Tag Archives: summer

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summer vacationSummer is going kind of slow around here, resulting in less work, fewer posts and an almost too-relaxed vibe. But at least we're busy getting ready for summer vacation.

Here are five saving tips for summer vacation that we're using in full force this year:

1. Plan ahead

Some things shouldn't be put off if you want the best prices, starting with travel and everything that goes into getting there. For flights, rental cars and accommodations, we booked most of our summer vacation in January for the best prices. Booking early also helped get available rooms at our destination because we quickly discovered that a convention or some sort of big gathering is taking up a lot of rooms there.

One thing I don't like about planning ahead for a vacation is the lousy feeling in your wallet when prices drop. This is rare, but sometimes airplane seats, hotel rooms and rental cars are underbooked, and prices drop for last-minute shoppers.

To avoid this, most of our hotel reservations can be canceled within 24 hours of arrival, and Southwest Airlines has a good rebooking policy if you find a better price. The rental car can also be changed without taking a financial hit. ...continue reading

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summerSummer is in full swing, and if you have a house full of children, or even one kid, keeping them from saying how bored they are over and over can be difficult.

And unless your household makes enough money to put your children in daycare and still leave you money to pay the bills, daycare can be a financial loss during the summer.

I haven't done a cost analysis in years of daycare vs. having a kid at home, but since pre-school our daughter has been home with one of us. I work part-time from home and currently have this duty. It was done partly out of necessity when I was laid off from my job, but even before then my wife and I figured out that it would cost us less if one of us worked part time and was home with our daughter instead of working full-time and having her in daycare.

What do we do to keep our child busy? Many things that unfortunately aren't as cheap as the 50 outdoor summer activities listed by one blogger. Still, some of mine are relatively cheap and work better than others. Here are a few ways, with an explanation of how well they work:

Cash to read during the summer

For the month of June, my summer reading plan for my daughter has been a bust. But I'm still holding out hope and I'm working on improving it.

Here's how it works: I pay her $2 in cash for every chapter book she reads during the summer. The book has to be at least 300 pages and be a chapter book at her reading level or above that we approve of. Reading "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" for the 100th time doesn't count, and neither do most comic-type books.

So far she hasn't completed one chapter book, though she's close to it. I require her to read at least one hour per day, and so far she's mostly picking out short books during our visits to the library. I may have to increase the payout to $3 and require her to read more hours each day.

Fun with the iPad

Some parents give their child an iPad or other tablet to play with as long as they like — which could be all day. We have a Kindle Fire that the family shares, and I have an iPad.

My daughter gets rare access to the iPad after she's done some summer chores and read a book. Instead of playing mindless games on it, the Brainpop app seems to have some games that are educational. ...continue reading