When I was growing up, I never got to go to summer camp. Both my parents worked and my oldest brother was in charge during the summer. Sometimes I remember the things we used to do and think it's amazing we all survived! I used to be jealous of the kids that got to go to summer camp.
I work at home and there is NO WAY I can get my work done with two boys running around the house all summer. Plus, I want them to have those experiences that I missed out on. Summer camp is expensive! I see why my parents couldn't afford to send us (I was one of six children). Here are a few ways we've found to save money and still give our boys a great summer camp experience.Use your FSA
If your employer offers a FSA, use it! You can elect to have $5,000 deducted pre-tax for dependant care expenses. To be eligible, the cost of the camp cannot be greater than the cost of a smiliar daycare. If you only have one child, the FSA is a much better benefit than waiting to claim childcare expenses are your tax return because you are only allowed to claim $3,000 worth of expenses for one child on the 1040. We all know that $3,000 isn't anywhere close to the cost of childcare. If you have more than one child, you can use your $5,000 FSA allowance and claim the difference on your tax return.
The FSA also allows you to spread the cost over the year since deductions are made every payroll. Once your child attends the camp, the costs are reimbursed from the FSA. We submit our receipts as we go, but some of our friends use the FSA as a savings account and get the $5,000 back at year-end.
If you choose to use a FSA, make sure you budget your childcare costs. Any funds not used for chidcare during the year are forfeited.Shop Around
There are some camps that my boys just MUST attend. They get to choose two of those per year. The rest of the summer is based on what our budget can afford and what is offered in our area. There are great camps available through local sports and religious orgnizations that are not expensive. We've found sports camps for as little as $50 per week. We also found a weeklong camp at our church than only cost $35 for full-day. Little Tre was too old for the camp, but he was able to volunteer.Register Early
We saved 10% on the most expensive camp our boys attend by registering and paying in full before January 31st. If there are specific camps your kids want to attend, check the camp website during the winter. They may have an early registration discount or offer a discount for campers that pay in full.Check For Financial Assistance
Depending on your income level, some camps will offer reduced rates or financial assistance. Check the camp's website or contact the camp director to see if you qualify. Make sure you check early because these funds go quickly!
Do you have any other ideas to save on summer camp?
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