Summer camp could be one of the most exciting parts of the year for your child. They get to spend an entire day running around in the sun, swimming in a pool, playing sports, and interacting with other children. Unfortunately, summer camp can be costly and will need a bit of budget planning beforehand. We’ll touch upon several ways how you can budget for your child’s summer camp so you’re not left paying back summer camp debt for months afterwards.
You’ll first want to decide if you want to send your child to day camp or sleep away camp. Prices can vary widely, with sleep away camp costing $630 to $2,000 per week and day camp costing $199 to $800 per week.
If you’ve never sent your child to summer camp before, then the only way to begin is to start researching! You can also ask other parents living in your neighborhood who might have the best inside scoop on where to send your kid to summer camp. They might know the pros and cons about certain summer camps so that you can better decide where to send your child and which camp is best suited for your budget.
Type of Camp
There are not only sporty day camps, but there are theatre camps, computer programming camps, language camps, and travel camps! Sit down with your child and ask them which type of camp they would prefer to attend. If your child has a specific interest that they’d love to continue learning about, then sending them to a specialized camp may be your best bet.
Budget for More Than Camp
This is especially true if you’re sending your child to sleep away camp. You’ll want to budget for added expenses like gear, food, supplies, and transportation to and from camp. This can be costly and can surprise you if you don’t budget for it correctly. If your child takes the bus, this can be an additional expense that you’ll need to budget for.
Create a Budget Plan
You’ll want to start doing this one year or so before your child goes to summer camp – or immediately after they finish. If you develop a monthly savings goal where you take out a portion of your paycheck for summer camp savings, then you’ll be able to do this without thinking about it too much.
Your budget plan might also have to include cutting back on gifts throughout the year, going out to eat, or other unnecessary expenses that wouldn’t be worth missing out on summer camp for.
Early Bird Discounts
Many camps offer discounts if you sign up early in the year as opposed to closer to the summer camp date. These discounts may be large and may be the exact thing you need for your budget for your child’s summer camp.
If you have more than one child, you’re in luck! Many summer camps offer discounts for siblings. These sibling discounts can be upwards of several hundred dollars, so it might be a good idea to send them to the same camp if you never have before. This will also save you money on gasoline from not having to drive to two different camps to drop off your kids and pick them up.
You don’t have to send your child to a private camp. City-sponsored camps are just as good and are usually way more affordable. They’re subsidized by the city, so costs are usually half the price of what you would pay at a private camp. Organizations such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and the Salvation Army all offer reasonably priced camps that your children – and wallet – will enjoy.
Check to see if the summer camp offers any special scholarships that you can apply for. The scholarship may offer a significant discount on the price of summer camp or might even send your child to summer camp completely free. You can also speak to the camp to see if you can negotiate the cost of summer camp. Many people don’t realize that a lot of summer camps are willing to negotiate the price, especially if you’re struggling financially and truly want to send your child away to have this experience.
If you send your child to the same camp year after year, you may be eligible for loyalty discounts. Because you’re a loyal member of their camp, they may offer you a yearly discount. This is a great way to budget for your child’s summer camp and save money in the long run.
Child and Dependent Care Credit
The Child and Dependent Care Credit is a great thing to use to budget for your child’s summer camp. They give a tax break to parents who wish to send their child to child care so that they can afford to pay for it. Your child must be under 13 and live with you for more than half of the year. The tax credit may count for more than 20% – 35% of $3,000 in day camp. There are a few qualifications in order to receive the Child and Dependent Care Credit tax break, so make sure you’re completely eligible before applying.
By preparing for your child’s summer camp ahead of time, you’ll be one step closer to affording summer camp without any stress. Researching summer camps beforehand will help you evaluate which one is best suited for your child. Create a budget of more than solely the cost of the summer camp and make a long-term budget plan that you stick to throughout the year. Check out discounts offered such as early bird discounts, sibling discounts, city-sponsored discounts, and loyalty discounts. Take a look to see if you’re eligible for the child and department care credit, which may be one of the best ways to afford your child’s summer care camp.
This is an exciting time for your child, so cutting back on any unnecessary expenses throughout the year will be worth it!