Sense & Centsibility Blog

Summer Vacation on a Budget

Summer is an amazing time to make long-lasting summer memories with your kiddos.  Studies find that children get more enjoyment out of quality time and building memories than any material item.  How wonderful is that?  Certainly taking an amazing family trip would be a good way to build memories, but it is not the only way.  Here are few things you can do to connect over summer vacation without breaking the bank.

Work quality time into the daily routine

During our cold, long Minnesota winters we all spend a lot of time indoors which often equals more TV and smartphone time.  It is so easy to get into a habit of distraction; the family may all be in the same room but not looking or speaking to each other.  Summers are short so it is a great time to break those habits and change your daily routine. Here are some ideas on how get the most out of your summer days..

  • Take a summer break from social media. Remove those apps from your phone to help you break the habit. This will reduce the time you spend scrolling through the daily posts, giving you more time to enjoy those around you.
  • When you get home for the day, put the phone away. Having your phone with you all the time makes it easy to check work emails or checking in on social media.
  • Take a daily family walk. This is a triple win! It is quality time, exercise, and you are getting a daily dose of summer weather.  Bonus: this will be the dog’s favorite time of day.
  • Eat dinner is that simple.

Camp OutCamping

Whether you go to a campground, remote campsite, or just pitch a tent in the back yard, you are camping. Yes, camping can be a lot of work but what a great way to get the whole family to pitch in!  Not only are you spending time together but you are also working on some common goals for a warm dry tent and cooking a dinner over an open fire.  If you don’t have the equipment, no problem.  You can rent it from outdoor stores like REI and local rental shops, not to mention borrowing some from family and friends.  All in all it is a low-cost getaway!

Taking a Trip?  Plan Ahead…

If you are taking a trip here are some ways to reduce costs and prevent unexpected expenses.  These tips will save you headaches, money, and time.

  • Start saving now. Having extra money set aside will prevent you from charging your vacation, saving you the interest and the monthly credit card payment.
  • Make your reservations in advance to make sure that you are getting the best deals and discounts.
  • If you are taking a road trip get an oil change and your car looked over before you head out.
  • Pack road food; this will save you money and time. You can also work some picnics into your trip.
  • Make a packing list and double check it! This will keep you from taking the time to run to the store to and the money to buy items you forgot at home.

Give Back

Make volunteering a part of your family’s summer routine.  Bonding with your family while helping others or improving the environment will have a powerful impact on your children.  There are so many ways to give back.  You can contact your local United Way, American Red Cross, and/or church to find what opportunities are out there.  You can also volunteer right in your neighborhood by helping your neighbor care for their lawn or walk their dog.  The options are endless and so is the need!


A family that grows together stays together!  Whether it’s a beautiful flower garden or a fresh vegetable garden, growing and tending to a garden as a family has so many benefits.  You are creating something beautiful and healthy while enjoying the outdoors and getting some exercise.  You are also giving your young gardeners some very important life skills.  Plus, you can even cut your grocery budget with the food from the garden!  Then you can use that money for even more fun activities.

Spending time with loved ones over summer vacation is more important than spending money. What else can you do with your family or friends that won't cause you to bust your budget? For more tips, check out "Seven Cheap or Free Ways to Have Family Fun."

Author Ashley Hagelin is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling. She specializes in Foreclosure Prevention and Reverse Mortgage Counseling.