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How to Lower Your Stress and Your Debt This Summer

Does summer break equal summer debt for your family? It doesn’t have to.

A lot of parents view the summer months as the most expensive time of year, and with good reason. School is out and parents are faced with finding ways to entertain and engage the kids, likely while working full time.

This often translates into higher child care expenses and/or camp fees, along with much higher grocery and fuel bills. The good news is that couples can take steps to reduce the financial stress and still have a great summer with the kids. Here are a few tips that may help you out:

Brainstorm ways to cut costs

Now is the time to discuss some cost-saving alternatives with your family, before summer begins. A 2015 BMO survey found that parents spend an average of $5,600 during the summer on eating out, travel and entertainment costs. That doesn’t even factor in extra child care and transportation costs. If those figures are making you cringe, follow these tips:

  • Take advantage of generous grandparents. Well, not literally. But, if Grandma and Grandpa are willing and able to help with child care while you’re working, they can be a valuable asset and save you a bundle.
  • Scale back the family vacation. Instead of staying in hotels, you could choose to camp at your favourite destination. Or, choose a more cost-effective location to visit. Another idea would be to rent a home for a week in the destination you choose. By doing this, you can cook your own meals instead of eating out each day.

For more money-saving strategies, check out these tips from personal finance expert Rubina Ahmed-Haq.

  • Plan ahead for day trips. Pack a cooler with your family favourites and skip the fast food expenses. After a full day of activities and sight-seeing, opt to splurge on ice cream instead. Everybody wins!

3 steps to lower your financial stress

Parents with young kids are feeling the sting of tighter budgets due to rising interest and costs of living. That can make it harder to cover all your bases when it comes to bills and debt repayment. Here are three ways to alleviate financial stress:

  1. Create a summer spending plan

It’s all about balance. Make compromises that will save you money without sacrificing summer fun. Stick to a spending plan that allows for some splurges, yet keeps you from adding to your credit card debt to fund it.

  1. Don’t forget about your debt

We know — not something you want to think about during the summer. Ignoring the possibility of additional debt during the summer isn’t a great idea though.

One-quarter of Canadians admit their summer spending results in additional debt. And one-third also admit it’s difficult to get their finances back in shape after spending a lot.

Make a plan now to put some money aside for upcoming events such as festivals, travel and summer camps so you can avoid the debt bills in September.

If you’re having trouble coming up with any money to save, look into your debt relief options. You can compare each option using this debt repayment options calculator, or, schedule an info session with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.

Whatever you choose, it’s best to deal with debt earlier than later so you can get back on track.

  1. Think long-term

What did back-to-school shopping cost you last year? Kids grow fast and clothing, shoes, backpacks and binders can add up to a big price tag. Plan ahead for upcoming expenses by saving extra money from each paycheque. You can even set this up as an automatic withdrawal.

Extra resources to keep you on track

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s good to connect with others who understand what you’re dealing with. This can mean coffee with a friend or connecting to an online network to find support. For some awesome money-saving tips from a Canadian mom, follow Hollie Pollard from Common Cents Mom. Or, follow Pink and Blue Mag online for finance tips as well as parenting advice.

How will you and your family enjoy a debt-free summer? Share your best tips with us via Twitter #Budgeting #DebtSolutions

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