Save money on a staycation

Summer may be winding down but Labor Day is rapidly approaching and for many that means squeezing in one last family hurrah before the summer officially ends. 

But money is tight, time is short and there just isn't time to plan something big. Let's talk about staycations. If you don't know what a staycation is, that is when you take vacation time and stay at home.

We recently had a staycation. Jason was off work for four days in a row, which hardly ever happens, and we took full advantage of it by just spending a lot of really quality time together. So let's talk about some ways you can rock your staycation.

Now, why would you want to take one? Well, a staycation -- we'll just call it staying-at-home -- saves you a ton of money. 

You're not paying for a hotel. You're not paying for gas in your car, or wear and tear. Or airfare. You're not eating out of a bunch of restaurants. You're hanging out at home. But you're doing it with purpose and intention to spend time together. So let's talk about some ways to really make your staycation extra exciting.

1. Make a budget!

The first thing you're going to want to do, which is not exciting, is to make a budget. 

You don't want to drive down the highway and throw money out the window. You want to set some dollars aside to spend with purpose and know exactly what it is you're getting.

So go ahead and make a little budget: We're going to buy these groceries. We're going to go to this activity. We're going to spend this much money renting a movie from Redbox. Or whatever it is you're going to do. But just know ahead how much money you're going to spend because you don't want to think you're saving much money on staycation and end up spending all of it.

2. Pick ONE big thing to do

Pick one fun and exciting activity. It may be mini-golf. It may be a local amusement park. Or maybe something just really fun in your community. And that is the one place that you're going to spend. That's your splurge for the weekend.

Now, we live in a vacation destination, so all of the super fun things were overrun with tourists. So we decided to cool off and  and go to a movie. We had snacks and enjoyed cooling off in the theatre and laughing at the antics of those crazy Minions! 

3. Do something unexpected! 

One of our favorite things to do is put the kids to bed and then get them back up and then tell them that there's magic in the trees, i.e., fireflies. We take them outside. 

They look at the fireflies. That can get so much fun because "Mom and Daddy, let's get out of bed and go outside at night."

It's just a little fun memory to make that didn't cost us anything. If you guys know how much a stickler I am about bedtime, you know that is a big, stinking deal at our house.

4. Find the free

Find something free in your community that you haven't had a chance to do. Maybe it's a local museum or a new splash pad or a new park, but the thing that your kids have been begging to do. Maybe it's something that your family has just been putting off doing because you haven't had time. Do that during your staycation.

5. Cook together! 

 Ryals, my oldest, begged to make pizza. Pizza is really inexpensive to make. You can buy a crust for really cheap or you can make one. I cannot make pizza crust to save my life. And then, sauce and cheese. And you're good to go. The kids have fun decorating it. And then you can watch a movie on Netflix.

We just had a super fun, super relaxing few days at home. We went swimming. We went to the park. 

You only have 18 summers -- you only have 18 summers with your kids. Put the phone down and spend some time face to face with each other. Make this time count because I feel like we spend so much time distracted and busy and running in a million different directions that you really have to take this time to be together, to have fun, to go swimming, to sweat to death in the summer heat. But to make memories.

Some of my best memories as a kid were just being together in our yard. So make them count. Also, tell me what are some fun things that you do on your staycations. I would love to know about it.