Summer is here and you’re looking for things to do with your family that won’t break the bank. Taking the time to get away from work, school and everyday obligations, is hard enough, but then thinking of the money it is going to cost to get away makes it even harder.
Camping is a great way to get away from everything as well as allowing you to really enjoy your time together and not be distracted by everyday life, including your wallet. Planning and preparation are key to making it a money-saving success.
Camping on a Budget
Create a Checklist
Lists are your best friend! Create a camping checklist before you start packing to make sure that you don’t forget anything and have to pay exorbitant prices from the campground to get it.
Purchase Pre-Owned or Slightly Used Gear
Check out local garage/yard sales, websites such as Craigslist, or even find local “online garage sale” groups on Facebook.
Use Household Items
There is no need to purchase eating utensils, plates, pots, pans, when you already have those things in your kitchen cabinets.
Create a Camping Tote
Have a tote that is used year to year especially for camping trips. Instead of purchasing temporary items to cover everything you will need, purchase items that will last and can be used year to year.
Prep your Food
Prepare your menu plan just as you normally would, and prepare anything you need to in advance. Instant Oatmeal packets, muffins and granola are great protein packed breakfast ideas that cost very little.
Pick a camping location that has things to do. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to camp in a resort, but camp close to water or a state park so you have built in entertainment that won’t cost additional money.
A couple other tips to remember. Keep your wood pile covered with a tarp to keep it from getting wet or damp from a pop-up storm. Also, try to set up camp in the shade as much as possible to avoid the heat and and having to replenish the ice in your cooler as frequently.
Grocery prices seem to be constantly be on the rise, making your budget hard to control. However, there are few simple things you can do that will help you get control — and stay there!
Make It At Home
First things first — do you really have to buy those box mixes, packets and frozen foods? No! Make what you can at home and stick to buying the basics from the store. No more worrying about what is in your food!
Shop Less Often
This one goes hand in hand with the first tip — go to the store less. If you’re not in the store then you won’t be tempted to purchase things you might not actually need.
When you do go shopping, leave the debit cards and checks at home and commit to paying with just cash. You’ll find that you purchase less and only get what you need.
Shop Loss Leaders
Loss leaders are the items that grocery stores deeply discount in order to get you in the store. Typically they can be found on the first and last pages of the sales ad.
Use coupons on items that are already on sale to maximize your savings!
Create Meal Plans
Create a meal plan so you know exactly what ingredients you will need from the store — saving time, money and helping life be less stressful!
Compare Unit Prices
Those big packages aren’t always the best buy! Be sure to compare the unit prices before assuming the biggest package is more economical.
Create a Price Book
Keep track of the prices of the items you buy the most, so you know what is a good price, and which store has it. You can either use a spreadsheet on your computer or traditional pen and paper.
You might find it easier to implement just a couple of these tips at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Once you’ve used to your new changes, add in some of the other tips. Even if you choose to just do a couple of these tips — you’ll find that you will be controlling your grocery budget, instead of it controlling you!
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