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Family Money

summer piggy bank

Whoa! I just got a glimpse of how much money could be spent in one week with both of my boys home from school during Spring Break. The amount of food consumed and the cost of activities had me thinking that a second mortgage may be needed. Then I pinched myself back to reality. Repeat after me, “I refuse to go into debt to make summer fun.”

You don’t have to plan every minute of summer vacation, but it may behoove you to ask your children to make a summer bucket list with each child listing their top three must-do ideas. With family vacations and camps, there is no guarantee that all suggestions will be checked off, but those that are will be memorable.

Repeat after me, I refuse to go into debt to make summer fun.

Make it a game by seeing who can come up with the most inexpensive idea. Here are some suggestions:

• Look for kids eat free meal deals, free vacation bible schools, and free programs at the library. Get the family outside for free recreational activities, such as scavenger hunts around Government Island, disc golf at Loriella Park or hikes on the nature trails at Motts Run Reservoir.
• Don’t overlook 50/50 deals around town. Check out B101.5, Groupon and Living Social websites before heading out and take advantage of your AAA and military discounts. Something else to think about is getting annual passes/memberships. If you plan to visit two or more times, the membership just paid for itself. Store apps and punch cards can also offer hidden discounts.
• Go in with another family for the BOGO. By splitting the cost, you get twice as much fun for your money.

Schedule down time and unplug from electronics. Escape with a good book. Set up a hammock in the backyard, fluff up some pillows to create a cozy reading nook and allow their imagination to go on an adventure.

My son often asks, “What’s my surprise today?” I wonder if I’ve I built up his need to be on the go or if this his way of saying he needs stimulation? I guess it’s time to cash in those gift cards for bowling, Chuck E. Cheese and Funland.

Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons financial responsibility with the less is more mindset.

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