Whip your Finances into Shape before School is Out
June marks the end of the school year – and with it comes the full-time need to occupy your children’s week. For parents dealing with debt, financial costs associated with camps and other activities may not be in the budget this year. No parent wants to deal with bored kids during summer break, so what can you do to make summer vacation better for your family when money is tight?
1 DIY is your friend
The internet is full of DIY projects so join the do-it-yourself revolution. Pinterest, for example, is a great source of ideas that you can easily adapt for a very low cost. Save things like egg cartons, cereal boxes and other recyclable items that can be used for crafts. Visit the dollar store for supplies like glue, popsicle sticks, paint and glitter. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how many things you can get on a very low budget.
Budget for a monthly trip to the dollar store to re-stock your craft supplies and choose projects that will engage the kids and get them outside to play.
Try something that will be both a craft and an outdoor activity like this pool noodle sail boat racing idea.
2 Look at your equity
If you haven’t spoken with a mortgage broker recently, or if you know your mortgage renewal is approaching, look into using some of the equity in your home to pay down your unsecured debt. If you have credit card debt and your interest payments are eating up your extra cash, you may be able to consolidate and use your home equity to catch up. Freeing yourself from debt that is weighing you down may help you find funds to take your family on a summer road trip or pay for day camps and activities that may be of interest to them.
3 Re-assess your “indoor” expenses
Spending more time outdoors means relying less on the television and internet to entertain your family. Using less hydro in the summer may be a good reason to call your utility provider and request an adjustment to your monthly bill. Most hydro companies will also come in for a free assessment of your biggest costs. You can take advantage of this help and find out what is driving your hydro costs up so that you can make adjustments and save money. Cancel cable or drop to a lower cost package.
Use the stove less. Prepare cold meals or barbeque instead. Try one of these creative cold lunch ideas and feed your family without using the oven during high-peak hydro hours.
4 Make saving for an end-of-summer event fun for everyone
If money is tight and you can only afford one “big” fun thing for everyone to do this summer, make it a family goal that everyone participates in. For example, if you would like to take the kids to Canada’s Wonderland in August. Calculate the total cost for the day including gas, food, admission, and spending money for souvenirs. Once you have a total number, create a place in the home where the entire family can see your progress towards the goal. Invite your kids to help “save” for the event. Have a garage sale, or help the kids set up a lemonade stand. Let the kids “donate” allowance money to the trip, or even offer allowance matching if you can afford it (if your son decides to put $5.00 from his allowance into the CW Jar, you would also put $5.00 in to match).
Engaging your kids in saving with you is also a great way to start teaching them about money management.
5 Get help
If you have a lot of debt and small adjustments to how you spend your money just won’t cut it, get some help. Your financial future depends a lot on the choices you make today. A consumer proposal or bankruptcy may be the fresh start that you need to get back on track with your finances.
If you would like to request a free review of your financial situation and learn more about options that can reduce your debts, professional advice is available. Call a Spergel expert today, 310-4321, and we will help alleviate your financial stress so that you can focus on planning your next summer vacation.