Summer Vacation on an Unemployed Budget

Written on 1:25 PM by Robert

In my situation, I am currently receiving unemployment checks while my wife still works for the local government, bringing home the fatty part of the bacon.  I'm grateful for that because it helps out tremendously with the few bills we still have.  I also need to realize that my wife needs a vacation, even though we can't afford to go away.  How are we going to manage this?  Very frugally!

I understand most people who are unemployed are in one-income households.  The suggestions that require a small expense may not be feasible for those people.  Those who aren't unemployed and read this post can also benefit by some cost-cutting suggestions.

First of all, plan on staying close to home.  There are no sleep-overs, unless you can sleep over a relative's house.  I don't know about you, but I've never felt comfortable enough to stay over anyone's house unless it was an emergency - everyone may have different opinions on that, however.  As you know from my previous posts, I don't own a car anymore, reducing my monthly (and weekly) payments tremendously.  Those who don't live in a metropolitan area do not have that luxury.  Those who do should think about making the local transit system their friend.

Here are a few suggestions for spending a great time with your kids without spending a lot of money.
  1. Go to your local zoos.  Kids love animals, and local zoos don't cost much for admission.  I'm actually going to splurge and have my wife buy tickets for the Bronx Zoo, which is usually pretty expensive.  As a city employee, she gets discounts on admission to many city attractions.  Do research on your favorite attraction.  The Bronx Zoo, for example, has "pay what you want" Wednesdays - but the catch is no ground transportation on that day.
  2. Check out the local parks, especially the ones you've never gone to before.  It is like an adventure every time you take children out somewhere new.  Here in New York City, there are dozens of parks throughout the city.  There has to be a few that you'd like to check out:  http://www.nycgovparks.org
  3. Free lunches!!  Here in NYC, many public schools offer free lunches for all children (and sometimes their parents).  Most of those schools also keep their playgrounds open as well, so the kids can work off that meal afterwards.  Take advantage of this and save some money!
  4. Local piers and beaches are good as quick trips for relaxation.
  5. Free pools!  There are tons of free swimming pools in the city, for those who don't mind the company.  I, for one, can't stand the thought of how unclean the water is.  That's why I searched online for local spots that charge small fees for the use of their private pools.  Some local hotels may offer this, and would be worth looking into.
  6. For the kids who enjoy techie attractions, you can take advantage of some of these locations as well (unfortunately, these are only in the NYC area - but web search for similar attractions in your area):
  • Sony Wonder Technology Lab (free admission) - hands on science experiments for kids
  • NY Hall of Science ($11 adults, $8 for kids and free when school is in session) - larger science hall for kids  
  • Nintendo World (free admission) - Bring your DS and play with others, download demos, or just browse through tons of merchandise.  This is not recommended for kids who always want to buy stuff, but for those who can appreciate playing demos of games and just having fun.
Enjoy your summer!  Let us know what other tips you'd like to pass along!  And as the final point - when it comes to eating, check out this MSN article on how to eat cheaply:  http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/HowCheapskatesDoDinner.aspx?page=all Edit

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