How to manage your kids & your budget during summer vacation

Keeping children occupied during the summer can get expensive.  Trips to the movies, swim lessons, toys, and meals-on-the-run can quickly turn into budget breakers.  Here are some kid-friendly ways to enjoy a fun and frugal summer.

-Take a hike.  Parks offer such activities as hiking, biking, canoeing, and swimming.  These activities can be a healthy form of exercise and offer a low cost great alternative to TV and video games. 
-Share responsibilities.  Swap sitting time with a friend or neighbor to share parental responsibilities.   Or, if you are more organized than I am, you can join or start a babysitting coop.
-Tap community resources.  Some organizations, such as the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs, provide programs that include regular activities for kids of all ages. And in addition to being inexpensive, they benefit the kids by involving them in sports, swimming, and crafts. 
-Check out a library.  Reading should play an important role in your child’s life all year long, so don’t forget to visit your local library.
-Encourage their creativity.  Many child development experts say that children learn the most when they are playing. Provide them with art supplies and encourage their inner Van Gogh
-Explore your own backyard.  Something as simple as planting seeds and watching them grow can be fun and educational.  Take a nature walk in your own neighborhood to notice of the amazing array of bugs, birds, and plants normally taken for granted.  Finally, don’t forget that there is a reason they are called “the lazy days of summer.”  Summertime is designed for taking it easy, so don’t stress too much about planning every minute.  Even active children need a break and should be allowed to learn the art of relaxation.  If you aren’t buying it, check out these 94 ways to keep kids busy from Sparkplugging.com.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.