and rec for day camps, sports, classes and other activities to get your kids out of the
house and away from the screen. Most are very affordable. Zoo and theme park passes
are other good, reasonably priced options – assuming you can use them enough. And
libraries, for about a million reasons, are great outlets for kids!
Summer is expensive, no doubt. But keep these ideas in mind and you’ll have more
left over from a strapped summer budget. At least enough to keep you from longing for
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.