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How to Enjoy Summer Without Adding to Your Debt Load

Even saying the word summer can bring a smile to someone’s face, but it can also bring added stress and possibly an increase to the family debt load. A BMO poll from 2015 found that Canadian parents view summer as the most expensive time of the year, and that still likely rings true in 2018.

The good news is there’s still time before the kids are out of school and summer kicks into full swing. Here are some of our favourite tips for how to make it through summer without adding to your debt load.

  1. Get the entire family involved

Hold a family meeting now and start a conversation around what everyone hopes to do this summer. Encourage your kids to think about free or low cost activities you can do as a family. The City of Ottawa Recreation Guide can be a great resource.

With the nice weather it means spending more time outside, so get the family thinking of ways they can generate additional savings that can go towards family activities. That could mean:

  • Leaving the lights off until dusk
  • Turning the air conditioner up a degree or two
  • Growing your own fruits and vegetables
  • Walking instead of driving whenever possible

There are so many great resources online that can help you and your family find fun and new ways to enjoy the summer without needing to rely on credit to do it. We’ve listed some of our favourite people and resources for you to explore further:

  1. Start a summer-savings account

Now is the time to start putting money aside for a summer activity fund. That could mean adjusting your current monthly budget to allocate a small portion to go to the new summer savings account.

Your kids can help out in the effort too! Get them to complete chores around the house and reimburse them by contributing to the family’s summer savings account.

  1. Plan for back-to-school shopping now

Believe it or not, now is a good time to keep an eye out for sales on school supplies — a great strategy for saving and beating the back-to-school frenzy in August. A 2017 survey found that back-to-school shopping places a strain on the family budget — 40 per cent of parents admit that it takes them months to repay their back-to-school debt.

If you can spread out back-to-school expenses over the course of a few months it will be less of a strain on your budget in August and September. Similar to saving for summer activities, it’s also a good idea to start saving for school supplies now if you can.

Don’t forget those financial promises you made to yourself.

When the budget is tight it can be tempting to put aside other goals — like debt repayment or savings contributions — in order to have more money for summer fun.  We encourage you to stick to your financial goals, even over the summer.

That’s another benefit of a summer spending plan. With your family focused on finding free or low-cost summer activities and money-saving ideas, it gives you the opportunity to continue to focus on paying down your consumer debt and sticking with any other financial goals you have.

If you don’t already have a debt plan in place, consider make paying off your debt more efficient by trying a strategy like the debt avalanche or debt snowball. You can also explore debt consolidation to simplify your debt management and potentially decrease your monthly payments. Find out more about debt or credit consolidation here.

Yes, summer can be expensive — and sometimes stressful — for parents who are trying to juggle a ton of financial responsibilities. The good news is, you can have fun without adding to your debt load. Start planning now and get the whole family involved.

Share your favourite no-cost summer activity with others on Twitter using #ParentingTips and #DebtSolutions!

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