How to Use Spring Break to Avoid Summer DebtMar 01, 2018
If you’re a parent, you know that spring break and spending are inseparable. A week off of school means child care, activities, travel, and, possibly, taking on debt.
But if you’re already feeling the oncoming pinch of a week’s spending, then trying to reduce debt after summer months can really cause anxiety. A BDO spring break spending poll from last year found that eight in ten parents would spend an average of $600 on March break activities for their kids. Forty per cent of respondents said they would take more than a month to pay off their spring break debt — proof that spring decisions can carry into the summer.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat all of this. You can reign in spring break spending, help avoid summer debt, and teach your kids lessons in financial literacy at the same time.
How? By planning ahead and involving your kids in the process. There are several higher costs to plan for when summer rolls around. Involving your kids in that can help them understand financial challenges and get them into better money habits for their future.
Here are some budget moves you can make during spring break to avoid debt during summer break.
Prepare budget-friendly activities with your kids
Having a spring break spending allowance for your child can be a good starting point. As an example, you can give them $100 for the week, then ask them to pick activities that’ll stretch the budget for the entire week.
There are so many ways to go with this. You probably know some of these low-cost outings — river skates, parks, leisure guide camps and classes, open gym times at the local community centre.
By doing this exercise during spring break, you can also set up better habits for summer, when there’s obviously more time to fill.
Plan cheaper outings during summer travel
Put simply, starting early on summer travel plans can save you money. Last minute trips mean higher prices on accommodations, flights, and more.
It can also mean you make less budget-conscious decisions while on your trip. If you’re planning a getaway this summer, ask your child what they’d like to do at the destination. Working around a few cheaper outings can take the sting out of post-travel finance checkups.
Help kids balance needs and wants
If kids understand the basics of budgeting, they can have a better idea of how to balance wants and needs. Often, the short-term view wins out for youngsters — if they want the new video game, they want it now, not later.
This spring break, though, you can use that spending allowance concept above to instill some ideas. Help them understand the difference between “saving for a $10 item and a $200 item”, as Mommy Moment blog assistant Angela writes in this post about the importance of teaching kids about money.
By making those decisions between small purchases right now and bigger purchases made by saving, kids start to understand the importance of putting money away. It can also take the pressure off parents to always keep up with spending for their kids, and the potential to add to their debt.