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How to Survive the Summer Without Adding Debt

The weather is getting warmer and you want to make the most of it. That doesn’t mean you need to go into debt to enjoy all that summer has to offer! Parents are especially feeling the financial squeeze right now and with all the added expenses that summer can bring, it’s time to create a plan that will help you avoid financial potholes.

The struggle is real, break the cycle

Canadian parents are up against a lot and summer can make financial stress worse. With higher childcare costs for working parents, day camp expenses and other activities to keep kids engaged, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here are a few coping strategies to lighten the financial stress load:

  1. Create a summer budget you can stick to – Carefully plan out how much money you’ll have over the summer months. How much extra can you start saving now? Where can you cut costs a little in order to afford summer expenses? A 2015 BMO survey found parents spend an extra 75 per cent on groceries alone during summer breaks. Make sure you’re being realistic when projecting your expenses. When you have a plan, it’s easier to stay on target.
  2. Commit to a debt-free summer vacation – Set a clear plan by looking at your summer goals as a family. How can you scale back on expenses while still enjoying the break? Adding to debt over summer time can easily become fall debt and then holiday debt all over again. Break the cycle by refusing to add to your debt. Instead, take a look at your debt relief options which can help you free up monthly cash and add more money to your savings.
  3. Don’t ignore your goals – Set your priorities straight and focus on your most important financial goals such as repaying your debts, saving for retirement, maybe a home renovation if you can swing it. It’s always a good idea to revisit these goals on a regular basis, especially before a season of higher spending. During the summer, many families put their financial goals on hold in order to complete tangible goals. While they are important, your financial health should always come first.

Make the most of the season with affordable family fun

Families spend over $2700 per month on social outings, entertaining, groceries and gas during the summer. If you, like many parents, don’t have that kind of money lying around, use these ideas to save big:

  • Choose free or low cost activities – Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Family bike rides to local parks, daily library programs or free weekend festivals will keep you and the kids entertained, all summer long!
  • Plan a low-cost family vacation – Instead of buying plane tickets, schedule a family camping trip and get re-acquainted with nature.
  • Plan a garage sale – Make extra cash while getting rid of unwanted items. Advertise your sale on a Facebook group, Kijiji, or your local newspaper.
  • Hosting a BBQ? – Turn it into a potluck and BYOB so you’re not covering the full cost of food and beverages for your friends and family.

Find some inspiration

Juggling a family, consumer debt, a mortgage, and all your other financial responsibilities is rough. That’s why it’s good to find support and inspiration from others who know the struggle and can offer advice. Canadian Budget Binder is a great resource for frugal living tips that are reasonable and easy-to follow. In addition, Hollie Pollard from Common Cents Mom is an awesome mom with great financial advice for families. Following them and other financial bloggers can help you stay inspired to meet your money goals.

What are your summer coping strategies? How will your family keep from adding to existing debt this summer? Share your best tips with us via Twitter! #ParentingTips #DebtSolutions

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