When your budget won't let you give gifts to everyone in the world—which is always, by the way—who should you give...
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We’re all a bit easier to please during the summer months. School is out. Schedules are more laid back. And an evening of entertainment may simply require a few lawn chairs for the adults and a sprinkler for the kids to run through. Take advantage of that easygoing attitude, and your budget will thank you!
1. Cook Up Savings in the Kitchen
For most of us, summertime means fewer scheduled evening activities, so it’s the perfect time to cook more meals at home. Even if you find yourself on the run, grilling is a fast and tasty way to get dinner on the table quickly.
Speaking of tasty, consider planting your own vegetable garden. George Ball, chairman and CEO of seed giant Burpee, says every dollar you spend on green bean seeds will result in a green bean harvest worth $75. Mr. Burpee, er, Ball may be exaggerating a bit, but a family vegetable garden is a great family project that can cut your grocery bill.
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If you don’t have green thumb, try your local farmer’s market for fresh produce at a great price. If you’re really industrious, you can even buy extras and can them for the winter.
Don’t forget the no-fail way to reap the savings, especially in the summer—cut up the credit card! People buy more junk food with plastic, and who needs junk food when there’s an abundance of fresh summer fruit and veggies?
2. Enjoy Simple Entertainment
Everyone needs some time to relax and have fun. Luckily, summertime fun can be simple and inexpensive. Here are a handful of ideas to make the most of the season’s fun:
- Enjoy the warm weather with outdoor activities that are also good for your health, like neighborhood bike rides or playing Marco Polo with the garden hose. Who needs a gym membership when you have activities like that?
- Organize a neighborhood foursquare, kickball or soccer tournament. Better yet, get your kids involved and let them run with the idea.
- Gather cardboard boxes of various sizes and make something from nothing.
- Check websites for local hidden attractions to find their “freebie” days.
And keep in mind, your kids don’t need you to shell out for expensive outings. They will honestly enjoy family game nights, camping out and watching fireworks as long as it means spending time with you.
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3. Get the Kids to Contribute
From the 1950s to the 1990s, 45–60% of teenagers had summer jobs. These days, only about 25% work during the summer. Summer jobs are great for teaching kids the responsibilities of holding down a job. They’ll also learn the value of earning and managing money.
If you have older kids, encourage them to be creative about how they can earn some money in their free time. Your budget will benefit as well since they won’t be hitting you up for spending money!
Regardless of your kids’ ages, the summer season presents many teachable moments that can last for a lifetime. While you’re lounging by the pool, dive into the practical guidance from Smart Money Smart Kids. This #1 national bestseller teaches parents how to raise money-smart kids in a debt-filled world.