A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

Planning Our Summer Staycation

Now that the Kiddo is a week away from wrapping up the school year, I'm finally planning out summertime activities and tallying related expenses. Most of my mom friends organized their summer activities, like, three months ago, so I feel behind. But let's get real: since we're not really going anywhere, it probably doesn't matter. How much preparation can a low-frills staycation require?

Summertime = berry picking time!
First, the kid-related expenses: Our son will be participating in the county's summertime soccer league, which carries a registration fee of $85. (I remembered to sign him up the day before the deadline. THE DAY BEFORE! Look at me go!) He's also an avid recreational swimmer who likes to suit up at least five days a week over break, so we'll be buying a two-month pool pass for $150. Lastly, I'm thinking about sending him to day camp for a week. He went last summer and seemed to enjoy it, but that's another $150, so I'll have to see how interested and invested he actually is. (Update: The Kiddo has informed me that day camp is for little kids, not mature and worldly people going into sixth grade, and he would rather stay home and play video games thank you very much, so... maybe that takes care of that.)

Next up, camping and running expenses: Although we're not embarking on any grand cross-country or international travel, we intend to camp fairly regularly. We're all set with tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads, but because we don't have a car that can handle the roads leading to free campsites on BLM land, we'll probably have to pony up for campsite fees. These usually range from $10 to $40 a night, depending on how popular the campground is. I'm anticipating a monthly camping cost of approximately $150.

We have great camping options near us.
As for running, I'd like to sign up for at least one area race this season, possibly two. My goal is to use them as stepping stones to a longer ultra run in the early fall. If I aim for small events close to home, I can probably limit registration expenses to less than $100.

Lastly, going-out expenses: I'll be working from home all summer. Fortysomething will be side hustling from home all summer. All three of us, plus cat, will be spending an awwwwwful lot of time in close proximity... all summer. To stay sane, we're going to need to get out of the house on a fairly regular basis. Again, being realistic, some of that going out will be to restaurants, breweries, and the bowling alley, because we enjoy all of those things as a family. We may ramp up our miscellaneous fund by $25/month to accommodate.

Fortysomething will be making some extra cash this summer, and we can use a small portion of it to cover these costs. Obviously we want most of it to go towards credit card debt. That's the ultimate goal - to knock out as much of that debt as possible, as fast as possible. But getting along and not going stir crazy are also crucial.

I like local craft beer. I like it very much.
Free stuff: We're close to several national parks and monuments, and we'll use our national parks pass to visit them for no additional cost as the weather and crowds allow. Our town also hosts a free outdoor movie series every week so we'll try that out. And of course we have plenty of opportunities to hike (though due to drought, huge swaths of the forest are closed to the public for the foreseeable future).

National parks and monuments are the best.
Being realistic: I've done staycations before, and to be honest, they make me a little stir crazy. I like going places! I like getting out of town! The likelihood that we'll go the entire summer without some sort of special, short excursion is low. If Fortysomething ends up getting a rumored bonus, we'll probably budget in a few hundred dollars for a two- or three-night trip somewhere within a day's drive. We'll have to see if that pans out.

What about you? What are your summer plans, frugal or otherwise? What are you most looking forward to?


  1. Summer is actually the most expensive time of year for us. Our planned big expenses include a vacation (the big things--airfare, accommodations and passport renewals--are all paid for, we'll just need to cover our meals and daily activity costs)and sleep away camp for my kids (the balance for that one is due this Friday and will skim a pretty sizable chunk out of our savings).

    We live at the beach, in a very "happening" summer tourist destination...so there are also tons of low-cost and free things to do and enjoy all season long, but even so, having been at this budgeting and debt payoff thing for two years now, I know that our budget categories for excursions, extras, meals out, and fun stuff go through the roof in July and August, so debt payoff takes a major slowdown.

    From a financial planning POV, I guess summer is a bit of a disaster for us, but I don't mind. It is my favorite time of year. Everything gets less intense here as we decompress from school and structured activities and meal planning and constant errand-running and so on and move into "summer mode", which is very much relaxed in all aspects.

    1. Sounds like a wonderful summer! It also sounds like you're using your money for what really matters to you, which is awesome to see. Where will you be traveling?

  2. That still seems like a pretty fun summer! Since I don't have kids, not much changes for me. I'd debating upping my classpass to take more beach volleyball classes this summer, but then again, money. :) Trying to save/keep it, and there are LOTS of free and fun options in LA.

    1. Yeah, part of the summertime struggle is keeping my kid entertained! He's like me: he likes to go places and do things. But between soccer and swimming and camping, he should be fine.

      People keep asking me if I have the summer off... I wish! But the nice thing about business as usual and keeping busy is that I'm less inclined to spend.

      Beach volleyball in LA sounds delightful!