We all want to enjoy the summer months and create great memories for our kids when they’re off school. However, you don’t need to go into debt to have an enjoyable summer with your family. Here are some easy ways to help you keep your summer spending in check without sacrificing fun in the sun.

Revisit your budget – Sit down with your partner and calculate how much money you earn each month. Then subtract your expenses (rent or mortgage payments, food, utilities, kids’ programs, insurance and credit card bills, etc) to understand how much you have left over. Subtract the amount you want to save every month and only then do you have a true picture of what you have left for discretionary spending.  If you don’t have a budget, there’s no better time than the present to sit down with your partner and create one.

Throw a pot luck – Instead of frequenting restaurants with your family, invite friends over for a backyard barbeque. Having each person bring a dish will ease the cost burden and lessen the amount of work for you.  For an even easier party, consider assigning items to friends, including napkins, plastic cutlery and paper plates, all of which make for easy clean up. For a fun family night, make a bonfire in the backyard and make s’mores with the kids, or hold a games night that can lead to a monthly event.

Invest in fun – If you have a local theme park or museum that you and your family plan to visit many times over the summer, consider purchasing a season pass or membership. Or, go a step further and seek out free events offered by companies and organizations that fit your interests and hobbies. Free concerts in the park, library reading events for kids or open mic nights at the comedy club are just some of the entertainment options available at no cost during the summer.

Save on summer camp – Sending your child to summer camp doesn’t have to put you into debt. Start by speaking with your children about the activities that interest them. If they’ve never gone to camp, check out KidsCamps.com or search for local camps through the American Camp Association. Consider that day camps tend to be cheaper than overnight camps, and many camps have discounts for early registration, sibling and returning registrations.  Be sure to find out if there are extra fees or expenses (uniforms, equipment, field trips, etc.), and how refunds work. If you or your child really wants overnight camp, consider sending them for a shorter stay. And keep an eye out for camp discounts on the daily deal emails you receive – you never know when one may pop up.

Spend time outdoorsIf you and your family love the outdoors, consider an annual pass to state or national parks. These passes save you on entrance fees into the parks and allow you to visit any park in the state/county that falls under the organization’s care. Or, why not organize a weekly soccer game at the local field, or baseball game at the local diamond? Encourage your kids to invite their friends and their parents, and create teams of parents versus kids.

Start planning now for your next seasonal splurge – While enjoying the summer months can be fun, getting yourself into serious credit card debt is not. You need to break the cycle on how you pay for summer activities like vacations and eating out.  Start putting aside money in advance for next year’s holidays.

Do you have any tips for keeping your summer spending under control?