Summer on a Shoestring Budget

summer budgetThe summer months are here. Unpacking the kids’ backpacks after the last day of school, I noticed a few different fliers indicating where kids can eat for free over the summer months. It made me wonder how many kids rely on school simply to eat. It turns out, a lot of them do. Almost 17 million kids right here in the United States, a first world country, struggle with hunger on a regular basis according to No Kid Hungry. Summer is peak time for kids to go hungry. Additionally, if many families cannot afford to feed their families in the summer months it goes without saying there are many other experiences kids are doing without. Even those of us who are able to afford basics like food and shelter struggle with any wiggle room in the budget to keep our kids active and entertained during the time out of school. Fortunately, summer can still be fun for kids without having to break the bank.

Get Outdoors Without Spending A Fortune

Some of my most wistful memories of childhood are from the glorious summertime evenings. Growing up in the Midwest, there were fewer things better than chasing my sisters around the front yard as we played an intense game of Ghost in the Graveyard. Our house was the meeting spot for the kids in the neighborhood to play “night games”, as we referred to them. Flashlight tag, Old Mother Witch, Kick the Can, and Hide the Bat (rules for Hide the Bat were made up by my grandfather and usually involved a wiffle ball bat, all of the grandchildren in the family, and somebody wildly chasing children with the plastic bat. It was a large family. Somebody always cried. Looking back, I completely understand why.). Being outside in the sweet-smelling twilight with the sounds of children running and laughing is something that is absolutely priceless, yet costs literally nothing to do. It will provide your kids with memories that last forever. It’s probably not a good idea to teach them how to play Hide the Bat, though. It wasn’t really a good game.

Use Summer to get Creative Outdoors

Spending time at the local pool seems like a given. It also costs a small fortune for admission for an entire family. While the public pool will likely be visited at least ONCE this summer, it will likely be a one-time thing. It means that I will have to get creative when it comes to keeping the kids entertained and cool outside. I saw a great tutorial for a DIY Backyard Splash PadThere are also some other great ideas to get creative outside and keep your kids busy all without breaking the bank. 

Feeding Kids Inexpensively During the Summer

I swear, my kids spend every second of every day in the summer eating. They are all beanpoles, too. I always wonder where they put it, and I wonder how I will continue to afford feeding them. For me, it’s a little bit of a joke. For a lot of families, though, the worry about how to feed kids in the summer is very real. Most communities offer locations where kids and families can eat for free when school is out for the year. Feeding America offers a location finder for free meals during summer months. Many locations serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but some are only open for a few hours a day. Visit the website to learn more about the program. Colorado residents can click here to find locations where kids can get free breakfasts or lunches during the summer months.

Keeping kids engaged during the off-season for school can be a full-time gig. It can get expensive to always have activities planned for them. Whether it is trips to the zoo, museum, mall, concerts, pools, or amusement parks, the costs add up. When there is more than one child to keep engaged throughout the summer, it can be devastating to the bank account. The good news is, there are plenty of free and low-cost activities everywhere you look to keep kids happy and engaged when they aren’t hitting the books. Simply getting outside and getting moving is a great way to keep them occupied, and the cost? Absolutely free.



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