The warm summer nights and days filled with fun activities, new friends, and skills that will help guide them into adulthood: summer camp. Many families dream of sending the kids to camp, but it can sometimes be hard to see how it will fit into the budget, especially with costs sometimes in the $1000-$3000 range for a week or more. But with a strategy in place for saving, alongside a little prioritization, paying for camp can be an achievable dream.
Make Your Plan Early
Start by calculating the total cost of the camp experience, including tuition, travel (will you be flying or driving?), and the packing list. Most camps will include required and recommended items that your child should bring. Don’t forget to factor that cost in your assessment.
Once you have your cost breakdown, divide it out by the number of months remaining before departure day, and start saving ASAP. It’s best if you start a full year in advance to keep from falling behind. How can you adjust your household budget to get more money socked away? You may consider meal planning or hosting a yard sale to help put aside a little extra.
Find Ways for the Kids to Contribute
If they are looking forward to camp, you can put them to work on savings, too. Have them do extra chores in exchange for money going to their camp fund. You can even put up a color-in chart of their personal savings goal so they can track their progress as the year goes by. This also helps keep them excited about camp!
Offer Kids the Choice of Several Cost-saving Options
Would your child rather have two weeks of sleepaway camp, or one week of camp and one month of swim lessons? How about a summer-long theater program located in your town, with just a weekend sleepaway? Get creative to find ways to combine the more expensive options in a way that keeps the cost manageable, and then get their input on what they want from their summer. If their wants aren’t in line with your budget, have a frank conversation with them about it, and be open to other possibilities that meet your childcare and cost needs.
Activities that Help You Save
You can also save a little by limiting the other expensive activities your child participates in throughout the year. Or how about seeing how you could cut those costs? Maybe schedule riding lessons with the teenager who lives down the road instead of at a commercial stable. Or ask your cousin who is a swim instructor for a few discounted lessons, rather than enrolling them in a pricy program. It might be as simple as shopping around for a better rate.
If you’re still looking to limit your activity spending to help save for camp, consider swapping out some of those big-ticket sports and programs for free events at the library, community-sponsored day camps, or other low-cost community kids events.
Just like you would host a potluck for friends instead of going out for an expensive dinner when you’re looking to save, you can do the same when you coordinate playdates for your kiddos. Take advantage of discount days at museums and parks, or plan a picnic and a short hike to steer the crowd toward more affordable options when it’s your turn to host. All your savings will be well worth it to help them make sunny memories at camp.
To open a new camp savings or checking account with RMCU to set funds aside for camp, click here — we have lots of options to fit every need.
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