Many mothers arrange their work schedules so that they can be home with their children when school is not in session. This often means living without a paycheck for these months.
For those who are able (and lucky enough!) to take the entire summer off, getting through the season without accumulating credit card debt is always an issue. Mom might work part time during the year, or might have a position with the school system that pays on a 10-month rather than 12-month cycle.
How do you make summertime dollars stretch all the way to Labor Day?
A sensible strategy for this dilemma is to adjust a 10-month income so that it is level throughout all 12 months. To do this, total the amount earned during the school year and then permit yourself to spend only one-twelfth of it in any given month. The extra money accrued during the working months could be set aside in a separate savings account to be drawn upon during July and August.
Unfortunately, it's too late to start a savings account for this summer, but consider doing so in September and by next summer, you won't have the same worries.
You can also consider other ways to control expenses. Shift certain expenses to the winter months wherever possible. The goal is to spend less when you're not working. Avoid any payments that can't be made from the one salary still coming in during the summer.
You can do this by prepaying bills before the summer or by setting money aside in anticipation of summer bills. You might find it liberating to know that the car payments for July and August are already handled before summer break begins.
If a vacation is planned, the money should be accumulated during the school year. The same for day camps or planned day trips.
Other Ways to Save
Groceries are a good place to start to save money. Convenience and take-out meals foods save time but are expensive. Cooking from "scratch" can reduce grocery bills big time. And in the summertime, you might have more time for cooking.
Consider taking on some home repairs and upkeep yourself. Replace a rotting step, paint the front door, make your own curtains, and mow the lawn yourself.
Now that you have time, review auto, home and life insurance policies to make sure that you're getting the best rates. You also may be able to adjust the payment schedules for these to avoid substantial payments in the middle of the summer.
Free time should be just that: free. Every minute doesn't need to be filled with expensive amusements. Depending on your kids' interests, take advantage of libraries, museums, parks, and beaches.
Overall, dealing with two months off in the summer should be a twelve-month challenge, not a summertime problem. Once you decide it is and make a few adjustments, these two fun-filled summer months will seem all too short!
Gary Foreman is a former certified financial planner who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher Web site .