Summer is Full of Magic – But It’s Also Expensive

Summer is ice cream at the zoo, bike rides around the lake, bubbles in the front yard and exploring new parks. It’s a trip (or two to Calgary), a whole day at the beach, and heading to the mountains. It’s fresh air, loud noises, fast running and wondrous discoveries.

It’s also expensive.

That’s the part of summer that often gets overlooked. In May, when I start to plan for the adventures of June, July and August, money is not on my mind. This year, I have to think about the money. Our budget is tighter this year and our savings goal is higher. So my summer bucket list has to be balanced with my monthly budget.

So here are some on my ideas on ways to keep the cost down without sacrificing any of the fun.

  • Consider an annual pass for your favorite local attractions. In my house, the Edmonton Valley Zoo is always a big hit.  It takes 5 visits to pay for the cost of the annual pass. We can’t afford an annual pass for every place we visit but when I look at our summer plans, I’m always on the lookout for those attractions that we can visit again and again.
  • Be flexible with travel plans. I love to watch Groupon for deals on hotels or cabins (just make sure you read the fine print and check reviews online before buying). Another way to save a little bit of money is to consider traveling at the very start of off-season. Depending on where you are going off-season rates can start in mid-September.
  • Look local for ways to entertain the kids on the long days of summer. Take advantage of the City of Edmonton’s Green Shack program where leaders are on-site everyday organizing games, crafts and activities. The Edmonton Public Library offers summer programming for kids that is free and air-conditioned (a huge win in our house).
  • Find the Spray Parks in your neighbourhood. Edmonton has 67 spray parks with the majority of these are located next to community parks. By keeping our spray park visits close to home, we are able to eliminate the need to pack a picnic or treat the kids to an ice cream (which adds up fast).  We can just run home, have a snack, a little rest and then head back out for more fun.
  • Let older kids control their own money. We have recently started giving the boys a regular allowance and it has helped me stay on budget because my boys can pay for their own treats. It’s amazing how once it’s their own money, the requests for ice cream, souvenirs, and other treats stop almost completely.

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas to get the most summer fun without breaking the bank.  If you have any great tips or suggestions, please share them in the comments.



Allison is a mom of two energetic boys.Constantly trying to balance life, often caught between the needs of her boys, financial reality and her own desire for a meaningful career, you'll find her leaning on her village in North Edmonton.Her philosophy of more experiences less stuff is constantly challenged by her kids love of all stuff.

2 thoughts on “Summer is Full of Magic – But It’s Also Expensive

  1. I need to take better advantage of the green shacks this summer! It is such a great program.

    The parliment wading pools are another great free option, but extra fun if you pay a bit to ride the street car over from whyte avenue. We had a lot of fun playing pokemon go on the grounds last summer.

    For treats, luckily my kids have started to understand that for the price of something from the ice cream truck they can get a whole box of treats at the grocery store.

    1. That’s a lesson we’ve been working on – I love that your girls have ‘gotten’ that, Chantelle!

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