Last Staycation And Back to School Savings

Planning a Vacation? Don't Sweat it!

B2-School-2The days are long, the temperatures climbing, the dog days of summer are at my door. And I’m not complaining, because along with the heat comes some pretty cool things to do—right in my neighborhood. So I’ve decided a staycation is in order. It fits my family’s budget, schedule, AND sense of adventure. Plus, if we stick close to home I can stick to my plan to prepare and save for all the back-to-school shopping following our “trip.” 

A staycation is about saving money without sacrificing fun. Here are my tips and tricks for how I plan for ours to play out:

Make a family-friendly budget bucket list of the things you’ve been wanting to do or try within driving distance (remember, a staycation means you can sleep in your own bed – no restless nights, kids hogging your space or hotel guests running down your halls in the wee hours). Your day trip(s) could take you across town to a favorite theme park, museum, sporting event, lake, zoo, neighborhood history tour…or all of it! Get active. Get festive. Learn something new that will become a part of you!

That said, take advantage of all the discounts, coupons, free admissions and public transportation that will get you where you want to go. Do a quick inventory of everyone’s bags, wallets, purses and those catch-all kitchen drawers to gather the gift cards you’ve been hanging onto—those can come in really handy too! When planning meals, search for restaurants that treat kids to free with every adult purchase, pack a custom picnic or savor the street-side flavor of a food truck.

And my best piece of advice? Unplug. You’ll get a bigger charge out of your staycation that way.

B2-School-3Once you’re settling back into those last lazy days of summer, take a quick financial inventory. You’ll likely find that the cash you saved staying close to home means that you have additional dollars that you can earmark for the things your kids need for back-to-school. Meaning you can keep your wallet from becoming empty when you up fill their backpacks.  

One smart way to shop is to save it for the weekend—your state’s tax-free weekend. Nearly 20 states, including Washington D.C., offer these savings during the month of August. It’s a lot to get excited about, so I suggest you shop on the Friday of the weekend to avoid the craze of the Saturday crowd. Would you rather your finds come straight from store to your door? Shop online. It can save a lot of time, and just as much money (including the gas your car would guzzle and the lunch you would have to stop for—shopping makes me hungry). Also, make sure you’re on the email lists, Facebook pages and #twitter accounts of the stores you plan to purchase from for sales alerts ahead of time and in real time.

(Bonus tip for back to school shopping: I get a big bang for my buck in the meantime by spending my time and money shopping warehouse clubs. And aside from treating the kids to a few new back-to-school outfits, I carefully thrift and swap for several staples, like jeans and jackets. I also keep an eye out for the BOGO (Buy One, Get One) sales at shoe stores and discount stores who might offer a free lunch box with a backpack purchase … you can see where I’m going. Simply saving with sales in mind will give you back-to-school buying power.)

So this summer, kick back, relax and stay a while. Your bank account will be glad you did.


About the author: Heidi Alger

Heidi Alger is the mother of two low-maintenance, high-energy kids under the age of 10. She offers financial guidance, budget tips and lifestyle advice keeping the challenges of modern military families in line, writing alongside an award-winning team at Pioneer Services. Her grandfather, a CW04, served in the Army Security and National Security Agencies during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Follow Heidi on Google+.

Contact: Heidi Alger


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