As a teacher, I am fortunate to have over three months off throughout the year. The bulk of that time, of course, comes over summer break. Eight weeks. Eight glorious weeks of time to fill, and it is oh so easy to fill that time with spending money.
My school district does set aside money from each of our paychecks during the school year so that I get money in the summer, but without a regular schedule to keep me in check, it can be quite easy to spend more in a day than I normally earn.
With a few simple tricks, I have managed to cut over $2500 from my budget during break, and that money goes right into savings.
1) Take Kids Out of Daycare - This is the biggest money-saver for me, and I was honest with my daycare provider about my school schedule. I stay home with my son during breaks, and we have a modified payment plan when school is out of session. My son will not need daycare during these breaks, and this opens up room for drop-in clients or for parents who need extra support over school breaks. When he starts preschool, he will attend one that offers a program that matches with my school schedule. If you are unable to stop daycare altogether, consider dependent care reimbursement programs through your employer. Money for daycare is taken out of your paycheck before taxes. After paying your provider and getting a receipt, you will have funds, up to $5,000/year returned. For me, this is money already spent, and when I receive my reimbursement check, the money goes straight into savings. During the summer, I will save approximately $1800.
2) Plan No Spend Days - I have come up with plans for staying at home, having a playdates with friends, and staying away from temptation. We have fun without spending a dime. During these no spend days, I take my son to the park to use the play structures, have a picnic in the backyard with crackers, cheese, and berries (my son's favorite foods), or do an at-home storytime with books and songs. I plan at least one weekly, and this saves us the $10-20 it costs to go to gymnastics or other fun play spaces. Over the summer, this will save me at least $120 in entrance fees.
3) Clean House and Earn Money - With my son strapped onto my back, we dug into the garage and got cleaning. So far, we have earned $50 off of the items we have sold, and we may earn more if I keep digging. I get a clean(er) space and a (slightly) padded bank account.
4) Walk to the Grocery Store - I have walked with my son in the stroller since he was three weeks old, and he enjoys our daily outings. We are up each morning before it's hot, and we head out, with our grocery runs happening at least once a week. Walking to the store limits how much I can buy to how much will fit in the base of the stroller. I spend about $50 less per shopping trip when I physically do not have the space for impulse buys. Walking to the store saves me $200 on my monthly grocery bill and $400 over the course of the summer.
5) Eat at Locals Nights or Happy Hour - While I live in touristy Napa Valley, and while we love to eat out, we have to be budget conscious. I want to feel like I'm on vacation without breaking the bank. Many local restaurants offer happy hour or locals nights and offer delicious foods at a discount rate. Last night, we had a taco dinner, complete with adult beverages, for $14, including tip. This is $16 less than our average meal out. If we do this, or something similar, at least once a week during the summer, in place of another restaurant meal, it will save us $128.
Thanks to these steps, I will have fun in the summer without worrying that I will outspend my earnings.
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