It may seem quite a way off, but soon summer camp registrations will begin. As parents, we all want to give our children the very best camp experience we can afford and one that they’ll remember for years to come. But such experiences may stretch our budget more than we want.
In order to avoid that sinking feeling when the time comes to make payments, we have compiled 10 things you could be doing now to plan and budget for summer camps. If planned in advance, summer camps don’t need to make a massive one-time dent in your monthly budget.
#1 Shop around before you commit
Before you begin to budget and save for camp, you need to have a target. This will be determined by the camp your child wants to attend. What are some of your child’s interests? Are you wanting to do a day camp or an overnight camp?
Attend your local Summer Camp Fair where you can meet a variety of summer camp options under one roof.
(Save the date: Pasco/New Tampa Summer Camp Expo: March 28th & Brandon Area Summer Camp Expo: April 4th) Register here.
Compare aspects such as accommodation, activities, location, session lengths, food, and medical resources. These are important factors when determining the safest option for your child. Check the prices.
Make sure you are getting value for your money. Once you have made the decision and added up the costs, you will have a saving target. Remember to add a bit extra to your target for other unexpected costs.
#2 Create a Camp Savings Account!
Keep a jar for change in a visible area of the house such as the kitchen. Encourage all family members to contribute their loose change to the jar. Once the jar is full, let your children help you count it out.
Then take it to the bank and deposit it into your savings account. You could also consider doing a yard sale, selling appliances and other items that are in working order which you no longer use on eBay or other platforms. Deposit any money you make from these sales into your Summer Camp savings account.
#3 Check if you are eligible for discounts
Some camps offer discounts to military families which can significantly lower the cost of your child’s summer camp fees. Sibling discounts is also a common practice. Not sure if they offer a discount? Just ask.
Then, if you qualify, request the necessary documentation and fill it out. Submit it together with any supporting documents. Once you know that the discount has been secured and exactly how much it is, you’ll be able to budget with a newly calculated amount in mind.
#4 Early payment options
Some camps may offer you a reduced rate if you pay the entire amount well ahead of time. Camp providers would love to fill up their camps as early as possible. You would definitely be helping them and yourself if you register early.
If you start saving well in advance, you can very well have the required amount ready and waiting in your savings account.
Pay it as soon as possible and secure your early payment saving which you can then use towards any other expenses that may be incurred.
#5 Installment payment plans
Some camps will allow you to pay monthly installments towards your child’s summer camp experience. In this way, you can incorporate the installments into your monthly budget and have the peace of mind of knowing that camp is paid for.
Having a fixed rate to pay for camp per month doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to saving.
Remember that there may be additional costs you will need to pay. So it is best to save for those instead of being caught unawares.
#6 Camp loyalty rewards
If your child/children have attended the same camp for several years, you may be eligible for loyalty rewards in the form of reduced fees.
Alternatively, you may be able to secure a sibling discount if you have more than one child attending the camp. Camps may not advertise this, so it is up to you to investigate, call, and request it.
Many camps offer scholarships to children whose parents cannot afford the fees or can only afford part of the fees. Such opportunities will be limited and will be offered on a needs-based basis.
Apply well in advance, and be prepared for rigorous procedures and requirements to prove that you cannot pay and need a scholarship for your child. It may be easier to secure a partial subsidy if you can show that you are only able to pay a portion of the fees.
#8 Make the most of your tax breaks and refunds
If your children are under 13, you may qualify for a child care tax break. Two-income households may be eligible for tax credits to cover the costs of summer camps.
Before relying on this as a given, you need to consult your tax professional. Be sure to include the claim on your tax return. If you receive a tax refund during the course of the year, divert it to your savings account to avoid spending it on other things instead of camp fees.