With kids home from school, vacations in full swing, and wedding season upon us, it seems like summer brings a flurry of expenses. Despite the season’s slower pace in other areas, summer can be financially demanding.

In today’s episode, I’ll share five practical tips and a useful tool to help you stay on top of your budget, avoid guilt and regrets, and truly enjoy your summer.

Anna’s Takeaways:

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Nerdwallet’s Guide to Budgeting For Summer Activities

Budget Friendly Summer Activities

Anna Sergunina:

Hey, Money Boss, Parents, welcome back to the podcast Anna is here. And I am excited to chat with you today about how do we stay on top of our budget? How do we manage summer expenses as kids are home from school, vacations are starting for many of us, it's also wedding season. So it seems like, although summer tends to be slower, in other areas, I feel like a lot of activities and a lot of spend has happened in these warmer month. So I wanted to chat with you about a couple of ideas I have for you to stay on top of all of these activities, not feel guilty, don't have regrets and actually have fun. And not worry that the financial part is the one that maybe perhaps is giving you more stress than you need. Don't I want to share with you today, five ideas to tips I have and as well as the tool that you can practically apply and use it right away, to start to realize some of the gains and flexibility and being able to make a decision of where it is that you want to spend your money. So that's where I'm headed for. In this episode, I hope you are doing something exciting for summer. For us here at the Money Boss Parent headquarters. We was just about to have his graduation from premium preschool. And at least for right now it's early June, I still have the luxury of keeping him in preschool for summer school. We're kind of staying put. And I'll talk a little bit about that too in the staycations part of my tips for you today. But I know that Yuri and I were just chatting over about this like last week, we're like, Okay, well, well, are we really taking a vacation this summer, before he starts kindergarten or we're really are just going to be doing things locally, which is, for me at the moment feels like really good. Because the whole planning a vacation and researching and everything is just like, it's not another activity I want to embark on at the moment. But that's just the feeling today. So let's get into these tips.

Anna Sergunina:

As you know, financial planner always starts from the budgeting perspective and hear me out on this. Okay, so number one, let's create this budget for summer activities. Okay, so what I want you to think about is, what is it that you could potentially be doing? What kind of activities where you think you're going to be going? Is it driving somewhere? Is it going to the pool, maybe perhaps you need to have a membership for the local pool, a new area, whatever the call, you know, whatever activities are, list those out and try to think about the cost. Now, I don't want you to starting to freak out because maybe there's something you wanted to do, and it cost more than you can afford. That's okay, right? Because what I want you to think about is, here's, here's a list of items and activities and wishes we have as a family. Here's what a cost, right? So try to estimate and list all of the dollars associated with it. And then and then the second step would be to look at what your actual budget is. And you remember maybe from a couple of episodes ago, actually, a couple episodes ago, like six months ago, I started talking about a new money tracking tool that I've became acquainted with, because mint.com was transitioning out and everything was sort of changing. So I've been using monarch money for six months now a little over six months, and really got a handle on it in terms of looking at what our normal budget expenses are, from month to month looking at it in the weekly basis as well. So I find this tool to be really useful to give me a sense an idea like, Okay, what is going on, particularly in June and maybe perhaps when we think of summer, don't think of it as like, okay, it's the next three months, June, July, August or before the kids start school. Think about it more like okay, for the next 30 days. What can we do and what does our budget allow?

Anna Sergunina:

If you've been preparing for summer and you perhaps you have an allocation in your savings account somewhere for these kinds of activities, or you are truly going on vacation, that's fantastic, then it kind of stays outside of your overall normal budget right and day to day operations. But if you wanted to sort of use as you go, your overall spending activities and have a really good tracking tool, then monarch money, at least so far for me has been one of those options that that helps make decisions. Now. I don't want to find myself in a situation where it's like well Are you going to do something today? And then the decision comes down to like, I can't really afford it because it's not in my budget. I want to come from perspective like, is it going to be fun? So like, maybe have some rules around what your budget allows? Is it going to be fun, you know, the kids are going to be excited to do something with all the family, be involved. And then the last but not least, would be like, Okay, what's the financial impact of it. So make it fun, don't put this budget, the bad guy in the middle of like, your decisions about having a great time, and then regretting not doing these things. Okay. So love the budget, but don't hate it, use it as your guide. I'm also going to include in the show notes, a couple references for some of the interesting articles for things like what are the budget friendly summer activities you can consider? And also links to where you can look for what are the local, you know, parks, museums, and things like that in your area that you can explore?

Anna Sergunina:

All right, number two on my list is to take advantage of free or low cost events. So it kind of segwayed into it a little bit. So what are some, and I want you to brainstorm about this, I it's pretty easy to do. I mean, you can just pull out your phone right now, as you're listening to this. And just, you know, go on Eventbrite, that's one of the sites that I utilize quite a bit for kind of all the local stuff, and then just see what's in your area. I'm trying to pull it up on my screen as I'm recording this for you. But you can actually search by the city that you're in, and then kind of start from categories, right? What is it that you're interested in? Is it one out for a concert? Is it nightlife? Of course not with kids, but you know, based on your hobbies, is it you know, around eating is it and then the list goes on from there. What I want you to look for are options where it's, you know, maybe cost very little or it's free. So just ideas, okay? Because you never know what may spark an interest for you. I also became a really good friend with our local library. I swear, this has been like an I should record another episode on just this topic alone. But I've one of the things that I actually stopped doing as I got a membership to the library. Two years ago, when we moved into this new town, I stopped buying books. I have not bought books on Amazon or anywhere else for Liam particularly and he's he really loves to read for the last two years. So not only saved me money on that, because we get a ton of great books from the library. But we also go there for activities, they always have something going on for the kids, and especially during summer months, different little workshops, or they had a presentation on like little crafts, and things like that. Also, I know in our local town, there's during summer months, they have like these either Wednesday, evenings like music in the park outdoorsy activities and you know, like the local pizza restaurant has really good pricing on like pizzas for the kids, right? Whatever outdoor activities or festivals and things like that, you can find I would really check out first of all, the library and kind of, you know, segue from there. A lot of times, I was able to find sort of the town calendar of all the local things that are going on. So I really advocate for you to check out that in your local town. Now. Zoos I've been dying to go to a zoo. Just gotta make your and Liam Come with me. But that's a fun activity to for the whole family. What about museums? What about an aquarium, what was the last time you've done that? So as we think about summer and vacations and things like that, it's not just always about, you know, going on these extravagant trips, it's doing stuff that already is there for you in your community. And maybe perhaps you have a museum pass or aquarium pass where it's like, and I bet that all which I need to check out for myself as well. They're gonna have some activities for the kids. For you to to check out. I'm gonna include in the show notes, a couple of Instagram accounts for you to reference if you're on Instagram of influencers, that's about a word who have a lot of suggestions for all kinds of things to do with kids and activities and so forth. So I just found them useful and I got a lot of my ideas even just like some some activities for you to do at home.

Anna Sergunina:

All right, my friends, numbers three on my list is for us to stick within our budget. And that's the goal of this conversation, as we go through summer is to plan and prepare meals at home. You know, I actually realized something as I was against sitting down to do my mint review, in summary at the beginning of this month, that we tend to be doing a lot more cooking with the meal prep, versus at home. And now the grill is just been on pretty much every night because it's so easy, you just throw something in a grill, chicken, you know, steak, some veggies, grilled corn, and it's a fantastic meal, and we get to sit outside. So I really advocate for you to think about, you know what easy and quick prep ideas for the meals you can do for the week. And then if you have the option to grill, think about that. Get your kids involved in meal prep, I feel like Liam loves that part of the activity, putting the plates out. And we have, by the way, Target has a lot of great options for outdoor, you know, tape table where you know, napkins, tablecloth, plates, cups and things like that. So I have bought over the years, you know, a set that we only use for the you know, to sit outside on the on the deck. So like he loves to pull out those plates and get the cups and kind of get the tape table set. So there's lots of little things that you can do with kids in around this activity. And it feels like something we're doing right something that everybody's involved. Another great website for you to check out is called mu.com. Me sorry, it's meallime.com. I was looking at another line here. And you can get an app on your phone. They're both available on Android and iPhone. But it allows you to build your like meal plan for the week. And then from there, you can actually come up with a shopping list, like a grocery shopping list. I love. It has lots of good visual pictures. And it's like I want easy recipes, I want something that I can throw together quick. And not worry about having to rush to the store because I was missing some ingredients or you know, something was not available. So I am the person that loves to cook fast meals. So this particular app is really, really handy or the website, I think another familiar to some of you might be a website called all the recipes.com. This one is cool, too. They have a lot of interesting stuff. I love to search for summer recipes here and you can find a ton of stuff. Like it's it literally is overloaded with all kinds of stuff. Right, and I'm looking at it, it's 113,000 recipes. So I bet you're going to be able to find something that all family members would love, easy to cook, and lots of variety of kid friendly meals and also budget friendly like I typed for those kinds of searches. When I'm looking for ideas for that, something that I did that's kind of funny experiment recently, as I was attending a professional presentation on how to use AI, artificial intelligence in my business and one of the silly examples that that's silly, practical examples the presenter shared with us is in the AI tool that at least most of you are familiar with or might be hearing about a lot is Chad GPT. So using chat GPT in your everyday life, not just for business and other stuff. And so one of the things he showed us how to do which I did when I got home was to take pictures of your fridge, open your fridge, take a picture. You know open the drawers just to make sure that the pictures clearly represent what you got in your fridge. Do the same thing with your pantry is open the doors if you need to pull out a few drawers like take a good picture. Go to Chat GPT and upload two or three pictures in say, okay, and I gave it a prompt that said something like, okay, it's Thursday night. We've got a baseball tonight. Here's what I have in my fridge and pantry helped me come up with a quick meal I can cook we're not going to be home until seven o'clock so it's better be quick. It's better be healthy, and it's about to be kid friendly. You will be shocked at what came out of that. It could see and read what was on the pictures. So it came up with something like I forget that was chicken so I had a I had a chicken thighs still sitting in the fridge there were some veggies and then it also suggested kind of like make the stir fry with black beans and all the angry He also gave the actual recipe and how to keep all the ingredients to use. Amazing. I was like, Oh my God, because in the good days, right or good old days, I would sit down and say, Alright, here's what we have in the fridge, let me go online, open the Google and just kind of search for recipes, how much time was wasting where I can just like plug this in, and come up with ideas. So don't overthink it. Just use the tools. By the way I do full disclosure, I have a paid version of the shared GPT. It's only 20 bucks a month, but I'm playing a lot more with it for business. So I think it could do very similar things with the free version, you don't need a free subscription to it just yet. But I am just highlighting for you that you can be smart about it, less stress of having to rush out and maybe order takeout every night. And really stretch out those those dollars with the food that you have in your fridge, which I am all for. So mount up, plan your meals and do some prep of it ahead of time at home.

Anna Sergunina:

Okay, number four, what's on my list, it would be to organize toy and book swap. Okay, I've confessed already that books have been kind of like one of those things that we don't buy anymore, because we do get them at the library. But I noticed like I've got a pile of books that are sitting in Liam's room that are kind of like starting to get aged out, right, or he's aging out of these books, because he's interested in now in longer stories, these are picture books. And so and we've read them like a million times, and he still loves them and, and wants to continue coming back to them. But I'm going to make a pile of the books that are like, Okay, this is for a three year old you and a five year old and then coordinate with some parents, like, you know, maybe at your preschool or kindergarten or your elementary school. There even like library, I've dropped books at the library, and our local library actually resells them for like $1, I purchased a couple of books, by the way, not to say that I don't buy them on Amazon. But if a book on Amazon is 20 bucks, and I found a similar book gently used for $1. And I really wanted it I would go for it. So back to swapping books and toys. So what books can you get rid of, or, you know, swap with the local kids in your area, we also have a lot throughout our neighborhoods, a lot of these little kind of like, like a post box, little book boxes where you know, somebody puts up their, their books, and then you can just swap. So whatever books you don't need, you pick up a couple of theirs and then leave your so it's really interesting, you can kind of walk around in a neighborhood and find a plenty of them to just swap the books twice. Okay, I'm getting surely but slowly to this big discussion. I've done both I've done, you know, complete donations of toys that are just not age appropriate anymore, or never really get used. And I've done swaps as well. I also do something like a rotational boxes where I put some of the like I just kind of cars, when it gets to be too overwhelming kids get distracted. So I just sort of like put some of them away in the box and just keep the box in the garage. And then I take him out and Michael in it would be like oh my gosh, it's Christmas all over again. So so that there's some interest around it. But if you've got old things, or you're looking to get kind of a refresh or something exciting without spending an additional money, these kinds of swap ideas would be awesome. Now, I don't know about you, but for anyone who wants to kind of get to know their local neighborhood nextdoor.com is a really awesome app. Now, there's been interesting stuff going on on that app. And I've had it for now, like two neighborhoods, or I've been more active on it for the last two neighborhoods that we lived in. And there's lots of interesting stuff that people talk about and report on. And also like there's a section of like, you know, free stuff. So first of all, connect with your neighbors because you'll be surprised maybe somebody's having a pool party in your neighborhood and there's kids that are your age. It you know age group for your kids, but also this opportunity to do the swaps of unwanted items. So I highly recommend for you to check that out.

Anna Sergunina:

Also, obviously donating to local Goodwill, or the library might be a good option. For you to like Declutter. Again, I feel like this is a good activity to get kids involved and have something to do right. It doesn't have to be an everyday item but activity but I'm sure you can do this a couple of times, maybe do a kind of like a book organization swap and cleanup one week and then or one month, and then the next month, we kind of work on on toys. I like that idea now that I kind of outlined it for you. We're totally going to tackle one in June and one in July.

Anna Sergunina:

And finally, my tip number five for you, is to plan some staycations. I alluded to this already earlier. But I really love the idea of maybe doing some things that are local. Now, it really does depend, like, if you go back to our tip number one, where we're talking about the budget, and you know, if you have planned trips and visiting family and all of that, whatever it is that you're doing this summer, that's great. But you have if you haven't, or perhaps your finances don't allow you to do those things. It's totally okay. Right, you can always have another, you know, experience that breeds just as much joy and excitement as going on a vacation and to summer tends to be overpriced for a lot of things. Hotels cost more. Airline tickets cost more gas costs, like everything does. It's busier. It's more crowded, yes, I know, you can be arguing that it's warmer and more fun shore. But if you have smaller kids, why can't you go on the same vacations vacation in September, or October, right? So that's kind of what I'm thinking about. I'm not totally 100%, fully committed to that there's still a chance that we might go maybe a shorter vacation, but think about what can you do locally in your own backyard? What attractions are there, what parks museum cultural sites you haven't visited before, one of the regrets I have is when we used to live on the east coast in Maryland. And I don't know why I started having that regret. But maybe I was talking to somebody who specifically was planning a trip to Maryland, or not Maryland, sorry, but like upstate New York, in the fall to see all the foliage and I was like, Oh, my gosh, I lived on the East Coast, I have never really done that. So I want you to have those regrets about the area that you live in. And, you know, places that you haven't visited and kind of like overlooked the gems, per se in your own backyard. So think about what are those things that you can do the good all TripAdvisor tripadvisor.com? And I'll include the link in the show notes as well. I mean, there's a lot of options, what are the one day activities, maybe you can do a long weekend, kind of thing, again, driving, right, what's within driving distance to where you're live, maybe camping, by the way, I was just thinking about that a little bit as well. Because those things don't necessarily cost a lot and the kids can be involved and a lot of interests out there. I'm gonna include a couple more articles for you to consider for staycation ideas, and what you can do for your family.

Anna Sergunina:

And before we close, I wanted to share a sort of a bonus tip for extra savings for you this summer, collaborated with other parents organized groups and activities. And this is kinda like why the next door app is really cost. cool app is because you can you can find ideas, that options. I know it's a little harder, especially like if you just newer to the neighborhood and you don't know someone just that well. And they kind of feel that way because we are somewhat newer to the neighborhood. But I think you know what, I'm gonna let Liam play outside more. The friends will find Him and He will find the friends. And there it kind of like trickles down. So collaborate with other parents and see what can you guys do together. Doing local activities, traveling locally, even doing something is like a movie night, right? Or arts and crafts is something that you can kind of pull off and not have to worry about because I one of the things that I don't want you to have regrets is that as as an another big spend, that's part of somewhere that we are yet to talk about is back to school, which is like summer vacations, camps and things like that. And then all of a sudden, okay, back to school, and then we need to get ready. So I don't want you to have even more regrets in frustrations and stress around the fact that you had a lot of fun to know, more money needs to be spent. So not to beat up the money topic too much. I don't want to take away from the fun but I just want to be more mindful about it. And that's really my message for your friends today.

Anna Sergunina:

All right, so let me know. What are you doing this summer? What are some fun and interesting things you plan to do? I just had an idea as I'm closing In this episode about dropping off kids with grandparents, that doesn't cost anything, they'll take care of them. They'll feed them hopefully if you have that luxury but yeah, I don't know that for a long time though. Anyway, let me know what you're all doing. What kind of fun stuff is happening and until next time remember you are the bosses of your own money.