The Single Mom’s Guide to Surviving Summer (Without Wrecking Your Budget)

Though kids look forward to the long, lazy days of summer, for single moms it means a double whammy of no childcare and increased expenses. Here’s how you can earn a living, make sure your children are safe, and even have a little fun.

Finding Child Care

There are camps for nearly every child’s interests but, according to the American Camp Association (ACA), most day camps cost between $200 and $800 per week and overnight camps average $630 – $2000 per week. The good news is that there are much cheaper options available.

  • The YMCA offers quality, affordable overnight camps. Use their search tool to find the right one for your child.
  • By using public facilities, local Parks and Recreation agencies are able to provide inexpensive summer programming. Better, they often give financial aid and discounts for multiple children.
  • Churches, synagogues and other places of worship provide free or very low cost faith-based camps, such as Vacation Bible Schools, and many churches in a community will intentionally schedule their programs for different weeks so that the same children can attend multiple camps. You do not need to be a member of any congregation to enroll your child.
  • The Salvation Army has totally free, summer camp programs nationwide— featuring activities like sports, swimming lessons, music and art — for low-income families. Check out the Salvation Army for locations near you.

Having Fun

Hopefully your summer won’t only be about working and juggling childcare. With any luck, you’ll have some time — and money! — for fun. But how can you afford fun when money is always tight and now you’re paying for summer childcare expenses?

  1. Keep your side hustle, but adjust your hours. Try getting up a little earlier, before anyone else in your house is awake, and devoting that time to making some extra money. Or, if you’re a night owl, use those late night hours after everyone else is asleep for extra work.
  2. Three Fs — festivals, free events and family (or friends) — will help you stretch your entertainment and travel budgets. Summer is full of festivals and most of them are free. See if you can visit family members or friends who live out of town to scratch your travel itch, and take advantage of free events in their cities while you’re there.

With a little research, some extra hustle and a dash of creativity, you can get your work done, control your spending, and give yourself and your children a great summer, no matter how tiny your budget.

If you’d like more individualized help getting control of your finances, Ronald J. Drescher has been assisting clients with their legal and financial troubles for more than three decades.


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