This summer was very different for us. Normally I create a calendar of things for the boys and I to do everyday of the week and most are local plus cheap/free. Last summer I found this really hard to do with the age differences of my guys one is 2.5 and the other is 9. Realistically, my youngest does not have the attention span to sit through longer library programs and my oldest gets very board going to little plays.
My plan of attack was to schedule my oldest for some camps and do a lot of in home activities and visiting family with my youngest to break up the days.
What actually happened was a mixture of all of this and I wanted to share some of the ways we made it work.
1. How we afforded camps: day camps of any sorts are very expensive in the range of $100-200+ for one week of attendance. If you read how we budget for summer actives you know that we do not plan for this type of cost,so we did the next best thing and asked for money towards the camps for birthdays. Doing this not only stopped some unneeded toys making their way to a clean room BUT it also is helping with delayed gratification. My son's birthday is in April and the camp he really wanted to attend was in July. He had to wait a long time to truly "get his" present but I was very proud that it did not seem to bother him for the most part.
We also took advantage of our families cabin and family camp this summer. Family Camp is a week long camp that my in-laws church hosts at their retreat center. I know this is not the case for every family but sometimes you have to look for the opportunity. The camp is free is you own or know someone that owns a home on the property or just a small fee if you need to rent a cabin. My in-laws happen to own a cabin on property and took my oldest up for the week. My little guy and I visited as well which made it like a mini vacation for use.
Finally, look for discounts by helping out, being a member of a club already or even asking if there is a referral discount! Our local FCA camps offer discounts to member of the FCA and it can save you a lot of money if you can volunteer a few hours during the week.
2. Family Gardens: You may have noticed that I have not been posting a bunch of grocery deals and there is a reason. I have not been going! My in-laws and parents plant a garden every year ( if you saw I attempted container gardening this summer) and I have been trying my hardest to live off of the yields from them for most of the summer. This has saved me a lot of money. I went to Aldi and Sam's once a month and then if I needed something for the week just picked it up at Target and tried to use cartwheel. I am now heading back to the store and freezing the items that the garden is producing for the winter to help balance the cost of fresh produce. This savings allowed us to be a little more flexible with special treats and actives.
If you don't have a family garden or your own check into community gardens or create one in your neighborhood!
3.My thermal tote: Guys having a thermal tote may seem like a given or it may seem like a silly things but this item saved me BIG money from eating out every single time we went hiking or on an adventure for more than 3 hours. We simply packed our water, food and an ice pack in the thermal tote and went on our way. I even made sure to pack my pups collapsible water bowl and cool water for him! We went to see fireworks and avoided all the pricey (but yummy) treats, we went on many hikes and didn't have to stop for water or food. It was a great way to get out and about for nothing but Gas $$.
4. Youtube: If you have not used youtube as a resource you are missing out! Over the summer my car turned 10 and rolled over to 100,000 miles. To celebrate she decided to cost me A LOT of money. I know what you are thinking aren't you supposed to be telling me how to save money? Well, yes and I did save a bunch of money from A.) going to Autozone to have them read my check engine light for FREE and B.) going home and search how to fix the problem. If the issue was something that my husband felt comfortable doing we fixed it and it saved us all of labor costs and about 10-20% on parts. Youtube has been a wealth of knowledge for me in general when I need to learn a new skill. Don't just think you are going to find funny videos and music. I have taught myself how to make cakes, beginners knit and ways to repair broken games systems. (follow me for great resources on saving money)
5.Decluttering: This is a tricky one because I didn't save money or make money but I stopped buying new things. Over the summer I was on a mission to get rid of things that I didn't not need/want/like. Going room by room I realized I had too much stuff and some of the things I did have that I loved wasn't even being used or highlighted in my home. I took most of the summer to read things out, reorganized and grow to love less. The items I got rid of were not fancy or expensive and some things just need to go straight to the dump. I know all my frugal friends I could have sold the items and made money but for me it was emotionally satisfying to donate them and say goodbye once and for all. Decluttering also made me really not want to buy anything else all summer. If you know me I don't buy needless things anyway but this summer I can't tell you one thing I bought that didn't have a purpose immediately as soon as it came into my house.
I hope this was helpful in some way to you. This summer was not filled with exciting trips or lavish items but we really got back to the basics of life a little and it felt good and saved my bank account a few dollars. Did you see what we did do over the summer for the kids?
What did you do this summer to save a few dollars?