For Stay-at-Home and Work-at-Home Moms
Kids crave and devour the freedom and fun of summer, but parents sometimes grimace at the extra expenses summer brings. If you are a stay-at-home mom or work-at-home mom you might notice a sharp rise in expenses now that the kids are exploring all of their summertime options. You can still create wonderful summer memories with your kids without breaking your budget by taking a few frugal shortcuts.
Frugal Food Savings
I hear from many families that their grocery bills skyrocket in the summer now that the kids are home and hungry (for me as a homeschool mom, this is typical territory!). There are a few simple and efficient ways to keep your grocery budget from eating away at your savings.
Avoid prepackaged snacks that are in individual portions – those single bags of chips, crackers, and yogurt might seem easy to grab, but they really take a chunk out of your pocket as you spend just as much on packaging as you do on the actual food product. This summer buy an inexpensive set of plastic storage containers and snack sized zipper seal bags and create your own single servings. I buy natural applesauce and spoon it into mini cups for fruit in the go (just keep it refrigerated). You can package your own yogurt, crackers, cereal, dried fruit, cheese, or practically any other snack your kids are craving.
Make your own specialty drinks. We all crave more beverages during the hot summer, but don’t get sucked into spending extra on bottles of drinks for you and the kids.
- Brew your own iced tea with tea bags, honey, and slices of lemon. The kids like to think they are “cooking” outside as the tea brews in the sun.
- Make iced coffee for your own afternoon treat when the kids are running through the sprinkler. I make a pot of coffee, turn off the pot as soon as it has percolated, then poor over ice and keep in the fridge. When I’m ready for a glass I just poor over crushed ice and add a liquid coffee flavor (my favorites are peppermint or caramel).
- Make yogurt smoothies (on hot days these are also my kids’ lunch favorites). Take a 16 oz. container of fat free vanilla yogurt, add a cup of milk, and your favorite fruits. Blend and serve with a fun summer straw (makes about 5 servings).
Pack it in a picnic basket. Even if you don’t dine further than the backyard, a PB&J is suddenly a wonderful entrée when pulled from the hampers of an old fashioned picnic basket, especially atop a checkered cloth.
Frugal Field Trips
We don’t usually take a huge family vacation during the summer, but instead do lots of short, stay-cation type of days between baseball tournaments and 4-H events. We also don’t spend a fortune on these activities (but still have the time of our lives).
- Check out your local library for free summer reading program activities – we have the zoomobile, magicians, and great acts that come a few times a week to perform for the kids – all free of charge.
- Visit living history sites. Many of these are free or inexpensive, take advantage of beautiful outdoor weather, and teach the kids something in the process (but shhh, don’t tell them that!).
- Head to the movie theatre. Local theatres often offer inexpensive summer movie showings one day each week just for kids.
- Request a tourist packet from your own state and city. These often come with great coupons on local attractions, and you might even learn a thing or two about your own backyard.
- Try bowling on a hot day. Our local bowling alley offers 99 cent bowling before 4:00 p.m. during the weekdays.
- Look at family passes to the zoo or your state history center. For me with 4 children, I pay for my family pass by just attending our local zoo one time. Then the rest of the summer I can yell “Road trip!” and head 1.5 hours to the zoo for an afternoon of hiking the trails and watching the creatures.
More Frugal Fun
- Have a board game day. Our son is heading to a friend’s house this week for a marathon of Risk with a group of guys. Take turns with other parents hosting a game day each week or month, and everyone can chip in for snacks.
- Use Groupon and Living Social. These are must-use sites for me when it comes to saving money on activities with the kids. The offers pertain to my zip code so they are relevant, and the deals can really add up in a hurry. I buy things like party packages to the local entertainment complex, then split the overall cost with other parents and we have a fun day for our kids for only about $2/child.
- Visit Barnes & Nobel to sign your kids up for their summer reading program with great prizes.
- Visit your local hardware store for kids’ classes. Home Depot has workshops just for kids where they learn to build things like birdhouses, and the materials are usually free.
- Check out DVDs from your local library. My kids like to select one or two of those and a book on CD for those boiling days when we are ready to crash from the heat.
If you have great ways to save during the summer without cutting out the fun in the sun, I’d love to hear from you!