How to Enjoy Summer Without Breaking the Bank

Summer is a fun time of the year. Kids are out of school, and many of us plan some sort of vacation. However, summer can also get expensive. If you don’t have a plan, the costs can add up fast.

If you don’t want your summer spending to get out of control, here are some strategies that can help:

Embrace the Staycation

Rather than spending lots of money on a big vacation, consider the staycation. A staycation can cost a lot less, and introduce you to surprisingly fun and affordable activities in your own backyard. My family is big on staycations during the summer. We take day trips to local historical sites or make use of hiking trails, or we go camping. Camping is a great staycation, especially for those who enjoy the outdoors. Just make sure to reserve a campsite ahead of time to ensure you get the best spot.

You can even stay in a hotel. Plan to go overnight to a town two hours away. Stay in a cheap hotel with a pool and a complimentary breakfast. Find an inexpensive local activity. Do your activity, and then hang out by the hotel pool. It’s simple, cost-effective, and fun.

Start a Garden

Gardening a great summer activity. You can use your garden to be active, and provide you with something to do. Your kids can even get involved. My son loves helping with the garden. He is even in charge of the zucchini, and takes pride in doing a good job. Plus, he likes to make zucchini bread at harvest time.

Not only can gardening give you something fun and frugal to do over the summer, but it can also save you money on food. Toward the end of the summer, you don’t even have to buy fresh produce. Plus, you can preserve the extra yield to save money on groceries during the winter.

Look for Free Activities

Many cities offer free activities during the summer. Take advantage of these resources. Your local library is a good place to start. Many libraries offer summer reading programs and other activities for the kids. You can also pick up books, movies, and other entertainment for a low cost — or even for free. Pay attention to nature walks, free concerts, gallery walks, summer fairs and festivals, and other events. Many communities offer these activities as part of civic engagement. They can help you add culture to your life, while saving you money.

Also, don’t forget about low-cost things you can do on your own. Bike rides, picnics, and outdoor games can be a lot of fun. My son and I have a kite we like to use on windy days. He also builds model rockets, so it’s fun to make a day of it and go to a big park where he can launch the rocket, and we can have a picnic. Then, he can play on the playground afterward.

With a little creativity, it’s possible to find plenty to do this summer without spending a lot of money. From meal planning to staycations, you can make great memories as a family without breaking the bank.

What are your favorite inexpensive summer activities?

Should You Say No to Your Boss? How to Do It Right

One of the hardest things you can do in your career is to say no to your boss. We are conditioned to want to say yes to a boss — even if we really don’t have the time, energy, or expertise to do something well. It’s hard to say no to one more thing, especially since you don’t want to put your job at risk.

However, there comes a point when you really can’t take on another work-related project. You might be swamped at work, or you might find yourself working increasingly long hours without a corresponding increase in compensation.

As you consider whether or not you can say no, here are some things to keep in mind:

Can You Do a Part of the Project?

Perhaps you can’t take on the whole project, but you can do a portion of it. Look at the project as a whole, and suggest that you just focus on one key area. If you take this route, though, you need to make sure that you can point to co-worker or someone else who can take on part of the work as well.

You can point out that you have other projects in the works, and that you have a specialty area that could benefit the new work, but that so-and-so also has good experience to help out. Spreading the work around can give everyone a chance to shine, and keep from burdening you with too much to do.

Ask About Priorities

Sometimes, your boss just needs a reminder that you are already swamped. However, saying that you are too busy isn’t usually the best approach. Instead, suggest that you sit down and talk about your workload and priorities. Make an appointment with your boss to discuss your current projects and assignments, including your daily tasks.

Ask him or her to go over which are most important, including the new work. This is a gentle reminder that you are doing a lot of work. Frame the meeting as your boss helping you prioritize your work so that you can focus on the most important projects first. Hopefully, once your boss sees how full your plate is, he or she will either take the project elsewhere, or put you on this project while reducing your workload elsewhere.

Tips for Setting Up the “No” Conversation

First of all, you need to remain calm and in control. If you are going to say no to something, you need to have a good reason for it. You need to be able to articulate yourself clearly, without getting angry or upset. Prepare ahead of time so that you are ready to carry on a reasonable conversation.

Next, make sure you are coming into this early on. If you know that there will be a conflict with work, or even in your personal life (such as a child’s wedding, or you are caring for an ailing parent), let your boss know as early as possible. If you have already scheduled time off, you need to point that out as early as possible.

Finally, have alternatives ready. You need to present your boss with plausible alternatives, whether you ask to just take on part of the project, suggest a different timetable, or come up with another solution, you need to be there, in problem-solving mode, if you want to make your refusal more palatable.