Summer. Just the word tends to make us swoon with happy anticipation. Warmer weather, vacation, and ice cream: what’s not to like? Well, how about a bad day camp experience, a week-long stay in a rundown motel, or a lawn that makes your neighbors gossip (and not in a good way)?
There’s no doubt with summer comes pleasure, but it can quickly turn into a season of pain if you don’t plan accordingly, and now! By checking the following things off your list early, you’re sure to have a summer that lives up to the hype—and maybe even save a few bucks while you’re at it.
Every parent knows how pleasant morning can be when the kids are excited to go wherever it is they’re going. It cuts down on the drama and the time it takes to get out the door. So it’s worth investing the time now to choose summer camps, so your kids—and you—are happy, um, campers!
There seems to be no shortage of summer camps, both overnight and day camps. Sports, technology, music, art, and theatre/performance camps are just a few of the options. And while you may know your child’s preferences, you might be surprised to learn your all-star athlete has a secret yearning to belt out Broadway tunes. So rule number one: talk to your child now about camps they may like to try.
A few more tips:
- There’s a reason why the most popular camps fill up quickly, so the earlier the better for signing up.
- Does your child’s school hold a camp fair? Find out now, and clear both your schedule and your child’s schedule to attend. Then you can check out the booths together. Encourage your child to ask questions, too. Then bring the brochures home and review them together when you have time.
- Keep your ear to the (camp) ground. Ask neighbors and other parents for suggestions. Plus, if your child is on the shy side, it may be helpful for them to see some familiar faces at camp!
For most, lawn maintenance is one of the least fun things to think about or do, or to spend your money to have someone else do it for you. But when you drive down your street, and the scary-looking house with the overgrown flowerbeds and brown grass belongs to you, you’ll wish you had! So consider these methods of cost cutting while sprucing up your yard:
- Hiring a landscaper can get a bit pricey, but you may be able to benefit from a group discount. Talk to your neighbors to see if they plan on getting mulch delivered, or having a landscaping service weed or cut their lawn. If you get a number of homeowners to participate, a landscaper may jump at the chance to get several clients in the same area—and offer you a reduced rate for the convenience.
- Don’t have the budget for a professional landscaper? Pay a teenager in the neighborhood to mow your lawn as needed.
Whether your child is now a teen and ready for more responsibility or home from college for the summer, seasonal jobs are a great way for them to earn extra money without cramping their academic style. But summer jobs are typically in high demand, so start early! Here’s how to put them in a good position, so to speak:
- Have them reach out to local retailers, restaurants, and public spaces to inquire about summer employment. The quicker they land a job, the sooner they’ll be collecting a paycheck (and the happier you’ll be!)
- Tap into your neighborhood connections. Many families offer odd jobs like babysitting, landscaping, and dog-walking.
- Summer internships may be a way to gain professional experience and, in most cases, some income, too. Many colleges have a network for finding internships, but also reach out to friends, neighbors, and colleagues for employment opportunities.
- Did your college kids go to camp when they were younger? Maybe that camp needs counselors now.
Do you sometimes feel like you’re in a summer vacation rut? Going to the same place year after year, even if it’s getting a little stale, or the kids have outgrown it? It may be the year to do some advance planning and pick a new place to go! Even if you choose to go to the same area because it’s perfect for your family, finalizing plans earlier will be sure to get you the most selection at the best price. Plan your vacation with these things:
- If you haven’t yet, sit down with your family and discuss a range of destination ideas. Think about the things you enjoy doing, or new things you’d like to try. Love to hike and enjoy wildlife? Maybe a national park is for you.
- Hopping a flight? In most cases, booking your plane tickets two to three months before the trip will give you the cheapest airfare.
- Looking to rent a beach or lake house? March and April are the sweet spots to lock one down, especially one that fits all of your family’s needs.
- What about the family pet? If it needs to be looked after, as a neighbor or family member to watch it. Boarding it or bringing it in the car with you? Ensure both options are feasible for your furry one.
Still can’t decide where do go? Check out Recreation.gov for campgrounds, parks and more or the variety of travel websites that provide discount deals!
Household discount plans
Depending on where you live, summer heat can be almost unbearable for your home, and it’s not much better on your wallet. To lessen the monthly financial load, check with your energy provider to see if they offer programs that can reduce your utility costs. Such as these:
- Many electric companies have seasonal discount plans, allowing you save up to a few hundred dollars with the installation of a control switch. This switch will turn off your AC during peak hours.
- For lower-income households or those on disability, some companies will provide financial help in the summer or even year-round. Get in touch with your provider to see what the options are.
So while summer is hard to beat, we hope these tips help you make the most of its lazy days.