Surviving the Summer when Money is Tight
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For many of us we’re (WAAAAHHHH!) half way through the summer – or it seems that way anyway. But what happens when your summer takes a financial hit for one reason or another and you realize you don’t have the budget for summer fun that you thought you were going to have. It’s tough – I know! There are SO many things you can do for free but the stress of finances just weighs on you anyway. And somehow when you have kids you feel even more heartbroken – even if you weren’t planning on going anywhere or spending money anyways! We’ve “been there done that” – many times. Whether it’s an unexpected medical bill, a car problem, overspending in another area, etc. – sometimes responsibilities are just no fun and downright stressful!
First – take a deep breath. It’s ok to cry – but don’t stay there. If nothing else get outside of your house for a breather – sometimes it all feels worse sitting indoors. When times like this hits us I literally just go sit outside on the back porch. Get some fresh air. I know it may seem the world is crashing down on you right now but it really isn’t. I promise! Try to pull yourself out of the stress tunnel vision for a few moments and step back to see the whole picture. Remind yourself to be grateful for what you have – whether it’s your children, your job, your house, your experiences, your family. Take a short break from thinking about the money and come back to it later once you’ve cleared your head.
Cut spending. Yeah yeah I know – easier said than done. Especially if you’re already living on the tight wire of finances. When money gets tight we always fall back to our “no grocery shopping” rule. What is that? It’s when we *try* not to go grocery shopping for 2 weeks (or whatever is reasonable for your family and situation) and eat what you have buried down in the bottom of your freezer or back of your pantry. Most of us tend to go grocery shopping when there’s food we want even though we actually have a lot more stocked that we just leave sitting there. And of course take a look at everything in your budget to see if you can cut anything out – at least temporarily.
Get creative for fun. If you have kids you can feel especially strapped down in the summer when you don’t have the finances to just go out one day for some fun. There is no shortage of ways to find cheap or free fun no matter where you live which is a blessing – sometimes it just takes a little creativity or research! Whether it’s the $1 movies, these free activities in your community, free printables online to craft and decorate with, or creating fun right in your own backyard or with a movie night at home you’ll be amazed at the fun you can pull out of nowhere. On the days we really feel the urge to splurge but don’t have money for a day out we’ll go to Mc Donald’s and each get a $1 ice cream sundae! Use Roadtrippers.com to look for new parks or things to do within an hour of you that is cheap or free! It’s my favorite go-to travel site! Some public libraries hold free passes to local museums that you can check out.
Sell something & LOOK for sales! I won’t spend much time on this one because there are a zillion “make money” articles out there but scour through your basement, attic, kid’s toys, etc. and try to make a little cash with those. Pick up a seasonal job, babysitting, virtual assistant – the list is endless. If you must go out always check on Groupon and other deal sites to save money on food and activities. There are a TON of great deals on museums, restaurants, and even hotels!
Plan an entire themed day of fun! This idea is more if you have kids but can still be done by anyone. Declare it camping day, or Hollywood day, or whatever theme fits for your family and scour Pinterest for ideas to do with the family! Whether it’s building a pillow fort to watch movies in, digging a mud hole in the backyard, having a paint or popcorn fight outdoors, hiking trails for mushrooms or whatever fits do something out of the ordinary! One day we literally had a marshmallow fight in the entire house – there were marshmallows EVERYWHERE but it was hilarious and the kids will never forget it! A $1 bag of marshmallows kept the kids busy for hours!
Take a fresh look. Although the never ending money pit of bills can sometimes seem absolutely overwhelming and all consuming in the hard times I find that forcing myself to step back for a day or two also gives my brain time to process the information. I mentally poke around every corner of our situation shifting scenarios around and sometimes come up with some very creative ideas to pull things back to together again. Sometimes you have to consider the hard scenarios like moving, dropping phone or internet costs, looking for a new job, etc. Consider everything and see what is the best option for you and your family.
When all else fails – watch FUNNY videos on YouTube! NOT KIDDING! Don’t believe me? Just try it! Whether it’s cat videos or funny pranks there is some hilarious stuff out there! Pretty soon you’ll be laughing so hard you’re ugly crying and it will feel good.