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How to plan your family summer vacation without the debt

06/25/2015 07:30 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT
Between road trips, summer camps and eating out, summer can scorch the family budget. 

The average Canadian plans to spend $5,605 dollars this summer on eating out, travel and entertainment, according to a recent Bank of Montreal survey. 

Families expect to rack up even more, with nearly half (49 per cent) admitting they'll likely spend more than they can afford. 

Here are five tips from On the Coast's money columnist Rubina Ahmed-Haq on how to have a blast this summer without digging yourself into debt.

1. Don't compare what others are doing to what you should be doing

Everybody is going to have their own idea of summer fun, and everyone's financial situation is different. Stop comparing your holiday to the ones that friends are posting on Facebook.  

Just because your best friend spent thousands of dollars renting a lakefront cottage doesn't mean you have to as well. Remember, they're not posting their credit card balance.

2. Budget wisely

First figure out your everyday costs for the summer. Then calculate your expected income for the next two months. Subtract your cost of living from your income and start your budget with what's leftover. 

Then consult your savings account. If you have any extra in there, add it to that total number.

That should give you a fair idea of what you can spend this summer without hurting your finances.

3. Consider a "staycation"

Once you've crunched your numbers, you might realize that this is the year for a 'staycation,' or a few weekends spent camping instead of visiting hotels and resorts.

Consult local websites to see what free activities like street festivals, concerts and plays you can take advantage of.  

Entertain more at home or make suggestions to meet at a friend's house rather than a restaurant. You will instantly put more money in your pocket. 

4. Hunt for deals

Check out group buying sites to see what deals are being offered to avoid paying full price for amusement parks and themed entertainment. See if your local discount store like Costco and other grocers have special offers on tickets to summer fun.  

For travel, avoid weekends, especially long weekends. Midweek pricing is usually cheaper.

5. Help your kids manage their expectations

Don't be afraid to talk to your kids about their expectations for the summer. Let them know how their ideas fit into the family budget.

If for financial reasons you have to say no to an activity, explain to them that that is the reason. Tell them that, with some planning, maybe you can try to make it happen next summer. 

To hear the full interview with Rubina Ahmed-Haq, listen to the audio titled: How to plan a family summer vacation without the debt.

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