You’re probably not paying for summer childcare for your tween or teen, but the warm-weather months can still be hard on your budget. The costs of camps, trips to the mall, and outings to water parks and festivals can really add up.
Luckily, there are fun and affordable activities available for your older kids. Here are some ways to save money on summer fun:
Set a budget. It’s always smart to decide in advance how much you’re willing to spend on summer camps and fun outings. Talk candidly with your child about your budget as summer starts. If you’re considering a few special camps, classes, or outings (such as concerts or amusement park visits), let your child choose which one or two he or she would really like to attend. Then brainstorm ways your tween/teen can fill in his or her summer calendar with cheaper activities. This is also a good time to talk about how much money your child will need to chip in from his or her allowance, savings, or paycheck.
Put them to work. There’s no reason older kids can’t work at least part-time to earn summer spending money. If jobs are hard to find in your community or your child is still just a bit too young, get entrepreneurial. Summer is prime time for jobs like caring for gardens or pets while neighbors are away on vacation; babysitting younger kids at block parties, family gatherings, and birthday parties; washing cars; and much more. Tweens can prep themselves for later jobs by volunteering. Check places like your local library (children’s summer-reading programs usually love tween helpers), your local animal shelter, or nearby camps that might need junior counselors.
Allow a bit more screen time. If you’ve limited your kids’ computer time to an hour per weekday or just on weekends, consider letting up a little in the summer. It’s still wise to have a policy for your family’s digital use (i.e., no online chatting with people you don’t know in real life, mom and dad must have access to all social media user names and passwords, and so on), but most tweens and teens won’t overdo the virtual fun when there is real-life fun to enjoy outside and with friends.
Look for cheap fun. Many teens are anxious to hang out at the local pool, so check in to find out if a discounted youth pass is available. Hobby stores often offer inexpensive summer youth workshops teaching fun subjects like decorating cupcakes or making jewelry. And don’t forget to check your local high school: Many now offer inexpensive summer classes for middle-schoolers. Your tween may be able to choose from a beginning cooking class, sports clinic, or art workshop. Many of the skills your tween picks up in these summer courses will benefit him or her during the upcoming school year, too.
With a little planning, teens and tweens can have a great summer that won’t break your budget.