Play AND save: Five affordable ways for families on a budget to enjoy the summer!

7 June 2016
Author: Maya Ramchandani
It’s that time of the year again. Now that the cold weather is behind us, there’s a lot to look forward to! The sun is shining, school is ending and spirits are high. Want to make the most of your summer? Proceed with caution. The last thing you want to do is get carried away with ambitious summer activities and wind up in a tight financial spot. Believe it or not, you can still have an incredible summer on a budget. Here are five tips which can save you a huge headache down the road.

1. Take advantage of benefits available for enrolling your kids in camp. 

School is out in the next few weeks so many of you may have already enrolled your children in summer camps. 
 
There are two tax benefit programs available through the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) for Canadian families across the country. Be sure to record the expenses you have allocated towards enrolling your kids in camp so that you can claim these expenses when filing your 2016 taxes. 

The two tax programs are:
The Children’s Fitness Tax Credit – allowing you to save to receive up to $150 on your tax return per child per year
The Children’s Art Tax Credit – allowing you to receive up to $75 on your tax return per child per year
 
Subsidy programs are available to further decrease the expenses associated with sending your children to camp. One example of these organizations is KidSport Canada, which provides eligible families with a $250 subsidy per calendar year for the enrolment of children in registered sport programs in 11 provinces/territories across Canada.

2. Don’t pay for expensive festivals; explore what’s offered by your province or local municipality.

It may be tempting to see your favorite artists perform at a popular Canadian music festival but spending over $300 for one event might not be the best option if you’re on a budget. There are often free festivals happening in your province. Here are a few resource sites we found for free summer festivals in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Just search, “Free summer festival” in your internet browser. You can also check with your local library for free or low cost activities for the whole family.

3. Ditch the restaurant, embrace the potluck! 

Summer is the time to meet with your friends, your extended family and your colleagues. Instead of spending extravagant amounts of money at restaurants, why not organize picnics and potlucks? You can organize these get togethers at a local park. Not only do you have a vast selection of food before you buffet-style, you can also organize group activies to engage everyone to join the fun. What’s the best part of this option? You spend quality time with those in your life without feeling guilty for creating an unneccessary dent in your pocket!

4. Vacation? Or stay-cation? 

When you really think about it, the concept of taking a vacation at the wrong time can be very paradoxical. The entire purpose of going on vacation is to relax. But if your vacation contradicts your financial life, it can actually produce more anxiety. To break it down, people go on vacation to relax and re-energize their spirits. These can be achieved without paying an arm and a leg for plane tickets and hotel rooms.  Canada is vast and breathtaking. A short road trip could mean, spending time at the beach, camping for the weekend, or hiking or biking through some of your region’s natural forests. Take advantage!

5. Keep it simple!

It’s the simple things in life that can often be the most enjoyable or memorable.  If the weekend ahead is warm and your family has an open schedule, why not play a game of badminton in the backyard? Or rollerblade around the block? Remember sidewalk chalk? Water balloon fights in the park?  Engage your family and friends in these simple, yet enjoyable activities. The materials required can be easily purchased at a local dollar store and are reusable - a much more economical choice than spending $80 plus at your local theme park. 
 
Be sure to plan ahead this summer and create the summer you want while being mindful of that budget you committed yourself to. 
 
If you know of any free or low cost ways families in your community can ‘play and save’ this summer, share your suggestions here!

THE AUTHOR

Maya Ramchandani is a former Intern for the Marketing and Communications department at Prosper Canada. She recently graduated receiving an Honours Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Toronto. She began her Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs degree at the University of British Columbia in the fall of 2016.

Comments
Louis
Amazing Article, particularly enjoyed the 'stay-cation' bit. Canada inherits soo much beauty, we have some of the best Provincial parks in the world - many people fail to notice this. I will most definitely be borrowing some of these awesome tips! Thanks.
6/8/2016 5:09:28 PM

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