You’ve read all the articles about inexpensive summertime activities. The ideas sound good, and you know keeping it simple is the best thing for your budget, but you can’t help thinking, “Will my kids really enjoy a hike in the woods? They won’t feel cheated if we have a picnic in the park instead of a Disney World vacation?”
The community at MyTotalMoneyMakeover.com (MyTMMO) recently discussed whether or not kids can appreciate a frugal summer. Members traded ideas and reassurance that “it’s not the expensive things they remember.”
MyTMMO user Kvarady started things off: “I happen to be on vacation with my family right now and asked the girls what they remember as their best summers. There seems to be a recurring theme in their responses. It is the simple (and frugal) things that stick in their memory as the best of times.” Some of the activities include family bike rides, day trips to lakes, renting paddle boats, playing freeze tag, and catching fireflies while the grown-ups sit in lawn chairs in the driveway.
Other members quizzed their kids and got similar answers. Swimming, homemade popsicles, campfires, catching frogs and toads, fishing, family game and movie nights, hoops in the driveway, climbing trees, building forts, camp outs, parades and fireworks top a long list of ideas that won’t break the bank but will build lifelong memories.
MyTMMO user WizardRose said her older children, ages 19, 17 and 13 had a blast acting as guides for their little sister, 7, on her first hike. “As I listened, I had tears, because everything they said I had taught them on our summer free fun adventures.”
Other members described their own best summertime memories. Disney World was not mentioned at all.
In case you need more inspiration, here are some additional ideas from MyTMMO members:
Food makes memories – Make homemade ice cream or ice cream treats. Can fresh veggies from the garden or farmer’s market, and make varieties of popcorn for movie nights. Experiment with new recipes.
Shake up movie night – If you can find a drive-in theater, the experience is worth the trip. There’s usually a double feature, and you can take your own dinner. For an at-home movie night, take advantage of late bed times and watch a bunch of movies at once.
Read and read some more – A couple of MyTMMO users paid their kids to read, and many planned to make trips to the library a regular part of their summer vacations.
Bored kids not allowed – If anyone says “I’m bored,” he or she gets something to do. Suggestions include picking up sticks in the backyard and sorting laundry.
Parents have to get over the idea that summer vacation has to be an expensive, exotic affair. If you can afford it—great! If not, you and your kids can have a great summer simply enjoying the season together.
My TMMO user Lmeyer summed it up best: “Forget about the cost and hours to get there. Kids just love spending time together.”
What are some of your kids' best summer memories? Join in the conversation at MyTotalMoneyMakeover.com!
Summer is also a great time to teach your kids about money in a fun way! Check out Financial Peace Jr. to get them on the path to becoming millionaires!
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