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The Money Messenger -- Cheap Family Summer Fun
June 03, 2010


Welcome to Issue #031 of The Money Messenger!

The Money Messenger brings you the latest on your kids and money.

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The Money Messenger

In This Issue

Thankfully, it's June. A recent article by a mom with three kids in our local paper made me laugh out loud because it was all about how busy, busy, busy the last month of the school year is - and that parents don't even get a T-shirt to prove they survived. It is truly as if all the fun stuff for the year is being crammed into the few short days at the end. By the time the last day of school gets here, everyone is ready to collapse.

Or at least jump into the newly opened pools and water parks for refreshment!

But soon enough, we'll all be fully enjoying summer fun activities and planning and taking family vacations. All of these can impact the family budget not to mention the family calendar. This planning can go hand in hand with May's newsletter articles on teen entrepreneurship if you have teens who are starting their own business to earn some summer cash.

A reader's question on how to get the most cheap summer family fun on a budget

Helpful links and resources

What's new and what's next?

Note from Jennifer

My family and I are within a week (as I write this) of leaving our home base for a two-month adventure in another location. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, and we can't wait. By the time this arrives in your mailbox, we will be enjoying our full first day in our new tropical location.

And I (and my husband, too) are stressing about the family budget. Although we've done our best to figure it all out, there are some things we just won't know until we get there. Plus, how much of these expenses would we have had whether we were on vacation or not? Needless to say, our personal budgeting categories are getting a fair amount of scrutiny.

Even if you are not moving for the summer, there are plenty of ongoing activities that can cause you to look at the fun and entertainment part of your family budget. That's where this month's articles and resources on cheap family fun and summer vacation tips can help. Grab a glass of iced tea (in honor of National Iced Tea Month!) or your favorite drink and enjoy this month's issue!

Feature Article
Cheap Family Fun: Daily Activities that Don't Break the Bank

It can sometimes be easier to plan a family vacation (which is the next article) than it is to plan daily activities or weekend family fun. A vacation usually has some built-in things to do - especially if you are traveling. It may not be as easy to be inspired when you are sitting at your kitchen table while the kids keep asking "What are we going to do today?"

One thing that can greatly help is to have a stand-by list of things to do. Even better is for this list to be low or no cost. Most of us can't devote the weekly family budget to funding fun activities, so not having to worry about that cost is one more way to relieve stress. Here are some ideas to help you get started on your list.

  • Go to a local park for a picnic and games. Make it easy on yourself, and pack peanut butter and jelly, water and a big bag of chips. Take a frisbee or even a board game to play. Even doing the same things you might do at home can take a whole new perspective in a different place.
  • Check out the local farmers' markets or even farms that give tours. You don't have to buy anything - unless you want make it part of your weekly shopping. Just having the kids see where the food comes from and making a direction connection with the people who grow or make it can be a big deal. A good example of this may be a local dairy such as the one near us that gives tours. The kids love it.
  • Designate a day or weekend to cleaning and donating. This is great to do on a rainy day, and will not only help get your house organized, but will also be a fantastic lesson in giving for your children. Make it fun by having games on who can fill up their donation boxes the fastest, give the most or think of the most creative donation.

Those are just three can find 5 more cheap family fun ideas here. Plus, you'll want to buy this cheap family fun guide which you can use immediately - and next year too!

Feature Article
Unique Family Vacations on a Budget

Summer is probably the most popular time for families to take vacations. Schedules loosen up since most schools are out. The weather is perfect in many places to be able to travel, see sights and just get outside in general. Sometimes, though, figuring out how to budget for these great vacations can be downright stressful. Who wants that when the whole point is to relax and kick back?

Depending on what you want to do and what your overall family budget is plus what part of that budget is in your vacation budget category, there are plenty of ideas. Here is are just examples to get your own idea list started.

  • Cheap family cruises can be easier to find than before given that vacation spending is still down from the past. Plus, all-inclusive cruises can be very budget friendly since nearly all meals and activities are covered.
  • Farming vacations have a different feel entirely if you typically live in the city or suburbs. In a nutshell, these vacations take place on working farms. People who own farms have added tourist accommodations to help people get back to nature. Visitors are allowed to participate in farm chores while they enjoy their stay far from the sometimes crazy crowds in large cities and overcrowded vacation spots. These types of “hands on” vacations are often cheaper than traditional ones. The idea is for farmers to tap into the tourist market and offer a more eco-friendly vacation.
  • Volunteer vacations. Whether you are joining a church group on a mission trip or signing up through a site like Global Volunteers, volunteer vacations can be a great way to see parts of the world that aren't focused on tourism and much less expensively than if you were with a tour group. Plus, you and your family get the added benefits of volunteering together.

These three ideas for family vacations on a budget are uniquely different from some of the tried-and-true family car trips. What are some other ideas you have? Share them with me and other readers here.

Ask the Editor!

Here's where I answer your questions. Cynthia is facing the last day of school for three kids that are active and will want to do lots this summer. Even though they are involved in sports, the days can get pretty long if they are just sitting around complaining about being bored. Are there any easy, cheap ideas for family fun that she can use?

A resounding yes! No one wants bored kids expecting you to entertain them all the time. That can make for one long summer. Here are ideas that will appeal to kids of all ages. Keep some of these in your back pocket for those days that really seem to last forever.

  • Check out these five ideas first. This handy list includes indoor and outdoor options both so you've got a back-up plan for rainy (or scorching hot) days.
  • Get them helping and moving at the same time. Summer chores for kids and teens usually aren't at the top of the fun activities list. Still, they need to be done and finding a way to make them fun or at least a bit of a game can help. Think of challenges modeled off of favorite game shows or reality shows to get things moving. A little sibling competition always seems to raise the stakes in our house. Quality of the jobs still counts, though!
  • Have them start a business. Whether they want to run a lemonade stand, mow yards in the neighborhood, or start selling stuff online, using the summer to try their hands at entrepreneurship can be a great idea. They have more time to see what works, come up with business ideas and build plans. Heck, you may have some successful summer entrepreneurs on your hands!
  • Have the kids take turns planning activities. Who says all the great ideas have to come from the parents? Assign each child a day of the week to be responsible for the plan. You can limit it to one activity or have them plan out the day. Just be sure to give them guidelines on how much it can cost, how far you are willing to drive and how much time any activity can take.

If you have any other ideas for Cynthia, send them to me here and I'll share them with all the readers. Or, if you need even more ideas, pick up your own copy of the Cheap Family Fun Guide today!

Useful Resources for You

While strives to provide all the information you need to help educate your kids, teens and family on money matters, there are other great resources to help you. This newer section of the newsletter highlights those that I've found that provide solid, understandable and usable information.

Cheap family fun and affordable family vacations can be hard to find. But who wants to add stress to the lazy days of summer? These resources can help you stay relaxed while taking it easy on your wallet.

What's New?

Be sure to check out the latest blog posts at the site. With a new post nearly every day, there are lots of quick bits of information that might be just what you need. Plus, here is a list of new pages that are hot off the press just for you (oh, and the other readers ;-))!

Coming soon...the next issue of The Money Messenger

July with its fireworks and (usually unbelievably hot) summer weather will be on us in full swing before we know it. And, so will another edition of The Money Messenger. Next month's issue will focus on tweens including business ideas and general money education challenges as they move from being kids into being teens. If you have a tween (like me!) or know someone who does, you'll want to stay tuned - and get your friends and family started on their own subscription now!

If you have questions you'd like to see addressed for that issue, just use the Contact Form or email me at

Talk to you soon!

Comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions for future newsletters, please let me know. I want to be sure that this newsletter meets your needs. Feel free to provide your comments using this contact form.

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