Summer activities on a budget is music to any parents ears. With so many families struggling financially due to the coronavirus, not adding to existing debt is essential to many.  Many summer camps have been cancelled but fear not, your kids can still have a great summer filled with special memories all while staying within a budget.

1. Be realistic

Trying to be camp mom and fill your kid’s days with the most engaging summer activities is not entirely realistic.  Yes, some moms seem to be able to do that, but most will fall short.  The reality is that everyone’s financial picture looks different and you need to be realistic about what you can and can’t afford to do at this time.  With that being said, the problem does not have to sit squarely on your shoulders.  When it comes to how you want the summer to play out, involve your kids.  Even more so if your kids are older.

Hold a family meeting and explain how the summer needs to happen within the confines of a budget.  Let your kids have a voice and invite them to share how they would like to spend the summer.  Make a bucket list of summer activities they would like to do and let the fun begin.

2. It’s not about constant entertainment

If your kids were supposed to go to camp, you may be tempted to start buying up games and toys with the money you would have spent on camp.  In theory this may sound like a good idea, but the truth is, your kids are not going to entertain themselves with those things for the entire day.  Most games and toys, especially if your kids are older, are only going to occupy their time for so long.

So what to do then?  Start thinking of summer activities that don’t necessarily involve spending money on things.  If you are able to be at home, perhaps you can schedule some breaks in your day to go on a walk or a bike ride with your kids.  If you can double up on work one day, the next day you can head out to discover a new park.  Click here for more ideas on activities you can do on a budget.

3. Make saving a game

It is easier than you think to make financial literacy fun for your kids.  Now we don’t mean you should open up your budget spreadsheet and start going line by line.  A better strategy is to make it feel more like a game.  If your kids like to be in the kitchen with you, challenge them to find a recipe that uses just the ingredients you already have on hand. Explain to them how using up what you have on hand means you don’t have to head to the store and spend money.  If you have older kids, you can even have them record themselves as they prepare and cook something.  These are just some fun ways you can make saving fun for your kids.

4. Stop Checking Social Media

If you are on social media, beware.  We all know at least one mom who seems to be able to do it all with a smile.  If you allow yourself to get caught up in what you perceive to be other people’s “perfect” lives, you will no doubt wind up feeling like you are not doing enough.  This is where “out of sight, out of mind” comes into play.  If you are not on social media cyberstalking “that mom”, you will be less tempted to not only start spending money but you will also avoid making yourself feel bad.

We all want to be the best parents and provide the most stimulating summer activities for our kids but it is ok if your kid is not constantly entertained. If you manage to stay within a budget this summer, consider that an important win for the whole family.


Budget friendly summer activities to do at home


Go live with nature

Have you ever checked out a live webcam?  Lucky for you there are some great free options available for kids.   Here are just some that we found.

  • Check out wild animals Live in the African bush.
  • Zoo Atlanta Panda CamWatch these amazing creatures eat bamboo all day.
  • Monterey Bay Open Sea Otter Cam.  Check out their sea otters swimming in their habitat.
  • HD on Tap. This website has live feeds from different places across the country.  You can see everything from doggies at a daycare to barn owls.
  • The Fiona Show. This is not a live webcam but there are plenty of videos showcasing this famous baby hippo that was born prematurely.   Lots of fun videos that your kids will love.
  • The San Diego ZooSee giraffes, hippos, koalas and tons more animals all live.

 Listen to Audiobooks & Read-Alouds

When the world went into lockdown, streaming giant Audible started to make their entire collection of children’s audiobooks free and accessible to everyone. Check out their large list of offerings for kids of all ages.  Looking for a celebrity to read your kids a book?  Check out storylineonline where you can find Oprah reading“The Hula Hoopin’ Queen,” which you don’t want to miss.   There are also plenty of YouTube channels like Storytime at Awnie’s House.

Great summer activities can be found at a free virtual camp

Virtual camps are popping up this summer and you should definitely take advantage of them.  Many of them are free and you can’t get anymore budget friendly than that!

Camp Wonderopolis

This camp will appeal to all ages.  They are offering free STEAM programs that kids will enjoy exploring if they are into science and technology.

Varsity Tutors

This site is for kindergarten and up.  Kids can enjoy week long camps for free that cover a variety of subjects. Learn how to make a LEGO movie, do science experiments, learn all about animals etc. There is something for every interest.

PBS Kids

PBS Kids does a great job of offering free activities for kids by age group up to age eight. You can do crafts, games, science, art, math and more .

Reading Rockets

Reading Rockets has their “Start with a Book” program which is free.  It acts as an online book club for ages 6 and up. There are tons of topics from dinosaurs, sports and even time travel.  Based on your child’s interests, they will be matched with appropriate books along with other activities they can engage in once they finish their book.

 Met Opera Global Summer Camp

If you have a child that is into the arts, this is an awesome free eight-week online summer camp.  It runs from June 15 to August 7 and is for kids in grades 3-12. Kids will have the opportunity to explore music along with creative projects they can try at home.  They will also get to meet online with music educators and even get to meet some Met artists.