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Consumer Credit: Summer shouldn't overwhelm budgets

Consumer Credit: Summer shouldn't overwhelm budgets

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School may be out for the summer, but for many parents, the work has just begun.

In addition to the adjustment parents have to make simply managing their time, summer vacation also means facing the greater challenge of managing a new budget.

Most parents expect the big summertime expenses such as vacations, summer camps and child care. However, summer can get expensive when finding day-to-day activities to keep children occupied.

In fact, a recent survey by Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS), a division of Money Management International, revealed that more than one-third of parents plan some type of summer activity for their children.

Here are some tips:

• Spend time in the great outdoors. Many state parks offer such activities as hiking, biking and canoeing. Also, check to see if your neighborhood has a free or low-cost pool that your child can visit during the day. These activities can be a healthy form of exercise and are a low-cost alternative to movies.

• Share responsibilities. After spending day after day with their schoolmates, children are used to constant companionship. Consider starting or joining a baby-sitting co-op or setting up play dates to share parental responsibilities.

• Check community resources. Some organizations, such as churches, the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs, provide programs that include regular activities for kids of all ages. And in addition to being inexpensive, they benefit the children by involving them in sports, swimming, crafts and reading.

• Explore your own back yard. With a little imagination, sprinklers can turn into water parks and wagons into amusement rides. Something as simple as planting seeds can be fun and educational.

• Teach them the value of giving back. There are many volunteer opportunities for children of all ages. Contact your local hospital, church or other nonprofits to see about your child volunteering.

Finally, feel free to enlist your children's help. Invite your child to help fund some of their activities by providing income opportunities. This will help them learn that money is something you earn and not something you are entitled to.

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