- The Fourth of July weekend. It's a separate issue in our family budget.
- A possible trip to visit extended family, again a separate budget issue.
- Fees for Camp Brainiac, sponsored by one of our local universities.
- My husband is eligible on occasion for a senior discount. He makes no bones about using such a discount. Regretfully, I must pry a senior discount out of businesses. Despite the grays on my head, I look too young.
- We use coupons when it makes sense. This is not always the case. Liverland is a not popular tourist destination for children. Buying food that is not on your diet simply because you have a coupon can cause you more money in the long run.
- We are not afraid to ask for discounts when planning a vacation day. We call ahead. You would be surprised at how many there are, and that do not involve senior status. One of those is the fact that we are both certified teachers in Illinois. The fact that we are certified substitutes makes no difference. Another good discount is the one we receive for being residents of our town. All the business can do is say no. Ask.
There are a variety of free and cheap things to do in any area of the United States and Canada. Consider looking on your community's web site, the web site of very nearby communities, and those communities within a short driving distance from yours:
- Off-peak movies that cost between $1 and $2 admission per person, all seats. Yes, it is either on a day when most people don't go to the movies, and/ or at a time that most people don't go to the movies. Yes, you probably have seen some of the movies already, as have the kids. Don't discount the discount! This is especially true if your residence is less than spacious and/ or not air-conditioned. A trip to the movies, to sit in a darkened theater, is always an adventure for a child. Odds are good the popcorn and goodies will be discounted, as well.
- Concerts in the park. Many communities still have a local band or orchestra. The price is usually free. Bring a blanket and a snack, along with something to keep away the bugs.
- The old-fashioned picnic. This is not the summer affair planned by your union, church, employer, or squadron. It does not require a grill, pony rides, a raffle or door prizes. Pack a lunch, a ball, and a blanket. Drive, take the bus, or walk to a spot that has some quiet, green grass, and a place to spread out that blanket. Eat lunch. Play ball. Walk around the place. Go home. You would be surprised the number of kids who have not been on this type of picnic. That's sad.
- Local festivals. Communities plan these as a way to bring goodwill and tourist dollars. There are often free activities or those that cost very little. Kid crafts. Guess the number of objects in the jar. Food samples. Fireworks. Giveaways from businesses.
- Park district. It's a little late to sign the kiddos up for day camp, as those places usually go the minute they are open, thanks to parents who need to earn a living. However, some park districts offer swimming, play parks, playgrounds, and other amusements for the local populace.
We, the Mister and I, have been given a gift of some really solid blocks of summer time, days when we have nothing to do but be together as a family. We consider these blocks of time blessings, and look to utilize them to the fullest. Give your schedule a once-over, and see if you can clear some time for yourself and the kids in your life.